Well, here is basically what I meant by they not being "as" bad as in the past...
Sound quality doesn't suck anymore. More and more boards are being equipped with onboard sound processors instead of software driven audio much like the ESS audio chips. EAX hardware support was never included on boards before (I'm living in the past here) and now some do...even with surround sound support and digital out (please don't make say which boards, I just know I've seen a few [emphasis on few]).
As far as resource hogging integrated peripherals, I usually only associate those with the ones that have both integrated audi AND video with the video taxing the system more than anything. Audio boards require some resources but nothing like the video which I know, you know.
In short, I wouldn't want integrated sound if I was into hardcore gaming or into multimedia work but some integrated sound isn't bad. My Soyo provides A3D support and sounded great when I used it, games and MP3s alike...never experienced any resource gain when I moved to my X-Gamer either but I know there had to be some.
All I was commenting on was the quality of sound and for average use, many integrated sound chips are fine...especially if a SoundBlaster 128 is the only other choice.