Computer sound card buying tips

Updated: 05/25/2017 by Computer Hope

soundcard-purchaseWhen purchasing a sound card, there are several factors that can complicate and sometimes not allow you to install your sound card. Before purchasing a sound card, it is important to take the following into consideration.


Ensure that you have the available connection on the computer. Sound cards are available as both PCI and ISA.

PCI - Today, most cards available are PCI; if you plan on using your sound card for such things as playing games and watching DVD movies, it is recommended you at least get a PCI sound card.

ISA - Today, ISA cards are relatively cheap sound cards, which allow users that may not have as much money to have sound on the computer. In addition to being a cheap sound card, purchasing an ISA sound card will keep an additional free PCI slot available.

In addition to verifying your computer has the available connections, it is also important to look to see if your computer has a sound card that is built onto the motherboard. Verify that this sound card can be disabled or will be disabled when the new sound card is installed. Additional information about on-board audio can be found in document CH000261.

Available connections

After determining the available connection on the sound card, it is also important to look at the available connections on the card. When purchasing a sound card it is important that it has the available connections on the card.

  • Available speaker connections - For computer gamers it may be important that the card has two available speaker connections. One connection for the front speakers and the other for the rear speakers. Users who do not plan on using four speakers or utilizing this technology only needs one speaker connection to connect the set of two speakers to.
  • Midi port and Game port - The midi port allows a user to connect a Midi keyboard; however, it is more commonly used as a game port, allowing users to connect game paddles and joysticks to the card.
  • Microphone connection - Today, a standard with all sound cards, it's important to verify your sound card includes a Microphone connection


Today, included with most sound cards, full-duplex allows for sound cards playing and recording sound at the same time. This feature is most commonly used to do voice communication over the Internet or speakerphone.

3-D acceleration

Today, 3-D Acceleration is used and found in computer games. Below is a listing of the three 3-D acceleration found today.

DirectSound 3D Microsoft's DirectSound3D software API included with DirectX. When compared to other available 3D standards.

EAX Creative Labs Environmental Audio Extensions that creates very realistic and believable sound effects based in the environment of a game.

A3D Originally developed by Aureal, A3D is a software API developed for additional 3D acceleration without using Microsofts API code. Unfortunately, on June 6, 2000, Aureal went off-line because of bankruptcy.

Other considerations

Some other important considerations to look at when purchasing a computer sound card include:

Warranty How long is the warranty and what does it cover.

Support Is the technical support number a free number; is it open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Price range

The price range can vary depending upon the sound card purchased and the available options with that sound card. Below is a listing of some examples of prices you are likely to see when purchasing a sound card.

Sound Card: $20 to $300

Ready to purchase

Once you have reviewed the appropriate information and believe that you are ready to make a purchase of a new sound card, ensure that the source that you plan on purchasing the sound card from is a reputable source and you have reviewed our section on what to look out for when purchasing over the Internet.

Computer Hope is ready to setup and help you with issues you may encounter during the purchase and installation of your sound card, regardless if you purchase through us or another vendor.

To help support Computer Hope you can purchase directly through our well-known associate, Amazon. Click the below browse button to begin browsing through the sound card section.


Sound card installation