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Thread: Video Driver Installation Guide

  1. #1

    Default Video Driver Installation Guide

    VIDEO DRIVER INSTALLATION GUIDE - FOR NVIDIA VIDEO CARDS WITH WINDOWS XP and WINDOWS VISTA/7 (Revision Date: 11-FEB-2013)

    I suspect a lot of you out there know very well how to install video drivers. But I also I suspect there are readers out there who may have never done a video driver installation or, perhaps, don't do it the right way and then wonder why the new video driver is not behaving the way it is supposed to. Hence this guide.

    I'm sure some may think this is the long way round with many unnecessary steps. So be it. If you have a method that works for you and you have confidence in that method, then by all means, stick with it. I use this method because, in my opinion, a new video driver will only perform as it should when all (and I mean ALL), remnants of the old video driver have been removed. I believe this procedure ensures that. It looks long but when you get accustomed to it you can do it in ten minutes or less. So, without further ado, let's get to it!

    VIDEO DRIVER INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS
    -------------------------------------------
    Before you start the installation process, I suggest you first read these instructions completely including the notes at the end. If you are installing a new video card, pay particular attention to Note 3.

    Before we get to the step-by-step procedure, you need to get a few things ready.

    Download and install:

    CCleaner at http://www.ccleaner.com/

    and

    Driver Cleaner Pro at http://www.drivercleaner.net/ (Payware)

    OR

    Driver Sweeper at http://www.guru3d.com/index.php?page=driversweeper (Freeware and compatible with XP and Vista/7).

    Next, obtain the video driver you want to use and make sure you save it where you can easily find it. In most cases you get a new driver by downloading it from your video card manufacturers website, from Nividia or from some other internet source. For more information on where to find driver downloads, see Question #4 in the FAQ section near the end of this guide.

    IMPORTANT!
    The driver you intend to install MUST be the version that matches your operating system. For example, if your operating system is Windows XP 32-bit, then you MUST use the Windows XP 32-bit driver version. If it is Vista 64-bit, then you MUST use the Vista 64-bit version and so on.

    Now to the step-by-step procedures.

    For Windows XP:

    1 - Set a restore point (Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>System Restore and click Create a restore point).

    2 - Remove your current NVIDIA drivers by opening the Control Panel and double-clicking Add/Remove programs. Wait for the list to populate and scroll down to "NVIDIA Drivers". Click on it and then click Change/Remove. What happens next depends upon what motherboard you have. If you have an Nvidia chipset based motherboard, most likely a window will open called "Remove NVIDIA Components". That being the case, select "Remove only the following" and then select "NVIDIA Display Driver". Click "Remove". Next an nView Uninstall window may open asking if you would like to erase your saved nView profiles (nView is NVIDIA's multi-display software). Click Yes or No as applicable. Follow the prompts and re-boot when prompted. If you are removing a very old nVidia driver, or you have a motherboard with a non-Nividia chipset, you may not get the "Remove Components" window or the nView Uninstall window. In any case, if you are presented with a choice of components to remove, be sure to select ONLY the video display driver. If you are not presented with any choices for removal, simply select "NVIDIA Drivers" in the Add/Remove programs list, click "Change/Remove" then follow the prompts and re-boot when prompted.

    3 - Reboot again but this time into Safe mode. I find the best way to get into Safe mode is to click Start and then Run. Next type "msconfig" (without the quotes) and hit Enter. Click the BOOT.INI Tab. Check /SAFEBOOT in the Boot Options section. Click Apply. Click Close. Click Restart. Once the system reboots, you will see a message telling you that Windows is running in safe mode and asking you if you want to continue. Click Yes. If you've never seen your system in Safe Mode before and now you're worrying about how things look, you can stop worrying as things will return to normal once we've finished with running Windows in Safe Mode.

    4 - Run your driver cleaner program:
    Driver Cleaner Pro (older non-Vista compliant version) - If using Driver Cleaner pro, in the Cleaning Selection drop-down menu, click NVIDIA. Click Start. When that finishes, click Tools and click CAB Cleaner. Click Start. When that finishes, (be patient - it will take a few minutes) exit the Driver Cleaner program.

    Driver sweeper - If using Driver Sweeper, select the item(s) you want to remove (NVIDIA - Dispaly and NVIDIA - PhysX are the usual choices) and then click the "Clean" button. Confirm you want to clean the items you selected and reboot when prompted.

    5 - Reboot into normal Windows mode (msconfig-bootup-uncheck safe mode, etc. as in step 4) When the system reboots you will see a message window called "System Configuration Utility". Check "Don't show this message...." and click OK.

