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How to identify your PC hardware

It is very important to know what computer hardware you have in your system or notebook. This article takes you step by step through a process that should take you about half an hour, to accurately identify the key hardware components in your system. Once you have done this, you'll have the information at hand for upgrades, technical support, driver updates and checking that your system meets the minimum specifications for adding peripherals, installing software or purchasing games.

If You Have a Brandname PC

If you have a brand PC, like HP, Compaq, Del, Gateway (etc) then take a look and find the marking or sticker that will tell you the model number. From there, go to the manufacturer's website and find your model. Look for the technical specifications. Some manufacturers don't provide the specifications in detail. You might need to download a technical specifications brochure or manual to find the chipset, LAN controller and audio controller information. If you've searched the manufacturer's website and you can't find the information, keep reading and we'll teach you how to find it out in a different way.

Note: Most first tier PC builders offer a free download service of drivers for their products. Most of the drivers are provided by the manufacturers of each component, however. It depends on the communication between the builder of the PC and the manufacturer of the hardware component, but generally speaking, the hardware component manufacturer (such as the chipset manufacturer) will have the most up to date drivers on their website before the PC builder. So, where as it might seem like a quick solution to just download the latest drivers on the PC builder's website, actually going right to the source of the drivers ensures you get the very latest version available. This is especially true for older PCs, since PC builders don't always keep the driver downloads section for older products up to date.

If Your PC is Not a Brandname PC

If your PC is not a major brand then ideally, you should still have the motherboard manual that should have been provided with your PC. Motherboard manuals are almost always small A5 booklets and they are often called "Quick User's Guide" instead of manual. Inside a motherboard manual, towards the front, you should find a couple of pages titled "Mainboard Specifications" or "Motherboard specifications". Write down:

  • the model of the chipset (don't worry about all of the other specifications that will be listed under it) which will be listed under "Chipset"
  • the model of the LAN controller which will be listed under "Networking" or "LAN"
  • the model of the audio controller which will be listed under "Audio"

When You Have No Documentation on Your PC

If you don't have your motherboard manual and you don't have a brand PC model that can be easily looked up online, you need to run a free software program that will identify your hardware. We recommend either PC Wizard from CPUID or SiSoft Sandra from SiSoftware. Both utilities are free and have been developed by experienced programmers. They are used by professional technicians the world over and can be trusted for their accuracy and security. In this article, we'll show you how to use SiSoft Sandra to accurately identify your hardware.

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Author Name:Fiona Gatt
Published Date:20 January 2011
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