ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI-E
People spend hundreds on their CPUs, GPUs, motherboards, storage and memory, but dedicated sound is soft considered an unnecessary expense. Why pay for a card when your motherboard has a Realtek chipset? ASUS refuses to believe that onboard sound is enough. In our possession is their flagship audiophile audio card, the Essence STX, prepped for rigorous testing here at Benchmark Reviews. They claim "ultra-high fidelity" sound, and a remarkable 124dB signal-to-noise ratio on the front output. Will the onboard solution take a thrashing by this menacing card, or are enthusiasts correct in sticking with whatever their motherboard supplies?