PC!-e x16, Half Height Sound Card: OBVIOUSLY better?

This HP Slimline office computer


video and audio from it’s motherboard (no extra fan noise)

using headphone out to Integrated Tube Amp now, to restored AR2ax speakers. Sounds good!

streaming YouTube Music Videos and Pandora (free) Radio.

****You ought to know by now I ain’t streaming beyond these two free methods/quality. *****

Possibility of using the PCI-e x16 slot for a half-height sound card.

One with RCA out rather than using headphone out?

Is the motherboard audio codec ALC3863-CG still involved, controlling output quality to the PCI-e slot???

It’s gotta be OBVIOUSLY better sound or why bother


Teach me something?

Thanks as always for your help understanding this.




The motherboard audio will not be involved unless you select that as the audio output in Windows.


Will it sound obviously better? Maybe. The headphone out is not ideal because you're essentially amplifying the signal twice - once with the onboard headphone amplifier and then with your integrated. If you don't hear any noise at the volume you're listening to, then it's not a problem.


Is there any particular reason why you're considering a soundcard vs. an external USB DAC?


thanks for your reply.

I have no noise or volume issues now, no problem, just, I got a slot, what would be better?

I was just kind of assuming a card slot would be better than usb/another external device.

is there a card PCI-e DAC with RCA out?

OR: ethernet to motherboard, ____?____ out usb (2 or 3 available) to USB DAC with RCA out to Luxman Integrated Line In? Thru a hub ok or problematic?

what is the most limiting part of that chain, i.e. is the motherboard audio codec involved or is signal from ethernet simply passed along to the USB out to the DAC?


this would give me 2 additional rear usb 3.0 ports, no need to use the external usb hub


The audio data from your network adapter is sent to whatever audio device you select in Windows (click on the speaker in the lower right in Win10, right click on the speaker in Win11 and select Sound Settings).


For example, if you have an external USB DAC and select that device for audio output, then all the data is sent to the DAC, bypassing any other audio device that’s installed.


I’ve never used a USB DAC through a powered hub, so I can’t speak to how reliable it would be. I don’t think it would be a problem if you plugged, say, a mouse, keyboard, and DAC into the same hub. The safer option would probably be getting the expansion card.


If you still prefer a soundcard, I think you’ll have a tough time finding one with RCA line output in half-height form factor.