Audio drivers for your computer can come in many different types depending on the computer and operating system you are using. One typical audio driver that is often found on many PC systems is the Realtek AC 97 Audio driver. When there are problems with sound from your PC, you will need to troubleshoot your sound card to find the cause. This can involve many steps so to help with the process of troubleshooting RealTek on your system we have compiled the following steps:
- Check the BIOS settingsThe first thing you need to consider when encountering problems with RealTek AC97 is the settings on the BIOS, especially if the computer is newly-bought. The audio controller for your computer may be disabled. You may also encounter this issue when you have recently reset your BIOS settings to defaults, or when you just upgraded or “flashed” your BIOS.To go to the system BIOS, you need to restart your computer. Then, while the computer is performing some memory tests, press the F2 (or delete) key repeatedly until you see the BIOS screen of your computer. The following image shows how the BIOS screen looks like:
BIOS utilities may differ in interface and parameters, depending on the manufacturer. The above figure displays an AwardBIOS setup utility. If you there is anything unclear with your BIOS setup, consult your manufacturer’s documentation.
- Clean the Prefetch and Temp Folders (Windows only)Some temporary files that your operating system has created may prevent your AC97 driver from functioning correctly. In order to remove those files, you may need to log in to your system in safe mode. To enter safe mode, restart the computer, and while the system is performing memory tests, press F8 repeatedly until you see the Windows Boot Menu. Select either Safe Mode or Safe Mode with Networking in the menu. Note that if you see Windows XP loading without displaying the boot menu first, then your computer will enter in normal mode and not in safe mode. You will need to repeat the procedure all over again, until you have successfully entered the Windows Boot menu and selected safe mode as the boot option.You may need to restart the computer after cleaning the prefetch and temp folders.
- Reinstall the Device Driver The reinstallation of a device driver generally involves two steps:
- Uninstallation of the driver
- Fresh installation of the driver
To completely reinstall a driver, the uninstallation of the current driver is necessary. This is to ensure that all driver files will be replaced.
To uninstall the RealTek AC driver, go to the device manager by clicking on Start and giving a right-click on the My Computer or Computer icon. Then, click on Manage. The Computer Management window would appear. Click on Device Manager and the window would display all the devices installed on your computer. Click on the plus (+) sign before Sound, video and game controllers. Right-click on the AC97 audio controller. Then, click Uninstall.
There is another way of going to the device manager. Click on Start->Run. Then, type devmgmt.msc. Press enter and these steps will lead you to the same device manager.
For a Realtek install, you may use the driver installation CD, download the latest RealTek ac97 driver from the manufacturer, or run a system scan to automatically update the RealTek AC97 Drivers. When installing the driver from the CD, simply insert the CD into your optical drive. You will then given the necessary instructions in installing your device driver.
Alternatively, a RealTek 97 driver download is available at the Realtek website, or at third-party Realtek download sites. You should be able to find there the correct driver for your operating system, especially a Realtek driver for Windows XP. If the downloaded file is in compressed (ZIP format), you will need to extract the ac97 drivers first. Then, simply run the setup application and follow the installation instructions.
If the controller is missing in device manager, it means that the driver is not currently installed on your computer. Skip the uninstallation phase and proceed with the installation of the driver. If the controller is followed by a yellow question mark (?) or exclamation point (!), there is a problem with the device driver currently installed on the system, and the instructions in this troubleshooting step must be strictly followed.
Before uninstalling the Realtek driver AC97, make sure you already have a copy of the driver installation files so you wouldn’t end up with a driverless device. Uninstalling the driver for a device would render that device completely unusable by your computer.
You will need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect. Restart right after uninstalling the driver, and after reinstalling it.
Reinstalling a device driver is a lengthy process. If you don’t want to get involved with this procedure for some reason, you may run this automated driver scanner to install the correct driver for your sound card with less effort on your part. This is particularly useful when the driver CD is missing, or you encounter issues with a Realtek download.
- Reinstall the Chipset DriversIn some computer systems, chipset drivers also play a part in the performance of your audio device. If you still encounter a problem with the device after installing the driver, you may need to reinstall your computer’s chipset drivers.To reinstall the chipset drivers, simply follow the instructions as mentioned in the previous troubleshooting step (Reinstall the Device Driver). The only difference is that you need to find where the chipset drivers are located in your device manager. They are usually found under Display Adapters.
- Download the Latest Updates for Your Operating SystemIf the device is still not working after performing the steps mentioned above, you may need to perform an update on your operating system. Your operating system will usually notify you if there are critical or important updates that would need to be downloaded and installed on your computer. For windows users, you may update your OS by clicking on Start->Control Panel and then selecting Windows Update.
- Test another sound cardIf you have reached to this point in troubleshooting and the device is still not working, you may need to test the functionality of your sound card. Remove your sound card and replace it with a similar device that is known to be in good condition. If the newly-installed sound card solves the issue, the other sound card is faulty and may need to be replaced. Otherwise, proceed to the next troubleshooting step.
If you are using a sound controller integrated into your motherboard, or if there is no alternative sound card available, ignore this troubleshooting step and proceed to the next one.
Each type of computer has its own architecture. For instructions in removing and installing the sound card for your computer, consult your manufacturer’s or distributor’s documentation.
- Reinstall the Entire Operating SystemReinstalling the operating system may not sound good. But if the previous troubleshooting steps did not resolve the issue with the AC97, this procedure may be necessary.
If this is the first time that you are going to reinstall the operating system, you may need to ask for professional help. Contact one of your computer or operating system manufacturer’s technical support staff for assistance.
Make sure you backup your important files first before performing this step, since this procedure will wipe out everything in your hard drive.
- Flash the BIOSEvery device on your computer has its own driver. But how about the motherboard? The fact is, the BIOS is somewhat the “driver” for your entire motherboard. It synchronizes almost every hardware installed on your computer system. Flashing the BIOS is similar to updating your operating system e.g. Windows update, etc., except the fact that with this procedure, you are dealing with your BIOS and not with your OS.Before flashing your computer’s BIOS, you will need to determine where your computer system came from. If your computer system is custom-built, visit the manufacturer of your system’s motherboard for the BIOS updater application. If your system is pre-built by computer manufacturers such as Dell, Asus, or HP, visit their website and see if there is an update available.
Make sure you have performed the previous troubleshooting steps before going on with this procedure. You may skip reinstalling the operating system and do this right away, especially if you do not have the time or the resources needed to install a fresh copy of your OS into your computer. However, this is not advisable. If your BIOS experienced an error during flashing, the process can ruin your motherboard. This is the reason why flashing the BIOS is one of the most feared steps in computer troubleshooting. Should you feel uncomfortable in performing this procedure, you may need to request assistance from professionals.
- Replace motherboardProvided that all of the above-mentioned troubleshooting steps have been performed, and the problem still persists, this may mean that your motherboard is unable to handle your AC97 device correctly, and may need to be replaced.