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Depending on what a user is wanting to accomplish is primarily what would determine which soundcard he or she would actually want to use, but USB soundcards at about $6.49 work just fine for basics. These cards will be 16bit (example below from Amazon). The soundcards are generally about half the size of a USB flash drive with two 3.5mm phono jacks, one for mic input and the other for output (speakers/headphones).
$6.49 Sabrent USB External Stereo Sound Adapter for Windows and Mac. Plug and Play No Drivers Needed. (AU-MMSA):
$6.79 Sabrent Aluminum USB External Stereo Sound Adapter for Windows and Mac. Plug and Play No Drivers Needed [Black] (AU-EMCB):