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How to update drivers

How to update drivers

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Drivers sometimes feel like a headache. It's not always clear how to update drivers, especially because of malicious sites that lure unsuspecting users into downloading malware and viruses that are harmful to your computer. There's a right way to ago about driver updates to ensure this doesn't happen to you.

In this guide, we'll walk you through how to update the most common types of drivers, and some general tips for dealing with whatever issues may arise. This guide is geared towards gaming PCs, but most of it applies to any Windows computer.

How to update Nvidia drivers

If your PC has an Nvidia GeForce graphics card, you definitely want to keep the drivers updated. New releases often include performance enhancements for new games, or fixes for issues caused by Windows updates.

There used to be a tool called Nvidia Update located in the Nvidia control panel, but with the advent of GeForce Experience, that option has been removed. The Nvidia control panel is still installed automatically when you set up Nvidia's drivers, but you'll need to update the drivers through GeForce Experience or manually download the driver from Nvidia's website.

(Image credit: Nvidia)

To update from the GeForce Experience launcher, log in (create an account if you don't have one already), click on the 'Drivers' tab at the top left, then 'Check for Updates' on the right. The benefit of having GeForce Experience installed on your PC is that it will automatically check for updates and alert you if there is a new driver available.

But if you don't like the idea of logging into GeForce Experience every time you need to install a driver update, you can go to Nvidia's driver page to manually download the latest available driver version.

Something else to consider is the option to do a 'clean install' of the drivers, which is an option on both AMD and Nvidia installers if you choose the custom installation option.

Finally, if you are switching GPU brands, or if you run into other issues and just want to clean out your system, our GPU guru Jarred recommends using Display Driver Uninstaller to completely wipe any AMD, Intel, and/or Nvidia GPU driver remnants from your system. Sometimes it's the only way to be sure. (Be careful to click on the "Official Download Here" link and not the "Update Display Driver" button, as the latter isn't what we're talking about.)

How to update AMD drivers

In much the same way as Nvidia's drivers, AMD graphics drivers are supposed to automatically check for updates in the background and give you an alert when anything is available. Here's how to check for an update (and install it) manually:

  1. Right-click on the Windows desktop and select 'AMD Radeon Settings' from the menu.
  2. Click the 'Updates' button at the bottom-left of the window.
  3. Click the 'Check for updates' box.

(Image credit: AMD)

If an update is available, you'll see all the available versions. AMD sometimes releases optional updates for those who want the latest and greatest, but most people should stick to the 'Recommended' drivers. Click 'Recommended,' then select 'Express upgrade.'

(Image credit: AMD)

If you can't get the Radeon Settings to appear at all, something may be corrupted with your drivers. To fix that, just head to AMD's support website and download the appropriate drivers for your graphics card. A fresh install should sort out any issues you may be experiencing.

Again, clean install may be a better choice if you experience any weirdness or reduced performance (it's happened to us, multiple times). And DDU is always there if you need to pull out the sledgehammer.

How to update drivers for peripherals (mice, keyboards, etc.)

Most keyboards, mice, microphones, controllers, and so on use the same generic USB interface for communication, so they usually don't need any additional drivers out of the box (and the generic drivers are handled by Windows Update).

However, if you buy an accessory designed to be customizable, like mice or keyboards with extra buttons, then you might need the proper desktop software for the accessory. There should be some indication on the accessory's box or product page about what application is needed for full functionality, but here are some examples:

  • Logitech Gaming Software: For customizing controls, lights, and more for most Logitech 'G' gaming products.
  • Logitech Options: Configuration tool for most of Logitech's non-gaming mice, keyboards, and other accessories.
  • Corsair iCue: Change lighting effects, keyboard macros, and more for most Corsair products.
  • Razer Synapse: A unified configuration tool for Razer accessories, laptops, keyboards, and more.

As a general warning, always download the required software from the manufacturer's website, not from a rehosting site. Many rehosting sites like to bundle malware or other software when you install the drivers.

How to update everything else

The built-in Windows Update service on your PC generally keeps most of your drivers up to date in the background. Unless you use a niche device that doesn't offer updates through Windows Update, you usually don't have to worry about keeping drivers up to date.

To check for any updates for your PC, including driver updates, follow these steps:

  • Click the Start button on the Windows taskbar
  • Click the Settings icon (it's a small gear)
  • Select 'Updates & Security,' then click 'Check for updates.'

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer living in Georgia. He plays a lot of Planet Coaster.