In the realm of computers, graphics refers to the display system of a computer. A graphics card, also known as a display adapter, video card, or graphics controller, is a card that is plugged into a computer to create the signals that are displayed on a monitor. Graphics drivers are the software that runs the graphics cards, connecting them to the operating system. They are different for each graphics card and are most often provided by the manufacturer of the graphics card. It is important to keep these drivers updated in order to have the best computer performance.
The usual way to update graphics drivers is to go to the manufacturer’s download site. Here one will characteristically enter information such as product type, product series, product name, operating system, and language, and most of this information can be found in the system profiler on one’s computer if one doesn’t happen to know it offhand. This information will be processed and provide a list of driver updates for download. One may also be able to find archived drivers from older cards, as well as beta versions of drivers for testing. When one locates the drivers that are appropriate for one’s system, one downloads them, uninstalls the old drivers, and installs the new drivers.
NVIDIA®, one of the most popular graphics card providers, provides an alternative method to obtain graphics drivers — a “Smart Scan“ service. The web-based service scans a user’s hardware and software to determine the appropriate graphics drivers for the computer’s particular configuration. The drivers are suggested based on information about the CPU and its speed, the operating system, the amount of RAM (Random Access Memory), the graphics and sound cards, etc. The system works with both Windows® and Mac® computers, and a variety of browsers.
One exception to the general rule that manufacturers supply the graphics drivers for each graphics card they make is Intel®. Because Intel® includes Intel® Embedded Graphics Drivers (IEGD) in Embedded Intel® Architecture-Based Chipsets, it provides updates for the drivers. They can be found either through the Intel® website or the Embedded Design Center website.