With the way Nvidia has been consistently dominant over their chief competitor AMD, it’s no surprise that an average user would want an Nvidia graphics card for their PC.
Even though the appeal of buying a new GPU, opening up the case, plugging the card in, and playing your favorite game is real, it’s fair to say that that isn’t the end of the job.
Driver installation was always necessary, but luckily with the way technology keeps moving forward, this process has gotten a lot easier. Most of the time, Windows 10 (and some earlier versions) will automatically start the installation wizard upon booting the PC with new hardware, but as some people want to have more control over the process, we decided to write this short instruction.
Just like AMD, Nvidia offers two options in how to install or update your graphics card drivers:
- GeForce Experience – An easier choice between the two. It’s interesting to note that this Nvidia GPU companion software doesn’t only keep your drivers up to date, but offers a host of other options, specifically made for gamers.
- Manually Installing The Drivers – Most modern PC users will find this method foreign, but older gamers will certainly remember how many times an in-game graphical glitch was solved by searching the official website for drivers and finding out they haven’t been updated for a while.
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Even though GeForce Experience is a relatively straight-forward and easy to use, there are still some prerequisites when installing the driver using this software.
Before installing your Nvidia drivers this way, you have to know if you are upgrading from an AMD card or an Nvidia one. This is important because sometimes different drivers will leave certain excess data in the system’s registry and could cause some issues.
Step 0 – Uninstalling The Previous Drivers
If you’re switching from an AMD GPU, it’s necessary to delete its drivers. You can do this by going to Control Panel, then click Add or Remove Programs, and then when the new window opens up and the list of programs is displayed, you should click on AMD Software.
It is recommended that despite deleting AMD software this way, you still download a useful app called Display Driver Uninstaller and run it from Safe Mode. It will make sure that every last bit of AMD software that can mess with your Nvidia drivers is completely and thoroughly removed from your PC and you can continue the installation process. When using DDU, you should use the Clean and Restart option as it will automatically wipe your PC of lagging drivers and restart your PC.
Of course, at this point you will be running without drivers and will have to install them in the wonky resolution, but at least you’re sure you’re getting a clean install.
If you’re upgrading upon an Nvidia card, then uninstalling the previous drivers won’t be necessary.
Step 1 – Preparing For The Installation
It should probably go without saying, but in order to install drivers for your GPU, you need to actually have the executable files on your PC. The best way to get the latest Nvidia software (or specific drivers for that matter) is to go to Nvidia’s website.
In this step, we’re looking at the driver installation via the GeForce Experience program which you can get here.
Once you have downloaded GeForce Experience, fire it up and you can get started.
Step 2 – Installing The Drivers
After starting Nvidia’s software, you will be first asked to log in to your Nvidia account. Of course, if you don’t have you can create it using your social media credentials or inputting your data manually. Either way, after a simple registration section, you will be taken to the home page of Experience.
There, you will see a list of games you have installed on your PC and you will be given the option to optimize their performance by altering visual specifications after clicking the ‘Details’ button. However, we are more interested in the ‘Drivers’ tab in the upper left-hand corner of the window.
After clicking it, you will be given the option of an express installation or a custom one.
The Express Installation will ask no questions, take no prisoners, and will automatically figure out what drivers you need and will install them without prompt. It’s important to note that during the installation process your screen will turn black for a couple of seconds and there is no reason to worry – this is a standard display driver installing procedure.
The Custom Installation on the other hand, will offer you additional options, but they are intended for stuff that isn’t necessary for the smooth running of your graphics card. You will also be offered a ‘clean installation’ option which restores all settings to default as well as removing any profiles that you might have created.
After the process (which is identical to the express installation process) is done, you will have your Nvidia graphics card drivers set up and able to play your favorite video games.
Manually Installing The Drivers
The step-by-step of how to delete your previous card’s drivers was explained in the last section and it is the exact same thing you will have to do here, so we won’t be explaining it again.
The different part between these two installation methods is that here, you will have to manually choose the drivers for your graphics card from the Nvidia website.
The selection of the appropriate driver is simple enough, but let’s go through it just in case.
The ‘Product Type’ you most likely want is ‘GeForce’, but if you are interesting in gaming on a Titan card, you should choose that. ‘Legacy’ option will give you access to display drivers from twenty years ago which we assume you only want out of pure academic curiosity.
‘Product Series’ will determine which actual product options you will get in the next step, so it is important to know from which series does your GPU come from.
‘Product’ refers to the actual name name of your graphics card.
Note: if you bought a GPU with a different manufacturer’s prefix, say MSI or EVGA, you only need to find the actual model name and you’re good to go.
‘Operating System’ should be your operating system, provided you can find it in the drop-down menu and if not, well then there is a possibility that your PC won’t be able to run the drivers, but in that case, you have much different problem on your hands.
The ‘Language’ option simply refers to the language you wish to use during the installation.
The important option is the ‘Download Type’. Here you’re offered either ‘Game Ready Driver’ or a ‘Studio Driver’.
GRD is best if you intend to use your graphics card on the latest games so you can get the latest driver updates. SD is intended for people who use their graphics cards for more professional purposes like 3D modelling or video rendering. In that case, you don’t actually need the latest drivers as they come out and you will use only stable updates.
When you’ve found your graphics card’s driver, you will be taken to a download page from where you can download the it and install it from the executable file from your file system.
Once you run the file, you will be prompted with a destination location for the installation and the default path will already be selected. After you select the path, the installation wizard will run and install your drivers and voila, you can play your video games.
How To Reinstall Nvidia Drivers
Some may feel like the need for driver re-installation is a relic of a bygone era, but it’s best to cover your bases in case you’re experiencing slowdowns or stuttering in your games.
Just like the installation process, you have two options on how to reinstall the drivers.
Using the GeForce Experience, you will be offered the option in the ‘Drivers’ tab. It’s not as obvious as we would have liked, but it’s not hard to get to it either.
In the upper left-hand corner of the tab, you will see a notification that you have the latest drivers installed and the exact version of the driver displayed immediately below it. On the right side of the driver’s name, you will notice three dots, indicating additional options available. Once you click on it, you will be given the option to reinstall the drivers.
From there, you will be taken to the same screen you saw when you installed the drivers and offered the ‘Express Installation’ or ‘Custom Installation’ options. We have already described the process of selecting each one earlier, so refer to that part for next steps.
If you’re looking to manually reinstall the drivers, you will have to go through the same driver uninstallation process which we already described. Again, it is best to use Display Driver Uninstaller and fully remove any driver leftovers in your system.
The process of selecting the matching driver for your graphics card is crucial. We tried to simplify it earlier, but we have to mention that it is possible that the reason why you might have experienced stuttering or similar issues is due to having an inappropriate driver. Therefore, it’s extremely important to know exactly what graphics card you have so you can install the right driver for it.