Any problems with hardware in your computer can cause issues. One of the biggest issues can be heat, particularly around the CPU. Every processor is designed to run more slowly when it starts to overheat to prevent damage. That’s good for not causing fatal flaws, but it can mean that your computer runs more slowly than it should. Using a vacuum cleaner to suck dust out of your computer’s fans, and dust filters if fitted, is a good starting point. However, you may want to look at your computer’s cooling system (next month’s Advanced Projects will cover this in detail). Heat’s not the only issue: out-of-date drivers can cause more problems than you may think. Newer drivers can do two things.

First, they can give you a speed increase, as manufacturers find more efficient ways of doing things. Second, they can fix bugs in hardware that can lead to crashes. Regularly checking your drivers and updating them is a good plan. We recommend doing this manually. There are utilities that will automatically scan your computer and tell you when there’s updated hardware, but you either have to pay for the privilege,or you get software that will bombard you with ads or prompt you to install yet more software.

You can download the latest drivers for your hardware directly from the manufacturer’s website
You can download the latest drivers for your hardware directly from the manufacturer’s website

Update hardware drivers

Out-of-date hardware drivers can cause a lot of problems. At the worst, a poor driver can cause instability. One of the biggest culprits of this is Windows. When you install or upgrade your computer, Microsoft will often detect the hardware that you’re using and install its own driver. That might be good for convenience, but Windows drivers can cause reliability and speed issues. We recommend going straight to the source and downloading drivers directly from the manufacturer. If you have a big-brand PC or laptop, such as a Dell, go to that company’s support site to download the latest drivers for your computer. For a specialist company or a home-build PC, you will need to go to a few different places. First, you should make a list of the hardware inside your computer, including manufacturers and model numbers of the devices. Include the motherboard, printer and any internal expansion cards.

To get this information, you may need to open up the side of your PC’s case and look inside. Expansion cards and motherboards typically have the model number written on them, although you may have to look hard. Armed with this information, you can visit each manufacturer in turn, finding the support page for your hardware and then downloading the latest drivers and utilities.

Boost graphics drivers

Graphics card manufacturers are constantly upgrading their graphics hardware, giving real speed improvements in games. Successive drivers can also improve system stability. Staying on top of the latest drivers manually is a good way to ensure the best performance. For Nvidia graphics cards, go to and click Download next to the Automatic Driver Updates box. This will download an application that will detect your hardware and grab the latest driver automatically. For AMD cards, go to support and click the Download Now button under Automatically Detect and Install Your Driver. This will perform a similar autodetect routine to Nvidia’s app and grab the latest drivers for your graphics card.