VIDEO DRIVER INSTALLATION AND INFORMATION GUIDE
FOR NVIDIA VIDEO CARDS WITH WINDOWS 7/8/10
(Revision Date: 21-02-2016)
Installing drivers for Nvidia video cards has gotten a lot simpler which means this guide is long overdue for a reboot. The reason is that Nvidia drivers no longer need any third party driver cleaner apps in order to get a clean install as a clean install option is now included as part of the Nvidia driver installer package.
Before we get going on the actual steps to remove the old driver and to install the new, a couple of notes:
1 - In most cases you will want the latest driver version which you can download from Nivdia's website under the "Drivers" tab. Make sure you get the version that matches your version of Windows. For example, if your operating system is Windows 7 64-bit, then you MUST use the Windows 7 64-bit driver version. If your OS is Windows 10 32-bit, then you MUST use the Windows 10 32-bit version and so on. Once you have found the driver you need, download it noting the save location.
2 - If you are using Nvidia Inspector, note that installing a new video driver will require resetting your FSX profile. The easy way is to simply export your FSX profile before updating your drivers. Then, once the new driver has been installed, go back into Nvidia Inspector and import your saved profile.
Now to the step-by-step procedure:
1 - Open the file manager and look for a C:\Nvidia. This is the driver extraction location and if found it should be deleted as a new one will be created during the install process. Be very careful NOT to delete any other Nvidia directories or folders you may find on your system.
2 - Remove your current NVIDIA drivers by opening the Windows Control Panel then finding your way to Add/Remove programs or Programs/Uninstall a program (actual wording depends upon your version of Windows). Wait for the list to populate and scroll down to find the NVIDIA entries. The entry of interest here is NVIDIA Graphics Driver XXX.XX (XXX.XX being the version numbers). Click on it and then click Uninstall/Change or Change/Remove (again, wording depends upon your version of Windows).
3 - Once the driver uninstall completes, most likely you will be presented with a Restart (or reboot)option. Be sure you do Reboot even if the system does not prompt you to do so.
Note 1 : After the re-boot, your screen may not look quite the way you want it to as your video card will likely be running Microsoft's default VGA Graphics driver. Not to worry. Just continue with the driver update.
Note 2 : If you are installing a new video card, follow the procedure to step 3 but instead of re-booting initiate a system shutdown. Unplug the system power cord then remove your old video card and install the new one. Plug in, power up and continue with step 4 to install the new drivers.
4 - Find the driver you downloaded earlier and double click to launch it. Doing so creates
a new C:\Nvidia folder to which the driver installer and the driver components will be extracted.
Once the extraction/decompression has completed, the driver installer screen will appear:
A - Click "AGREE AND CONTINUE".
B - Select Custom (Advanced)
C- Click NEXT
D - Check "Perform a clean install" DO NOT OMIT THIS STEP!!!!
E- In the list of driver components, you will find the graphics driver selected by default and greyed out. The other components are optional. I don't need 3D support or HD audio drivers. Nor do I wish to participate in Nvidia's "Driver Experience" program. I do want the PhysX System Software as I play games that use PhysX. You get the drift.
F - Once you've selected your components of interest, click NEXT.
G - When the installer has finished, reboot whether prompted to do so or not.
5 - Finally, you can now safely delete the directory C:\NVIDIA or you can do it on the next driver update.
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 - This guide was written for and applies only to Nvidia video cards. It has been tested with Windows 7 Pro 64-bit and Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.
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 the Windows 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.
Q3 - Where can I find video drivers for download?
A3 - Drivers are usually on the CD provided with a new video card. These drivers are not likely to be current so your best bet is to download the latest driver version from Nvidia (http://www.nvidia.com/page/home).
Q4 - Are some video driver versions better or worse than others?
A4- 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 2 by over-clocking your video card and get yet another 6 by over-clocking your CPU, now you've got 11 and that is worthwhile.
Q5 - Why update my video drivers anyway?
A5 - 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 (Q4), 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. If you have a new card, you should, of course, update more often than if you have an older card as driver updates are generally more frequent soon after the release of anew video card model. 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 as 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.
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.