    6 - Run CCleaner. When it loads it should already be in Cleaner mode. If not, click Cleaner. Click Analyze. Click "Run Cleaner" as many times as required to delete all entries.

    7 - Still with CCleaner, click the Registry button. Click "Scan for Issues". Click "Fix selected issues". At this point you will be asked if you want to backup changes to the registry. Click No (your registry was backed up when you set a restore point in step 2). Note that all found issues are check-marked by default so just click "Fix All Selected Issues" and click OK. I've found it can take two or three passes to find all issues so just repeat the scan as many times as necessary until the message "No issues were found" appears. Exit CCleaner.

    8 - Reboot again.

    9 - Disable any anti-virus (VERY IMPORTANT!) and/or any anti-spyware software you may be running. Also, have a look at the programs in your system tray and shutdown as many of them as you can (Don't worry. They will re-start again the next time you re-boot).

    10 - Navigate your way to wherever it was you saved your new driver and double click on it to start the driver installation process. The rest is easy - just follow the prompts and reboot when prompted. Finally, check that your anti-virus software is running. If it didn't start up automatically when you last booted be sure to start it manually.

    With the driver installation process now complete, it is time to set up your video card to your preferences. See Note 1.



    For Windows Vista/7:

    1 - Set a restore point.
    Right click My Computer and then click Properties to open the Control panel window. Click System protection and wait for the list of available disks to populate. Select your system disk (its usually Drive C: and pre-selected by default). Click Create. Enter any name you want and click Create again. Wait for the a message saying "The restore point was created successfully." Click Close and then click OK to close the System properties window. Also close the Control Panel.

    2 - Open the Control Panel again by Clicking Start and Control Panel. In the Programs section, click "Uninstall a program". Wait for the list to populate, click once on NVIDIA Drivers and then click Uninstall/Change. What happens next depends upon what motherboard you have. If you have an Nvidia chipset based motherboard, most likely a window will open called "Remove NVIDIA Components".
    That being the case, select "Remove only the following" and then select "NVIDIA Display Driver". Click "Remove". Next an nView Uninstall window will open asking if you would like to erase your saved nView profiles (nView is NVIDIA's multi-display software). Click Yes or No as applicable. Follow the prompts and re-boot when prompted. If you are removing a very old nVidia driver, or you have a
    motherboard with a non-Nividia chipset, you may not get the "Remove Components" window or the nView Uninstall window. In any case, if you are presented with a choice of components to remove, be sure to select only the video display driver. If you are not presented with any choices for removal, simply select "NVIDIA Drivers" in the Add/Remove programs list, click "Change/Remove" then follow the prompts and re-boot when prompted.

    3 - Reboot again but this time into Safe mode.
    To do that, click the Start button then type "msconfig" (without the quotes) into the "Start Search" box. The System Configuration window will open. Click on the Boot tab and then, in the Boot Options section, select Safe Boot. Click Apply, click OK and then re-boot your system.If you've never seen your system in Safe Mode before and now you're worrying about how things look, you can stop worrying as things will return to normal once we've finished with running Windows in Safe Mode.

    4 - Run your driver cleaner program.
    Driver Cleaner Pro - Note: If you want to use Driver Cleaner Pro with Vista/7, you must purchase the payware version (http://www.drivercleaner.net/). If using the payware version of Driver Cleaner Pro, launch the program and, in the Cleaning Selection drop-down menu, click NVIDIA.
    NOTE - When running Windows XP, the next step is to run the CAB Cleaner function. With Vista/7, however, this is not necessary.

    Driver sweeper - If using Driver Sweeper, select the item(s) you want to remove (NVIDIA - Display and NVIDIA - PhysX are the usual choices) and then click the "Clean" button. Confirm you want to clean the items you selected and reboot when prompted.

    5 - Reboot into normal Windows mode by clicking Start and typing "msconfig" (without the quotes) into the "Start Search" box. Hit Enter and the System Configuration window will open. Click on the Boot tab and then un-check Safe Boot. Click Apply, click OK and then re-boot your system. When the system restarts you will see the System Configuration window. Select "Don't show this message or start System Configuration when Windows starts" and then click OK.

    6 - Run CCleaner. When it loads it should already be in Cleaner mode. If not, click Cleaner. Click Analyze. Click "Run Cleaner" as many times as required to delete all entries.

    7 - Still with CCleaner, click the Registry button. Click "Scan for Issues". Click "Fix selected issues". At this point you will be asked if you want to backup changes to the registry. Click No (your registry was backed up when you set a restore point in step 2). Note that all found issues are check-marked by default so just click "Fix All Selected Issues" and click OK. I've found it can take two or three passes to find all issues so just repeat the scan as many times as necessary until the message "No issues were found" appears. Exit CCleaner.

