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Archive for the ‘Drivers’ Category

XP: Finding and Installing Drivers, Part 1.1 – Via Motherboard Chipsets

Posted by cascadehush on January 8, 2007

N.B. This is a continuing series of articles about finding and installing drivers in the case that you either don’t have the original driver CD or choose not to use it. There is an introduction to this series as well as an section introduction about Motherboard Chipset.

VIA Technologies, Inc, without a doubt, have the best motherboard driver package. I can’t say whether they are the best chipsets, though most of my PCs have Via chipsets. I find them a nice balance between cost and performance.

4 in 1 Driver
The older motherboard driver package was and is called the ‘4 in 1 Driver’. It is recommended for systems more than about 3 or 4 years old. Personally I have had good results with this driver on quite old systems running Win98; so don’t feel compelled to track down motherboard specific drivers for some ancient hardware if you have already identified it has a Via chipset.

The 4 in 1 driver contains the following drivers

  • AGP VxD; necessary for proper operation of an AGP Graphics Card
  • ATAPI Driver for smoother running of your IDE device.
  • The ‘INF’ driver which sets up the power management
  • The PCI IRQ Miniport Driver, which is only necessary and only installs on Win98, to fix IRQ routing.
  • For NT only, the VIA IDE Bus Mastering driver. This is the only driver installed on NT.

The package runs on any version of Windows from 95 to XP (32 bit only) and is smart enough to know which are the appropriate drivers for your hardware and OS.

The current version is 4.43 and was released on 25 October 2001. Don’t let its age fool you. It is a stable, mature driver set. Download the Via 4-in-1 Driver

Hyperion Pro
Sounds impressive. Well, perhaps not. But this is the name for the current package of drivers. I guess the name 4 in 1 was getting a bit silly since there were 5 drivers included, of which you would get 1, 3 or 4 drivers depending on your OS.

The Hyperion package include similar but updated drivers to what is in the 4 in 1 package, with the important addition of the SATA drivers. As of this writing the latest version is 5.10a which was released on the 8 September 2006.

The Hyperion package is for Win98 through XP and Windows Server 2003. Both 32 bit and 64 bit versions, where appropriate, are included. As with the 4 in 1 package, the installer is smart enough to know what drivers are required.

You can download both the Hyperion and 4 in 1 drivers from VIA Arena.

A Note about RAID Utilities
Now here is a fact worth noting. Many SATA drivers give you the option of installing just the driver, or the driver plus the RAID utility. I recommend that you DONT install the utility, just the driver.

The RAID utility is not necessary, and is usually just another annoying taskbar icon.

If you have a Raid 1 or 5 array where a drive fails, you usually have to go into the BIOS or RAID BIOS to run a utility to re-build the array. (after replacing the faulty drive, of course). Whilst the array is being rebuilt you can’t use the PC, but it is the quickest way to re-build the array.

However, with the utility installed you can rebuild the array inside Windows, which means you can still use the PC whilst the utility re-builds the array. Your PC will probably be slow, and the array will likely take all day (maybe all night as well) but at least you have access to your email and play Freecell.

So if you really, really, must rebuild the array with Windows loaded, install the utility then, and not before. The uninstall it when you are done, or at least remove it from the line-up of programs that run whenever you start Windows.

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Posted in Drivers, Hardware, PC, Troubleshooting, Win9x, Windows XP | 9 Comments »

XP: Finding and Installing Drivers, Part 1.0 – Motherboard Chipset

Posted by cascadehush on October 4, 2006

N.B. This series of articles assumes that, for whatever reason, you either don’t have the original driver CD or choose not to use it. This is often the case if you work in a PC repair shop (as I do) or you have acquired components second hand. The introduction to this series is here.

Whether you are building a PC or reloading an existing one, the first thing you should install after the operating system are the motherboard chipset drivers. These drives are associated specifically with the northbridge (where applicable) and southbridge, rather than any other chips which may be present on the motherboard to provide other functionality such as audio or networking.

Motherboard chipset drivers are easy to overlook. Device Manager may not flag them as missing. They are responsible for the smooth running of your IDE and SATA drives, USB Ports and AGP slot. If you are wondering why your hard drive seems slow, or your new graphics card is not performing well, perhaps you are missing your motherboard chipset drivers.

The main motherboard chipset manufacturers all have sets of drivers which can be installed on almost any brand of motherboard. All you need to do is identify the chipset and you can select the appropriate drivers.

You can often identify the chipset manufacturer by looking at the southbridge, which is usually visible. (The northbridge is often covered by a heat sink so it is not visible.) You may also be able to guess the chipset from the model name, although this requires some experience. It isn’t a guaranteed method since some motherboards do not have their model name clearly marked and not all motherboard manufactures use an easy to follow naming scheme. Another way is to use a utility. I use CPU-Z and/or AIDA32. CPU-Z is quicker or this purpose. AIDA32 will become indispensable later on, since it provides much more information.

Remember, for most cases you only need to know the chipset manufacturer. The specific chipset is rarely necessary. There are 5 major motherboard chipset manufacturers, SiS, VIA, Intel, nVIDIA and ATI.

The following installments in this series will discuss, in turn, the different motherboard chipset manufacturers. Links will be provided to the driver packs.

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XP: Finding and Installing Drivers, Part 0

Posted by cascadehush on October 2, 2006

Whether you’re reloading Windows or adding/replacing hardware, you are probably going to need drivers. Windows XP has a large number of drivers built in. Sometimes these default drivers are best, but sometimes they should just be viewed only as a temporary solution.

You may have a driver disk that came with the hardware. Often these drivers are useless, but occasionally they are essential. If your hardware is from some obscure manufacturer you may not be able to download a driver. OTOH, drivers are often updated so it’s usually worth searching online for more recent versions.

You may find drivers that are provided by the manufacturer of the hardware, such as Gigabyte, Asus or MSI. Often these are just re-packaged drivers written by the chipset manufacturers, like VIA, SiS or nVidia. You need to decide which driver you should be looking for.

The Device Manager can help you identify which drivers are missing, but it can be deceiving. There are some motherboard chipset drivers which aren’t necessary for the system to function, but without them the system will not perform optimally. These drivers are not flagged by the Device Manager as missing.

I’ll be discussing all of these issues in a irregular series of posts, along with specific details, personal experiences and general principles. When it’s all done I hope I will have compiled the ultimate current guide to finding and installing drivers for Windows XP.

The series continues with Part 1.0 – Motherboard Chipset Drivers.

Posted in Drivers, Hardware, PC, Troubleshooting, Win9x, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »