Silly computer problem, but problematic
January 20, 2015 2:09 PM   Subscribe

How do I figure out what video card is in my laptop when the computer doesn't know either?

So, I installed Windows 8.1 on my old (2007) laptop. It runs great, with one minor problem: it doesn't recognize the video card. I don't remember what the card is either so I can't simply download the correct drivers. Autodetects by Nvidia and AMD were unable to identify it although those are the most likely candidates. Taking the laptop apart is a possibility, but I would consider that a last resort.

Any suggestions, MeFi?
posted by Gneisskate to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do you know the laptop model? It may well be written on the bottom somewhere (perhaps on a sticker). If you have the exact model name you can often find a lot through Google. Are you sure it has a discrete video card? A lot of laptops have Intel integrated graphics or similar.
posted by leo_r at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Speccy and CPU-Z are my two go-to programs for identifying hardware. The latter has been around longer, and probably has a deeper database of hardware, but the former is a bit friendlier. Both are unobtrusive, but watch out for the installers offering additional software you don't want-- that goes for all windows installers these days.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:18 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: AMD got completely fed up and stopped supplying drivers for a lot of laptops just because of this stuff. They supply them to manufacturers, who then post them on their sites if they actually support that model(or feel like updating it anymore).

You want to go to your manufacturers site, go to the support section for that model, and download the drivers there. Assuming they don't have windows 8 drivers, try installing the windows 7 ones. If they don't work, it'll at least point you on the right track as to what model you have.

My workflow is usually google the model number and find an old "sold out" newegg/amazon/etc page to get the specs, then the manufacturers site, then try those drivers, then google around for drivers for that model in general.

I've done this way too many times. Good luck.
posted by emptythought at 2:40 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd search the internet for your laptop model first. Alternately, can you boot into the BIOS? (Google BIOS and the brand of your laptop; usually you press F2 or F12 or something during boot up). Usually, there's something in there that tells you which video card you have. Also, I've used CPU-Z before; it's not terribly difficult to use, and it works.
posted by bluefly at 2:49 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That did it! It's a t60p, and there were a number of video card options on manufacture. I knew I had chosen the top-of-the-line of the available options, and there it was. 256MB ATI Mobility FireGL V5250. After that, the driver was easy! That Speccy program will get some use, though.

Thanks again, MeFi!
posted by Gneisskate at 2:50 PM on January 20, 2015

FireGL? Why choose a workstation video card? Are you into CAD or animating a movie?
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 4:24 PM on January 20, 2015

The FireGL was the only decent card available on the T60. The p basically means it comes with the ATI rather than the really terrible intrgrated Intel that the plain T60 came with. The CPU was a build option on all T60 laptops, but you had to get the P to get decent 3D performance.

There was a slight spec bump halfway through its run, though, so some T60ps have a slightly different FireGL card than the one the OP has.

Also, for anyone else who ever wonders, Lenovo has a tool on their support site that will tell you precisely what parts, and their FRU numbers, went into your particular laptop, down to which set of stickers they stuck on the bottom. All you need is the serial number. This is very helpful since they have a habit of using several different suppliers for LCDs and keyboards and it's nice to know when bidding on eBay whether you're going to get one with backlight bleed and a relatively mushy keyboard or the awesome screen and great keyboard.
posted by wierdo at 6:10 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

CPU-Z is great, but for video cards you want to use GPU-Z instead.
posted by neckro23 at 7:38 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

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