External DAC vs. PC motherboard DAC


Feb 29, 2024
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If my motherboard PC (Gigabyte Z790 Aorus Master) already has an integrated DAC (ESS ES9118 DAC chip), do you think that an external budget DAC (like DAC Topping E30 II or Fiio BTA30 Pro) will improve the sound quality? Or won't be a big difference?

I have Edifier R1800T3 speakers with analog RCA input.

I know they are not of premium quality, but for my office desk they are ok for now :)

Thank you.


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Your motherboard already has an excellent DAC but what I have found is that my budget motherboard's volume is somewhat lower than I expect. I couldn't find any information why this is so.

The Creative G6 DAC is louder.
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I still think it may be worthwhile to explore an external DAC, although your motherboard has a good DAC chip, audio is still susceptible to OS limitations and noise. An external DAC 'locks' in the audio for uninterrupted digital audio transmission.

An external DAC also saves you a lot of headaches if you want to dabble in high-res audio as well, with automatic bit depth and frequency switching, as well as dabbling in MQA streaming from Tidal etc.


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Aug 13, 2010
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Various motherboards built in sound card have offered a low noise floor but after a time it got bad. I used Creative Sound blasters for years and then got a Terratec USB 6Fire external six channel box. It is not supported now (by Microsoft Win 10) and their current offerings are not a direct replacement but for output to active speakers or power amp are perfect.

I currently have a CYP: AU-11SA-4K22 HDMI Audio De-embedder; eight channels analogue audio to eight active speakers. Also have, more for input, a Motu M4 which has inputs, mic inputs and line level stereo outputs. Finally I have an Axiim Link USB WiSA transmitter and an six WiSA speakers.


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