As many of you have probably noticed, as part of a campaign we're running here on HH, I contribute to Toshiba's Laptop Experts website, where I try to answer tech questions from notebooks owners in need of some help. One of the questions I recently answered got me thinking about drivers, or the lack thereof on many manufacturer's websites. The question came in from reader Jonathan and asked, "I have a Toshiba M305D-S4830 and I recently switched to XP Pro x64. I need the sound drivers, but they are nowhere to be found. Please help!"
After a quick search, I found that Jonathan's notebook was equipped with a Conexant HD audio codec and also found that Toshiba's website didn't offer Windows XP drivers for the device. And Conexant's website didn't offer any reference drivers either. I then did a bit more digging and found a set of reference drivers available for download at HP's website that seem to have done the trick for other users in need of 64-bit XP drivers for the Conexant codec. The driver package on HP's site were, for all intents and purposes, reference drivers for the codec and could be installed on any notebook that used it.
This situation got me thinking about drivers in general. I understand that less savvy users wouldn't necessarily know how to search for a suitable driver if a hard copy wasn't included with their machines on a CD or DVD. But what about you guys and gals? I'm on the opinion that enthusiasts typically discard the driver discs that come with their devices and immediately search out the latest drivers for their hardware on the manufacturer's website. Am I right?
Do you ever use drivers available on an OEM's website, in lieu of reference drivers? For example, would you use the Forceware drivers available on NVIDIA.com for an Asus-made GeForce, or would you use the drivers listed on Asus' site? If you don't use the OEM-branded driver, what do you think OEMs could do to make it easier for Joe Sixpack to find and use the latest drivers for their hardware?
I tend to have a tendency to use both drivers at times and see which offers the best performance .OEMs at times dont seem to give any support to Joe Sixpack at all as far as availibity of drivers at all.So you spend a lot of time matching up a driver for a piece of hardware!
You bring up an interesting topic Marco. I do not think it is really where the problem originates though. OEM's traditionally don't want to make such things easy for users. They'd rather have them use their own bloatware invested build that came with their machine. Toshiba is particularly bad about that as I am sure you're well aware.
If the industry really wanted to it'd be easy to have a one stop site/tool to retrieve the best driver for your hardware. There's almost no specialization anymore and all components are modular. I doubt they will though because they don't want to. In the mean time the average joe/jane will just have to hope they know someone technically affluent enough to track down the driver they need.
I still have all my disks but I never use them. I normally just go find the new driver if there is a new one. I have a Back up CD that has all the *New* drivers for each of my PC's. It makes it nice and easy to do clean installs when you have all the drivers and stuff all there to go on one CD. But even that I dont update the CD but once a year before i do the clean install.
But i don know how hard it is to find some drivers. I find it really hard with laptops since I dont know what exactly is in the Laptop. So i some times just guess the driver and hope it works. Most of the time it will. But I think the manufactures need better driver support online. One would think that if the person can find it online they can do it them self. But then that would negate the need for a Help department and then they can't sell the tech support extensions... just my .02
I always hunt out the newest drivers. I wish they had a auto scan such as Nvidias here. Someone would just go to HPs site scan the computer and HP would give them the drivers for everything.
It depends what device it is. For instance my main board drivers I use the manufactures latest drivers, but for my GPU I use Omega drivers. I suppose if i didn't know the manufacturer or model of what I needed drivers for I would be out of luck.