aras1
2 Iron

SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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I am sure this has been posted someplace already here, but i couldn't find it.

I am looking for some advice. I have a very old IBM desktop (~6 yrs) that I am in the midst of upgrading to a new XPS 8300. What I want to know is if the integrated AMD HD audio in the XPS 8300 is adequate or if it is worth moving my SoundBlaster X-Fi Audio sound card from my old machine to the XPS 8300?

What I have read on other blogs and forums is replacing integrated video with dedicated video cards produces obvious and clear improvements in video quality but that the quality of integrated audio has improved significantly over the last few years such that it is no longer worth the money investing in a separate sound card.

What say you? Anyone have experience that they can share?

Thus far I am quite happy with the XPS 8300 integrated audio playing over my Logitech 5.1 system but I do seem to notice that the treble is a bit tinny compared to the sound on my old IBM but that may be due to not yet having invested the time in tweaking the settings for my speakers.

Anyways, looking forward to the considered opinion of the Dell community. For me it is not a matter of money as I already have the card. Rather it is a question of whether it is worth the effort (opening both boxes, losing the front headphone + mic jacks, searching for the correct 64 bit win 7 drivers on the Creative website, etc).

XPS 8300, SNB, i7-2600 (3.4GHz) | SDRAM - 6GB DDR3 1333MHz | Optical drive - 16x DVD-RW | Video - ATI Radeon HD 5670 1GB GDDR5 | Monitor - Dell U2311H 23IN FP | HDD - 1TB SATA 2, 7200 RPM |  OS - Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit | Audio - Creative Labs SB X-Fi Titanium PCIe

Latitude E5420, Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2620M CPU @ 2.70 GHz | 8 GB RAM OS - Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit | 

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Philip_Yip
5 Iridium

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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Hi ARAS1

You actually already have the cable already, so don't worry. I made the same mistake initially, there appears to be a step missing from the service manual. <ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed from this post by Dell>

Your soundcard looks something like this.

And the part you are looking for is the cable to the red circled component. This cable is 21 the front panel audio connector (F_AUDIO1) and is plugged into the mainboard here:


Its just a case of unplugging it from 21 and plugging it into the soundcard. Note I put the soundcard in the bottom PCI slot, which seems to be the standard slot most people put it in and is closest to this cable. Then just disable the integrated audio in the BIOs and install the driver which I think you have already done so won't need to again.

My cable was actually pretty lose on the board, which is maybe why I had such terrible sound quality in the first place, I never tested to see as there is no point now that I have the soundcard.

Dr Philip Yip
Tech Enthusiast and Author of the Unofficial Dell Windows Reinstallation Guide

Windows FAQs and OEM Downloads


#IDoNotWorkFor Dell
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19 Replies
7- Gold

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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Hi Aras1,

Six years is old for a PC but not for a decent sound card. I think there is absolutely no harm in trying. There is no problem having two sound cards in a computer, obviously. I would just check around to make sure there's a proper device driver. For example, if you have a 64-bit OS, that can be a challenge. Microsoft has provided lots of drivers, 32 and 64 bit, for old hardware but many of them aren't provided with the OS, so you have to search their site for legacy drivers.

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fireberd
6 Indium

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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GENERALLY the "latest and greatest" integrated audio is as good (and sometimes better) than separate sound cards.  I have a recording studio and am a musician so I'm probably more attuned to audio then some others.  I have a separate sound card but it's because the the Integrated audio interferes with my recording software.  It it wasn't for the conflict issue I would be using the Integrated audio for the "PC audio". 

Some (many) new Integrated sound systems do not have a System Mixer function (SoundBlaster calls this "what you hear") and for those that must have this function a separate sound card is a must.

Check with Creative on Win 7 drivers for your Xfi card.  Some of the early Xfi cards are not supported for Win 7 (and Win 7 specific drivers are needed for the Xfi's). 



I am not a Dell Employee

Dell forum member since 2002

Dell Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS ROG Z170, i7 6700K CPU

Windows 10 64 bit Pro and Windows 10 Insider Program Beta Versions. SSD drives. Cakewalk by BandLab and Studio One 4.1 Recordng Studio Software.

