I have been using an Asus Xonar DG for the last 4 years. It is a very good, value oriented sound card which is 10 times better than any onboard audio solution in motherboards. It comes with a built in Headphone amplifier which supports headphones with up to 150 Ohm impedance. It also comes with Dolby Headphone support which enhances in game audio. It has served me well.
However, I now wanted to upgrade to more clean audio while using the same speaker set and less CPU overhead. I again looked for solutions given by Asus and purchased an Asus Xonar DX.
- Xonar DX uses a PCI to PCIe converter chip to make it compatible with PCIe slots. The connector is PCIe x1 but you can install in any PCIe slot as long as it fits. I am using it in the second PCIe slot meant for GPU in my PC as I only use a single GPU.
- This sound card needs external power source in the form of a 4Pin floppy power connector. All SMPS contain one of this. However, a converter for 4pin Molex to 4pin floppy connector is also given in the box.
- Front Panel audio in your cabinet can also be connected in the specified connection.
- Default drivers by Asus leave a lot to be desired. I recommend downloading Uni Xonar Drivers.
- GX 2.0 is technically useless now as all games process audio in software over CPU.
- This sound card easily supports Headphones with 100 Ohm impedance. I am using my Audio Technica AD500 with this at 80% volume and there is no distortion or sound quality reduction.
- This sound card supports Dolby Pro Logic. This provides good surround sound experience in games.
- You can connect upto 7.1 channel speakers to this sound card and Optical Out via S/PDIF is supported.
For me, benefits are apparent.
- I am able to hear better and cleaner audio in games. This is very noticeable.
- Audio positioning in games is better.
- No distortion of reduction in sound quality even at 80% volume with headphones.
- On speakers, the difference is not that visible as I am using a Gigaworks T20 which comes with its own amplifier etc.
- This is a audiophile level sound card with Home Theater support and in PCIe slot so this is very future proof.