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.

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 will 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 your video card is being detected as a "Standard VGA" adapter, Windows may not be detecting your video hardware correctly. If you need to determine the model of your video card so you can install the correct drivers, use a third-party program as detailed in 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), first obtain the serial number or service tag number on the computer. Then look up your computer on the manufacturer's website to identify the video card and download drivers for it.

Debug routine

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

The steps below require that the user first get to an 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 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 - 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  ................
C000:0050 E9 63 7B 00 B4 10 49 27 - E9 FE 2B E9 F7 2B 50 4D .c{...I'..+..+PM
C000:0060 49 44 58 00 5B 00 00 00 - 00 A0 00 B0 00 B8 00 C0 IDX.[...........
C000:0070 00 5B 53 54 42 20 6E 56 - 49 44 49 41 20 54 4E 54 .[STB nVIDIA TNT
C000:0080 20 76 65 72 2E 20 31 2E - 31 30 20 0D 0A 00 1B 43 ver. 1.10 ....C
C000:0090 6F 70 79 72 69 67 68 74 - 28 43 29 31 39 39 38 20 opyright(C)1998
C000:00A0 53 54 42 20 53 79 73 74 - 65 6D 73 20 49 6E 63 0D STB Systems Inc.
C000:00B0 0A 00 22 6C 2C 0A 01 00 - C3 50 24 7F E8 60 36 58 .."1,....P$..'6

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 are 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 is recommended that you perform an FCC search using that number. Additional information about FCC numbers and how to search for information about an FCC number can be found on our FCC dictionary definition page.

Additional information