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Windows 7: General Question - Windows Installed Drivers Vs OEM Website Drivers

16 Jun 2013   #1

Windows 7 Starter
General Question - Windows Installed Drivers Vs OEM Website Drivers


This is a general question for a fresh install of Windows on a computer. Let's say we just completed the installation and we open up Device Manager (we haven't used Windows Update yet). Device Manager shows us that there are - let's say "3" - devices that do not have drivers installed for them. If we visit the computer manufacturers website though, they'll have - let's say "8" - different drivers to download.

If we only install the "3" drivers for the devices that Windows couldn't find drivers for, are we hurting our computing performance by not installing the other "5" drivers that were available on the manufacturers website?

This is just good to know in general, because I've faced this situation with every install of Windows since I began computing with Windows 98. But the reason I'm asking now is because the nincompoops at Acer - despite me entering my serial number - still offer me every possible driver for my model, including drivers for hardware that's not in my computer! Windows - of course - can't identify the hardware, so I'm ready to rip out the last little bit of hair on my head.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jun 2013   #2

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601

Some manufacturers offer an utility that helps you identify what stuff you have in the laptop, I think Acer did.
You can also try the hardware-detection program this forum has, this tutorial

Also check the driver version, as some manufacturer list multiple driver versions and you only need the latest (usually, otherwise take the last version that works).

Also, installers of these drivers usually look up the hardware IDs of the hardware and if they don't detect anything that could benefit from them will abort installation. Some instead install anyway and you will have some drivers you won't need, but won't cause any issue as again Win7 knows that they don't match any hardware ID, and will leave them alone.

So, you may have noticed that I am talking of Hardware IDs, that are basically each device's own "calling card" integrated in each device, you can identify the hardware by looking up its hardware ID and then searching it on Google to convert that code into a human-readable device model and brand.

Open device manager, right-click on an unknown device, click on "properties", then go in the "details" tab of its properties panel from Device Manager, click on the drop-down menu and select "Hardware IDs". right-click on the codes you get on the text panel below it and select copy, then search the code on Google to identify the device.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jun 2013   #3

Windows 7 Starter

Thanks for that answer. I just decided to only install the drivers that Device Manager was complaining about. I already knew that I had the Atheros Wireless and Wired hardware. Plus I knew I had Intel graphics. So I was able to install those 3 drivers and now Device Manager is happy.

This is the most important question: There is a Realtek sound driver available from Acer as well, but Windows isn't complaining about that. I think there was a chipset driver available as well. If I don't install those two drivers that Windows doesn't seem to be missing, will my computer performance suffer? I mean, as soon as I run Windows Update I'll probably get some updated drivers. But I always like to think ahead, so I'm thinking maybe in 2021 I try to run Windows Update and Microsoft is out of business - ideally - or they've just disabled Windows Update for Windows 7. Am I hurting my performance by not installing these drivers?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

17 Jun 2013   #4

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601

Installing chipset drivers is usually a good thing. At the moment you are running with generic chipset drivers.
Chipset is the component operating anything that is not CPU and GPU (and screen). This is what does your chipset. This is the most current driver from Intel (it's a pack that installs only the ones for your chipset).
Not installing chipset drivers may lend to weird things happening, depending on how well generic chipset drivers work on your hardware. The most common is low performance in hard drive operation and crappy power management, but may or may not apply.

Realtek is for sound or for ethernet (as they make both audio and ethernet chips). Generally better driver increases sound quality, not by a lot though. Without ethernet drivers the ethernet port won't work. A bunch of ethernet ports.

Windows 7 support is going to to end in 2020, so by 2021 the update servers will be shut down (more like repurposed) and Windows Update will stop working.
Regardless of this nitpick, don't trust too much Windows Update for your drivers. On average they are a bit outdated when they are offered, and it may not offer all the drivers you need.

In case you have a multi-card reader/webcam be sure it has its drivers installed or it's dead weight.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Jun 2013   #5

Windows 7 Starter

Thanks for your assistance!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 General Question - Windows Installed Drivers Vs OEM Website Drivers

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