If the previous video drivers were not removed properly—and this generally requires running a “cleaner” utility in addition to uninstalling the drivers—the computer may be unstable with the new drivers installed. Also, some OSes (operating systems), such as Windows XP, automatically try to find and install graphics drivers following the obligatory reboot after a user uninstalls the old video drivers. Games may also close and drop the user back to the Desktop, and the system may spontaneously reboot.
Problems may also occur if the user installed drivers for the wrong graphics chipset, although manufacturers such as Nvidia and ATI provide all-in-one drivers to cover many graphics chipsets in one package.
Visit the Web site of the manufacturer of the graphics chip on your card or motherboard, such as Nvidia
, or others. In the graphics driver download section, look for an uninstaller or cleaner utility. An example is ATI’s Catalyst Uninstaller, which is typically offered on the same pages as specific driver downloads. Download the uninstaller/cleaner utility and run it, following its instructions. Reboot and then install the latest graphics drivers for your specific card or motherboard.
A free, third-party alternative is Driver Cleaner
. This has generally been safe to run as of this writing. Be sure to read all notes and follow all directions as you use Driver Cleaner to remove old driver remnants. Use the software to get rid of any drivers supplied by Windows, too, as these are often the ones WinXP automatically installs at startup before you can install the new drivers from the graphics chipset manufacturer. You probably won’t need Windows’ drivers again, as they’re usually older and slower and don’t have the latest tweaks and fixes.
Make sure you’ve properly identified your graphics chipset. First, check it in Device Manager (right-click My Computer and click Properties, the Hardware tab, Device Manager, and Display Adapters). Corroborate this by opening your computer’s case and checking the brand name and model number of your graphics card (the monitor’s cable connects to it) or the brand and model of your motherboard if the video/graphics chipset is built into it. Look up the model number on the manufacturer’s Web site, and it should tell you which graphics chipset you have.
Note that you can install ATI’s or Nvidia’s drivers on any card using their chipsets (no matter whose brand is on the card). On the other hand, if you have integrated graphics, you need to get drivers from the motherboard’s manufacturer.
If you have recently changed from integrated graphics to an add-in video card, make sure that you have moved the monitor cable to the new device and disabled the motherboard’s onboard graphics in the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System). To do so, click the indicated button to enter Setup during the boot process, usually the DELETE button. Then, look for an option that will let you disable the BIOS’ onboard or integrated video.