Identifying & Upgrading Graphics Adapter Drivers Computers Running Windows and The Differences in Adapters. Edition 1.


This article applies to

This article will be of use if you are the owner / supporter of any computer that comes with a discrete graphics card from nVidia / ATI Radeon (Now owned by AMD) or any embedded graphics solution and need to upgrade the graphics adapter drivers for the same but don't know how to go about it.

Why / When do I need to upgrade?

Graphics adapters are frequently updated to increase performance, improve stability and optimize the instruction sets that are use to display out output on monitors. Keeping your drivers up to date will always go a long way in keeping your system healthy, and in many cases solves many computer issues. You might be surprised to learn that graphics adapter driver related issues are among the greatest source of Windows problems and crashes.

Having the latest drivers (its a good idea to upgrade about 2-3 weeks after the initial release) is a GOOD thing and it is a rule that should be followed for all hardware devices in your system.


Finding out the current drivers you have

In the absence of any professional hardware detection solution, the easiest way to verify your current video card is to use the device manager in Windows. Since Windows 7 will soon become the defacto standard, I will be using that as a base for all further instructions.

To get your current details : Right click on My Computer -> Select Properties -> Select Device Manager from the list on the left -> Expand the Display Adapters link on the Device Manager Screen -> Double click on the device itself.


Use the free tool GPUZ available here: GPUZ Tool Download Link

A large list of the current and older graphics adapters can be found here : Graphics Adapter Specifications Database

Download and install the newest drivers for your manufacturer

For ATI Radeon (AMD) visit the following site and download the latest drivers for your specific graphics adapter and operating system: ATI Radeon Graphics Adapter Driver Download

For nVidia adapters go here : nVidia Graphics Adapter Driver Download

For Intel adapters go here : Intel Graphics Adpater Driver Download

Download the newest drivers as supplied by the manufacturers themselves and save them to the desktop so they are easy to locate. Run the setup / installer for the drivers that you downloaded and wait for the process to complete. You may need to restart your computer once the update process is complete to remove the old drivers from your system and switch to the newer version.

For an easier way to do this automatically, you can use a solution like Driver Genius (details here : Driver Genius Details) that will keep all your computer drivers updated regularly. Solutions like Driver Genius help keep your system updated and problem free, and even have options to take complete backups of your drivers for use in case of an emergency / disaster recovery scenario.

Whats the difference between embedded and discrete cards?

Many people wonder whether discrete graphics adapters are required for anything besides gaming. The answer is usually a resounding yes. Windows 7 has core OS implementations (Aero) that need a discrete graphics card for a start. Connectivity to HDTV's and general HDMI based video equipment is possible. Newer Blueray discs benefit greatly from having graphics processing work handled by the graphics processor. Higher resolution support enables larger monitors with ever increasing display resolutions. Higher refresh rates keep your eyesight from going haywire. Embedded graphics cards share memory (RAM) from your main computers quota causing slower responsiveness and memory loss for your applications.

The case for a discrete graphics adapter speaks for itself. However, on the downside, discrete cards cost more money and consume more power - which is a greater concern when you are looking out for a laptop with an extended battery life.

A Wikipedia link to better explain the above and more in depth is here: Graphics Adapter Wiki

I hope this helps you out.

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