Driver installation was always necessary but, thanks to technological advances, this process has fortunately 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 if you want to have more control over the process, this guide is for you.
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. Although things may be changing, Nvidia is still a safer choice.
Even though the appeal of buying a new GPU is real, there’s more to it than just opening up the case, plugging in the card and playing your favorite game.
Just like AMD, Nvidia offers two options for 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 won’t be familiar with this method, 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 relatively straight-forward and easy to use, there are still some prerequisites when installing your drivers using this software.
Before installing your Nvidia drivers this way, you need 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, which 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. When the new window opens up and the list of programs is displayed, you should click on AMD Software.
It is recommended that, in addition to deleting AMD software this way, you still download a useful app called Display Driver Uninstaller and run it from Safe Mode. This will make sure that every last bit of AMD software that can mess with your Nvidia drivers is completely removed from your PC. When using DDU, you should use the Clean and Restart option as lagging drivers will be automatically wiped off your PC before restarting it.
At this point, your machine will run in a low resolution and you will have to install drivers like that. The good news is that at least now, you have ensured a clean installation.
If you’re upgrading upon an Nvidia card, then uninstalling the previous drivers won’t be necessary.
Step 1 – Preparing For The Installation
This probably goes 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 first be asked to log in to your Nvidia account. Of course, if you don’t have an account you can create one using your social media credentials or inputting your details 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 and take no prisoners. It 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’s no reason to worry – this is standard display driver-installing procedure.
On the other hand, the Custom Installation 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 and removes any profiles that you might have created.
After the process (which is identical to the express installation process) is completed, you will have your Nvidia graphics card drivers set up and will be able to play your favorite video games.
Manually Installing The Drivers
The process of deleting your previous card’s drivers is exactly the same here. As it was explained step-by-step in the last section, we won’t be explaining it again.
The difference 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 to be safe.
The ‘Product Type’ you most likely want is ‘GeForce’, but if you’re interesting in gaming on a Titan card, you should choose that. The ‘Legacy’ option will give you access to display drivers from twenty years ago, which we assume you would only want out of pure academic curiosity.
‘Product Series’ will determine which actual product options you will get in the next step, so it’s important to know from which series your GPU comes from.
Side note: ‘Product’ refers to the actual name of your graphics card. Also, if you bought a GPU with a different manufacturer 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. If not, then there is a possibility that your PC won’t be able to run the drivers, but in that case you have a very 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 only use stable updates.
When you’ve found your graphics card’s driver, you will be taken to a download page from where you can download and install the drivers 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 your desired path, the installation wizard will run and install your drivers and you’re all set to play your video games.
How To Reinstall Nvidia Drivers
Some people feel that 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.
When 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 too hard to find.
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 them, 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 were offered the ‘Express Installation’ or ‘Custom Installation’ options. We have already described the process of selecting each one earlier, so you can refer to that part for the following steps.
If you’re looking to manually reinstall the drivers, you will have to go through the same driver uninstallation process which we’ve already described. Again, it’s 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. Although we have explained it earlier, we need to stress that it’s possible that the reason why you 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.