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Do CPUs require drivers?

Installing and updating your PC’s drivers is important. Graphics drivers, motherboard drivers, add-in-card drivers, but what about CPU drivers? Technically, CPUs do not require drivers, but there are some exceptions, and there are some situations where you may even want to update the drives that affect your CPU’s performance.

Do CPUs have drivers?

Intel Core i5-12600K CPU.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

In general, no. CPUs don’t have drivers and don’t need them to run. Your system does need to install its chipset drivers — related to the motherboard — in order to integrate all the components together and use all of your system’s features. Some CPUs can have onboard graphics drivers associated with them, but the processor itself does not need drivers.

Processors that have onboard graphics utilize drivers to render your desktop and any games you play. Intel’s latest 12th generation of CPUs features onboard graphics as long as they don’t have an “F” designation at the end of the model name. For example, there are two Core i9 CPUs, i9-12900KF and the i9-12900K, but the difference here is the K model features onboard graphics whereas the KF model does not. AMD, on the other hand, has its Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) chips, which also have onboard graphics, but those are restricted to the G-series of chips.

Generally, if you are running with a higher-end AMD CPU, like a Ryzen 5 5600X and up, you don’t need to install any drivers because those processors do not have onboard graphics.

For Intel users, this is a bit more confusing because even the highest-end of CPUs offer onboard graphics, like the Intel Core i9-12900K, which features Intel UHD Graphics 770. Though since this is almost always paired with a dedicated graphics card, again, it’s not something you need to really concern yourself with.

Do you need to update CPU drivers?

Ryzen Power Plan

While there’s some rationality behind installing CPU drivers when your processor has integrated graphics, it’s far from necessary. Keeping your chipset drivers updated is much more important, as are up-to-date graphics drivers if you have a dedicated graphics card.

AMD’s newer chipset drivers include a neat feature called AMD Ryzen Power Plans. The power plan gives you the option to make your Ryzen CPU run in high performance mode or balanced mode. If you’re using an AMD CPU, then Ryzen Power Plan is the driver you’re looking for when it comes to increasing or overall balancing performance without overclocking.

Intel, on the other hand, doesn’t really have anything besides chipset drivers for its CPUs with onboard graphics. These chipset drivers don’t affect the performance of the processors, only the graphical capabilities.

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