Important: This article is for guys with NO ADDITIONAL SOUND CARD.If you have an additional sound card,then check your card's user manual to see the supported configurations.
Can I use 5.1/7.1 speakers in my computer/laptop?
This a question that many of my friends and others have asked me several times.You also will have this question in your mind.You have a computer and you are not happy with the sound of existing speakers.So you decide to buy a good pair of speakers.Then there are many choices like 2.1,4.1,5.1,7.1 and so on...Well,if you choose 2.1 or 4.1 ,just simply plug it to the audio jack of computer and rock on.But what for 5.1,7.1 or anything bigger?Can you use this much bigger configurations on your system?The answer is-it depends upon several things!
First thing-Check users manual.If your's is a laptop,then check the manual for audio specification page.If your's is a branded all in one PC or an assembled PC,also check it's manual.Some PCs,especially the assembled one has individual user manuals for Monitor,CPU,HDD,Motherboard etc. So check the manual for motherboard only.(If you couldnot find your user manual,just download it from manufactures website or google it and download from anywhere else.)
For example here is the screen shot of usermanual of Intel DH61WW motherboard saying its supported audio configurations.
From this picture we can understand that this motherboard supports total 6+2 channels.That means 6 channels(5.1) through back audio ports and 2 stereo channels through front audio port.The front 2 channel stereo is for headphones and back 6 channels are for 5.1 Speaker setups.So maximum speaker configuration of this motherboard is 5.1.It will not support 7.1 or more.We can use 7.1 or more on this motherboard by adding a capable sound card.See how easy we found out this!
Okay my motherboard supports 5.1/7.1.Now what?
If you find that your Motherboard supports 5.1 or 7.1 setup,then you can buy your favorite brand's speakers :) .But wait a little more...another thing is have to be considered.POWER RATING!.All speakers have different power ratings.Before explainig power rating,you should know what these numbers mean in 2.1,4.1,5.1,7.1 etc. Click here to read the post which explaining this.
I hope you now know the story behind these numbers.So we are ready to know what power rating is.Power rating is simply the power of speakers,just like the ordinary bulbs in your home.They are available in various powers like 40W,60W,100W etc.Here power is expressed in a unit called Wattage(W).
Same goes for speakers.But power is expressed in more than one unit.The most standard and accurate is RMS(Root Mean Square) power.Another is PMPO(Peak Music Power Output),which is not that standard.So RMS is most used by branded manufactures.Now consider a 2.1 speaker whose total power rating is 30 W RMS.Yeah it is not a high number.Also consider a 5.1 speaker with total power of 50W RMS.That's also not a big number.You can pluggin them to your computer without any worries.But there are some powerful speaker avilable.for exampe some 2.1 have 60W RMS & some 5.1 have 100W RMS etc.What I am trying to say is don't buy these type of speakers that have really big powers!They are made for use with DVD players and Hometheaters.They may damage your motherboard if you don't have an additional sound card.Just go for computer speakers.Logitech & Creative makes a large variety of computer speakers in all congurations from 2.0 to 7.1.They are really safe to use even without additional sound cards.
You can use the biggest possibile speaker configuration that your computer supports.But make sure that the speakers you are using are not overpowered.So Good Luck,Buy the speaker that charms your ears!