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In this age of people looking for the most highly-immersive entertainment experience possible, having surround sound is no longer a fancy, shiny option consumers can only wish for. Add to that the technological developments that have made having surround sound at home more accessible, it’s almost made the feature a must-have. 

In this article, we’ll touch on some of the available GPU (graphics processing units) available and how you can set up your system to bring new life to your favorite media of entertainment.

First off, what’s new in Windows 11?

Image source: Pabitra Kaity from Pixabay

The latest edition of the popular OS is expected to start rolling out in late 2021. It’s the first name change for the software in six years, bringing with it the expectations of amplifying the Windows OS with increased performance along with updates to security and usability. As with most updates, a slew of new features and UX is to be expected. But the question, as it always is, is should you upgrade?

Windows 11 key features

Easier Navigation

Expect a cleaner layout for Windows 11, making it easier to do what you want. 

Better Multitasking

They’ve tried their hand at this a few times now, and they hope their new Snap Layouts & Desktops finally does the job. 

Better Gaming Experience

Microsoft is reportedly bringing DirectX 12 Ultimate for better graphics at boosted frame rates. Meanwhile, DirectStorage offers faster loading times. Additionally, Microsoft promises better hardware compatibility, which should be able to support most gaming tools and accessories you have. 

Android Apps

Image source: Sergei Tokmakov Terms.Law from Pixabay

The updated Microsoft Store now allows the use of Android apps, allowing you to merge your computer and mobile devices (if you’re an Android user, that is). 

GPUs and Sound

Before we go further, let’s note the differences between a sound card and a graphics card. 

Essentially, your graphics (video) card is what provides video to the computer monitor, while the sound card (as you might’ve surmised by now) is what sends sound to your speakers. 

A sound card also serves as an internal expansion card that provides input and output of audio signals to and from a computer (when controlled by computer programs. Additionally, the term sound card is also used for external audio interfaces in professional audio applications.

A Gaming Win

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably not looking to set up a network of work computers to manage your business better. So let’s touch on one of the wiser options when it comes to setting up a high-performance entertainment system. 

From one of the leading brands in performance motherboards, graphic cards, and gaming hardware systems comes Aorus and its flagship GeForce RTX 3070Ti Master. Even seasoned gamers can take one look at it and know that it isn’t your ordinary GeForce RTX 3070 Ti

While Aorus GeForce RTX 3070 Ti also makes use of the fully enabled chip, it has a maximum of 6,144 cores unlocked (compared to 5,888 for the RTX 3070). It also has faster GDDR6X memory, providing a bandwidth gain of more than 30% over the RTX 3070.

Other notable features include:

  • Four-slot card
  • 1,875MHz boost clock
  • One 6-pin and two 8-pin power connectors
  • Dual BIOS
  • Six display outputs (with the ability to use four at once)

So if you’re looking for a flagship GPU with bags of outputs, a flashy LED screen, and a highly-capable cooler with a four-year warranty, then you might not need to look elsewhere. 

Supported Audio Formats (NVIDIA)

First off, the formats supported would depend on the system and the connected display. Similarly, the audio formats appearing in the Windows Sound control panel depending on the formats supported by the audio codec, audio driver, and the capabilities of the display. Since the GT212 GPU, all the NVIDIA HD audio codecs support sampling rates of 32kHz to 192kHz, sample sizes of 16-bit, 24-bit, and speaker configurations from stereo 7.1

The NVIDIA HD audio driver supports the following audio formats:

Sampling rates – 44.1, 48, 96, 192 (kHz)

Sample sizes – 16 and 24-bit

Speaker configurations – Stereo, quadrophonic, 5.1, 7.1

Note that issues occur when the system reports invalid data for the audio formats supported by the display. When this happens, the NVIDIA HD audio driver defaults to the following format:

Sampling rate – 48kHz

Sample size – 16-bit

Speaker configuration – Stereo

Meanwhile, when it comes to resolution, beginning with the NVIDIA graphics driver version 352.86 (HD audio driver version, the driver defaults to the following supported formats whenever it receives invalid data for the formats supported by the display:

Sampling rates – 44.1, 48, 96, 192 (kHz)

Sampling sizes – 16, 24-bit

Speaker configurations – Stereo

Setting up Digital Audio on your Graphics Card (NVIDIA GPUs)

#1. Go to the NVIDIA Control Panel navigation tree pane and under Display click Set up digital audio

This opens the associated page that lists the NVIDIA GPUs in the system that has audio-capable display connections, and the available connections (HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, etc.). For each of these connections, there will be a list of audio-capable displays that appear as audio devices in the Windows Sound panel (based on default or previous selections). 

Now, depending on the hardware support available and displays connected, you can change the selections as described in the next step. 

#2. Verify displays that will appear as audio devices in the Windows Sound settings as follows:

  • HDMI display (whether connected to the HDMI or DisplayPort Connector) – Click the list arrow and either select the display or select Turn off audio.   
  • DisplayPort display (connected to an HDMI connector) – Click the list arrow and either select the display or select Turn off audio.
  • DisplayPort display (connected to a DisplayPort connector) – When there are multiple displays connected through the connector but the graphics card supports only one audio stream per connector, click the list arrow and select the display that you want to appear as an audio device in the Windows Sound panel.  

In all other cases, the listed DisplayPort displays will appear in the Windows Sound panel (no other changes can be made). 

Click Apply

Click Open Windows Sound Settings

You can configure your system’s audio output when the Microsoft Windows Sound panel opens. 

Spatial Sound for Windows 11

As part of its commitment to offering a truly immersive entertainment experience, Windows 11 allows you to choose from three different spatial sound providers: Windows Sonic for Headphones, Dolby Atmos for Headphones, and Dolby Atmos for Home Theater. 

Windows 11 has centralized the location for the majority of its settings, placing it in the aptly called Systems Settings pane. To get there, you can use the Windows key + i shortcut or click on Start > Settings

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From there, click System, then select Sound

Under Output, select the speakers you’ll be using. 

Then, on the Speakers settings pane, turn on Enhance audio. If you’re using headphones, select Spatial sound

In some cases, you may need to restart your computer to apply the settings. 

Final Words

So there you have it, if you’re in the process of building your rig, the above information is some of the considerations you need to take, particularly with the coming rollout of Windows 11. 

So whether you’re a gamer, a video editor, or any type of digital content creator, make sure you find the right graphic card that fits your needs. 

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Surround Sound and Windows 11: What You Need to Know