    8 - Reboot again.

    9 - Disable any anti-virus (VERY IMPORTANT!) and/or any anti-spyware software you may be running. Also, have a look at the programs in your system tray and shutdown as many of them as you can. Don't worry - they will re-start again the next time you re-boot.

    10 - Navigate your way to wherever it was you saved your new driver and double click on it to start the driver installation process. Be Patient as this can take several minutes. The rest is easy - just follow the prompts and Reboot when prompted. Finally, check that your anti-virus software is running. If it didn't start up automatically when you last booted be sure to start it manually.

    With the driver installation process now complete, it is time to set up your video card to your preferences. See Note 1.


    Notes
    -----

    1 - While you can use the Nvidia Control Panel to set your graphics preferences, it does not give you full control over graphics quality in FSX. You can get around this limitation and better optimize the graphics quality in FSX by using Nvidia Inspector which is an external driver control program. To use Nvidia Inspector, follow this guide to create an FSX profile. Once you've created your FSX profile, I suggest you make a copy of it. Then, whenever you update your drivers, simply import your saved FSX profile into Nividia Inspector which will ensure that your FSX settings get restored.

    2 - For an excellent Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide which includes a section on the Nvidia Control Panel with an explanation of each setting, go to: http://www.tweakguides.com/NVFORCE_1.html

    3 - If you are installing a non-whql driver (any of the "tweaked" or beta versions, for example), at some point during the installation of the new driver you will see a warning appear telling you the driver has not passed Windows Logo testing or it is not "digitally signed" or whatever, just click on the option to continue with the installation anyway.

    4 - During the installation procedure the "Found New Hardware Wizard" will appear from time to time. Whenever it does, just cancel out of it. It is also likely you will see the "Found New hardware" balloon popping up from time to time. Just ignore it.

    5 - If you are installing a new video card, follow the procedure to the end of step 7 and then shut down your system. Next, remove your old video card and install the new one. Power back up, pick up the procedure at step 9 and continue to the end.

    6 - This is entirely optional but, if you are the type who likes to keep background programs and processes to a minimum, you may want to disable any nVidia background programs/utilities and the NVIDIA Display Driver Service that may get installed with an NVIDIA driver.

    To stop the NVIDIA Display Driver Service in Windows XP:
    Click Start. Click Run. Type "services.msc" (without the quotes) and hit Enter to open the list of Windows XP services.
    In the list you will find "NVIDIA Display Driver Service".
    Click on it once and then right-click on it. Click Properties.
    In the "Startup type:" dropdown menu, select Disable. Click Apply. Click OK. Exit Services.

    To stop NVIDIA background programs/utilities in Windows XP:
    Click Start. Click Run and type "msconfig" (without the quotes) and hit Enter. Click the Startup tab. Uncheck the following items - RunDLL32, nwiz, NvCpl, NvMcTray, NVMixer (All of these may not be present).
    Click Apply. Click Close and the click Restart. When the system reboots you will see a message window called "System Configuration Utility". Select "Don't show this message………" and click OK.

    To stop NVIDIA background programs/utilities in Windows Vista/7:
    Click the Start button and type "msconfig" (without the quotes) into the "Start Search" box. Hit Enter and the System Configuration window will open. Click on the Startup tab. Find any references to Nividia and uncheck them. Click Apply. Click OK and reboot. When the system restarts you will see the System Configuration window. Select "Don't show this message or start System Configuration when Windows starts" and then click OK. As for any Nvidia references that show up in your list of services, note that you must have the Nvidia Driver Helper Service running in order to access the Nvidia Control Panel. Any other Nvidia references can be disabled.

    7 - This guide was written for Nividia video cards and has been tested with Windows XP (both the Pro and the Home versions), Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional.

    8 - For those of you who find your desktop icon placement becomes messed up after entering and exiting safe mode, this free utility called DesktopOK makes it easy to get your desktop back in order (thanks to fellow flightsimmer "NMLW" for the link).


    FAQ
    ------

    Q1 - What is a video driver?
    A1 - Every device connected to your computer whether it is a video card, sound card, keyboard, mouse etc. requires its own set of specialized commands in order to operate. These commands are contained within a program called the "device driver". In the case of a video card, that program is the video driver. Windows loads all of the device drivers as part of your computer's bootup sequence.

