I admit it. I am a “driver seeker”. That means that I proactively seek out new drivers and firmware updates for the devices that I own. This applies to pretty much anything that can be updated with software or firmware updates. From my car, phone, cameras, to my multiple PCs. I am especially focused on trying to stay current for my various personal computers. Because of that, this post is about Finding The Latest PC Drivers.
Modern versions of Windows 10 do a good job of installing functional drivers for most components in a desktop or laptop PC. In most cases, if you install a fresh copy of Windows 10, Version 20H2 on a machine that you just built or bought, most of your components are going to work. This is a major improvement over the way it used to be many years ago.
Back then, when you first installed Windows 7 (or earlier versions of Windows 10) on a machine, many components did not work. A common problem was networking components. It was pretty rare to get any network drivers from the base OS installation.
Now, you are much more likely to have a working system after a base OS installation. Windows 10 is also much better about finding, downloading, and updating component drivers after you run Windows Update. Many people will do just fine by relying on Windows to just automatically keep their drivers updated.
The Programs and Features applet is a quick way to check the versions of what you have installed. I check this pretty often on my systems. Once I realize that there is a new driver version for something, I will grab it and install it on one of my systems. After using that test system for a bit, I’ll start installing it on the rest of the fleet.
One reason I am writing this is as a handy reference for myself. Since I periodically go looking for new updates, having a post with the places that I commonly check will save me some time in the future. BTW, using your own blog post as a future reference is a common benefit from blogging!
Finding The Latest PC Drivers
Even though Windows 10 and Windows/Microsoft Update are much better than they used to be, you might want to take matters into your own hands. Current vendor-specific drivers are usually better than generic Microsoft drivers or older vendor drivers from Microsoft Update.
If you have a prebuilt system from a large vendor like Dell, HP, or Lenovo, they will have a support page for your system. You can download drivers and other utilities from there. Most large hardware vendors also have update/maintenance utilities that was scan your system, and then download and install new driver and firmware updates.
If you built your machine from parts (or bought it from a small system integrator), you can go to the motherboard vendor’s web site to get newer drivers and firmware updates.
When you buy a motherboard, it still comes with an optical disc with drivers, but that is a relic of bygone days in most cases. Most new systems do not have optical drives anymore, so unless you have an external USB optical drive, the driver disc isn’t going to help you.
On top of that, the driver versions on the disc will probably be out-of-date. The driver disc could be useful if you do not have internet connectivity or a second system to use to download your drivers.
Most motherboard vendors also have free software utilities that you can use to check for, download, and install new driver versions for your motherboard.
These are just links to some motherboards that I currently own.
The TechPowerUp web site maintains current drivers for several common components from AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA. This includes AMD chipset drivers, AMD and NVIDIA video drivers, and Intel network and Bluetooth drivers. You can also sign up to get an email notification when they get new versions.
The two main players here for discrete graphics are NVIDIA and AMD. Intel may become a competitor in the next couple of years.
The larger storage vendors have drive management tools and drivers.
I usually let Microsoft Update take the first crack at installing and updating drivers on a brand new system that I have built from parts. After that, I’ll check Device Manager and the Programs and Features applet to see what is working and what has been installed.
Next, I’ll start looking for vendor-specific drivers from the various sources that I have mentioned in this post. Sometimes I install the driver utilities from the motherboard makers and sometimes I don’t. Doing all of this takes some time, but it is worth it to me. Having current drivers and keeping them up to date really seems to reduce the amount of problems that I run into.
If you have any thoughts or questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. You can also follow me on Twitter, where I am @GlennAlanBerry. Thank you for reading!