Updating Video Drivers

Are you experiencing slow graphics, game crashes, or other video problems? All these are likely to be caused by outdated drivers. Updating video card drivers is first step to solve your problems.

Most of modern gaming-grade video cards are built on either NVidia or ATI chipset. No matter who's nominal manufacturer, you probably use either of these two. To determine which one:

  1. Right click "My Computer" on your desktop or "Computer" in right portion of Start menu.
  2. Find and click word "Device Manager". In Windows XP, it is a tab header. In Vista and Windows 7, it is one of the options on left side of the window.
  3. A list of all your computer's hardware should appear, grouped by device type. Your video card should be in "Display adapters" group. It's usually named either "NVidia *blablabla*" or "ATI *blablabla*", where *blablabla* is model number.

Now that you know which one you have, you may go to either NVidia or ATI website to download latest driver. Don't forget to indicate your version of Windows and model line of your video card. If you have ATI HD 4350, choose "Radeon HD 4xxx series". If you have GeForce 8800, choose "GeForce 8xxx Series", and so on.

Also look for driver version that includes either "Catalyst Control Center" or "NVidia ControlCenter". If you use your video card for watching movies and playing simple games occasionally, you should be happy with raw drivers. But if you play games often, you may need that control center thingy to finetune graphics performance.

When installing ATI video drivers, we recommend to do 'custom install' and remove 'HD Audio Drivers". Some ATI graphic adapters have built-in sound system but people rarely use it. Only install these audio drivers if you surely know that you're going to use them, in all other case they will just litter your system. Some ATI drivers are accompanied by game demos. Depending on your harddrive space and gaming habits, you may or may not want to install them.

For NVidia drivers, there's also a reason to use 'custom install'. These drivers include another optional component, PhysX driver. PhysX engine is used in some games to calculate physical processes like items falling and bouncing off each other. Not all games use this engine, and not all video cards have modules to process it. So if you only play 'casual' games, you may safely ignore this PhysX thingy. If you will ever get a game that uses PhysX, it will prompt you to install this component automatically.