    Q2 - How do I know what video card I have?
    A2 - You can find out by opening Windows Device Manager. In Windows XP, right-click on “My Computer” (either on the desktop or in the start menu) and then click “Properties.” Next, click the “Hardware” tab and then click "Device Manager" to list the hardware items present in your system. Near the top of the list, find an item called “Display adapters”. click the “+” to its left and then right-click on the item that appears. Click “Properties” to display information about your video card. In Windows Vista/7, right-click My Computer and then click Properties. Click on Device Manager. Near the top of the list, find an item called “Display adapters”. click the “+” to its left and then right-click on the item that appears. Click “Properties” to display information about your video card. For detailed specifications on your video card, use this freeware program called GPU-Z: http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/

    Q3 - Where can I find video drivers for download?
    A3 - Drivers are usually on the CD provided with a new video card. These drivers may not be the most recent, however, so your best bet is to download the latest driver version from your video card manufacturer's website or from Nvidia (http://www.nvidia.com/page/home).

    Q4 - How do I know if the video driver version is suitable for my video card?
    A4 - Go to Nvidia's driver download web page and find the driver you want to use. The list of supported video cards can be found in the release notes and/or by clicking on "Products Supported".

    Q5 - Are some video driver versions better or worse than others?
    A5- The short answer is yes. The longer answer is quite a bit more complex. Let's consider a typical Nvidia driver release. For starters, it takes a considerable amount of work to produce a video driver so the first thing to understand is that the driver was released for a reason. Generally, the release is to fix problems that became apparent after the previous driver release. The fixes provided are often
    numerous ranging from problems with certain games to problems with Sli to problems with the control panel etc., etc., etc. All of the fixes are detailed in the release notes posted with each new release. In addition to fixes, some drivers offer improvements in performance (FPS) and/or improvements in video quality. The balance between FPS and image quality is a battle video driver writers constantly wage as one affects the other. If you get the latest driver, it may give you a slightly higher FPS at the expense of slightly lower image quality. Or it may do just the opposite. In either case, the difference in FPS will likely be no more than a few FPS one way or the other (usually 2-3 FPS). An exception would be the "tweaked" drivers from the sources listed elsewhere in this guide. These drivers are generally written by gaming/performance enthusiasts and often show higher FPS than the "stock" driver release. Again, the difference is not huge with about 4-6 FPS being about the average increase over the "stock" release. It you change a driver in the hope of a huge performance boost you will be disappointed. Instead, consider it as part of the overall fine-tuning of your system. If you can gain 3 FPS from a driver change, another 3 by over-clocking your video card and get yet another 5 by over-clocking your CPU, now you've got 11 and that is worthwhile.

    Q6 - Why update my video drivers anyway?
    A6 - Even if you are not a performance enthusiast out for every tiny FPS boost possible, updating to a new video driver now and then is worthwhile and generally recommended. As pointed out in the FAQ item above (Q5), video drivers get released for reasons. Consider the release of a new series of video cards. When a new video card series gets released, the drivers can usually be considered as being
    "immature". Later, as driver writers gain experience with the new line of video cards, they learn how to extract more performance by making changes to the drivers. Additionally, a new driver release will contain fixes for reported problems. Understandably, fixes are more numerous for the latest video cards but fixes can also often be found for some very old video cards. You can check this for yourself by reading the driver's release notes. In the release notes you will surely find that a new driver contains fixes for new video cards. If you read further, you will often find fixes or sometimes even improvements in performance for older cards as well. An example of this would be for the Nvidia driver for Windows XP 32-bit version 162.18. The release notes for 162.18 listed many bug fixes for the "8" series, not quite as many for the "7" series, a few for the "6" series and, surprisingly, one for the 5700 video card. If you have a new card, you should, of course, update more often than if you have an older card. Again, the release notes are key in determining your update frequency. Another example of a time when it is important to update your drivers on a more frequent basis than perhaps you did previously is if you switch to a newly released operating system. Microsoft Vista would be a good example of this as the drivers released in the early days of Vista could certainly be considered as being "immature" in much the same
    way as drivers for a newly released video card series. In other words, driver releases that follow on the heels of a newly released operating system often contain important fixes and improvements. The bottom line in all of this is if you want to be sure you are getting the most from your video card you need to update the drivers. This is especially true in the first few months following the introduction of a new product series and/or you are using a newly released operating system.

