I feel that I should be more observant. In Control Panel > Sound > Playback > Select the Realtek device > Properties > Levels there are the exact changes I need. I don't know why I didn't notice until now. Could explain why there was no "Show Meters" button in this release but I thought Windows 7 also had the same leveling and there was the leveling in Dell Audio as well.
I'm still going with a new sound card from Creative however, seen a super nice $70 one that looks awesome and seems to have features to match.