Driving me insane
October 16, 2008 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Dull computer question: I just reinstalled Windows XP Professional onto my laptop computer. Two devices in the Device Manager display the dreaded yellow question mark. They do not appear to be on the driver support disc that came with the computer. These two items are: "Network Controller" and "PCI Device". Does anyone know where I could find suitable drivers?
posted by idiomatika to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need to find out what kind of devices you're dealing with, before you can install drivers for them. The drivers really ought to be on the discs that came with the laptop. Assuming they're not, you can usually look up the laptop model online and find out exactly what hardware is in it. Then go find the drivers from the respective manufacturers of those devices.
posted by knave at 3:43 PM on October 16, 2008

Check the support page for your laptop model on the manufacturers site.

You can also try to google the device ID's of the mystery hardware:

Right click on my computer and go to properties

Click on Hardware

Click Device manager

Right click on the mystery device and select Properties

CLick the Details tab, You should see your deviceid string there.
posted by gog at 3:44 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you have any additional hardware in the expansion slots or some USB device plugged in that requires a driver?
posted by wongcorgi at 4:03 PM on October 16, 2008

Those two items may be referring to the same device. Install your network card driver and see what happens. Next place to look would be the soundcard. Typically on reinstall these missing drivers are for features of the computer: NICs, soundcards, modems. Just look on the back of the computer to see what is in the slots and install drivers for whatever you see, however "PCI Device" can also refer to onboard built-in devices. And yeah, check the support pages on the manufacturer's website, I often find the driver pack split out into individual installs.
posted by rhizome at 4:56 PM on October 16, 2008

Those are part of your chipset drivers. "Network controller" is the driver for the built-in ethernet. PCI device is also one of the onboard devices related to the chipset.

1. Go to the Dell Drivers & Downloads page
2. Select the options to get to your laptop model
3. Look in the "Chipset" section for a driver download with a name like "Intel - Driver" and download that one.
posted by junesix at 5:28 PM on October 16, 2008

I am fairly technically savvy and am called upon to fix computers often. Because of this, I purchased a program called "Driver Agent" which I use to diagnose mystery devices on unknown computers. It's saved my butt a buncha times when dealing with unknown components.

The program can be found at Driver Agent

Btw, it has even found devices on my own system that needed updates, when even my Dell support site is lax in providing the updates.
posted by newfers at 5:42 PM on October 16, 2008

What kind of laptop is it?

If it's a Dell you're in luck because their support pages at support.dell.com are great (if a little hard to navigate). Just type your service tag # into the box and click "original hardware configuration" and it'll show you everything the machine shipped with, then go to the Drivers and Downloads page and find the driver you need. I really don't know of any other manufacturer that makes getting support that easy.
posted by word_virus at 7:09 PM on October 16, 2008

If the driver support disc that came with the computer has something called "chipset drivers", install those.
posted by flabdablet at 7:43 PM on October 16, 2008

If for some bizarre reason you are unable to find the drivers you need via your laptop manufacturer's website, post back and I'll describe a procedure you can use to identify the exact devices you need the drivers for and find sources for them.

I'm not doing this straight away because it's kind of fiddly and error-prone, and by far the most likely thing is that you will be able to find the necessary chipset driver either on your laptop's own support disc or in a Support/Downloads section of its manufacturer's website.
posted by flabdablet at 7:47 PM on October 16, 2008

Thanks for the help, people. I've had no luck so far. It's an Evesham computer (obscure British manufacturer). I tried installing chipset drivers. Hasn't worked. Looking at the Belarc Advisor report, it looks like I need "Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Network Connection", but the pre-installation diagnostics tool from the Intel website tells me that there is no LAN hardware on my computer. All very confusing. Maybe a call to the manufacturer is in order.

I'm away this afternoon and won't be able to reply until Sunday.
posted by idiomatika at 2:25 AM on October 17, 2008

I think some people here have misread "Dull" as Dell... anyway, have you tried downloading the driver from the Intel website? (Googled)
posted by yoHighness at 1:01 PM on October 17, 2008

...if it was your wireless - your computer would not be saying 'no chipset stuff' (ie. network controller, pci device) it would say 'no wireless' (ie. wireless... :) strangely enough.)

Evesham does not appear to exist any longer. But there are clues - the companies they owe money to made parts of your laptop. (Microsoft - so yeah it's likely Intel stuff you need drivers for.)

I like the whole 'tracking down the drivers' game, so I'm happy to help. But um nobody can help you unless you reveal what it is? (Possibly not even flabdablet, who does sound like they know what they're talking about.)

Evesham, right. That's a start.
Model Number??

And, just out of curiosity,
- This the first time you've formatted it, yeah?
- Have you ever been inside it? (As in removed battery, picked up screwdriver...)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 4:04 PM on October 17, 2008

OK. If you can't get any joy from the computer manufacturer, you will need to use a driver provided by the device manufacturer. Despite all the warnings that always accompany these things, they usually work just fine. In fact they sometimes work better than the ones provided by the computer manufacturer because they are often a later version.

First thing is to find out exactly what device you're dealing with. You do that by opening the Device Manager, then double-clicking the device concerned to bring up its property sheet, then clicking on the Details tab and selecting Device Instance ID from the dropdown menu. You'll see a line something like this:


I will use the numbers from this line in the rest of this explanation, and track down the right driver. You should use what you find in your own Device Instance ID line and do the same thing.

Extract the vendor, device and subsystem IDs from the Device Instance ID:

Vendor 10EC
Device 8168
Subsytem 81681019

Next, look those up in the Great Big List of PCI Devices:

Vendor 10EC is Realtek
Device 8168 is a RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Subsystem 81681019 is not listed, so we'll just use the generic driver from the chip vendor (Realtek).

Next, find Realtek's official website. Generally just Googling the vendor's name will get you there. Including extra search terms will often get you sucked into a morass of "helpful" driver search and mirror sites that will waste even more of your time than the manufacturer sites will.

Finding the Support or Downloads section is then usually straightforward and there will generally be a Downloads Search or similar box that will let you locate the device by model number.

These search boxes often suck. So if you get no useful results from a model number search, try searching for software or drivers or driver or Windows. Persistence will pay off.

If the manufacturer's own search sucks too hard, Google will often help if you restrict your search to the manufacturer's site.

I'd be interested to find out how you get on.
posted by flabdablet at 7:02 PM on October 17, 2008

Thanks flabdablet !

I just formatted my first hard drive, and installed xp pro :-)

This is an Acer Veriton M460 machine.

I googled my ethernet card details....and it seems I have the EXACT same card that you have.

I followed your instructions to locate the drivers here

I loaded the first file in the list, extracted the zip file, and ran setup.exe
It looked like everything went fine, but the yellow question mark still shows on device manager.

Now What ?
posted by dougiefresh1969 at 10:04 PM on February 6, 2009

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