How to Update Your Graphics Drivers for Maximum Gaming Performance. What is a gpu driver

Nvidia and AMD have graphics driver software that can automatically detect your card and notify you of the latest updates. As for these types of applications, they are not conspicuous, so we recommend that you install them so that you can easily update your GPU drivers in the future.

How to Update Your Graphics Drivers for Maximum Gaming Performance

Chris Hoffman
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Chris Hoffman is the editor-in-chief of How-To Geek. He has been writing about technology for over a decade, and for two years he was a columnist for PCWorld. Chris has written for The New York Times, has been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations such as NBC 6 in Miami, and his work has been covered by news sites such as the BBC. As of 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly a billion times – and it is right here at How-To Geek. Read more.

A graphics driver is software that enables your operating system and programs to use your computer’s graphics hardware. If you play computer games, you should update your computer’s graphics drivers for the best hardware performance.

Earlier, we advised you not to forcibly update your drivers, and we stick to that. Most hardware drivers that come with your computer or through Windows Update are fine. However, we make an exception for graphics drivers for your graphics hardware NVIDIA, AMD, and even Intel. We recommend that you stay tuned, especially if you are a gamer.

Why You Should Update Your Graphics Drivers

Updates to the motherboard, sound card, and network drivers of a computer usually do not improve the speed of operation. They often fix rare bugs, but honestly, introduce new bugs just as often. So, if everything works fine, it’s usually not worth the worry of.

However, this does not apply to updated graphics card drivers, also known as GPU or graphics card. Both NVIDIA and AMD frequently release new graphics drivers that usually provide significant performance improvements, especially for newer games. As Intel is taking integrated graphics performance more seriously, it has also started releasing more frequent video driver updates.

Here are a small fraction of the changes to the latest NVIDIA graphics driver package (release 387), released on December 20, 2017:

And that only applies to specific games for which optimization has been improved. There are also numerous bug fixes and new features.

This kind of performance increase in updated graphics drivers is not uncommon. While newer games get the most attention, even some older games see significant performance gains thanks to updated drivers.

Of course, if you never play PC games on your PC and you don’t care about 3D graphics performance, you don’t really need to update your graphics drivers at all.

It’s not just NVIDIA’s. Both AMD and Intel are also at the top of the “game”, so to speak. According to internal testing on the Surface Book with an Intel 6th generation GPU, Intel beta drivers from May 2020 increase performance by approximately 15.

Before getting started: Identify your GPU

System information window in Windows 11.

Before you can install or update GPU drivers, you need to know your GPU model. If you’ve built your own computer or otherwise know what graphics card you have, you can skip to the steps below. If you don’t know what card you have, don’t worry; you can easily figure it out on Windows 10.

Press the Windows key + S and enter System Information. Select the best result to display a window with everything you need to know about your computer. In the left menu, expand the Components option and select Display. The main window will refresh with some information about your display and graphics card. You can find your graphics card model under Name.

You can also find your GPU driver version in this window if you want to manually check if you have the correct version. But you do not have to. AMD and Nvidia both offer software that can automatically detect if a driver is out of date.

Step 1: Install graphics card driver software

Nvidia and AMD have graphics driver software that can automatically detect your card and notify you of the latest updates. As for these types of applications, they are not conspicuous, so we recommend that you install them so that you can easily update your GPU drivers in the future.

Nvidia GeForce Experience

Nvidia GeForce Experience home page.

Nvidia’s graphics drivers come from GeForce Experience, which also includes ShadowPlay game capture and automatic game optimizations for supported titles. Download GeForce Experience from the Nvidia website and follow the installer instructions. Once done, GeForce Experience will automatically open and try to detect the games installed on your computer.

If you don’t want GeForce Experience, you can manually update your graphics driver. You can use Nvidia’s product search page to find your graphics card. The search function speaks for itself, but make sure the download type is set to Game Ready (GRD) driver and the operating system is set to Windows 10. Otherwise, it is enough to know the product series and the card you have (see above).

Run the installer for the latest driver and you’re done. During the installation, Nvidia will ask if you want to install GeForce Experience, but you can install the driver itself if you want.

