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Windows 7: Whether to install drivers or not


11 Jul 2013   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 
Whether to install drivers or not

Well, it seems this question never gets old.

I read like 10 threads here and something else I googled.

The question is: Should I install device drivers or not? If so, in which order?

To sum up, I found two points of view here.

1) NO. Do not install drivers unless it shows unknown devices in the device manager or you can't use a feature properly (such us networking). Windows 7 has its own drivers and knows what is best.

2) YES. Always install drivers. Chipset and graphic drivers help your PC run smoothly and other drivers like audio and ethernet might add additional functionality to your devices.


I'm more inclined to believe the second option.
For example, a friend's computer after a clean install doesn't show any unknown device in the device manager. However, it is needed to manually install ethernet drivers for the wi-fi card (that'd be option 1). BUT, even tough there's a high definition audio device that appears to work properly, until you install chipset drivers Windows does not show any audio output device installed.


What I've always done is chipset, graphic, ethernet, audio, everything else, Windows updates.



What do YOU do?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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11 Jul 2013   #2

 

I install the correct drivers because the correct driver results in the best performance from the hardware device in question. To exaggerate the difference: compare the generic Microsoft video card driver to the correct one from either AMD or NVIDIA. To some degree, this same difference applies to everything that you can install a driver for, such as the chipset, the IDE/ATA ATAPI controllers, the sound card, ethernet port, the mouse and keyboard, etc.

I even went as far as installing the correct driver for my monitor because then Windows knows everything about it and therefore I get the best results.

I do not allow Windows Update to install any drivers because then my preferred drivers could be replaced and I wouldn't like that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jul 2013   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Thank you for replying.

Well yeah that's what I thought. So I always install them.

But sometimes I get confused.
For instance, my current computer has a NVidia chipset with a NVidia graphic card (onboard).

There are available chipset drivers (the NVvidia 4 in 1) which include "display driver", "away mode driver", "ethernet driver" and "storage driver". And ALSO there are available graphic divers.

I did this fresh install like 2 months ago so at this point I don't remember what I did. Everything works fine and smooth now. But I didn't even know the difference between display and graphic drivers and why there were both of them for the same chipset/graphic card.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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11 Jul 2013   #4

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by RonAshman View Post
Thank you for replying.

Well yeah that's what I thought. So I always install them.

But sometimes I get confused.
For instance, my current computer has a NVidia chipset with a NVidia graphic card (onboard).

There are available chipset drivers (the NVvidia 4 in 1) which include "display driver", "away mode driver", "ethernet driver" and "storage driver". And ALSO there are available graphic divers.

I did this fresh install like 2 months ago so at this point I don't remember what I did. Everything works fine and smooth now. But I didn't even know the difference between display and graphic drivers and why there were both of them for the same chipset/graphic card.
Back in those days, NVIDIA called the GPU driver the "display driver". Today, they're using the name "Graphics Driver". People were confused because to some people, "display driver" means "monitor driver".

So, there's no difference at all. The driver for the onboard video (it's not a video card, it's just a chip) used to be called Display Driver but now NVIDIA calls it Graphics Driver. It's the same thing. The same is true for video card drivers.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2013   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Ohhh, I see.

Thanks, that's clearer now.

Guess I should have installed the 4in1 without the "display driver" since the "graphic driver" alone had a more updated version of the driver.
Well, it works ok now.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2013   #6

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by RonAshman View Post
Ohhh, I see.

Thanks, that's clearer now.

Guess I should have installed the 4in1 without the "display driver" since the "graphic driver" alone had a more updated version of the driver.
Well, it works ok now.
Well, your onboard video is so old that the old driver should be more than good enough.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2013   #7

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by RonAshman View Post
The question is: Should I install device drivers or not?
Yes. The point is, you don't notice that it does not work (or that it works haphazardly) until you get weird errors in a critical moment, and you are screwed and/or lose days to try to understand why/what happened.

The recommended course of action is identify all the hardware you have and then download the drivers from the device manufacturer's site. That is, Intel stuff from Intel site, AMD/ATI from their own site, and so on. For laptops, the drivers listed in the laptop's manufacturer's site are ok, but it's better if you do the former.

The drivers that come with windows update are a last-resort. Good to have, but rarely up-to-date and may not be there for you anyway. And for relatively old hardware you might prefer your own drivers (tweaked or old versions that work better on your specific hardware).

Quote:
If so, in which order?
It's more like a tree. Chipset is the first (the trunk). Then you can install whatever else in any order, as they are all independent from each other (the branches).

This is assuming you didn't install windows in a RAID disk, where that would have been the very first non-standard driver windows sees, as you need to give it the driver before windows installation.

Quote:
There are available chipset drivers (the NVvidia 4 in 1) which include "display driver", "away mode driver", "ethernet driver" and "storage driver". And ALSO there are available graphic divers.
Ah, in that case there is a graphics processor (the main component of a graphic card) physically inside the chipset too. They had some free space so why not?

In these cases I install first the pack. THEN I install the graphics driver.

Windows 7 keeps both drivers in storage, and can easily switch back to the older one in case of issues with the newer (it's called "rolling back driver", here an how-to).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Whether to install drivers or not




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