DAC vs Sound Card Gaming | Which One Is Better?

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If you’re an intensive, professional gamer and wondering which one you should choose between a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) and a sound card, you’ve come to the right place. DAC vs sound card is a prevalent topic among users, especially music enthusiasts, and gamers. 

Basically, a DAC offers better sound quality than a sound card. But it requires some accessories to do that. Meanwhile, a sound card is already compact with an in-built equalizer, DAC, and some other features that make your listening experience more vibrant.

Read the article until the end to know the details about them and decide which is better for your gaming.

DAC vs Sound Card Gaming

Difference Between DAC and Sound Card

When it’s about choosing a product between two products, it’s wise to determine the differences between them. Even though sound cards and DAC are used to get sound output, they’ve some significant differences. 

Here’s a table that shows you the quick differences between a sound card and a DAC –

ProductDACSound Card
PropertiesHas to connect to an amplifier.Has its own DAC and amplifier.
ProcessingConverts digital audio signal to analog signal.Processes audio signal to a digital signal.
SpaceGenerally doesn’t share any space with the computer.Shares space.
ConnectivityUSB (Integrated or external).Integrated.
Noise / InterferenceNoise / interference-free.Picks up noises.
Additional FeatureDoesn’t have any comparable.Surround sound, Dolby Atmos, EQ, etc.

From this table, you’ve got a basic idea about the differences. Now let’s get into the detail –

  • DAC is designed to convert digital audio to analog audio and passes to an amplifier to make them audible. It’s mostly used in devices that stream music, headphones, and speakers. It can be both integrated and external. Such as headphones (integrated), USB DAC (external), etc. A sound card is designed to receive analog signals and convert them into digital data and vice versa. It comes with an in-built DAC and an amplifier that enhance the audio signals and turns them audible.
  • As DAC is pretty much capable of avoiding noise or interference, it allows users to have a clear, high-quality sound. Sound cards often are to blame for picking up noticeable noise in the sound signal that sometimes undermines the listening experience.
  • The external DACs don’t share any place in the system but rather are placed outside. Only the integrated ones take up space. On the other hand, being an expansion card, a sound card takes place inside the computer system in the slots.
  • DAC generally connects to devices using the USB connection, whereas the sound card comes as integrated into the system as mentioned above.
  • Compared to the sound card, a DAC doesn’t provide additional features like Equalizer, Dolby Atmos, surround sound, special effects, etc. 

These are the factors that differentiate DAC and sound cards from each other.

DAC vs Sound Card: Which One For Gaming?

Basically, DACs are designed to enhance audio quality. Music lovers usually are very concerned about sound quality and that’s the reason they fall for it. But the sound card has some further purposes. 

Sound cards’ target customers are gamers as they’re preferable to most gamers for getting vibrant audio and avoiding irritating noise. They don’t essentially look for the highest-quality sound but sound with strong, special effects and mesmeric sound experience. 

Modern sound cards for gaming have particular processors for generating sound. They do this job on behalf of your computer’s CPU and come with distinguished sets of inputs and outputs that have advanced shielding to lower noise levels. 

Additionally, their audio amplification technology detects the created sound in 3D space and equalizes the sound so that you can have an excellent and rich listening experience.

Our Verdict

If you just overall compare these two products then the sound card is simply better in terms of customization, and DAC is better for providing rich and improved audio. But when you specifically want a sound-producing device only for upgrading the sound quality of your gaming environment, you should choose a gaming sound card. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are DAC worth gaming?

DAC devices are built for making sounds clear by avoiding any unwanted noise. So, it’s undeniable that DAC can provide better sound while gaming. But the fact is in terms of gaming, the customized sound is more required than just clear sound. Who doesn’t want special sound effects while gaming? So, DAC won’t be worth much gaming.

Should I get a DAC or sound card for my PC?

If your intention is to have a noise-free, clean, enriched sound then you can get an external DAC. But if you want a sound system that can offer you various customization to make your listening more joyful, you should go for a sound card.

Does sound card matter in a gaming PC?

Generally, a sound card is considered non-compulsory. But when you’re up to listening to sound from your PC on wired speakers or headphones, or other analog output, you may want one that time.  


Lastly, it can be said that both DAC and sound cards are built with the purpose of providing better sound, and surely they are capable of it. But as you’ve read already, in the matter of gaming, there’s no perfect option but a sound card; especially a gaming one. 

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