How To Safely & Easily Update Your Video Card Drivers

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amdnvidia   How To Safely & Easily Update Your 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.

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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.
vcdevicemanager   How To Safely & Easily Update Your Video Card Drivers

From there, you’d going to want to click on the Display adapters header to expand the tree.
vccards   How To Safely & Easily Update Your Video Card Drivers

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‚Ķ. It should bring up the following.
vcupdate   How To Safely & Easily Update Your Video Card Drivers

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.
vcalreadyupdated   How To Safely & Easily Update Your Video Card Drivers

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.
nvidiaupdate   How To Safely & Easily Update Your Video Card Drivers

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

amdupdate   How To Safely & Easily Update Your 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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18 Comments - Write a Comment

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Karkala Nayak

These ” How To ” Tips are great Thanks…..

Reply

Robby

Messed up 32-bit W7 aero and display settings, but easily corrected it.

Reply

Tech Enthusiast

You could always research which drivers work best for each game. There are benchmarks. NVIDIA at least mentions which drivers will benefit which game the best when they release new drivers. You just need to look up that stuff on their website.

In addition, without any proof such as benchmarks, this advice is a little hollow. Why update if you do not know that your performance will actually increase? Good old fashion benchmarks will show you if they benefited or not. The drivers may be the latest and greatest, but for some games, upgrading graphics may actually surprisingly be a downgrade in terms of performance. They tend to put out new drivers to focus on the newest games out at the time, not every game that is out.

Another tip. Get drivers off of the manufacture’s website instead of the NVIDIA/AMD’s website. Manufactures are companies that actually made the cards such as EVGA, XFX, Gigabyte, Zotac, BFG, etc. NVIDIA/AMD do not actually manufacture videocards anymore. They create the technology and then license it out for the manufactures to use. I think they still create the graphics processing unit, but they don’t do anything more than that. The manufactures (EVGA, XFX, etc) can make the card different than the reference boards than the chip designers (NVIDIA/AMD) created. The manufactures (EVGA, XFX, etc) test the drivers and recommend which ones the users should use.

I would not say your advice was bad, but I would say what I wrote was best practices. I hope my wording didn’t come off as harsh. I appreciate your article.¬†

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Karkala Nayak

This tutorial is for Windows….what about other OS, that exist!!

Aibek

good point, we”ll look into it.

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Varun Nagwekar

If you have steam installed, there is an option built in, which allows you to check whether you gfx drivers are updated or not. If not, it downloads and install them automatically.  

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HPearce

I haven’t been able to update my nvidia card in over 2 years. Every time I try an actual NVIDIA driver it fails for one reason or the other . The card is apparently tied to the laptop manufacturer and the install won’t recognize the installed driver correctly.

Craig Snyder

Try temporarily disabling restricting your drivers to only signed drivers. What I wouldn’t do is what was suggested again in these comments, which is uninstall your drivers first. Don’t end up with uninstalled drivers that you’ll never be able to install again!

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Michel

I followed your instructions for nvidia exaclty. Used IE to go to that page, used option 2, allowed install and then …. nothing. Clicked the link that says Click here if scan did not complete, and it cycles me through install again and then … nothing.

I find I often have this kind of trouble when following your advice.

Craig Snyder

It’d help much if you follow the instructions completely, though:
“If the automated check failed, I strongly recommend you go back and wade through¬†Option 1, manually selecting your card to update.”

Michel

Oh, sorry, my bad. Still, when things fail like this, I hesitate to try a manual method. If the developer can’t make the front door work, I don’t want to try messing with my working system.

thanks anyway

Reply

Zaza

I think a best practice is to uninstall the previous drivers before installing the new ones.

Reply

Fredyfran

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

Reply

DriverFactory.org

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

Reply

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).

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