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What Intel/Chipset drivers should I install?

empleat
Beginner
2,884 Views

Hello,

I Am tweaking my system for minimum input lag. Therefore I avoid installing Intel Chipset drivers, because they cause huge input lag! I had same experience on multiple computers, before I was even solving input lag that much, so it is not a placebo! It is also known in tweaker community.

Drivers are complex and badly coded drivers can cause input lag! I want avoid installing crappy drivers on my system. But it is difficult to find information about what each of these drivers do!

Intel Chipset drivers also can't be uninstalled without reinstalling a computer! But perhaps: I could install some drivers separately. I heard, there is not necessarily need to install Intel Chipset drivers today, Windows already finds needed drivers.

Here is example of some drivers Windows found:

- E.g. Without SMBus sensors may not report an accurate information. But it does not cause any serious problems not installing these. (sensors however work fine - it seems)

- E.g. I think this is driver for PCH - Intel(R) Xeon(R) E3 - 1200/1500 v5/6th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) PCIe Controller (x16) - 1901

This can be used for various things, not sure if I need this.

I Am on clean Windows 10 install right now, with disabled automatic driver updates! And I do not have any problems. However I still want to know what each of these drivers do. Maybe it could affect something I do not know of!

My specs:

i5 9600kf, asus z390-i gaming, g.skill trident z 3200mhz cl16 2x8GB, RTX 3070, corsair RM650x 2018, xpg 8200 pro, WD blue 4TB

Also I included picture for all drivers Windows update found. Is there any reason I would want to install any of these drivers?

Thank you for answer.

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4 Replies
n_scott_pearson
Super User Retired Employee
2,749 Views

First of all, ignoring the optional components (RST, SMBus, LAN, NET (WLAN), BT, etc.), you simply cannot run without most chipset drivers. They are going to be installed regardless of what you do (or don't do). The Intel Chipset Device Software (a.k.a. INF Update) package does not install any drivers; it simply installs INF files that optimally configure the drivers that were already installed! It could be argued that not installing this package could, in fact, result in additional lag because the configuration of the drivers might not be up to date. It is definitely the case if you never enabled Windows Update as the configuration included in the Windows installation image, depending upon what version you use, could be quite stale.

Intel does not provide a general-purpose SMBus driver. The INF Update package installs an INF file that satisfies this device's PCI address space exposure. You get a proper description of the interface (and avoid the Yellow Bang) but no driver is installed. Now, when software that wants to use the SMBus is installed, it loads its own custom SMBus driver, but this is done dynamically and the driver, barring a few cases where collaboration has occurred, is not available to other applications. The Sensor software developers have, for years, used a convention that allows multiple of these drivers to exist and be used simultaneously.

In most desktop systems, there are few PCIe lanes available in the processor for downstream devices. They are mostly consumed by the support for graphics (and regardless of whether you use the iGFX engine or not). Most downstream devices are connected to PCIe lanes off the PCH and thus the PCIe Controller driver is a must for handling of these lanes.

As for the optional drivers that Windows Update offers, they are optional for a reason. You need to read the MS knowledge Base articles that go with these packages; these articles will help you determine if you actually need any of these updates. You are obviously not the type of person who blindly installs these packages. Good; only install those that are absolutely necessary (sadly, I rarely follow my own advice and have screwed things up a few times so badly that I had to reinstall the O/S).

...S

 

empleat
Beginner
2,691 Views

I disabled automatic driver updates! So no drivers are installed automatically for me!!! Yeah I know what Intel Chipset Drivers do. That they install INF configuration files, so system can recognize yellow devices - so they are working properly. I don't know why they are called drivers in the first place.

Yea before installation: there are yellow devices. Maybe they were previously not fully operating, or communicating with the System. But it does something, which causes input lag...

I have i5 9600KF, if I Am not mistaken: I read that PCI-e lanes are handled directly by CPU on this architecture. I have currently no drivers, except drivers which are included in offline Windows 10 installation. And everything is working fine (as far as I can tell). E.g. 3D mark scores are fine!I I also didn't install INF updates in past. Never had some specific problem, because of it, but drivers differ from CPU to CPU, or motherboard to motherboard. So I would rather understand what each of these do exactly!

So I was more interested about learning about identity of each driver from the picture and what it does! So I can decide: whether or not to install each of them manually. I don't know, if it is possible to recognize them just from the picture. I have only 3 yellow devices in Device Manager right now:

- one driver will be Intel MEI on 100%

- some other will be probably PCI-e controller: Intel(R) Xeon(R) E3 - 1200/1500 v5/6th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) PCIe Controller (x16) - 1901

- and one is SMBus, as it shows name

However on picture - I uploaded in my first post (it is picture of driver update utility - "WuMgr") it shows more than 3 drivers available! I could find these drivers by hardware IDs, if I knew for which devices are these drivers!

But I even, if I did. I can't find detailed information about these drivers like:

- what they are exactly for

- or what they exactly do

- and why is it important to install them!

I have only anecdotes, because I Am not Intel engineer. Installing Chipset Drivers feels always worse on multiple computers now in past... But now since I blocked updates, before I connected to internet. I don't have some drivers, which were Windows on previous installation automatically downloaded. Because I wasn't blocking driver updates before.

But I don't want to install all drivers at once and let Windows install some drivers, I won't be even able to find...

I could also make a backup and try installing them one by one and check how it feels.

It would still be useful to me, if you could tell me more information about these drivers. How do I find for what devices are these drivers for?

Thanks.

 

n_scott_pearson
Super User Retired Employee
2,678 Views

Let me list this in bullet form:

  • When you install Windows 10, the chipset devices will fall into three categories, (1) standard devices that are included in this and many previous chipsets, (2) optional chipset devices that are only enabled (and sometimes only exposed) if the feature is enabled in BIOS and/or the software support for this device is installed at runtime and (3) devices that are new in the chipset present and not supported by the set of drivers built into the Windows installation image.
  • All standard and exposed (i.e., not disabled in the BIOS) chipset devices will have drivers installed for them regardless of whether or not there is a network connection. The drivers for the standard chipset devices are included inbox (i.e., built into the Windows 10 installation image).
  • What is at issue is that the configurations for these standard chipset devices are optimal for the time when the installation package for the particular Windows 10 version was built. Depending upon what version of Windows 10 you are installing, these configuration could be stale. Installing the Chipset Device Software (a.k.a. INF Update) package will provide these drivers with the latest optimal configurations available at the time that the package used was built by Intel. Letting Windows Update regularly run will ensure that the configurations are automatically updated if Intel tweaks them.
  • With stale configurations, it is possible (though unlikely) that devices are not running at their optimal performance levels.
  • Let me be clear: Installing the INF Update package will NOT cause any lag. Any lag that you think comes from this package is a complete figment of your imagination. Ok, there have been a few screwups by Intel in the past that might have resulted in, shall we say, less that stellar operation, but I know of no outstanding issues of this type currently.
  • Optional devices are only going to be operating unless the related feature is enabled and being used. Some of these devices are enabled as a result of the BIOS configuration and may operate in the background regardless of there being any driver installed for it. Having a driver will allow this device to be used and perhaps configured differently at runtime. Installing the INF Update package will enumerate these devices (ensuring that there is no yellow bang) but it will not install driver(s) for these devices (though they may be present if otherwise installed).
  • New devices are similar to optional device. In many cases, these devices are going to be enabled by the BIOS and will be operating regardless of the INF Update package being installed. A good example is this 1901 PCIe controller device that you listed. It is enabled by the BIOS and will be operational regardless of what happens in the Windows 10 environment. Installing the INF Update package is only going to nicely enumerate these types of devices. Only if there is a device driver installed for a device will any configuration provided in the INF file be applied.

I think that covers everything. Bottom line, you should alway, alway install the INF Update package and it should be the first think you install after installing Windows 10 itself.

