Well, when I had major snags getting my onboard AC97 device working (I did eventually), I changed it to a soundblaster live 5.1 digital, which plugged straight in to a PCI, was detected OK and seems to work find.
The only thing I have to do is make sure I use the correct driver. My mandrake seems to see it as one of the audigy series and defaults to the Audigy() driver, and I just have to set it to the alternate emu10K1 driver which is the actual driver for it.
Price ? was £50, so $45 is cheap.