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Here's how to update your NVIDIA drivers on Windows
NVIDIA makes some of the best GPUs you can buy for your computer. Both NVIDIA and AMD compete in the GPU space for desktops and laptops outside of the Apple ecosystem, so your options are largely limited to these brands. If you just brought yourself a shiny new NVIDIA GPU, then congratulations! Right after you install it, we recommend that you check for a driver update, as it can make a nice improvement to performance. Here’s how you can easily update your NVIDIA GPU drivers on Windows.
The easiest way to update NVIDIA GPU drivers on Windows is through GeForce Experience. Once you've installed the app, go to Drivers > Check for Updates to check for a newer version of the driver for your installed GPU.
You can also download a driver from NVIDIA's website and install it manually.
JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS
How to update your NVIDIA drivers using GeForce Experience
The easiest way to update your NVIDIA drivers is by making use of NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience app.
- Download GeForce Experience on your Windows PC and install it.
- Run the app. On your first run, you’ll also be asked to create an NVIDIA account, so do so as well.
- Once the app has initialized, you will see two tabs up top. Click on the Drivers tab.
- You will spot a three-dot button right next to the Check for Updates button. Click on the three-dot button, and it will ask you to choose your driver preference:
- Game Ready Driver: This is the driver recommended for most users, as it is geared towards gaming use.
- Studio Driver: This driver is recommended for professionals who make use of creative apps. Note that you can switch between the two options during reinstallation.
- Once your driver preference is set, click on the Check for Updates button.
- If the app spots a newer driver for your installed GPU, it will present you with a button to Download the new driver. Click on it to start the download.
- The driver usually is around a couple of hundred MBs, though newer graphic cards are more likely to have a larger driver size. So, downloading the driver will take a few minutes, depending on the speed of your internet connection.
- Once the download is complete, the GeForce Experience app will present you with two installation styles:
- Express Installation: This installs all the resources and settings that NVIDIA deems optimal for your experience. This is recommended for most users as long as they have adequate storage space.
- Custom Installation: This lets you choose the resources and settings that you want to install. This comes in handy if you are tight on storage space. This installation style is recommended for advanced users. Note that you can reinstall the driver in case you missed something, so you aren’t really risking anything.
- Depending on the style you choose, the installation will proceed. Your drivers will be successfully updated at the end of the process.
Note that your computer display may go blank during installation as the drivers get updated — so do not panic, as it will return to its functional state automatically. Some installation components may also require restarting your computer, and the GeForce Experience app will prompt you for the same.
Alternative method: Windows Update
You can also rely on Windows Update to automatically update your graphics driver. However, updates arrive significantly late through this channel. You will be better off using GeForce Experience for automatic updates or the manual search on NVIDIA’s official webpage for a manual installation.
How to manually update your NVIDIA drivers
There may be instances when you need to update the drivers of your NVIDIA GPU manually or when you cannot use the GeForce Experience app for some reason. In such situations, you can locate the drivers on NVIDIA’s website and install them by yourself.
- Head on over to NVIDIA’s official webpage for driver downloads.
- In the Manual Driver search fields, enter your product details.
- You can find these details in the box of your GPU.
- If you don’t have your GPU box, you can look around for any model numbers present on your physical GPU and enter them in a Google Search. This should ideally point you to further details of your GPU.
- You can also invoke Windows Task Manager, and navigate to Performance > GPU to know the model of your GPU.
- If all the above are not helpful, you can search for “dxdiag” in the Windows search bar and run the app/command. This will invoke the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, and you can navigate to the Display tab to know your GPU details.
- You can choose to download a Game Ready Driver (recommended for gamers) or a Studio Driver (recommended for professionals using creative apps).
- Follow the prompts to download the .exe file.
- Once the download is complete, double-click to run it and begin the installation. Follow along with the prompts as they appear. Don’t panic if your display blanks out during installation, as that is part of the driver update process.
This method is also useful in case you need to roll back to a previous driver version, as most older drivers continue to remain listed and accessible on NVIDIA’s website.
Should you update your NVIDIA drivers?
The short answer to this question is, yes, you should keep your NVIDIA drivers updated.
NVIDIA makes it very easy to keep your GPU drivers updated, thanks to the GeForce Experience app. The company also frequently releases new driver software, which the GeForce Experience app should notify you about for installation.
Generally speaking, newer drivers will include optimizations and bug fixes, allowing your graphics card to deliver the best performance it can. Newer drivers are also recommended if you have purchased a newly launched GPU or are trying to play a newly launched AA or AAA game, as these will likely include key optimizations and recommend game profiles. So a driver update could be the difference between a sub-par gaming experience and a great one. We recommend keeping your GPU drivers updated.
What happens if I don’t update my GPU drivers?
If you already have an older version of your GPU driver installed, then nothing disastrous will usually happen if you choose to ignore a driver update. Your computer will continue to use the older GPU drivers.
However, as mentioned, newer drivers contain bug fixes and optimizations for newer hardware and new games. If you are running into any issues, such as game crashes or slowdowns, one of the first troubleshooting steps recommended is to update your drivers, including your NVIDIA GPU drivers.
Yes, it is safe to update NVIDIA drivers. In the vast majority of cases, you will have a better experience with a newer driver. In some very rare instances, a newer driver may introduce artifacts, but you can roll back to an older release manually.
NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience app will notify you of newer driver updates available to download and install. Depending on your Windows security settings, installation may require manual intervention.
Yes, a restart is recommended after updating NVIDIA drivers.
Updating NVIDIA drivers essentially installs the latest interfacing layer onto your GPU, letting it perform well and communicate optimally with the software OS. Thus, it will improve performance for most use cases for your GPU, making games and apps run better.
While you can technically play a game while the NVIDIA driver updates, it is not recommended to do so. Updating the driver will cause the display to turn blank momentarily, and your computer is likely to switch over to its integrated graphics (if present) for performance. This will either crash your game, provide absolutely sub-par gaming experience, or cause you to lose your game progress during the display blanking. We strongly recommend closing any running games and apps before attempting a GPU update.