The Intel Management Engine Interface is a unique case. The ME is going to be running regardless of whether you install the driver package for it. The driver package is installing the small driver that facilitates communication between host processor-based software subsystems and ME-based firmware subsystems. Depending upon what you are going to be doing, you might not need this driver or the related software subsystems. Intel provides multiple installation packages for the ME. You can choose to install just the MEI driver, so the entry in Device Manager is resolved or you can choose to install the driver and some of all of the software/firmware subsystem support. Now, in most cases, there is never any user interaction with these software/firmware subsystem; they are used under the covers to support various capabilities. For example, adding support to the O/S for handling content protection, such as that for decryption of Blu-Ray or streamed content.

Of your three examples, the entry (placeholder) for the SMBus controller and the descriptor for the PCIe controller are going to be resolved (enumerated) by the INF Update package. The third, MEI, I already talked about.

Now the hard subject, the optional packages in Windows Update. I am certainly not going to spend the hours that it will take to enumerate what these are and provide you with the pros and cons regarding their installation. I am retired and a volunteer here. I have already spent hours writing this response. I could be answering queries for literally dozens of other users in the same amount of time it would take to handle you. As I said, read the descriptions that are provided by the Windows Update catalog. They should tell you what the packages are for. If they don't, well, complain to the Intel Support Engineers and they can spend the time explaining them to you.

...S

 

empleat
Beginner
2,662 Views

You have to understand. It is not figment of imagination!!! You are a developer, with deep understanding about how this works. I respect that! But I Am a gamer, I Am very sensitive to input lag! I can clearly tell a difference... And so many others in gaming community! I can tell even 6ms difference in total input lag! Tested myself with program (Input lag AB test) from blurbusters forums, which allows you to do that.

Also besides input lag there is a mouse feel. There are CPU stalls, drivers generating DPC latency which cause system handling DPC inconsistently. Then you have timer resolution window, timers... All these factors contribute to consistency, input lag, mousefeel.

You can very clearly tell even 1ms difference, e.g. difference between 500/1000hz polling rate. As 500hz can cause: mouse packet from 2-4ms ago to be rendered in a current frame.  While using 1000hz: only from 1-2ms ago!!! Gamers can tell difference between this!

So I don't give only anecdotes:

Also people can tell even difference between 1000hz and 8000hz on 360hz monitors. They were studies about that: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/news/reflex-low-latency-platform/

There were studies also on pilots about fps: https://www.pcgamer.com/how-many-frames-per-second-can-the-human-eye-really-see/

Human eye can discern even 1 photon, why do you think this would be figment of imagination. Human eye and brain are powerful tools!

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-human-eye-could-help-test-quantum-mechanics/

OK, if you say that installing Chipset Drivers can't cause input lag, then you must have proof. How would you even know? There is no test for that! How can you account for millions of HW configurations out there, not to even mention SW configurations... There are like trillion things, every mobo use different timer and has different architecture etc.

E.g. timers, which cause timer resolution to be off about 50us, can also affect mouse precision. Is that so strange to believe, that installing Chipset Drivers could do something to a mouse. There is a huge complexity. It could be only millions of permutations between things...

Also latest drivers/configurations don't have to be optimal!

Thank you for tip, I read that you should install Chipset Drivers, after Windows installation and before other drivers!

I was hoping you could tell me what are these drivers on picture exactly for. But I will have try to update my Drivers one by one and check how it feels anyways...

Anyways thanks for deep explanation, I learned some things from this.

Update: So I installed this driver - Intel(R) Xeon(R) E3 - 1200/1500 v5/6th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) PCIe Controller (x16) - 1901

My screen blacked out for a moment and then my mouse sky rocketed! As you said: not installing some drivers can cause input lag! I wasn't blocking Windows Updates before, because it is annoying to update manually each time. But I had feeling, that mouse was sluggish, more than on a previous install. And installing this driver: reduced input lag a lot!

Tho I will avoid probably Intel MEI drivers. As these cause input lag. Even you can't disable Intel MEI spy-engine and it is running no matter what!

There is something on Intel Chipset Drivers, it doesn't have to be only input lag. Although mouse feels sluggish little bit. Word heavy would describe it better. But it very obviously does something! I will update, if some other drivers cause lag!

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