How do I know what computer video card I have?

Device Manager

Display adapters in Windows device managerMany versions of Microsoft Windows will automatically detect and install your video card. Assuming no video issues currently exist with the video card you can determine the video card under display adapters in Device Manager, as shown in the picture to the right.

As can be seen in the picture this computer has two video cards and are labeled as NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX, which is the manufacturer and model of the video card.

If you right-click the video card and click Properties you'll get a window like the properties window also shown in this picture. As can be seen the location of this video card is PCI Slot 2. Which is helpful for when you want to know the bus the video card is.

Note: If you are experiencing video issues or the video card is being detected as a "Standard VGA" adapter it is likely what Microsoft Windows is not detecting the video card and if you need to determine the video card for drivers you will need to try the next step.

Third-party program

Download one of the third-party programs for detecting computer hardware. These utilities can be used to help identify and list all of the hardware found in your computer.

At boot or POST

Many video cards and chipsets will list the video card and memory during the POST. Try rebooting the computer and as it is first booting press the "Pause or Break" key to temporarily halt the computer's boot process and read the text on the screen. If you are unfamiliar with video card manufacturers or chipsets write down some of the company names you see and search our video card driver section for that company. 

OEM lookup

If you have an OEM computer (e.g. Dell or Hewlett Packard) get the serial number or service tag number on the computer and lookup your computer on the manufacturers website to identify the video card and many cases also get drivers for the video card.

Debug routine

Note: New versions of Windows no longer include the debug command. If you're running Windows Vista, 7, or 8 skip to the next step.

The steps below require that the user first get to a MS-DOS prompt or Windows command line.

At the C:\> prompt type the below commands.

debug

At the - prompt type the below command.

d c000:0040

After typing the above command you should receive several lines of text similar to:

C000:0040 0000000000000000-0000000000000000 ................
C000:0050E9637B00B4104927-E9FE2BE9F72B504D.c{...I'..+..+PM
C000:0060494458005B000000- 00A000B000B800C0IDX.[...........
C000:0070005B535442206E56-4944494120544E54.[STB nVIDIA TNT
C000:0080207665722E20312E-3130200D0A001B43ver. 1.10 ....C
C000:00906F 70797269676874-2843293139393820opyright(C)1998
C000:00A05354422053797374-656D7320496E630DSTB Systems Inc.
C000:00B00A00226C2C0A0100-C350247FE8603658 .."1,....P$..'6X

As you can pick out in the above dump this gives you enough information to determine the make and the year made on the video card. On line 4 you can see the make of this video card, which in this case is a nVIDIA TNT, which would be the Riva TNT chipset. The next line you notice the version of the card and finally the line thereafter is the copyright or the year manufactured.

If you are unable to capture any information that sounds like the video card you can also type

-d c000:0090

The above line gives you a dump similar to the above example however may have additional information about the video card.

Note: If the video card is onboard you may get the motherboard name or chipset. If you have an onboard video card you should get the video drivers for your chipset. Commonly the video drivers or chipset drivers are available through the motherboard manufacturer.

Once you're ready to exit the debug prompt type quit to exit back to the MS-DOS prompt. If you want to close the MS-DOS window type exit.

Open the computer

Unplug everything from the back of the computer and open the computer and look for any visual identification directly off of the video card or motherboard. Many times you can find the manufacturer name, model, serial number, or other unique identifications that can be used to identify the video card or video chipset you have. In the picture below is an example of what an AGP video card looks like.

ATI Video card

Tip: if your video card is on the motherboard you can lookup the motherboard video chipset by first identifying the motherboard and then looking up the motherboard model.

FCC identification number

If you are unable to locate a manufacturer or model number of the video card but see an FCC identification number it's recommended that you perform a FCC search using that number. Additional information about FCC numbers and how to search for information about a FCC number can be found on our FCC dictionary definition page.

Additional information