Onboard Audio vs Sound Card: Everything You Need to Know

If you are a sucker for good audio quality like me, you probably keep moving between the options of whether to invest in a sound card or not! 

Worry not, I understand how you feel because I’ve fought my own indecision before I researched the two options – dedicated sound card vs onboard audio. 

Hopefully, this comparison helps you.

Sound Card

Researching sound cards could mean one of these two things, you are either investing in building your own PC or you are highly invested in gaming. 

Or perhaps I’m entirely wrong and you just want to know if sound cards are worth it. Whatever be your reason, sound cards are actually helpful. 

With the advances in modern devices, the inbuilt audio has gotten much better. 

And this perhaps is one of the reasons why sound cards are no more as popular as they used to be during the late 1990s. 

However, fans of high definition gaming and music still value a good sound card. 


  • A dedicated sound card would always be better when it comes to delivering a better sound quality. After all, it was built for that sole purpose. 
  • Sound cards come with special features. For instance, sound cards can lower harmonic distortions. For a music fanatic, small details like these are worth the investment. 


  • It is not really a necessity. Most onboard audio settings are enough for general folks. Adding a sound card would only burden your equipment. 

Onboard Audio 

An onboard audio sound comes along with your device. A sound card comes attached to your devices’ motherboard.

However, since the motherboard also has a lot of other hardware being installed onto it, the sound card is generally a compact one. Owing to this factor, the inbuilt sound cards are not the same as dedicated sound cards. 

But hey, they are not bad either. Listen to the music playing on your PC, you’ll only hear the crisp sound. 

You won’t really notice the difference unless you are doing a heavy-duty gaming session or a high-end audio edit project. 


  • Buying a dedicated sound card obviously requires an extra bit of money. You’re saving that when you go for the onboard audio setup.
  • Onboard audio is perfect for devices that do not support extra slots for additional sound cards.


  • Although these are perfect for lightweight listening and audio, onboard audio does not produce detailed effects as a dedicated sound card. 

Final Verdict

The final verdict depends on you – the user. Sit down and think about your usage. Do you require 24-bit sample rates? Do you need higher signal-to-noise ratios or 192-kHz resolutions? 

If your answer to these questions was a yes, you already know you need a dedicated sound card and obviously a device to support it. 

And if you’re answering no to these or have no idea what these mean, you are good to go with the onboard audio you have installed on your device. 

Whichever you choose I hope you enjoy your music!

Vitaly Fedorov

Vitaly Fedorov is a seasoned audio technician and writer. After spending ten years in a studio team, I have decided to spread my knowledge to people in this domain. On this site, I work for headphone fixing or repair issues, that you’re thinking about fixing. Click on any article on my site and read the complete answer about that issue. I am excited to read your feedback.

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