After months of researching and preparing, you finally did it: you built your dream PC. You installed the motherboard in the case, mounted the processor and cooler, clipped in the RAM and GPU, and impressed yourself with the lack of smoke as the PC turned on and even passed the POST check.
After this, you installed the latest version of Windows 10, and you are ready to game–almost. Before you start racking up those kills in the latest version of Call of Duty or Fortnite, you’ll want to take the time to install your motherboard drivers.
Installing your PC’s drivers have never been simpler, but it still can be intimidating if it’s your first time. If you have an optical drive, then you can simply use the disc that came with your motherboard to install your drivers.
However, the process is more involved if you didn’t install an optical drive. As most gamers avoid optical drives in 2021, this guide will show you how to easily find and install your motherboard drivers.
What Is a Driver?
This term is thrown around quite a lot, but many gamers don’t really know what a driver is. Put simply, a driver is a required program that allows the operating system, Windows 10 in our case, to communicate and use an internal or peripheral device in a computer.
This can be anything from your mouse and keyboard to specific components of the motherboard, such as the audio adapters, USB ports, or the LAN port. Windows 10 comes preloaded with a suite of generic drivers that will enable your computer to work as soon as it’s installed.
However, in the case of gaming PCs, we will want to use the drivers provided specifically by the motherboard and graphics card manufacturers for optimal performance.
How to Find Your Motherboard Drivers
The very first thing you will need to do is to determine the make and model of your motherboard.
Double check that you have the right model as incorrect drivers can cause major performance and stability issues. For the purposes of this guide we will be using our choice of the best overall motherboard: the MSI MPG X570. Simply do a Google search for your motherboard and navigate to the manufacturer’s website to find the drivers.
We would advise to never use a third-party driver website or program; only install drivers directly from the manufacturer when possible. Third-party websites and driver programs are a haven for spyware and bloatware, and they don’t always keep accurate drivers either. Only resort to third-party websites if you are an advanced user and understand the inherent risks.
Every manufacturer’s website will be slightly different, but the driver section is typically easy to find. With our MSI board, we’ll start on a page dedicated to the MPG X570. If the website asks, ensure that you are installing drivers for the 64-bit version of Windows 10.
Next up, you’ll need to navigate to the list of drivers on the website. In this section you will see everything from the SATA drivers to the network and integrated graphics drivers (assuming your board has integrated graphics capabilities). Your experience will obviously vary based on the motherboard manufacturer.
If you can download and install a program, then you can do this next step. Simply work your way through the list of drivers and download all of the applicable drivers. Most of you will likely be able to skip any RAID drivers unless you have your hard drives in a RAID configuration.
On a side note, ensuring that your BIOS is up to date is equally important as any of these drivers, but it can often be a more involved process, depending on the manufacturer.
Some manufacturers will have a simple installer that you can run within Windows 10, while others will still require you to put the installer on a thumb drive and install directly through the BIOS. While the process isn’t too difficult, it would best be covered in a separate guide.
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How to Install Motherboard Drivers
After all of your drivers are downloaded, it is time to start installing your motherboard drivers. We would recommend that you install the drivers one at a time and restart your PC after every installation is complete.
Without restarting, the drivers may not finish their complete installation which can lead to corruption of the drivers and/or Windows 10. It is tempting to skip this step, but for the sake of long term PC stability, take the extra thirty seconds to restart.
For new PC builders, finding the correct installer can often be confusing. The installer will likely come in a zip folder that will need to be extracted, and once it’s open there’s often a folder full of poorly labeled files.
You will be looking for an executable/application file that will likely be called “Setup”, “Installer”, or something similar. See the MSI audio driver install folder below for reference:
Once you start the installer, the install process is typically similar to any other program installation. You may need to choose the install location, but the process is fairly automated.
As mentioned above, make sure to restart your PC once each driver is finished installing. The installer may even force you to restart.
Follow this process for each of your drivers, and you will be ready to game in no time.
Read also: Best low power graphics cards
How to Verify Driver Installation
This last step is not strictly necessary, but it’s still a good idea to verify that your drivers are properly installed. There are two ways to verify your drivers: performing a driver query through the Command Prompt or by looking through the Device Manager for each driver.
While the Command Prompt method is quicker, it is very confusing unless you are an advanced user. We will describe the Device Manager method instead as the graphical interface is more familiar for most users.
Open Device Manager either by searching for it in the search bar of the Taskbar or by right-clicking the Windows Icon on the Taskbar and selecting Device Manager from the list of options.
Once Device Manager is open, you will see the following screen:
Device Manager will list all of your internal components and peripherals with their associated drivers. You can verify your drivers by selecting the drop down menu of each device, right-clicking on the desired driver, selecting “Properties”, and verifying that the driver installed matches the one installed.
In the example below, you’ll see that the driver is a Windows driver, but your PC should show the drive you just installed.
Navigate to the driver you want to verify, right-click on the driver and select “Properties”. For this example, we’ll look at the Intel network adapter. Your adapter will likely be different than what’s pictured.
A window will pop up with several different options related to the device. For our purposes, we are only interested in the General and Driver tabs. On the General tab, we can see that the device manufacturer is Intel and that the driver is working properly.
Device status will list if there are any known conflicts with the driver. Navigate to the Driver tab to see more details on the driver.
On the Driver tab, we can see that the driver was provided by Microsoft. In your instance, it will likely list the driver manufacturer if the driver was installed correctly. If you want to find more information about the driver, feel free to select “Driver Details”.
By reviewing the drivers in Device Manager, you have now verified that your drivers were installed correctly. If you see a different driver listed than expected, it may be worth reinstalling the driver and resetting your computer again.
It is important to note that Windows 10 will, at times, default to a generic driver if there is a conflict with the new driver or if it determines that the generic driver is better. There are ways to force a driver, but this is for advanced users only.
If your computer keeps defaulting to a generic driver, then it is likely fine to let it be. You would only need to keep troubleshooting if the generic driver is causing performance issues.
Feel Free to Reach Out!
In this guide, we have shown you the basic steps on how to find and install your motherboard drivers. As mentioned, every manufacturer is different, so your experience may be slightly different.
With that being said, the process is very similar for all the major motherboard manufacturers. Some manufacturers even provide utilities that will handle this entire process for you.
The two most important components of installing motherboard drivers is to triple-check that you are installing the right drivers for your motherboard and resetting after each driver is installed.
As with all of our articles, we love hearing from you! If you need help with your specific motherboard, feel free to reach out. We will do our best to give you advice and get you back to the fun part of building a PC: gaming.
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