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How to identify your computer hardware?

In this article you’ll find useful information to easily identify your computer hardware, and to see detailed specifications of your computer components. For this purpose we’ll use free and portable application HWiNFO32, and its hardware text report.

Homepage and download: http://www.hwinfo.com/download.php
Note: you can download 32-bit (HWiNFO 32) or 64-bit edition (HWiNFO64) of the application, and decide whether you want to install it (via installer) or run the portable version of this software.

So, why would you identify your computer hardware? Besides collecting information about your hardware specifications just to know what’s under the hood, and reading sensor values (e.g. is your processor overheating), you can identify your PC components in order to download missing drivers for your operating system. Read further to see how I generated a hardware report of my computer and interpret it.

Note that you can use a small Windows utility as a first aid to identify your computer hardware if you cannot get HWiNFO (for whatever reason); This utility is already in Windows – Microsoft System Information, but without fancy user interface or advanced features (e.g. reading various sensors from your computer, and other). You can run it any time via Run dialog box (keyboard shortcut: Win key + R) and by typing: msinfo32.exe

msinfo32.exe, Microsoft System Information Tool

In this screenshot you can see the model of my network adapter, and by selecting specific category, you can identify the other hardware, as well. Try this tool and compare it with HWiNFO, on which I’ll have focus further in this article.

How to use application HWiNFO32?

Download HWiNFO32 from the link I provided in the previous section. Although I have Windows 8.1, 64-bit installed on my PC, I downloaded  HWiNFO32, because it’s compatible with both platforms, and the portable version. I extracted downloaded archive (~2 MB) on my Desktop and run HWiNFO32:

HWiNFO32 portable welcome dialog box

Click on Run, to start HWiNFO and its initial overview window – System Summary:

HWiNFO32 system summary and overview

System Summary provides a quick look at your system configuration; close this window and pick the category from the left pane to see detailed information about your hardware. Let’s first check out System Summary:

  • Mainboard (Motherboard): PEGATRON CORPORATION 2AD5, with Intel Z75 (Panther Point DO) chipset,
  • Processor (CPU): Intel Core i7-3770, which runs at 3,4 GHz (CPU HFM Max),
  • Graphic card (GPU): nVIDIA GeForce GT 640, with 2 GB video memory,
  • Random-access memory (Memory): total installed RAM is 8 GB, and in the section Memory Modules can be seen that two Samsung modules are installed (2 x 4 GB). In this screenshot module [#1] is displayed (click on the combo box to view info about the second one),
  • Hard disk drive and optical disk drive (Drives): WDC (Western Digital Company), with SATA interface and capacity of 1 TB, and HP GHA3N optical drive (ATAPI),
  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 Professional, 64-bit, with UEFI Boot enabled.

Close this System Summary and have a look at other categories on the left pane:

HWiNFO components view

You can see in detail features of every selected category, and in this screenshot is selected WD hard disk (Drives – (S)ATA/ATAPI Drives), and its SMART information on the right pane (SMART information is useful for the hard drive health analysis). Note that HWiNFO don’t have bad sectors scanning feature to further investigate the health of your hard disk, only SMART information is provided which is also useful. Check out other hard disk related features or any other category on the left pane.

Now look at the left pane of the screenshot above; you can see these two memory modules we mentioned (Memory), and that two HP monitors are connected to the graphic card (Monitor), sound card related features (Audio), and network devices (Network). Click on any of these categories to see further info about your hardware. OK, it’s time to create and analyze a text report of your computer configuration.

How to interpret HWiNFO text report and identify your computer hardware

So, why would you create a text report when you can get proper info from the sleek GUI interface? Possible reasons for creating one: less experienced users that have difficulties with installing drivers by themselves can easily generate this report and send it to local geek via mail, Skype, or post it to a Tech forum (if their members are willing to help). I find text reports more convenient because I can get information I want very fast by using Find (CTRL + F) in Notepad (this shortcut is common for nearly all editors); after I find info I want (Device ID or other) I can google it to identify my hardware component, find manufacturer’s homepage or other. OK, open HWiNFO and click on the Save Report button located on the main toolbar:

Create text log file in HWiNFO32   Include all hardware components and sensors in HWiNFO report

Select Text LogFile as Export Format, and give it a name; if you give a name without clicking on Browse… the report will be created in the same folder where HWiNFO is located, by default. Select all checkboxes, including sensors and click on Finish. And the report is here:

Location of the HWiNFO log file

This is the example of the report: download HWiNFO report Fil.LOG

Open this report to see its structure. If you don’t know the name of your computer model, you can find it in this section of the report:

Fil ——————————————————————

[Current Computer]
Computer Brand Name: Hewlett-Packard HP Elite 7500 Series MT
[Operating System]
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional (x64) Build 9600
UEFI Boot: Present

If you want to find drivers for your computer, this info is the good point to start with – if you google it , you can easily find HP homepage (in my case)  with this model selected, where I can download official drivers for my computer. Be careful to choose the right version of your operating system:

Use HWiNFO to go to HP models page and download drivers

You can also find info about service packs installed; it’s highly recommended to obtain the latest service pack for your operating system (e.g. Windows 7 with Service Pack 1).

