Best sound card for 5.1 gaming and movies


May 11, 2009
I'm currently using an X-Fi XtremeMusic, which I think has served me very well for the last three years. However, I just ordered a Logitech Z-5500, which will replace my Logitech X-530 speakers. So I'd like to make the best use of it by getting a better sound card.

I've done quite a bit of research, but I can't seem to find the right card for my needs. Bottom line: I need a sound card that works really well with a 5.1 system for Blu-ray movies and games. I don't really care too much about music, so those two things are my main concern. Also, I use Vista 64-bit.

Max price I'd spend is $200.

Any input would be much appreciated.
I've personally run the Xonar D2(X) and for a brief time, the Prelude. I compare them about equal, although the newer Prelude has a slight edge in gaming compared tot he D2(X). I've seen nothing but goodness about the ASUS STX Essense and HDAV1.3, although the HDAV1.3 is geared more toward the Home Thearte audience, so that might be more of what you're looking for...

Guru3d has a ton of reviews on all the listed models, and the forums has ongoing discussions on the Prelude, STX Essense, and HDAV1.3

Forum threads: (STX Essence) (HDAV1.3) (Forte)


Mar 6, 2007
I'm about to order a Logitech Z-5500 so I am in the same boat as the OP. Think I'm gonna get the X-Fi Prelude 7.1.


Apr 23, 2012

The Xonar STX Essense does not show must improvement for the price.
Not too happy with the Xonar Essense STX. Today I be testing the sound quality between My Gigabytes motherboard and see how much different between the two. i tested with my DVD Samsung player playing CD against the Xonar Essense STX . The Samsung DVD player produces better sound quality than the Xonar STX.
1: Don't bump 3 year old threads
2: What speakers you using? The STX is meant for REALLY high quality stereo speakers and high impedance headphones.
3: Anything off a CD is almost certainly heavily compressed [mp3 in all likelyhood], thus destroying any advantages the STX would have. No point in getting a soundcard for an mp3 collection...