It seems that a lot of gaming headsets nowadays are using USB connections instead of the standard 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks. My current headset is working fine, but when it does eventually break, I'm wondering if that will make my PCI sound card useless. Is there a way to have USB headsets use a PCI sound card for its audio instead of the ones that the headsets have built in?
Avoid headsets that use USB at all costs. And just as a good rule of thumb, avoid most headsets that are branded as gaming gear. Here's the thing, USB headsets depend on their own built in sound cards which are occasionally decent, but usually of low quality. These sound cards bypass your motherboard or PCI sound cards, so yes they would make your current PCI card useless. Of course, these USB headsets generally sound worse with their own sound cars than they would if they relied on a dedicated card. And then let's not forget that you often have to deal with rubbish drivers, most of which don't work with anything but Windows. And let's not forget, these headsets are expensive because you're paying for cans, a microphone, and a sound card. More often than not, the speaker quality is diminished to meet a price point.
If you have a dedicated sound card already, I highly suggest sticking with sets that use 3.5 mm connections. My suggestion is to buy quality (non-gaming) headphones instead. That way, you're paying to get the best sound out of the cans, and not wasting any money on cheap microphones and gaming glitz. You'll save money and get much better value.