PC Motherboards Manufactures Stepping Up Their Audio Game

Cos

Cos

Audioholic Samurai
Going back to the PC Ecosystem again (still keeping my Macbook pro M1 Max)

My current audio setup has my Macbook Pro running through a Topping E50 DAC to my powered Kanto Tuk Speakers.

I am building a AMD AM5 7950x with an MSI Meg x670e Ace Motherboard. The Audio Setup looks to be fairly decent.
  • Realtek® ALC4082 Codec + ESS ES9280AQ Combo DAC/HPA
  • 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
  • Supports S/PDIF output
  • Supports up to 32-Bit/384 kHz playback on front panel
  • Upgraded "High Quality" Capacitors
As someone who always used Audio cards in their PCs, this may be good enough to actually sound good. If not I still have my Topping!

Side note: Motherboards are way to expensive and thanks to Intel/AMD and Nvidia, I can see it be a bad time to be a PC gamer unless you have deep pockets.
 
Last edited:
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Warlord
Well, that's kind of a ridiculous motherboard for the vast majority of buyers. You are free to buy whatever you find most appealing.

It's twice (or more) the price of most of what is out there, and everything out there is brand new, bleeding edge, for processing power and connectivity.

If you are going to be a early adopter of tech, then there will be a premium every time. If you are going to buy at the high end vs. mid-tier/lower end, then it will cost a fair bit more as well. This isn't just true for PCs, but pretty much all tech. Want a brand new OLED TV when it just came out? Pricey? YEP! Compare the typical 85" LCD from Samsung vs. the 83" OLED televisions. Crazy. Want an A/V receiver that properly processes 7.2.4 audio? Pricey! Want pre-outs? That's another $1,000.

Of course, building a good gaming PC has always been a bit expensive as it can run several grand to get it the way you want it with a large SSD, plenty of memory, and a great graphics card.

I did not get a very high end motherboard for my gaming rig, but a solid graphics card was a big plus and was the spendiest item in my build.

I've watched a fair number of PC build reviews at this point, and when it comes to these really high end motherboards, they generally get ridiculed. They add a lot of features which generally are not needed and the cost of the board is just to make up for the low volume sold, not so much the higher quality that goes along with it.

Yes, it has a better DAC than most. But, there are very good DACs in many other boards that are solid as well. The 1220 is very well rated for example.

It's worth adding that the last gen. motherboards can be had at $100 now. So, your $700 motherboard today, will be under $200 in just a couple of years.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
Shielding motherboard sound from electromagnetic noise has always been difficult. Don't buy that motherboard assuming that the audio will be pristine, even if it has some fancy chips in it. I wouldn't have high hopes for the analog outputs. If you want to use analog outs, just get an audio interface or a DAC with a USB audio input, especially if you are sticking with a two-channel system. If you are going for surround sound, you should be using HDMI.
 
Cos

Cos

Audioholic Samurai
Well, that's kind of a ridiculous motherboard for the vast majority of buyers. You are free to buy whatever you find most appealing.

It's twice (or more) the price of most of what is out there, and everything out there is brand new, bleeding edge, for processing power and connectivity.

If you are going to be a early adopter of tech, then there will be a premium every time. If you are going to buy at the high end vs. mid-tier/lower end, then it will cost a fair bit more as well. This isn't just true for PCs, but pretty much all tech. Want a brand new OLED TV when it just came out? Pricey? YEP! Compare the typical 85" LCD from Samsung vs. the 83" OLED televisions. Crazy. Want an A/V receiver that properly processes 7.2.4 audio? Pricey! Want pre-outs? That's another $1,000.

Of course, building a good gaming PC has always been a bit expensive as it can run several grand to get it the way you want it with a large SSD, plenty of memory, and a great graphics card.

I did not get a very high end motherboard for my gaming rig, but a solid graphics card was a big plus and was the spendiest item in my build.

I've watched a fair number of PC build reviews at this point, and when it comes to these really high end motherboards, they generally get ridiculed. They add a lot of features which generally are not needed and the cost of the board is just to make up for the low volume sold, not so much the higher quality that goes along with it.

Yes, it has a better DAC than most. But, there are very good DACs in many other boards that are solid as well. The 1220 is very well rated for example.

It's worth adding that the last gen. motherboards can be had at $100 now. So, your $700 motherboard today, will be under $200 in just a couple of years.
I have been building PCs since the early 2000 so I am very well aware of how that works. My main point was how audio has improved a ton from when I first started building the the inclusion of DACS in more recent revisions. My last PC build was a Z390 intel. I spent $269 on a midrange Gigabyte Master Mobo.

As far as my motherboard choice there were a range of criteria, not just to shell out $$$ for a cool looking board. Anyone looking to faster FPS on games by spending 699 vs 249 for a board would be crazy. I don't think I have ever sold a used MoBo, but it surprising that some actually go up in value. X99 Mobos still command premium dollars.

My Criteria (Both Gaming and Content Creation)
  • I wanted the faster USB Type C ports (20MB/s vs 10)
  • More inputs, more fan headers, better power design as I like to tinker around for overclocking.
  • I like the fact it had an add on card for another 2 M.2 Drives
  • Clear CMOS button, Flash Bios buttons on the back panel
  • 10GB Lan for Future Storage Solution
  • Cooling Solution the new AMDs run really hot 95 Degree C
  • Who makes the audio/networking chipsets as some have much better drivers than others
I agree that I am free to buy whatever I want, and I do, but not because I want to buy an expensive board because its "cool" LOL.

If I were just a basic gamer, I would get a basic motherboard, I do content creation with my drone videos, concerts etc and I will also use for work.

MY ORIGINAL COMMENT: Even entry point for AM5 is around 250-300, midpoint is 499-699 and then there are the "God LIkes" and Asus motherboard that would are the 1k and over all the bells, lights and whistles. This has gone up significantly for this generation vs the Z690, Z590s and x570s when they launched by a large margin.

If I were just a gamer, I would get the 58003D CPU or even 12700K/12600K and stick with DDR4 and call it day, there is not enough reason to justify buying the new AMD or Intel launching in October purely for gaming, and put the majority of your budget to a video card.
 
Last edited:
Cos

Cos

Audioholic Samurai
Shielding motherboard sound from electromagnetic noise has always been difficult. Don't buy that motherboard assuming that the audio will be pristine, even if it has some fancy chips in it. I wouldn't have high hopes for the analog outputs. If you want to use analog outs, just get an audio interface or a DAC with a USB audio input, especially if you are sticking with a two-channel system. If you are going for surround sound, you should be using HDMI.
I agree, I have looked at some of the board designs and while not an expert, some do a much better job with shielding than others. Even then, there is a lot going on the motherboard in general. A DAC is not going help a poorly designed/shielded chipset.

I will test it against the Topping E50, when I finally get it put together. Right now I am waiting for the AM5 adapter for my Kraken Z73 AIO 360 cooler (yes that was a waste of $$$, but it looks so cool with its LCD Screen that I can put gifs on!) AM4 and AM5 are supposed to be compatible, except for the one I pick out apparently.
 
Last edited:
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
In my third iteration of my HTPC I did indeed use a gamers mother board.

ASUS ROG STRIX B550-I GAMING AM4 AMD B550 SATA 6Gb/s Mini ITX AMD Motherboard


At $214.99 I do not think the price outrageous. It is a superb board, fast and boots up almost instantly. The picture is superb, and better than you can get from TV apps.

I still think and HTPC properly designed and built, is the best, and most versatile streaming device money can buy for AV.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic General
I use an HDMI output from my GPU into a Denon for good sound for my Man Cave system. Works great. ;)
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Warlord
I have been building PCs since the early 2000 so I am very well aware of how that works. My main point was how audio has improved a ton from when I first started building the the inclusion of DACS in more recent revisions. My last PC build was a Z390 intel. I spent $269 on a midrange Gigabyte Master Mobo.

As far as my motherboard choice there were a range of criteria, not just to shell out $$$ for a cool looking board. Anyone looking to faster FPS on games by spending 699 vs 249 for a board would be crazy. I don't think I have ever sold a used MoBo, but it surprising that some actually go up in value. X99 Mobos still command premium dollars.

My Criteria (Both Gaming and Content Creation)
  • I wanted the faster USB Type C ports (20MB/s vs 10)
  • More inputs, more fan headers, better power design as I like to tinker around for overclocking.
  • I like the fact it had an add on card for another 2 M.2 Drives
  • Clear CMOS button, Flash Bios buttons on the back panel
  • 10GB Lan for Future Storage Solution
  • Cooling Solution the new AMDs run really hot 95 Degree C
  • Who makes the audio/networking chipsets as some have much better drivers than others
I agree that I am free to buy whatever I want, and I do, but not because I want to buy an expensive board because its "cool" LOL.

If I were just a basic gamer, I would get a basic motherboard, I do content creation with my drone videos, concerts etc and I will also use for work.

MY ORIGINAL COMMENT: Even entry point for AM5 is around 250-300, midpoint is 499-699 and then there are the "God LIkes" and Asus motherboard that would are the 1k and over all the bells, lights and whistles. This has gone up significantly for this generation vs the Z690, Z590s and x570s when they launched by a large margin.

If I were just a gamer, I would get the 58003D CPU or even 12700K/12600K and stick with DDR4 and call it day, there is not enough reason to justify buying the new AMD or Intel launching in October purely for gaming, and put the majority of your budget to a video card.
I hope AMD has figured out their BIOS issues. Only way I fixed mine was to swap out my 3900x for a 5900x. It works, and I get a new setup for my server, but it's made me question whether or not I'll go with AMD in the future.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
I hope AMD has figured out their BIOS issues. Only way I fixed mine was to swap out my 3900x for a 5900x. It works, and I get a new setup for my server, but it's made me question whether or not I'll go with AMD in the future.
I have not had any BIOS issues with my Assus board with AMD processor. This HTPC is astoundingly good. I am really pleased with it. It is one of the best pieces of gear in the system. The current iteration of the DAW also a spectacular performer. I believe not enough audio buffs include PCs in their rigs. The performance has gone up exponentially since my first DAW in 2002. I am a big promoter and enthusiasts for including computers in AV rigs. I just hate hunt and peck remotes. Computers all the way for me. They are stable quicker and more certain. My HTPC and DAW are among the last items I would want to give up.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Warlord
I have not had any BIOS issues with my Assus board with AMD processor. This HTPC is astoundingly good. I am really pleased with it. It is one of the best pieces of gear in the system. The current iteration of the DAW also a spectacular performer. I believe not enough audio buffs include PCs in their rigs. The performance has gone up exponentially since my first DAW in 2002. I am a big promoter and enthusiasts for including computers in AV rigs. I just hate hunt and peck remotes. Computers all the way for me. They are stable quicker and more certain. My HTPC and DAW are among the last items I would want to give up.
The issues I was talking about were sadly very specific to my setup. If you had a x570 motherboard (I do) and a 3900x series CPU (I did) and an Nvidia 30xx series card (I do) then there was the potential to have USB issues and other annoying things. I had the USB issues, but avoided everything else.

My PC is in my office which is where I have my OLED 65" TV and do a lot of TV/movie watching outside the theater. It's great for all those things, but when you have as many controllers for video games as I do, USB compatibility is important. More important was the fact that my DAC wouldn't work until I got it plugged into one of the additional USB 2.0 headers my motherboard thankfully came with. Now that I have my new CPU (5900x) my USB issues are gone since I no longer have the very specific combo that makes the issue appear in the first place.

I've got a motherboard very similar to the one you're using in your HTPC sitting in a box waiting for it's new job as my main server board. It'll replace two ancient 2670 xeon CPUs I got cheap years ago. It'll be a pretty nice upgrade. That server also houses my HTPC VM so that will also get a nice performance boost.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
No matter how "good" the SQ of the MB is, I don't see it equal to a high quality processor.

So why not just bitstream to the processor?
 
Cos

Cos

Audioholic Samurai
I hope AMD has figured out their BIOS issues. Only way I fixed mine was to swap out my 3900x for a 5900x. It works, and I get a new setup for my server, but it's made me question whether or not I'll go with AMD in the future.
This is only my second AMD system. I built an AMD FX-53 in 2004 because it was the best PC Gaming CPU at the time. I never had issues with it. I went back to AMD this time around mainly due to timing and that I sold my I9-9900k Build about a year ago.

AMD has had driver issues in the past, I was not aware of the bios issues, I guess I will find out when I actually build my system. It is all together, but unfortunately I have to wait for NZXT to ship an adapter bracket for the AM5 to fit my CPU cooler. This is also good, because it will force me to wait and by that time I am sure the BIOS will be updated a few times by then.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic General
No matter how "good" the SQ of the MB is, I don't see it equal to a high quality processor.

So why not just bitstream to the processor?
Thanks for the suggestion. It's making me think about exactly what is the audio potion of signal coming from my GeForce GTX 970 HDMI connection into the Denon Receiver. It may be simpler to let the receiver decode it rather than the PC (like I do with my Blu-Ray Players on various systems). I wonder what I'd have to do to figure it out. :rolleyes:
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
I have been building PCs since the early 2000 so I am very well aware of how that works. My main point was how audio has improved a ton from when I first started building the the inclusion of DACS in more recent revisions. My last PC build was a Z390 intel. I spent $269 on a midrange Gigabyte Master Mobo.

As far as my motherboard choice there were a range of criteria, not just to shell out $$$ for a cool looking board. Anyone looking to faster FPS on games by spending 699 vs 249 for a board would be crazy. I don't think I have ever sold a used MoBo, but it surprising that some actually go up in value. X99 Mobos still command premium dollars.

My Criteria (Both Gaming and Content Creation)
  • I wanted the faster USB Type C ports (20MB/s vs 10)
  • More inputs, more fan headers, better power design as I like to tinker around for overclocking.
  • I like the fact it had an add on card for another 2 M.2 Drives
  • Clear CMOS button, Flash Bios buttons on the back panel
  • 10GB Lan for Future Storage Solution
  • Cooling Solution the new AMDs run really hot 95 Degree C
  • Who makes the audio/networking chipsets as some have much better drivers than others
I agree that I am free to buy whatever I want, and I do, but not because I want to buy an expensive board because its "cool" LOL.

If I were just a basic gamer, I would get a basic motherboard, I do content creation with my drone videos, concerts etc and I will also use for work.

MY ORIGINAL COMMENT: Even entry point for AM5 is around 250-300, midpoint is 499-699 and then there are the "God LIkes" and Asus motherboard that would are the 1k and over all the bells, lights and whistles. This has gone up significantly for this generation vs the Z690, Z590s and x570s when they launched by a large margin.

If I were just a gamer, I would get the 58003D CPU or even 12700K/12600K and stick with DDR4 and call it day, there is not enough reason to justify buying the new AMD or Intel launching in October purely for gaming, and put the majority of your budget to a video card.
Been using PC for audio since around 2002 and gaming well before that. Mostly for desktop 2.1 stuff. Then I got my last new PC in 2017 and just used it with a much larger 2.1system. HP actually made a point to mention that the on-board audio section was shielded from interference, and it has been quiet. I bought this PC based on multimedia, and not as an office machine. The Dell I (still have it) used before this was also good audio quality and that too, was chosen mostly around entertainment use. I also have a CD player independent from the PC but connected to the same system. It's all quite good. I would have upgraded or avoided it altogether, had it not worked satisfactorily.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Warlord
This is only my second AMD system. I built an AMD FX-53 in 2004 because it was the best PC Gaming CPU at the time. I never had issues with it. I went back to AMD this time around mainly due to timing and that I sold my I9-9900k Build about a year ago.

AMD has had driver issues in the past, I was not aware of the bios issues, I guess I will find out when I actually build my system. It is all together, but unfortunately I have to wait for NZXT to ship an adapter bracket for the AM5 to fit my CPU cooler. This is also good, because it will force me to wait and by that time I am sure the BIOS will be updated a few times by then.
I was big on AMD way back in the socket A days, but once Core 2 came out it was over for AMD in the gaming space. They're just now competitive again and I'm all for it, but their drivers haven't gotten any better. I'm solid right now with what I've got, but I just had the bad luck of selecting the exact component combination to cause me problems.

I'd love to say that's never happened before, but that'd be a lie.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
My colleague also jumped on a cool AMD 3k CPU, and he's no spring chicken in IT. He's on par with me tech-wise, if not better in some stuff. He had annoying bios/chipset issues with USB in particular. AMD finally released a bios update to fix it. If you want a stable system, don't jump on the latest and greatest, especially with AMD, you're asking for beta tester-style issues. Issues with AMD/ATI quality video drivers turned me away from them to Nvidia, and since I switched, I have zero driver issues.

My 2c - overclocking is basically nearly pointless now, as between very tight binning and dynamic voltages deliver better performance, your best bet with modern Hi-End CPUs isn't to overclock them but to provide the best cooling system possible.

Lastly, on audio, I agree with the idea of the external audio interface. In the budget realm, two stand out Motu m2 and Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen. Both would be fine. I look for a few things in such a device: 24/192 support, balanced audio out, headphone amp with independent volume control.
 
Last edited:
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic General
FYI, in Windows 10 (and I suppose Windows 11 => as it's just Win10 with different lipstick so far) your software player controls if you can select Bitstream or PCM output to your AVR => not Windows. FYI Cyberlink PowerDVD.

I'm not certain that for non-Atmos material that there is an audible difference letting the computer decode the audio stream versus the AVR. But you can play around with it and come to your own conclusions. ;)
 
D

dlaloum

Audioholic
In my third iteration of my HTPC I did indeed use a gamers mother board.

ASUS ROG STRIX B550-I GAMING AM4 AMD B550 SATA 6Gb/s Mini ITX AMD Motherboard


At $214.99 I do not think the price outrageous. It is a superb board, fast and boots up almost instantly. The picture is superb, and better than you can get from TV apps.

I still think and HTPC properly designed and built, is the best, and most versatile streaming device money can buy for AV.
I opted for the Asus ROG Strix X470-f - and have been using HTPC for circa 20 years now...

I agree, a properly designed and built HTPC is the best and most versatile source for both music and movies / streaming...

It's just sad that we are stuck with AVR's for decoding/RoomEQ duty.... proper PC based integrated Decoding and RoomEQ is still a difficult and expensive exercise...
 
newsletter

  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
Top