THE HIGH FIDELITY PC EXPERIENCE

What is A Beta Graphics Driver?

A driver is software made by a chip manufacturer or component manufacturer that interfaces with the operating system (Windows), allowing that device to work.  A graphics driver allows a graphics chip or integrated graphics processor to work properly.  Sometimes improvements are made and compatibility problems are resolved, leading to the release of a newer driver than what shipped on your computer when it was new.  In that case the PC user might want to upgrade a driver to fix a problem, enable new features, or get faster performance.

Beta software means that the software is not considered 100% complete.  It is intended for testing by an experienced computer user who can tolerate incomplete software, work around unexpected behavior, and perhaps voluntarily report on software bugs.  A good amount of beta software available today is very reliable.

Beta in the realm of graphics drivers indicates that while one or a number of problems have been solved, extensive testing has not been performed and glitches may be present, and unexpected behaviors may occur.  Typically beta graphics drivers are harmless, and often necessary for brand new games.

The big GPU makers are nVIDIA and AMD (formerly ATI).  Any graphics chip company makes beta graphics drivers for their hardware and after testing, rolls the improvements back into a tested and qualified driver.  If you get a brand new game and it has graphics glitches or issues, first try to adjust the in-game graphics settings.  Then consult with other players of the new game on online forums.  Then seek out an updated graphics driver, or a beta if you have the latest regular release driver.

When you click through an end user license agreement when installing a graphics driver, companies disclaim any responsibility to support a new driver, and don't even guarantee that it will do anything.  That said, installing a beta driver downloaded from the GPU manufacturer's website, that says it's for your GPU and your operating system is most always safe, and a routine kind of activity when on the leading edge of intense PC gaming.

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KillaRad Webmaster
Updated November 20, 2010