pcgoto.com is reader-supported. We may earn commissions if you buy through our links. (As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.)



Are NVIDIA Drivers Universal? (Explained for beginners)

After I got my new PC the first thing that popped into my mind was what drivers I need. Regardless of whether you have a new Desktop, a new Laptop or just a new graphics card installing the right drivers is the most important step, and sometimes it is easy to mess up and after a while, you find out that you aren’t using your graphics card to PC to its capacity.

Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to enjoy everything that your graphics card has to offer because you don’t have the right driver.

NVIDIA drivers are not universal, they are bundled up in bigger packages for different types of operating systems that will include graphics cards from series like TITAN, GeForce, RTX/Quadro. Oftentimes these packages will not include the older models of cards that are discontinued.

In this article, we will discuss if you can use the same NVIDIA driver for all NVIDIA graphic cards if you need to install a different driver if you change your graphics card and I will show you how easy it is to get the right bundle of drivers for your card. So keep reading!

Can You Use The Same Drivers For Any NVIDIA Graphics Card?

PC setup

You can’t use the same driver for all NVIDIA graphics cards, the drivers for GeForce cards are bundled together as GEFORCE GAME READY DRIVER, drivers for Quadro cards are bundled together as NVIDIA RTX / QUADRO, and there are several more packages for the rest of the NVIDIA cards.

Every package of drivers has different versions for each type of operating system, so you need to get the exact one that is designed for your PC operating system. If you have the 32-bit version of windows don’t get the version for 64-bit they aren’t interchangeable.

Be aware there is more than one GEFORCE GAME READY DRIVER drivers bundle:

  • a bundle for notebook GeForce cards
  • a bundle that includes the 600, 700, 900, 10, and TITAN series
  • a bundle that includes the 20, 30, and TITAN (only NVIDIA TITAN RTX, NVIDIA TITAN V) series

But there is still one more option for NVIDIA cards from the GeForce family, the STUDIO DRIVER package. This driver package is designed to offer the best performance in creative applications.

So you see you most surely can’t use the same driver for all NVIDIA graphics cards.

If you change your graphics card do you need to install new drivers?

As a general rule, when you change your graphics card you need to uninstall the old drivers and install the latest drivers for the new card so you will avoid problems like crashes or performance limitations caused by your drivers. It is always better to prevent than to troubleshoot driver problems.

Now many people online are saying that if you replace an NVIDIA card with another NVIDIA card you don’t need to install new drivers, this can work if the two cards are in the same driver bundle but there are lots of problems reported online after doing this.

As an example, if you change a GTX 1070 with an RTX 3070 card and you don’t go through the process of uninstalling the old drivers and installing the new ones your graphics card will work fine but you may encounter some minor performance drops in some games and you won’t even know why.

To be on the safe side manually uninstall the old drivers and install the latest version of NVIDIA drivers and now you are sure that your drivers are optimized for the new card and this will not be the cause of future problems if they occur.

If the new card isn’t from the same family of cards (the old card is a GeForce and now you install a Quadro) it is absolutely necessary to uninstall the old drivers and install the correct ones.

If you change your graphics card with a card from another chipset manufacturer (you go from NVIDIA to AMD or the other way around) it is highly recommended that you uninstall the old drivers before you physically change the two cards.

How do I know which driver package I need?

Finding the right driver for your graphics card is fairly easy, you go to NVIDIA’s official website and select drivers, and follow these easy steps:

  1. Select product type: GeForce, Quadro, etc. (for older cards you need to select Legacy)
  2. Select product series: Pay attention if it is for desktop or notebook
  3. Select your graphics card
  4. Select your operating system: if your WINDOWS are on 64 bit don’t get the 32-bit version, they aren’t interchangeable
  5. Select Type: GAME READY DRIVER (GDR) is optimized for gaming, STUDIO DRIVER (SD) is optimized for graphics work and streaming
  6. Push Search
Nvidia Driver Selection

On the next page you will have the latest version of the driver for your graphics card, just download and install it.

The best way to get the NVIDIA drivers is from their website as shown here because you always get the latest version. There are many graphics card manufacturers that use NVIDIA chipset like ASUS, PNY, MSI, etc., they offer the drivers on their websites but sometimes you won’t get the latest version because they haven’t updated their webpage.

Always take the graphics card drivers from NVIDIA’s website and go to the card manufacturer’s website, in the driver sections you can find different utility software developed by them, you can install them also to have all the bells and whistles that come with your new graphics card.

Having the latest drivers can make the difference between a game running decent and running flawlessly, it happened to me.

Conclusion

Even if a graphics card is from the same manufacturer and it is in the same family of cards like the one it replaces it is still best practice to have a fresh driver install to avoid complications.

NVIDIA drivers aren’t universal but some of them are bundled together because there are many similarities between graphics cards based on the same architecture.

Maybe you will like to read the following articles:

I started building and fixing PCs in high school. After a couple of years of offering consultancy to a PC repair shop, I became the goto guy for all my acquaintances for PC/Laptop related buying advice or troubleshooting.