How good are your ears? How important is the sound quality to your gaming experience? For myself, after working 35 years in various factories, I have suffered enough hearing loss that a high end card does not make a difference.
For gaming the best card is an Audigy 2, and yes I would say it's worth it. Some games I've found won't even play back properly (i.e. the sound is way too fast and high-pitched) with onboard AC97 sound.
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