Saturday, April 11, 2009
Most motherboards have built-in sound features. These are often adequate for most users.However, you can purchase a good sound card and speakers at relatively low cost - a fewdollars at the low end can make an enormous difference in the range and clarity of sound. Also,these onboard systems tend to use more system resources, so you are better off with a realsoundcard for gaming.Good quality in sound cards depends on a few factors. The digital-analog conversion (DAC) isgenerally the most important stage for general clarity, but it is a poorly measurable process.Reviews, especially those from audiophile sources, are worth consulting for this; but don't gopurely by specifications, as many different models with similar specs can produce completelydifferent results. Cards may offer digital (S/PDIF) output, in which case the DAC process ismoved from your sound card either to a dedicated receiver or to one built into your speakers.Sound cards made for gaming or professional music tend to do outstandingly well for theirparticular purpose. In games various effects are oftentimes applied to the sound in real-time,and a gaming sound card will be able to do this processing on-board, instead of using your CPUfor the task. Professional music cards tend to be built both for maximum sound quality and lowlatency (transmission delay) input and output, and include more and/or different kinds of inputsthan those of consumer cards.ModemA modem is needed in order to connect to a dial up internet connection. A modem can also beused for faxing. Modems can attach to the computer in different ways, and can have built-inprocessing or use the computer's CPU for processing.Modems with built-in processing generally include all modems that connect via a standardserial port, as well as any modems that refer to themselves as "Hardware Modems". SoftwareModems, or modems that rely on the CPU generally include both Internal and USB modems, orhave packaging that mentions drivers or requiring a specific CPU to work.Modems that rely on the CPU are often designed specifically for the current version ofWindows only, and will require drivers that are incompatible with future Windows versions,and may be difficult to upgrade. Software Modems are also very difficult to find drivers fornon-Windows operating systems. The manufacturer is unlikely to support the hardware withnew drivers after it is discontinued, forcing you to buy new hardware. Most such modems areinternal or external USB, but this is not always the case.Modems can be attached via USB, a traditional serial port, or an internal card slot. Internal andUSB modems are more easily autodetected by the operating system and less likely to haveproblems with setup. USB and serial port modems often require an extra power supply block.Gaming modems are normal modems that default to having a low compression setting to reduce lag, but are generally no longer used by gamers, who prefer broadband connections.