Fact Checked

What are Motherboard Drivers?

M. McGee
M. McGee

Motherboards are the parts of computers that control nearly all their functions. Motherboard drivers are the software interface between a computer’s hardware motherboard and the system’s software. Since the computer’s motherboard controls the entire system, fully functioning and updated drivers are important to the computer’s functions. In order to update motherboard drivers, an individual must know the manufacturer and model of the motherboard.

Originally, motherboards were simple with few extra features. These motherboards had a handful of necessary pieces and ports where users could add whatever they wanted. While motherboards like this still exist, newer motherboards often have embedded sound and network systems and possibly even external hard drive hookups or graphics cards. These motherboards are much more complicated, from both a hardware and a driver standpoint, than older models.

A computer motherboard.
A computer motherboard.

Computer drivers are software systems that instruct computer components and software in the proper use of a piece of hardware. A basic understanding of hardware functions is included with any modern operating system. Drivers provide additional information on how to use a specific make and model of hardware. For instance, an operating system may know how to use a video card, but without the driver for that video card, several of its special functions would go unused since the system wouldn’t know they were there.

Motherboard drivers often end up separated into different installation packages that affect one aspect of the board. The basic driver for any motherboard is for its chipset. This driver covers the basic functionality of the board; it is the driver that sits right in the heart of a computer. Each additional section of the board would have its own separate drivers–one for the network systems, one for the sound systems, and so on. While these drivers are less important than the chipset, a motherboard with security issues or inefficiency in one area can cause problems in others.

Fully updating a set of modern motherboard drivers can be a time-consuming process. Some aspects, such as network or sound updates, may come from the operating system’s update process. The majority of the updates, however, will come from the motherboard’s manufacturer or the manufacturer of the motherboard’s specific components. Some motherboard manufacturers will collect any necessary updates on their site; others will direct users to places where the updates may be found.

In order to find these motherboard drivers, a user needs to know the manufacturer and model of their motherboard. While this information is usually clearly printed on the board itself, most of the time, an average user can’t see it. The necessary information is also usually in the board’s manual or on the website of the computer’s manufacturer, if the computer was purchased preassembled. Lastly, certain software programs will determine the motherboard type.

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Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- I don't know if things have quite gotten that bad. Well, when it comes to those basic, gut level motherboard drivers that have to work right or the computer can't boot up and initialize. Those things have to work right directly out of the gate and they are very rarely updated. It is very rare to have to update them at all, in fact.

Now, as for other drivers, you have to keep in mind that both hardware and software have gotten a lot more complex. Having a driver that allows a complex operating system to operate a complex piece of hardware is tough. For that reason, you have to give hardware companies a bit of a break.

Does that mean some of them aren't lazy when it comes to releasing drivers? Not at all. But I would say that is the exception rather than the norm.


@Soulfox -- And I miss those old days when we weren't always online and lacked the ability to download and install drivers so conveniently. Do you know what happened because those were so hard to replace? That's right. Companies came out with more drivers that were solid and didn't need to be replaced.

With the ability to update drivers so conveniently, a lot of sloppy ones are out there and have to be updated regularly. That's just lazy programming.


A really nice thing about most modern computer systems is that they will scan the Internet and your system for updated drivers. If you need a new driver, then you will generally be presented with a dialogue box that will let you download and install the new driver with one click.

Compare that to the old days when updating a driver was a real hassle. In the days before the Internet, it was very rare to update drivers at all.

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      A computer motherboard.