Dell S2719dgf Monitor

Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

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aras1
2 Iron

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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fireberd and osprey, thanks very much for the advice. The SB card I have in my old system is relatively new (~ a year) as I purchased it to refresh my old system and get a couple more years out of it.

Once I have my new system up and running I'll give it a go and see if I can see a difference. Mind you, my needs are not great. I simply like to listen to excellent sounding music while working. Plus, I have a labour of love converting my old vinyl to digital mpegs.  

XPS 8300, SNB, i7-2600 (3.4GHz) | SDRAM - 6GB DDR3 1333MHz | Optical drive - 16x DVD-RW | Video - ATI Radeon HD 5670 1GB GDDR5 | Monitor - Dell U2311H 23IN FP | HDD - 1TB SATA 2, 7200 RPM |  OS - Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit | Audio - Creative Labs SB X-Fi Titanium PCIe

Latitude E5420, Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2620M CPU @ 2.70 GHz | 8 GB RAM OS - Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit | 

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7- Gold

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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Both Firebird and I are with you on enjoying music!! Let me know how you make out.

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Szczepanik
1 Nickel

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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Aras

You should be aware that the Dell OEM (original equipment manufacturer) sound cards are different from retail sound cards. For example my Dell XPS 8300 was ordered with this part: 510-10336 Sound Card : Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music Card. However the Creative Diagnostics Device Detection reported the following supported Creative products are detected: Device: Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio.

Other users have noted that thier Dell supplied cards do not have the same connections as the Creative web site shows for their Music card and look more like the Audio card. The first post has links to pictures.
http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/p/18793475/18916461.aspx?PageIndex=3
http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3513/p/18511322/18634308.aspx#18634308

Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme AudioI would guess that since the XPS 8300 has only 1 PCI Express x16 card slot and 3 PCI Express x1 card slots, what Dell appear to have done is to use the Soundblaster Audio board which has x1 connection and then added components to bring the spec up to something that they can term as a "Music" card. There is no documentation but it has five jacks and two optical jacks and looks like the attached picture.That makes it hard choosing the right divers and comparing performance!
My 520-10991 Speakers : Dell AY410 Multimedia Speaker System UK (Kit) are quite cheap and only have 3 speakers but they do have a convenient separate volume control and headphone socket. I just connected one green plug into the green socket and it sounds fine! Note also with this soundcard that you will NOT be
losing the front headphone + mic jacks - they both work fine on my PC. I wanted this for voice recognition and it seems to do the job for me.

Sorry I cannot be more helpful. My single x16 slot is taken up with a double height video card so the sound card presumably has to be x1. (I have not opened my cover yet!). Presumably your SoundBlaster X-Fi Audio sound card uses PCI Express x1 card slot. If your card has the Intel HD standard Front Panel Header Audio connector and as SoundBlaster have the drivers for Windows 7, then your card should fit.
http://support.creative.com/Products/ProductDetails.aspx?catID=1&CatName=Sound+Blaster&subCatID=208&...

Cheers
Tom


Dell XPS 8300 | D02X8319 | XPS 8300 : Intel Core i7-2600 Processor(3.40GHz,8MB) | Memory : 8192MB (4x2048) 1333MHz DDR3 Dual Channel | Hard Drive : 2TB Dual Hard Drive Raid 0 "Stripe" (2x1TB - 7200RPM)
Optical Drive : 6X Blu-Ray RW (Blu-ray, DVD, CD read & write) & DVD+/-RW (DVD, CD read/write) optical drives | Wireless : Europe Dell Bluetooth 365 Card | Graphics : 1 GB ATI Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card | Sound Card : Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music Card
| Operating System : Windows 7 Ultimate (64 BIT)

aras1
2 Iron

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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Hey Tom, thanks for the info. The card I have in my old PC looks exactly like the pic you posted above and it is a PCI x1. But I never could figure out how to connect the card in my old system to the front end headphone and mic hookups. I know there are some pins on the side of the card for doing so but my old PC was an IBM and I could not figure out how to jury rig it to connect up with the pins. Are you suggesting this should be possible with the XPS 83000 or that the integrated sound card will still put sound out to the front end mic and headphones with a dedicated sound card installed or that the mobo will direct the sound card output to the front end mic and headphone jacks?

