Actually, you brought up a point I've been meaning to ask about on here...
If you're maintaining a digital signal path (bitstreaming, sending PCM or even AC-3) does the audio chip even matter? I guess you'd need a chip capable of bitstreaming whatever it is your files are encoded in (DTS-MA or whatever) but beyond that, does it matter? Also, if you're using a graphics card (instead of integrated video) and your sound is output via HDMI is the anything on the motherboard even being utilized for sound? It's all on the graphics card, isn't it?
(Sorry, don't mean to hijack your thread, but I think the answers to my questions are also relevant to yours)
If I had a signature, this is where it would be.