A sound card and a graphics card are both necessary for creators, gamers and other professionals who do a lot of graphics processing on their computer. These two cards perform different tasks and are different in other aspects as well which, like most users, may not be known to you.
Here in this article you will find all those differences entailed to enhance your knowledge and even know which among the two is more useful, if at all.
- Though the range of prices for both can be quite wide, a sound card is much cheaper in comparison to a graphics card.
- The sound cards are not customizable as the graphics cards which makes the GPUs more attractive to the users.
- A sound card has minimal system requirements but a graphics card will need a compatible motherboard, slots, memory, cooling, and even a suitable processor in most of the cases.
In This Article
6 Differences Between Sound Card and Graphics Card
While there can be a wide range of prices in which both of these are available, sound cards tend to be much cheaper than the video cards in general. The most expensive sound card today would not be more than $300.
Graphics cards, on the other hand, are a lot more costly. Depending on what brand you choose, there can be cards as low as $100, while you can also choose the latest NVIDIA RTX 3090 cards that would be as expensive as $1500.
Default graphics aren’t that costly and in the majority of the times, one doesn’t have to pay anything extra for onboard graphics.
There are however some CPUs that do not come with graphics, and you would have to buy a dedicated GPU anyway.
There is very little scope of doing any sort of customization on an audio card since it doesn’t have much hardware attached to it.
Surely some are available in a colorful case and some RGB might just be added, but that’s the end of it.
GPUs are customizable, and hence are much more attractive. Not only the casing, but the cooling fan’s and other parts can also be customized with RGB that gives it a whole new look.
3. System Requirement
A sound card generally doesn’t require special system requirements. As long as you have a decent processor, about 8 GB of RAM, and such other specs, you can easily add a sound card.
You just need to have a place to connect it. Another advantage with sound cards is that they can be connected with different types of slots like USB, PCI (now replaced with PCIe), and so on. That said, you won’t require as many PCIe lanes either.
Graphics cards are much sophisticated and depending upon what GPU you choose, a minimum system requirement must be met.
NVIDIA GTX cards can be used with lower systems, but a high-end GPU like the RTX 2070 super when running on an i3 processor would lead to a CPU bottleneck.
This bottleneck will hinder performance and you might even experience a system crash. Moreover, modern graphics cards only work on x8 and x16 PCIe, which means there must be enough PCIe slots on the motherboard.
If you consider using more than a single GPU, more PCIe slots would be required.
A sound card doesn’t require additional RAM to function. It only requires some spare system RAM and that too by a limited amount.
The chances are, you wouldn’t even have to make a RAM upgrade to install a sound card unless you have a very low amount of RAM on your PC.
The GPU, on the other hand, requires a faster VRAM that also has greater bandwidth than the typical DDR3 or DDR4 memory you might be having.
Since graphics processing is much more intensive, the graphics coprocessor requires some better RAM of its own.
The CPU and GPU can thus work independently. However, this was the case for dedicated GPUs, and onboard graphics or APUs still use system RAM.
5. Cooling Fans
Audio cards surely do an important job, but they aren’t so hardworking. This is why they don’t require additional cooling fans.
In fact, with enough airflow inside the PC’s chassis and other cooling available, you never need to worry about keeping the sound card cool individually.
The scenario is just the opposite when video cards are concerned. Every video card, no matter if it’s a base level card or a premium one, requires cooling fans.
Some even require two of them, while the 3rd party vendor might even add one more, just for the sake of marketing. Also, some GPUs work better if liquid cooling is installed alongside it.
A sound card basically has the following uses:
- Better Audio Quality
- Professional Audio editing and engineering
- Input and output ports for microphones, headphones, and speakers
- Any sort of audio and input and output like voice recognition, watching movies, and playing music
A graphics card has a similar type of usage, but related to graphics as follows:
- Better graphics quality in gaming and VR entertainment
- 3D modeling and rendering, 4K projects
- Adding more displays through ports like HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA
- Bitcoin mining
- In certain applications in which a GPU works in place of a CPU where the more cores of a GPU can be utilized
Which is More Useful – Sound Card or Graphics Card?
It will basically depend on your needs.
Typically, a sound card can still function without a dedicated graphics card in certain scenarios.
However, a graphics card will require an audio interface of some sort in every situation where audio is involved.
This single aspect makes the graphics cards more useful but without the presence of the sound or graphics cards, your PC wouldn’t be able to produce the sounds or visuals respectively.
This, in turn, will hinder the basic functionalities of the PC, while also slowing down your productivity or overall experience.
While a basic audio and video chip is provided in every computer, those who need better performance opt for external adapters.
For those of you who have no idea what these are, make sure to check our dedicated articles on the topics. But still, we have a short definition coming right up.
This was all regarding the topic, and we hope we have taken all the major differences into account. An average user won’t need either a dedicated sound card or a graphics card since his/her needs would be met by the default arrangements already present.
Adding any of these is much easier on a desktop than on a laptop for obvious reasons, and this must be kept in mind before you make a choice.