XPS 8300, SNB, i7-2600 (3.4GHz) | SDRAM - 6GB DDR3 1333MHz | Optical drive - 16x DVD-RW | Video - ATI Radeon HD 5670 1GB GDDR5 | Monitor - Dell U2311H 23IN FP | HDD - 1TB SATA 2, 7200 RPM |  OS - Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit | Audio - Creative Labs SB X-Fi Titanium PCIe

Latitude E5420, Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2620M CPU @ 2.70 GHz | 8 GB RAM OS - Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit | 

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Szczepanik
1 Nickel

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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Aras, I think it is worth moving your SoundBlaster X-Fi Audio sound card from your old machine to the XPS 8300. Why else would Dell offer the SoundBlaster on the XPS 8300 if it was not an improvement.

Sound Card in 22 connects to 21You should install the PCI Express <ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed from this post by Dell> sound card in the bottom slot - that is where mine is. This PCI Express x1 card slot (PCI-EX1_3) is number 22 in the System Board Components diagram which shows the location of the nearby front panel audio connector (F_AUDIO1) as # 21.

Hopefully your sound card came with the appropriate Intel HD (High Definition) standard Front Panel Header Audio connector cable. See http://support.creative.com/kb/showarticle.aspx?sid=68176

In any case, if you right click on the speaker icon in your system tray you will see that in WIndows 7 you can select different playback and recording devices.

See Configuring Your Computer After Removing or Installing the PCI Express Card

  1. Enter system setup (see System Setup Utility)
  2. Go to Onboard Audio Controller and then change the setting to Disabled.
  3. Connect the external audio devices to the sound card's connectors.

Note that your speakers can make as much difference as anything else. However the SoundBlaster should also be better for converting your old vinyl to digital mpegs.

Let us all know how you get on please.

Cheers
Tom
Dell XPS 8300 | D02X8319 | XPS 8300 : Intel Core i7-2600 Processor(3.40GHz,8MB) | Memory : 8192MB (4x2048) 1333MHz DDR3 Dual Channel | Hard Drive : 2TB Dual Hard Drive Raid 0 "Stripe" (2x1TB - 7200RPM)
Optical Drive : 6X Blu-Ray RW (Blu-ray, DVD, CD read & write) & DVD+/-RW (DVD, CD read/write) optical drives | Wireless : Europe Dell Bluetooth 365 Card | Graphics : 1 GB ATI Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card | Sound Card : Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music Card
| Operating System : Windows 7 Ultimate (64 BIT)

aras1
2 Iron

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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Tom,

Now that is cool. The reason I could not hook up my SB card to my old IBM front mic and phone jacks is because it was an AC97 type rather than the Intel HD type. Unfortunately, my SB sound card did not come with a 2x5 pin connector cable. Is this something that is easy to find at a PC store?

BTW I am waiting for a replacement XPS 8300. The original one kept locking up for no apparent reason. I hope the replacement gets here soon!

XPS 8300, SNB, i7-2600 (3.4GHz) | SDRAM - 6GB DDR3 1333MHz | Optical drive - 16x DVD-RW | Video - ATI Radeon HD 5670 1GB GDDR5 | Monitor - Dell U2311H 23IN FP | HDD - 1TB SATA 2, 7200 RPM |  OS - Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit | Audio - Creative Labs SB X-Fi Titanium PCIe

Latitude E5420, Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2620M CPU @ 2.70 GHz | 8 GB RAM OS - Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit | 

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silvery79
1 Nickel

Re: SoundBlaster card vs XPS 8300 integrated

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Does anyone know if one were to add a sound card to the XPS 8300, would the headphone and microphone jacks on the top still work? Is that what the Intel front header business is about?

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