How to Find Windows-based PC Hardware Drivers – A Guide

by Rafael Hernandez on May 11, 2010 · 0 comments

We’ve all been there, spending countless hours looking for drivers to support our brand new hardware or newer versions in order to keep your system up to date. Sometimes no matter how hard you look there’s just no help when you need it the most.

Sleuthing out your system’s hardware and finding appropriate drivers can be a challenge but we’ve gathered a few tips that’ll help you track down that last piece of the puzzle.

Know Your Enemy

Finding out all of the specifications of your computer before hand will help you  quickly find the driver you’re looking for. For that task we’ll rely on tools like PC Wizard 2010, which is free, that give you more details about your system than you’d ever like to know.The simple fact is that most computer hardware uses drivers made by the chip manufacturer. So while you may own a graphics card made by company X the manufacturer of the graphics chip on that card is probably the best bet when you start looking for drivers. This same rule applies to just about every other component in your PC.

There are instances where you can’t exactly figure out what sort of driver you’re missing so you’re going to have to do a little digging. In these cases a trip into the device manager and the properties page for your device is the best place to start. Head into the Details tab and choose “Hardware Ids” from the drop down menu. The values listed will generally lead to the hardware you have on hand. In most cases all we’re interested in is the Function, Vendor, and Device ID (FUNC_01&VEN_10EC&DEV_0888) which will be handy in a web search.

If you’re really set on tracking down information on your hardware you can use a handy website like PCIDatabase.com which sports an extensive list of Device IDs and the manufacturers they’re attached to.

When All Else Fails

Of course you’re going to run into cases where a chip maker isn’t exactly forthcoming with driver support for end users so they’ll loop you into that vicious cycle and try to force you back to the addon board or motherboard manufacturer for support but all they have is old drivers. This is especially the case in many devices found in notebooks and netbooks which makes that fresh OS install extremely frustrating.

In those instances your only real course of action is to jump on your favorite search engine and look around in the deepest corners of the web. Fortunately many other people have probably already run into the same issues you’ve had as you’re likely to find forums filled with helpful posts that guide you to your needed drivers, usually forums hosted by the company that made your PC in the first place. Of course you’ll want to run your favorite antivirus software over anything you download just to be safe.

After a bit of the old web search juggle you’ll come out of this with a strong background in driver sleuthing which will go far…when you have to help someone else in their search.

The Listing

This isn’t meant to be an end all or be all list but these top notch companies offer end-user drivers for their chips which should work well on hardware featuring them barring any form of oddball modification by the hardware manufacturer.

Audio
AMD
Creative Labs
NVIDIA
Realtek
VIA

Motherboard Chipset
AMD
Intel
NVIDIA
VIA

Networking
Broadcom
Intel
Realtek

Video
AMD (ATI)
Intel
NVIDIA
VIA (S3)

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Shoot us a line.

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