Built-in vs. PCI sound

S

spleen

New Member
#1
I've got a built-in sound "board" (C-Media 8330) on my Amptron 9900
motherboard, which seems to work very nicely. Would I be likely to gain
anything by (specifically frames-per-second in games) going to a PCI card? That is, does the fact that my soundcard's
on the motherboard mean that it's hogging some CPU resources?
 
C

collinj

New Member
#2
Going to a pci based sound board will probably get you better performance (if it is a good pci based board such as a diamond mx200 or a sb pci-128 or sb live, or a turtle beach). You will likely see better frame rates with these. I have the same onboard sound you have on my system (houston tech m715 motherboard). It is called "sound pro" in my documentation, but it is the same chipset you are using. I have recently been doing some testing with this on board sound compared to my sound blaster AWE 64 sound card. I ran frame rate comparisons using my awe 64 and the sound pro with quake II timedemo 1 crusher.dm2 and massive1.dm2. At first I had really bad sound from the sound pro, untill I changed from "max performance" to "max compatability" in the options menu. When it was up and runing smoothly, I was quite supprised at the difference between the awe 64 and the built on sound pro. The soundpro got 1fps faster at the crusher.dm2 map and 4fps faster on the massive1.dm2 map. I also noted less sound cutting, and smoother sound. (the weapons also sounded beter on the soundpro too). I also ran this in unreal, and I got noticably better sound with the sound pro than the awe 64. This is leading me to believe the soundpro is pci based not isa based. The problems I did have with the sound pro were: the cd sound quality did not match the awe 64 sound. The general midi sound through the awe 64 is way better. All in all though, the sound pro is not that bad. Actually it is pretty good, but a good pci based sound card from creative or diamond would likely do better. I may be getting a pci 128 from creative soon, I will let every one know what this one scores.
 
Mole

Mole

Seeing Mole
#3
The Sound Pro chip is ISA PnP based. You can see it's listed during start up as ISA PnP device.

I think the reason to that you got slightly higher frame rates might be because that AWE64 use more processing time since it has much more funtionalities than the Sound Pro. Also, it use software wavetable on 32 of it's voices which take up some processing time.
 
C

collinj

New Member
#4
The only time I can ever see what is on my bios setup start screen is when I hit break when the system is booting. It skips past this screen really fast, so I never pay attention to it, unless im looking for something specifically. I was not aware that the sound pro was isa based, but that still does not explain the faster frame rates with quake II. The awe 64 may use software for half of its 64 voices, but the soundpro uses software for all of its voices, and it also uses opl-3 compatability fm-synth. My only explanation then, for it being faster than the sb card, would be that it is built onto the mother board. That is the only thing I can think of, as the AWE 64 is a much better card.
 
Mole

Mole

Seeing Mole
#5
Well, you almost answered your own question there. As I implied in my post, since AWE64 is a more advance card than the SoundPro, I guess it's naturally that AWE64 would demand more processing power than SoundPro due to it's simplicity.

Beeing on board doesn't make any difference. It still use ISA bus to communicate even though the bus is not visible.

Besides, 1-4 frame rates faster isn't exactly noticable. Did you run the benchmark several times on both soundcards? It might be due to some drivers loaded or some other factors.
 
C

collinj

New Member
#6
I have been spending about the last 2 weeks trying to optimize my system better for playing quake II. I have run the benchmarks dozens of times. With tweaks, without tweaks, high quality sound, low quality sound, shutting off things in the background, overclocking my pure 3d card, tweaking driver settings, tweaking memory settings, everything I can think of, as well as alot of help from "3 fingers" Jacobs (the one who made the crusher.dm2 and the massive1.dm2 maps for benchmarking in quake II. The absolute fastest fps in 640x480 resolution quake II was 19.3fps. That was MAX. That was also runing the crusher.dm2 map. The massive1.dm2 map showed about 24fps, the demo1.dm2 map showed about 28fps. The first run on the crusher map was a horrible 12FPS!! But the second run was 19.0fps, and each successive run was at 19.3fps. This is with the sound blaster AWE 64 sound card. When I poped out the sb awe 64 card and enabled the sound pro onboard sound, My first run at the crusher.dm2 map was at 14+fps, second was at 19.5 and each successive run was at 20.2fps. Now, you may not think 1fps is noticable, but I have run the benchmarks so many times my eyes were starting to bleed (jk, but pretty close). I noticed a diff, because the crusher.dm2 shows the LOWEST frame rates you will get in quake II. My massive1.dm2 score was 4fps faster running at 28fps, and the demo1.dm2 posted almost 35. This was a very significant difference. And onboard periferals are usually slightly faster than their card based cousins. By about 5% or so.
 

Associates