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Windows 7 - How to Update Your Graphics Card Drivers

The graphics card is the component of your PC which is responsible for rendering the image that you see on your monitor. All but the cheapest desktop computers have a dedicated graphics card. This is a separate printed circuit board which slots into the mainboard inside your computer. Dedicated graphics cards are like miniature computers by themselves. They have their own processors and memory dedicated entirely to rendering graphics on your computer. An integrated graphics card, found in cheaper desktop computers and most laptops, is a graphics processing chip hardwired into the mainboard. These chips typically share the system memory instead of providing their own. Dedicated graphics cards are essential for providing adequate performance in almost all video games as well as any 3D design or rendering software.

The drivers are the software component of your graphics card. They are what allow Windows to communicate with your graphics card. Keeping these drivers up to date is important, since new drivers overcome many compatibility issues with certain games, software and hardware. Sometimes, driver updates may also help to improve performance. Follow the guide below to learn how to install the latest drivers for your graphics card in Windows 7. This assumes that you have a dedicated graphics card.

1 – Downloading the Drivers
Although there are dozens of companies which assemble the graphics cards themselves, they all use chipsets either manufactured by nVidia or AMD (ATI). You can get the latest drivers from the company which assembled your graphics card. Some of the better known companies include Asus, MSI and XFX, but there are many more.

It is in fact almost always better to get drivers directly from the chipset manufacturer itself. Both nVidia and ATI provide unified drivers for all of their graphics cards and they are always updated faster than those provided by the graphics card assembler. nVidia provides the "Forceware" driver pack which works for all of their modern graphics cards while ATI provides the "Catalyst" driver pack for theirs. Depending on whether you have an nVidia card or an ATI one, go to or and download the latest driver pack. There are separate versions of the driver packs for laptops and desktops. Also, ensure that you get the right driver pack for Windows 7 – either 32-bit or 64-bit.

If you're not sure which graphics card you have, right-click on your desktop to bring up a menu. Owners of computers with nVidia graphics cards will see a menu option called "NVIDIA Control Panel." ATI users will see "ATI Catalyst Control Center." Both of these allow users to access system settings, view the current driver version and more.

2 – Install the New Drivers

This step is very simple, since both the nVidia and ATI drivers provide a wizard which assists you in installing the drivers. Navigate to the location where you download the file. In Windows 7, by default, this is usually accessible by clicking on your user name in the start menu and opening the "Downloads" folder in the folder which pops up. Double-click on the driver file and run through the installation process. You'll be guided through the process by the wizard-driven interface of the installation package. You will need to restart your computer afterwards. Congratulations! Your new drivers are now installed, hopefully fixing any compatibility problems and improving performance. In the process.


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