Michel Cloutier

Ok, now that I have Windows 7 on my laptop, where's my video driver?

Blog Post created by Michel Cloutier Employee on Nov 20, 2009

I have been running Windows 7 since early September. I have to admit, I think it's a very sturdy OS. About a year ago, I installed and ran Vista for about a month and eventually went back to XP because I was running into more problems than solutions. On top of that, I figured that since Microsoft announced the launch of W7 in 2008, I figured I could tough it out for a year or so. This time around, about 2.5 months into it, I'm keeping W7 and XP is good only for the mothballs.


But the problem I got when poking at W7 was which graphics driver should I use and where to get it? The problem is worse with laptops - I have a Dell Precision M90 laptop, with the NVIDIA Quadro FX 3500M graphics - as they get "obsolete" very quickly. Mine is only 2-3 years old.


When looking into Dell's W7 Hardware Compatibility support page (http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/dsn/document?c=us&docid=360683&l=en&s=gen), I realized that they categorized their systems as either "Compatible" or "Tested". What does it mean?


  • Compatible means W7 will run on the system and that drivers made specifically for W7 are available
  • Tested means W7 will run on the system but no guarantee that you will get W7 drivers for everything


So if your system falls into the "Tested" category (like my M90), what should you do? Actually, Dell's recommendation is: if you can't find a W7 driver, use the Vista driver! Ok, but whre should I get it from? Dell, NVIDIA or somewhere else?


So I finally went circles and came back to the SW driver support page, downloaded the driver for my system under Vista and installed it. It's been running good with the exception that I get a few screen flickers when opening new windows or applications but everything runs OK in SW. Although not officially supported, I think this might be the best compromise without buying a new laptop and still have an up-to-date, faster OS on your system.




PS: Luckily, if you have a desktop, you will most likely not run into this situation since drivers are more easily available. And if you do, you can always swap out the video card for a newer model.