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The Intel Driver Update Utility: An Occasionally Great Tool

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Surprisingly, Intel devices are not as current as they might be at the various driver-update sites, reports Ed Tittel, creator of the Exam Cram series. So how can you keep the many drivers for your various Intel devices up to date? There's an application for that: the Intel Driver Update Utility.
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In my never-ending quest to keep the device drivers on my PCs up to date, I've learned that not even the best driver update sites[md]such as DriverAgent, DriverGuide, or DriverFinder[md]always have the most current Intel drivers listed. You'd think that, as one of the "big dogs" of the PC industry, Intel would always be well-represented in driver update databases, but I've observed that this isn't always the case.

In particular, I've encountered situations when drivers for Intel SATA storage and AHCI controllers, plus various Intel chipsets (ICH7, ICH9, ICH10, and ICH10R) were not as current as they could and should have been. How did I know this? Because Intel offers its own Intel Driver Update Utility that scans for Intel devices and reports on driver currency (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Home page for the Intel Driver Update Utility.

When you click the button labeled "Check your system for the latest updates," scanners from the Husdawg System Requirements Lab scan your PC to look for and report on drivers for the various devices on your system. These scanners are both fast and accurate.

What Does the Utility Find?

When you run the Intel Driver Update Utility, it scans through the devices listed in Device Manager, which Windows populates during startup through a process called device enumeration. But because Intel makes only certain classes of devices, its driver scanner looks for only those device classes during its scans. These classes, listed in the high-level output from the Intel driver scanner (see Figure 2), include graphics drivers, Intel chipset software, Intel desktop board audio drivers, and wired and Wi-Fi networking drivers.

Figure 2 Example of scan results from the Intel Driver Update Utility.

The output shown in Figure 2 also indicates that all Intel drivers are current. We know that's the case because none of the categories includes the telltale text "(Newer Driver Available)." Figure 3 shows the scan results from a system with two identical Intel Pro/1000 MT Desktop network adapters, each of which needs a newer driver.

Figure 3 Scan results from the Intel Driver Update Utility, showing that newer drivers are available.

Installing updated drivers couldn't be easier: Simply click the Download Now button in your web browser, and go through its requirements to download and run the driver installer file. This simple, straightforward process generally does the trick, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4 Internet Explorer lets you drive the install process from inside the download window.

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