Drivers are seemingly a never-ending headache, made worse by the countless amounts of sites that trick unsuspecting people into downloading malware or exposing their PC to security vulnerabilities.
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.
A tool called Nvidia Update is automatically installed when you set up Nvidia's drivers for the first time. You can check to make sure Nvidia Update is working properly by following these steps:
- Right-click on the Windows desktop and select 'Nvidia Control Panel'.
- Click the 'Help' menu at the top-left of the window, and select 'Updates.'
- Click the 'Preferences' tab.
- Make sure the boxes for 'Automatically check for updates' and 'Notify me when graphics driver updates are available' are checked.
To manually update your drivers to the latest version, click the 'Updates' tab in the same window, and click the 'Check for updates...' button.
If you can't get the Nvidia Control Panel to show up, or if something is keeping updates from being automatically installed. there might be something wrong with your driver installation. In that case, go to Nvidia's driver page to manually download the latest available driver version.
You can also use GeForce Experience to download and install new drivers. 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:
- Right-click on the Windows desktop and select 'AMD Radeon Settings' from the menu.
- Click the 'Updates' button at the bottom-left of the window.
- Click the 'Check for updates' box.
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.'
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.'