AMD Radeon Software

Home screen in AMD Radeon software.

The AMD drivers are from Radeon Software, which includes a number of useful features for AMD graphics cards. In addition to updating the driver, the software allows you to monitor your PC’s temperature and performance, set up the live streaming scene, and take advantage of features such as Radeon Chill and Radeon Anti-Lag. Download the latest version of Radeon Software from AMD and follow the installer instructions.

Alternatively, you can find your card manually, but you still need to install the driver using the Radeon software. You can search for your card using the AMD Product Finder, which is easier to use than Nvidia. Just make sure you’ve selected Graphics as the category, then select the product series and the tab you have.

On the next screen, expand the Windows 10 – 64-bit Edition menu to view the available drivers. Under the version number, look for a driver with the tag Recommended. You will also see an optional driver option that includes upcoming features but may contain bugs or other issues. Click Download, follow the installer instructions, and you’re done.

There you have it – simple methods to find out the NVIDIA driver version on your Windows PC. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and let us know.

What are NVIDIA Drivers?

A driver is software that allows the operating system to communicate with a hardware or device. So, in the case of the NVIDIA graphics driver, it enables the system to communicate with the graphics card, ensuring it is working properly.

However, the most important reason to update NVIDIA drivers is for extra support and performance improvements when playing games.

You may have the latest graphics card on the market, but without the proper drivers your game will suffer in terms of performance, such as:

  • Low frame rate
  • Stutter
  • Malfunction
  • Other graphic glitches

At worst, you may not even be able to run the game without updating your drivers.

What Do NVIDIA Drivers Do?

Installing the latest NVIDIA drivers has several features. In the simplest case, this will install the display drivers along with other extras like GeForce Experience and PhysX drivers.

As mentioned, the graphics drivers will greatly improve the performance of your games.

NVIDIA frequently releases driver updates that improve the performance of the latest games. As a result, you can play around with fluid frames, better graphics fidelity, and overall stable performance.

A graphics driver is software that enables your operating system and programs to use your computer’s graphics hardware. If you play computer games, you should update your computer’s graphics drivers for the best hardware performance.

When Should You Uninstall Older Drivers Beforehand?

For those who haven’t connected their GPU yet, you may be wondering if you should uninstall any older drivers before installing. The main factor in determining whether or not this will be necessary is the brand of the older GPU compared to the newer GPU.

Same Brand GPU Swap

The same brand of graphics drivers will hardly interfere with each other as the driver package is similar; while only an update may be needed.

Put simply, if the graphics cards you will be swapping out are AMD to AMD or Nvidia to Nvidia, you won’t have to uninstall the previous drivers before plugging in your new graphics card.

Different Brand GPU Swap

Older drivers can become problematic when they are from a different vendor than the newer ones.

This means that if your old GPU is AMD and your new GPU is Nvidia (or vice versa), you’ll want to completely uninstall all older drivers before installing your new graphics card. If this is not successful, conflicts may arise that can compromise the performance of your GPU.

How to Uninstall Older Drivers

Now that we have an idea when it is best to uninstall all the currently installed drivers on your computer, let’s take a look at how to get the job done successfully.

Remember that it is always best to follow the steps below while in Windows Safe Mode to avoid any unwanted blue screens, crashes, or stuttering that might interrupt the process.

Uninstalling Through Windows

As a general rule, it is not recommended to uninstall GPU drivers solely via the operating system as the process may leave behind some residual files and folders that can still cause conflicts.

That being said, many prefer to uninstall the drive through Windows and then remove any extra items with third-party software.

Through Device Manager

To uninstall GPU drivers from Windows, you’ll want to go to “Device Manager” using the search function on the toolbar. Then go to “Display Adapter”, click the down arrow and double-click your GPU.

Then go to the “Driver” tab and click the last option called “Uninstall”. You can also right-click your GPU under Display Adapter and select Uninstall from the drop-down menu.

Through Apps & Features

You can also find the specific driver you want to uninstall by going to the “Applications and Features” window in the Control Panel.

From here, scroll down until you find the driver you want, click on it (so it is highlighted), then select “Uninstall”. In Windows 7, this option will be under “Programs and Features”.

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