How To Safely & Easily Update Your Video Card Drivers

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video card driversIn my humble and cautious opinion, there are two things that you should never put automated software in control of when you’re using a Windows system: your drivers and your registry. Now, there are a whole slew of solutions for you if you’d like to go down that route, but if you’re an experienced user then I’d simply not recommend it. It can lead to system instability and some major problems. I’ve experienced it firsthand and it’s not fun.

Hunting for device drivers isn’t such a task anymore, anyway. Most of your Windows drivers will never need to be touched right out of the box. Your video card is in its own sacred territory though. Video card drivers are updated more frequently than, for example, your network card’s drivers. Updating your video card drivers can show a huge performance boost across your system, as well. Keeping these drivers up to date is quite essential if you’re a gamer.

If you’re buying a new Windows PC today, your graphics card will manufactured by one of two companies: NVIDIA or AMD. Having such a limited choice really lends toward making updating the drivers a very painless experience. So painless that both websites happen to have automated resources that will (probably) allow you to make updating your video card drivers as simple as a few clicks.

Finding Your Video Card Card Model

Step one is actually figuring out what we’re looking for. Let’s start by going to your Control Panel and then to Device Manager.
video card drivers

From there, you’d going to want to click on the Display adapters header to expand the tree.

From here, it should be easy to see what your video card is. As you can see, I have the ATI Radeon HD 3200, ATI being owned by AMD.

Let’s just call this next step a shortcut. Right click on the name of your video card and click Update Driver Software…. It should bring up the following.
update video card driver

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The first option, displayed there, is what you want to click to automatically search online for driver updates. If it finds updated, awesome. Go ahead and follow through to install them. If not, you’ll get the following message.
update video card driver

However, in respect to that note about not trusting automated software earlier, we aren’t going to listen to Windows. Windows could be wrong. So, now that we’ve figured out what kind of video card you have, let’s proceed on our quest.

NVIDIA Cards

NVIDIAers can simply click this link: http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us

You’ll then see the following near the bottom.
update video card driver

Option 2 is what you’ll want to go for here. I’d recommend using Internet Explorer while running this automated check because it tends to handle ActiveX and browser plugins a little better than most browsers (surprisingly). It may prompt you to install an ActiveX control or bring up a software installation prompt. Go through with it. It’s safe. Afterwards, you’ll either be presented with a screen telling you that you need updated drivers or that your drivers are up to date, or that the automated check failed.

If the automated check failed, I strongly recommend you go back and wade through Option 1, manually selecting your card to update.

AMD Cards

If you’re using an AMD/ATI GPU, you want to go here: http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/Pages/index.aspx

video card drivers

From there, you want to try to Automatically Detect and Install (to the right side). Again, be on Internet Explorer while you do this. Feel safe to install and run any prompts that come up during the process because browser plugins are required to know what card you’re using. If it is successful, you’ll be told your card is up to date or that it needs updated, otherwise it’ll tell you that the scan could not be completed.

In the event that the scan fails, go back and follow their five-step process to pinpoint your exact video card drivers. This is the safest way to go about the update.

One thing I’ll never recommend is that you go about using automated software like SlimDrivers or Driver Magician. Even in the best of faith, these programs don’t know your system as well as you do. In worse cases, these programs are filled with spyware and adware that can really damage your system.
I’d like to recommend that you not just Google updates for your drivers either. Get them directly from the manufacturer as I’ve laid out for you. It’s not smart to trust updates from that-one-official-driver-site.com, you know?

Good luck in refreshing the visuals of your system and if you encounter any issues, shoot me a comment here.

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Comments (20)
  • Tim Turner

    Never again, the last time I updated my Nividia Geforce GTX 670M 3G GDDR5 drivers it took me months of research to resolve the issues it created with Adobe Elements, and it temporarily handicapped my work flow. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Of course it’s not the only problem I’ve faced since purchasing an ASUS Gaming Laptop a year ago or so. No warranty help either so I’m not gambling any more.

    • Craig Snyder

      I can completely agree with you. In the sensitive areas of your system like the registry and your drivers, I would only recommend toying with them if it’s absolutely necessary or if it comes through Windows Update. As someone who has become obsessive with tweaking and cleaning my Windows machine, it takes a lot of discipline for me to hold back. It’s worth it though, because I know from experience how things can break.

  • keygen windows 7

    You recognize therefore considerably when it comes to this matter, produced me for my part imagine it from so many numerous angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be involved except it is something to do with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs great. At all times maintain it up!

  • Kwek Zheng Hua

    Hi, could you help me here? I’ve been trying to update my GPU (Nvidia GeForce 305M, driver version 192.16) but it has always failed. Plus, after failing the installation, my computer seems to not be able to detect my GPU. I have to allow it to refresh in order for my computer (Lenovo U460) to detect my Nvidia GPU and install the 192.16 driver. What can I do to successfully install the new graphics driver?

    • Craig Snyder

      In instances like this, I think the best scenario would be to avoid forcing an update of the driver unless it’s absolutely necessary. I do recommend that you ask this same question over at MUO Anwers though. It’ll be seen by a larger audience and you’ll definitely find a response: http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/

    • CS

      It seems like new drivers won’t work with Lenovo U460 under “Switchable Graphics” BIOS setting. I solved this problem by changing it to “Discrete Graphics”. Note that you will not be able to toggle between intel and nvidia graphics after this change. The notebook will use nvidia graphics at all time (faster but more power consuming).

  • DriverFactory.org

    Try http://www.driverfactory.org to find you missing or outdated drivers.

  • Fredyfran

    thank you very much I updated my NVIDIA 7300 CARD…
    it help a lot…

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.