Nvidia GeForce and AMD drivers are one of those things that you never really want to think about too much. But with a lot of people rediscovering games and PC gaming in particular these past couple of years, it’s worth reminding everyone how to install and uninstall your AMD/Nvidia/Intel drivers properly.
PCs collect all sorts of software and bloat over time, predominately because the vast majority of users install things and never think twice about it. That’s one of the great things about the platform, but every now and again you’ll need to update something. Sometimes, those updates break in weird and wild ways — and sometimes Windows breaks it for you.
So while companies have gotten better about reducing the friction with driver installs, you can do a lot to maintain the cleanliness of your system by making sure older drivers are completely removed beforehand, avoiding any potential conflicts in the future.
How to properly install Nvidia or AMD drivers
Before you even think about uninstalling or installing anything, you’ll want to make sure you have the latest files on a USB stick or hard drive first. (The latter is typically fine.) Nvidia users will have a slightly easier time here since you’re only just dealing with GPU drivers, whereas AMD users might need to install chipset drivers for their CPU, as well as GPU drivers too.
For Nvidia GPU users: You’ll want to head to the official Nvidia driver page here, where you can grab drivers for desktop or laptop GPUs. If you know what your driver is, you can navigate through the manual drop down boxes, selecting your specific model, the Operating System and what driver you want. (The Game Ready Driver will be your go-to in almost all cases, unless you specifically want the Studio driver because of certain programs you use.)
If you don’t know what GPU you have, you can just download GeForce Experience above and have the middleware work it out afterwards. However, if you’d rather not do that, Windows Device Manager, or the Nvidia Control Panel will tell you what your current GPU is. (Note: if you don’t have Nvidia Control Panel, it’s because you probably downloaded the DCH versions of Nvidia drivers, which don’t include Nvidia Control Panel due to a difference in how they’re packaged. That’s OK though — just open the Microsoft Store, search for Nvidia Control Panel and then install the program, or use this link. It’s free.)
To access Nvidia Control Panel, just hit the Start button and type “Nvidia Control Panel” on the keyboard. (You can also right-click on the desktop and select Nvidia Control Panel from the drop-down box there.) A new window will open, and on that window you’ll see “System Information” in the bottom left hand corner, which gives you all the details you need:
If you open Device Manager (type it into the Start menu), you can then expand the “Display Adapters” tab on the next screen, and Windows will list your GPU.
For AMD users: To find what GPU you have, you can access AMD Radeon Settings or AMD Radeon Software, depending on how old your drivers are, through the same steps above.
When it comes to downloads, however, you might have to download CPU and GPU drivers. Fortunately, they’re all available in the same spot. On this page, you’ll find all of AMD’s drivers and a tool that can auto-detect what AMD GPU you have, and what drivers are needed.
The installer will do a check for compatibility. If it returns an error (either because you don’t have an AMD GPU or some other clash), then you’ll have to download drivers through the product selector here:
From there, you’ll be sent to a page with a list of all the drivers for that particular CPU/GPU – download and store away.
How to do a full uninstall of your drivers
While Nvidia/AMD offer the option to do a “clean” install every time you go to update your drivers, it’s always best to wipe the slate clean — and the best way to do that is via an astonishingly free and handy tool.
It’s called Display Driver Uninstaller, and it’s the perfect tool for cleaning your PC clean of any leftover drivers from upgrades you might have done. You can use it to remove any GPU drivers from Intel, AMD or Nvidia. It’ll also remove any leftover audio drivers, which can be especially handy on laptops that have issues with sound disconnecting or not playing correctly.
When you fire up the program for the first time, it’ll give you a prompt if your PC isn’t in Safe Mode. It’s always highly recommended to remove any and all drivers when in Safe Mode.
To do that, follow one of these steps:
- Hold the SHIFT button, and while holding SHIFT, right-click on the Start Menu, navigate to “Shut down or Sign Out”, then select Restart. When your computer reboots, you’ll be presented with a bright blue menu that contains the Continue, Troubleshoot or Turn off your PC options. Select Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options on the next screen, then select Start-up Settings. This will give you a final screen with a single Restart button – click that and you’ll reboot in Safe Mode.
- You can also boot into Safe Mode through the Windows Settings menu. Press the Windows Key + I together, and then type “Restart” into the search box. This will bring up a search item called “Change advanced startup options” – click that. On the next screen, scroll down to Advanced Startup and select the Restart Now button. That will launch into the same blue screen with the continue/Troubleshoot/Turn off your PC options as before. Just select Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options on the next screen, then select Start-up Settings. Click Restart on the next screen and you’ll reboot in Safe Mode.
- You may also be able to boot in Safe Mode before Windows launches by pressing F8 during the boot-up phase, although this takes a bit of spamming and can be hit or miss for a lot of people. The two methods outlined above are a lot easier, although try the F8 method if you’re not able to boot into Windows for whatever reason.
Once you’re in Safe Mode — and you’ll know you’re in Safe Mode because of the diagnostic information around the edges of your screen — simply fire up Display Driver Uninstaller. Select what drivers you want to remove — GPU/Audio first, then the brand of drivers you wish to remove. (DDU will only detect drivers installed on your system.)
Then select Clean and restart or Clean and shutdown, depending on what you’re doing. If you’re installing a new graphics card or replacing any of the internal hardware, you’ll want the second choice. Otherwise, clean and restart is fine.
The program will run through the process and reboot/shutdown your PC. If you’re rebooting, you’ll launch back into normal Windows, although the resolution and refresh rate may be lower at first. All you have to do now is install the latest AMD/Nvidia drivers you downloaded earlier, and you’re good to go.
Why would you uninstall/install Nvidia or AMD drivers this way?
The simple reason is to ensure peak system performance. Drivers and software packages aren’t always as good as they could be when uninstalling older versions of drivers. And on older systems that have been owned for longer periods of time, it’s entirely possible for lots of older drivers to just be left lying around on a system. You don’t need or want all those old packages hanging around. At best they might do nothing, but they can also lead to reduced performance or potential driver conflicts. It’s also useful if you want to delete the latest version of a driver which is causing unexpected issues, frame rate losses in games or other unexpected behaviour.