    Q7 - How do I choose what driver to try?
    A7 - The starting point would be to check the release notes posted with each new driver release. In the release notes, check in particular any sections pertaining to your video card. Also check the section listing fixes. If there's a fix for a problem with your card when running an application or game that you use, get the update. Another indicator of something significant can be found in the driver number itself. If, for example, a driver's number is 162.18 and a new version comes out that's 162.20, the changes are likely not significant. If, on the other hand, the number jumps from 162.XX to 170.XX, there was, in all probability, a major revision. For performance enthusiasts, a good way to know if you want to try a particular driver is to visit the forums of the "tweaked" driver sources listed in FAQ4 above.
    I generally use "tweaked" drivers and I usually base my decision on what ones to try by reading the comments posted on the various forums. Something to keep in mind is that there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to a video driver. That's because the performance of a particular driver will depend upon your particular hardware setup and even upon your personal preferences when it comes to performance and image quality. In reality, the only way is to try a few and pick the one that pleases you most.

    Q8 - My video card is old - what driver should I use?
    A8 - It stands to reason that newer driver releases contain few if any improvements specifically targeted at older video cards. That said, all improvements are cumulative so, if you check the release notes and/or the Products Supported list on Nvidia's website for the driver you want to use and your card is in the list, you can be sure you are getting all of the updates. However, I have read reports by users of
    older cards saying the latest drivers do not work as well as the older drivers. If you determine that to be the case, about all you can do is try some earlier versions which you can download from Nvidia's driver archive which is accessible in the driver download section of Nividia's website. The last time I looked, it contained drivers as far back as 2002. Here's an example of how I would go about choosing an older driver - Let's assume you bought a video card back in 2003 and that it included a CD with driver version 52.16. Let's further assume that your video card was, at the time, a fairly new product on the market. As I pointed out elsewhere in this guide, there is usually a frenzy of updates in the first several months following a new product release. So, to ensure you get most of the fixes that happened in those first few months, pick a driver version two or three major revisions later. In this case, an upgrade from version 52.16 to about version 77.72 would be a good starting point.


    And that does it. I hope you find this guide useful and if you have questions or comments, please direct them to me via this forum.
    Last edited by noell; 02-11-2013 at 09:30 PM.

  2. #2

    Default

    Out of curiosity, why run CCleaner or driver cleaner? I'm not sure I get the logic for this.

  3. #3

    Default

    Maybe there's no "logic" as such. I've just been using this procedure with great success for a long time to ensure a clean driver install. I've seen cases where funny things have happened following a video driver install and those "funnies" cleared up after cleaning the registry (CCleaner) and using a driver cleaner program. Like it says at the top of the install guide:
    "I'm sure some may think this is the long way round with many unnecessary steps. So be it. If you have a method that works for you and you have confidence in that method, then by all means, stick with it. I use this method because, in my opinion, a new video driver will only perform as it should when all (and I mean ALL), remnants of the old video driver have been removed. I believe this procedure ensures that."


    ....Noell

  4. #4

    Default

    Excellent job Noell.
    68,000 lbs of thrust..... "Excellent!" --Montgomery Burns, Simpsons tv show

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for the positive feedback, Farley.
    Since I first posted my video driver installation guide (that must be at least three years ago by now) I've received lots of thanks and lots of compliments from fellow flight simmers. Sure is nice to know one's efforts are appreciated.


    ....Noell

  6. #6

    Default

    Definitely. Your expertise has been very much appreciated by a very large number of people here, most definitely! We're very lucky to have you, and you are very generous with your time.
    68,000 lbs of thrust..... "Excellent!" --Montgomery Burns, Simpsons tv show

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    California
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    Default

    I'm not much of a forum Q/A reader, not because I am an expert with the knowledge in every subject, but instead, on the contrary ,..more or less content with what I use and have, (my computer) reluctant, naive and lasy to learn new things in order to keep up with the latest news, updates and the tremendous information offered by the kindness and knowledgeable members like you.
    For the second time I was browsing on this forum looking for some clue of information related to my nVidia video driver newest version update and came across with this article of yours. Once I start reading I could not stop until the last word.
    It's mind buggling how much of detail, step by step, easy to understand information you have had supply in this report. All I can say ..Thank you very much for your time and effort in helping members like myself in the need to know and learn so many issues and interesting subjects in the computer Flight Simulator world.
    My complements to you my friend.
    Best regards.

    Gary

  8. #8

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    Gary,
    Many thanks for taking the time to comment on my Driver Installation Guide.
    I'm so glad you found it useful and informative. It is very encouraging to receive such appreciative, positive feedback. Again, many thanks.

    All the best,
    Noell

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Nvidia Driver

    Many thanks for this.
    I'll add it to my essential knolledge file.

  10. #10
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    What is "NVIDIA Display Driver Service" for, and what should happen if the service is disabled ?
    Thanks

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