How to use Realtek's driver website

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Problems with your sound card can prevent you from listening to your favorite music, watch movies, or play Windows sounds. All you will hear is an annoying beep that is coming from the speaker found inside your case. Although sound problems are usually solved in a manner of minutes, some of them can be quite persistent. Solutions to these problems might not be obvious at first glance and might require in-depth analysis. This is a time consuming process and can sometimes result in a total failure to identify the problem.

If you are one of those people who think that all sound problems can be solved in just ten minutes, you could be wrong. Here are some real problems from real people all around the world:

I have tried going into device manager and under 'sounds, audio and game controllers'. I am presuming that my soundcard is the Realtek thingy. I have tried installing new drivers but this doesn't help.

When I go to 'Sounds and Audio Device Properties' all the things are grey and I can't change them. I don't think there is anything wrong with my soundcard as it was working perfectly before I done the reinstall of a genuine copy of Win XP Pro."

These problems are taken from forums, so they are as real as you and me. There are hundreds of different problems and thousands of people looking for a solution. A solution that might not be as obvious as one thinks.

For example, I have a Realtek High Definition sound card. My computer is unable to play any sound. I receive different error messages that are not relevant in any way. What can I do? Let's see!

Identifying the problem

One of the most common problems is missing hardware drivers for that device. We must make sure that this is our problem. The first thing we should do is take a look at the device manager. Go to Start, click Control Panel, double click System, go to the Hardware tab, and click Device Manager. This will list all your devices. If you see any yellow question mark before any device, there is a problem with that device. Here is how my Device Manager looks like:

Problem with the device manager

As you can see, something is clearly wrong with my sound card. And the problem comes from missing or wrong hardware drivers. Let's see how we can solve this problem.

Finding and downloading the correct drivers for my Realtek HD sound card

Almost all manufacturers maintain a database of hardware drivers on their websites. These databases contain all the hardware drivers for all of their products, both old and new. So, the first place to start our search is Realtek's website, located at We can also google "realtek" and the first result is the page we are looking for. Here is how it looks like:

Realtek's main page

You will immediately notice the Downloads section at the top of the page. Usually, drivers can be found in the Downloads or Support sections of a manufacturer's website. Go ahead and click the link to reach the following page:

Realtek downloads page

As you can see, there is a navigation menu at the left of the page. Place the mouse over Computer Peripheral ICs, select PC audio codecs, High Definition codecs and, finally, Software. Here is how the navigation tree looks like:

Realtek navigation tree

After you click ok Software, you will see the next page:

Realtek terms and conditions

You will have to accept Realtek's terms and conditions. I say "have to" because you don't really have an option. If you don't accept, you can't get any further. Click I accept the above and then click Next to go to the next page:

Realtek choose driver page

You must now choose the right hardware driver for your operating system. I personally work on Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3. However, you should choose your exact operating system. If you are unsure about what you are using, go to Start and right click on My Computer. Select Properties and, in the General tab you will see your OS.

I will choose "Windows 2000, Windows XP/2003(32/64 bits) Driver only (ZIP file)". To download it, click on one of the GO links at the right (except the Express one). The download window should appear. Click Save File and choose an easy to remember location on your hard drive.

Before we proceed to the actual installation, please take 5 minutes to save the file to a CD or DVD to have easy access to it later when you install or reinstall your Windows operating system.

Installing the hardware drivers

Once the file is saved, double click it and extract the files to a folder you choose. Go to that folder and run the Setup.exe. You will see the following welcome screen:

Realtek welcome screen

Click Next and the setup will start the installation process. This is a very fast process and should take less than 3 minutes. You will now be asked to restart your computer:

Restart your computer

I recommend you to restart your computer to allow Windows to make the necessary changes. Once the restart is completed, go to the Device Manager. You should see that your Realtek HD sound card is no longer unrecognized by Windows:

Proper Device Manager configuration

Congratulations! You have just installed the latest hardware drivers for your Realtek HD audio device! Enjoy your music and movies in HD quality!