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Seagate Backup Plus Slim External USB 3.0 2TB Hard Drive Review

DirectX 9-class pixel - DirectX 9-class pixel
Thu, January 09 2003 | 5:36AM | PermaLink Feedback?
MUCH TO MY DISMAY, audio seems to be one of the more universally neglected components of today's PCs, even the high-end ones. Quite honestly, it's not hard to see why. It's much easier to flash some benchmarks showing that a 3GHz processor is indeed very fast, or show a screenshot or video clip that conveys the awesome power of DirectX 9-class pixel and vertex shaders, than it is to convey how good all the different PC audio solutions really sound. What makes something sound good is largely subjective territory, and evaluations can be as dependent on quality of source media and speaker system as they can on the quality of the sound card itself. An audiophile-class sound card isn't going to do much for you if you're listening to a 128k MP3 on a set of low-end, bargain-bin speakers. Likewise, a budget sound card isn't going to magically sound amazing when you hook it up to a killer set of THX-certified 5.1 surround sound speakers. Nevertheless, I think quality audio is ready for a comeback. PCs are increasingly being used as digital entertainment hubs to play, record, and manipulate audio and video, and Microsoft has even released a special "Media Center" edition of Windows XP designed for media-centric PCs. Games, too, are ripe for an audio revolution. With today's graphics cards capable of handling all the complex calculations required to produce stunning visuals without having to lean on the processor for too much help, game developers have additional CPU resources that can be dedicated to more complex audio engines, among other things. Hard drives are adding gigabytes at what seems like a frantic pace, too, so there's also plenty of room on gamers' hard drives for higher quality audio samples. To prepare you for what could be the PC's impending audio revolution, we've rounded up a total of seven very different PC audio solutions and run them through the wringer. We have everything from a typical 6-channel motherboard integrated audio implementation all the way up to a professional-level, true 24-bit/96kHz sound card more appropriate for audiophiles. Is professional-level audio really all that? Is integrated audio really that bad? How do different audio cards stack up, and which one is right for you?
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