What is a Video Card Driver?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A video card driver is a piece of computer software that allows a central computer to work with a video card. Almost every type of external computer hardware requires a driver of some kind to translate between the main computing system and the external device. A video card and video card driver allow a computer to run advanced graphics and increase the performance of a system.

A video card.
A video card.

Most store-bought computers come with basic video card driver software. This software may be specific to the original operating system, and may not work correctly if installed and run on a different operating system. Manufacturers typically offer frequent updates that can be downloaded and installed, allowing the video card driver to stay current with new video card features and capabilities. If a computer cannot run a new game or program with advanced graphics, try checking to see if a video card driver update is available to help facilitate new technology and graphics advances.

Certain signs can signal that a video card driver update is a good idea. If graphics load slowly, appear fragmented, or cause a program to freeze, the video card driver is often to blame. Some computer experts recommend checking for updates every few months in order to maximize performance and prevent system slow-downs from occurring.

Most video card drivers are not compatible with video cards made by different manufacturers. Important information to have before buying a new video card or updating a video card driver includes the type of operating system of the main computer and the type of driver and card already being used. A brand may have different driver software for each operating system, while a driver and card must generally be made by the same company or brand.

Information about installed driver programs can be found in several ways. When purchasing the computer, driver information will typically be included; if it isn't, ask the seller to find it. Consider contacting the manufacturer help line or website with the serial number of the computer. It can also be found by searching through the operating system manually; look up the names of common driver manufacturers and try using the 'search' function to find out if they exist on the computer. Since each operating system may store this information in a different place on the computer, there is no universal way to hunt down driver information.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a EasyTechJunkie writer.

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Discussion Comments


Good points here, especially the part about compatibility. If you get a video card, you'd better make darn certain the drivers for it are available for your operating system. A lot of Windows 8 users learned the hard way that hardware that worked fine under Windows 7 don't function under their new operating system because the drivers aren't supported.

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