Many people ask me “what I do for fun”? Being as I am so into technology… Well the answer is easy. Gaming!
My Steam account is worth well over 3 grand, and I am always trying out new games. Because of this, I’ve had to do a lot of trouble shooting when it comes to getting all kinds of games to work on various hardware, with various operating systems, in various configurations.
Like wise I have many friends that do the same, and end up asking me for assistance. So to save myself some time I’ve doctored up a guide I found elsewhere and posted it below to assist everyone who has a game that is “not working”.
Your computer needs drivers to work properly. That CD/DVD that came with your hardware is outdated and that can cause problems. If you experiencing slowdown/crashes, chances are you are using outdated drivers. You will need to find those drivers and get them updated. More on how to do this later in the post.
Unless you bought a separate sound-card (and who does that nowadays?), you’ve probably got a Realtek chip on your motherboard. If you actually have a separate card, you probably know what it is – you can just download updated drivers from the manufacturer’s website.
Note on Creative cards: Don’t bother downloading “updated” drivers from Creative’s website. This is a rare case where the drivers you got on the CD are always going to be better than those they offer on the website.
If you are using Intel Integrated Graphics, you are using a laptop (for example a Dell non XPS) I’ll just pause here to laugh at you because that’s not a gaming platform. Otherwise you’ll have either an ATI/AMD or Nvidia card or Internal chipset to work with and will need to go to the sites below for the latest and greatest drivers.
These two often release Beta versions of their drivers in order to optimize support for big-name titles that have come out in the middle of their release cycle. Be careful! It might seem tempting to squeeze as much out of your card as possible for your favorite new game, but those drivers are labelled as Beta for a reason. Always keep the installer handy for the last stable driver version that you had installed, should the Beta end up making things worse. Of course, on the other hand, sometimes the game will run like utter crap without the Beta update, so it’s a toss-up. I generally advise that you try your new game with the existing stable driver version to see if you even need the Beta in the first place.
It can be a good idea to also update the drivers for other hardware on your PC (Network, Chipset, RAID, etc.) – this is generally a good place to start when it comes down to other problems you’re having. Sometimes, the manufacturer of your motherboard will supply updated drivers for all the hardware that came with that model (or, as it is referred to, hardware that is “on-board”). If you can get updated drivers for the individual components direct from their manufacturer though, that is usually better (especially in the case of Intel Chipset Drivers).
There are also updates for SSD harddrives (especially on older model SSDs that don’t use technology that is as efficient as newer models).
If you’re having RAID problems, look for updates for on-board Intel RAID (ICHxR southbridge), Intel Chipset drivers, and the Matrix Storage Manager; for non-Intel on-board RAID, either check the manufacturer’s website, or if you don’t know who that is, check the website of your motherboard manufacturer. For a dedicated RAID card, check the manufacturer’s website.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!:
Here are the websites for some motherboard manufactures (if you’re using another manufacturer; LOL):
If you’re using Windows 7/8, Windows Update should have updated drivers for you (though it is still better to get drivers direct from the manufacturer – hardware drivers in Windows Update can sometimes be outdated or altered from manufacturer specs). If you’re not using Windows 7/8, why not? Windows XP has a bus-pass and a zimmer, and no longer receives any updates. If you are using Vista, just go away. Leave. Now. Seriously. I’m not helping you.
If you have a Dell PC, DO NOT use Windows Update for hardware drivers! You can’t even trust updates from the manufacturer’s own website, unfortunately; Dell has a habit of doing funny things to their hardware that can mean that the manufacturer’s drivers wont work – or worse (especially in the case of graphics cards).
Your best bet is to go direct to the Dell support page
And either enter your service tag or select your PC model from the options towards the bottom. Once selected, you will be presented with a picture of your PC and a row of tabs below that, one of which will take you to the drivers page. Be sure to then select the correct operating system from the drop-down menu, and then select the correct drivers for the devices you have within the available categories – sometimes (especially if you haven’t entered your service tag), the page can list drivers for devices that you don’t actually have, so use some common sense when downloading updates.
Dell also has an FTP site with all their drivers on it here.
Furthermore, ALWAYS create a restore point on your system drive before updating hardware drivers like these, no matter where the update has come from! — especially in the case of Chipset, Network, and RAID drivers. If updating one of those goes tits-up and you don’t have a restore point, you may not be able to recover your system.
So you got the drivers, that’s it, right? Nope! Software depends on software. This is the part you probably want to pay attention to if your game spews errors after you installed it.
DirectX – Windows 7 covers DirectX10/11, but not 9 by default. Always install to be sure. This is super important, and you should always keep it up to date – 99.9% of PC games use DirectX. (DirectX Link Here.)
VC++ (x86) || VC++ (x64) – Missing a “dll”? Most likely because you’re missing this. Windows 7 will auto-update it once you have it installed. Again, exceptionally common, so get this anyway. x64 versions of Windows require both x64 and x86 packages below.
(VC++ (x86) || VC++ (x64) Links here.)
PhysX – nVidia drivers include PhysX, but if you don’t have a card from the green machine, you’ll need this. It’s a very common requirement in those dazzling super-sparkly high-end modern games, so if you don’t have a nVidia card, you should download this anyway.
(PhysX link here.)
OpenAL – Software sound driver – allows you hear the screams of the pixels you’re murdering in crystal clear definition! More common in indie games, but is actually still quite widespread. It’s a tiny, super-fast installer. Even if your game doesn’t specifically require this, get it anyway. (OpenAL Link here.)
.NET framework – Less common in games, but lots of applications out there require this. You should always have it installed. Be wary, however: some software may require older versions in order to function, so if you still encounter issues after downloading v4.5, try v4.0, v3.5 SP1, v2.0, SP1, SP2 or even v1.1
XNA – Microsoft likes runtimes. This allows you to play XNA games (games made using the Microsoft XNA SDK). This is version 4. Try other versions as well. (XNA Link here.)
If you download a game, and it has a redist/drivers folder, install all that stuff.
Still not working? I highly suggest you run Ninite, FileHippo and/or PSI Secunia and update everything that’s outdated. And install Windows Updates (see note in Drivers section first). Also, the above Dependencies section is not an exhaustive list – some games may have other requirements. Generally, reading the .NFO, manual (RTFM) and the game’s system requirements is a good place to start when trying to find out what dependencies it may have. Honestly though, you should be reading the .NFO of any release that you download anyway.
Still not working?:
In a word, permissions. In Windows Vista and above, some games may require elevated permissions to work properly – while sometimes it may start up fine, you may encounter certain bugs unless you run it as administrator. Here’s a quote for you:
Just because you’re on an account that is an administrator, doesn’t mean that UAC wont run some things as non-admin by default. A lot of installers have a ‘run me as admin’ call that UAC will then ding you about, but some things are not coded to automatically ask you. Forcing something to run as Admin causes it to elevate itself before it even gets that far.
Basically, if you are using UAC (which you probably are and should be by default), being on an admin account just keeps you from needing to input your password manually when a UAC prompt comes up asking for elevated rights. If you were not on an administrator account, it would have the same prompt but also ask you for another password from an actual admin-flagged account.
That’s the difference between being on an admin account and having things run as the administrator.
If that doesn’t do it for ya….. Format and Reload!