The first thing I do is downloading drivers for my chipset and network adapter, so I want to find out their names. You can find that info in these sections of a text report:

Motherboard —————————————————————

[Computer]
Computer Brand Name: Hewlett-Packard HP Elite 7500 Series MT
[Motherboard]
Motherboard Model: PEGATRON CORPORATION 2AD5
Motherboard Chipset: Intel Z75 (Panther Point DO)

and

Network ——————————————————————-

Qualcomm/Atheros AR8161/8165 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller ————

[General information]
Network Card: Qualcomm/Atheros AR8161/8165 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Vendor Description: Qualcomm Atheros Ar81xx series PCI-E Ethernet Controller
MAC Address: 54-BE-F7-26-91-7A
[Capabilities]
Maximum Link Speed: 1000 Mbps
Transmit Buffer Size: 389632 Bytes
Receive Buffer Size: 779264 Bytes
Hardware ID: PCI\VEN_1969&DEV_1091&SUBSYS_2AD5103C&REV_08

Use Find (CTRL + F) in your text editor to find these keywords like: Motherboard, Audio AdapterVideo Adapter, Video Card, to quickly go to appropriate sections of this text file.

The amount of information depends on the computer configuration, so I recommend you do a little research what section you have. I’ll give you one other example for my HP computer and that is warranty status. Note the asset tag number:

System Enclosure ———————————————————-

Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard
Case Type: Desktop
Version:
Serial Number:
Asset Tag Number: CZC3456726

If you have HP computer, enter that number on HP support page to check your warranty status (mine is expired):

Check if your HP computer warranty  is expired

Find missing driver using HWiNFO32

In the previous section I deliberately made bold the Hardware ID string of my network card, because this string is useful thingy. Imagine this scenario:
Assume you’ve just installed your operating system, but it’s acting strange – you have stretched view on your monitor, no Internet connection and no sound… First thing you’d do is to check device manager to see which drivers are missing; launch Run dialog box (Win key + R) and enter devmgmt.msc
You might see something like this:

Hot to find driver for missing ethernet network device

Bunch of “question marks” or “exclamation marks” indicate problems with drivers. So, how would you download the proper driver for Ethernet Controller? You have many ways to find the appropriate driver for your computer and fair number of them will be covered in future articles. One of those ways is by identifying computer model in HWiNFO report and by visiting the support page of your computer manufacturer to find the drivers section and download the Ethernet adapter driver.

But what if you don’t have that info in your report (e.g. you bought a no-name computer)? What model does Ethernet Controller really represent? Follow this procedure: click with the right mouse button on Ethernet Controller (or other) and select Properties, and then tab Details. In the combo box (under Property label) select Hardware Ids, and under the value label you may see something like:

PCI\VEN_1969&DEV_1091&SUBSYS_2AD5103C&REV_08

Copy this string (CTRL+C), open HWiNFO report and use Notepad’s Find… option (CTRL+F) to find the section where this string is located. Here is the example from my computer:

Find hardware manufacturer via hardware id

That’s it, we found our network adapter, so we can google drivers for it (marked with the red rectangle).

The alternative way is to open this website: http://devid.info/ and in the search box paste your hardware ID:

Use hardware ID to download your driver

The good thing with this site is that it provides download of found drivers as well. 🙂

Besides DevID.info and official support page of your computer manufacturer you can find drivers on the homepage of your hardware component manufacturer. For example, let’s analyze graphic card from the Fil.LOG report; for this purpose I completely uninstalled my graphic card-related drivers, opened HWiNFO report, found the model of my graphic card, opened Nvidia GeForce drivers page: http://www.geforce.com/drivers and downloaded the fresh driver for my graphic card:

Download nVIDIA graphic card driver

Nvidia provides (if you have Java installed) automatic GPU detection to find the appropriate driver.
With this we scratched a bit these driver-related topics which will be discussed more in other articles that will come soon.

I hope this will help you while troubleshooting your hardware-related problems,
Fil

Summary
How to identify your computer hardware?
Article Name
How to identify your computer hardware?
Description
Easily identify your computer hardware, and see detailed specifications of your computer components. Analyse HWiNFO32 hardware text reports.
Author
www.CreativForm.com