All your computer hardware, from the motherboard to the webcam, needs drivers to function properly. Here’s how to download the official device drivers for your hardware, whether you’re using Windows 10 or 7.
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Windows Automatically Downloads Drivers
If your PC and its connected devices are working properly, you probably don’t need to download drivers. When you install Windows on a computer or connect a peripheral to your PC, Windows automatically downloads and installs the appropriate drivers. Device manufacturers upload these official drivers to Windows Update so Windows can install them automatically. Any important updates are delivered via Windows Update, too. This is the safest way to update your drivers on Windows, because they go through fairly extensive testing by Microsoft.
Windows Update has more drivers on Windows 10, so this works better on Windows 10 systems. But even Windows 7 PCs can get many drivers through Windows Update.
In some cases, you’ll want to download the official drivers straight from the manufacturer instead of Microsoft. If you’ve just installed Windows on a PC or plugged in a peripheral and something isn’t working properly, it’s time to get the official drivers from the manufacturer’s download site. If you need a hardware utility that isn’t included in the standard Windows drivers—for example, touchpad or mouse drivers may include control panels with additional settings if you get them from the manufacturer—that’s also a good reason to get them from the manufacturer.
We also recommend you install the latest graphics drivers for your system’s NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel graphics hardware if you play PC games. The drivers available from Windows Update tend to be older, which means they won’t work as well with newer games. The Windows drivers don’t have useful tools like NVIDIA GeForce Experience and AMD ReLive that you get from the manufacturer, either. These tools allow you to optimize your games, record and stream your gameplay, take screenshots, and easily update your graphics drivers in the future.
You’ll Need the Manufacturer and Model Number of Your Device
To manually download a driver for a piece of hardware, you’ll need to know the manufacturer of the hardware, as well as its model number. This information is printed on the device’s packaging, on any receipts you have, and often even on the device itself if you look carefully. You can also download the free version of Speccy, which can show you this information about many of your devices.
If you purchased a desktop computer or laptop, you just need to know which manufacturer and model number of computer you have. For example, if you need a Wi-Fi driver for a Dell XPS 13 (2018 model), you don’t need to know what internal Wi-Fi hardware it has. You just need to head to the Dell website, look up the XPS 13 (2018 model) page, and download the Wi-Fi driver for that PC. The model name and number is often…
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