Upgrade your graphics drivers for best results with Firefox 4

Benoit Jacob from the platform engineering team has a blog post on how to best take advantage of hardware acceleration and WebGL in Firefox 4, namely: Upgrade your graphics drivers!

Firefox 4 automatically disables the hardware acceleration and WebGL features if the graphics driver on your system has bugs that cause Firefox to crash. You still get all the other benefits of Firefox 4, of course, just not the newest graphics features. But for best results, you need an up-to-date graphics driver that fixes those bugs.

If you’re planning to develop using WebGL, you need to also spread this message to your users, so they will be able to experience the awesome results of your hard work.


  1. Weaner

    “Meh, why?”
    “Never change a running system.”
    “My neighbor’s brother-in-law heard of someone whose computer exploded after a driver update.”

    March 7th, 2011 at 12:10

  2. David

    I have a Lenovo ThinkPad R61, with a NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M graphics card. I have to get my drivers through Lenovo, and the latest one (at http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-67890) has the version number “” which seems to be on a different numbering system than “257.21” above for standard drivers.

    NVIDIA’s website has no newer drivers, it instead directs me back to Lenovo’s website.

    about:support reports the following

    Adapter Description: NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M
    Vendor ID: 10de
    Device ID: 0429
    Adapter RAM: 128
    Adapter Drivers: nvd3dum nvwgf2um
    Driver Version:
    Driver Date: 11-14-2008
    Direct2D Enabled: Blocked on your graphics driver. Try updating your graphics driver to version 257.21 or newer.
    DirectWrite Enabled: false (7.0.6002.18107, font cache n/a)
    WebGL Renderer: Google Inc. — ANGLE — OpenGL ES 2.0 (ANGLE
    GPU Accelerated Windows: 0/1

    I’m not sure whether this is worth filing a bug or not.

    March 7th, 2011 at 20:22

    1. Jonathan

      Download the latest stable drivers from the NVIDIA website. Don’t chose the “manufacturer approved drivers” (they’re not called exactly that, but you’ll recognize the option). I just updated my T61 to the latest 266.XX drivers. Works like a charm.

      March 18th, 2011 at 08:47

  3. Пожар

    Nvidia drivers (above 257.21) have some issues with dual-monitor views (under windows 7).
    ( http://forums.nvidia.com/index.php?showtopic=105413 )
    The last working driver that i found is the 182.5. Sorry guys, but until nvidia can’t get this working, i won’t update my drivers…

    March 8th, 2011 at 02:38

  4. Benoit Jacob

    Already known issue — will make this more clear in Firefox 5. Only look at the 5 last digits, e.g. –> 176.93. That’s not current enough.

    March 8th, 2011 at 06:10

    1. David

      Okay, sounds good. Thanks for the explanation!

      March 8th, 2011 at 09:06

  5. Nox


    You could try the official NVIDIA drivers anyway.

    Also, just look at the “driver date” and you’ll know it’s too old.

    March 8th, 2011 at 08:54

    1. David

      I tried that, but the official NVIDIA drivers are incompatible. I have to use the Lenovo drivers, because they have some modifications related to the LCD backlight, opening and closing the laptop, etc.

      March 8th, 2011 at 09:08

      1. Weaner

        AFAIK, those are normally handled by ACPI entries, mainly delivered by the BIOS.

        March 8th, 2011 at 14:39

  6. Yuhong Bao

    How about a Driver Check, similar to the current Plugin Check, that detects outdated graphics drivers? Upon a crash determined to be resulting from a driver, this could be automatically invoked.

    March 8th, 2011 at 20:30

  7. Steven

    For my Thinkpad T61, I have downloaded a more recent NVidia driver from

    That site takes the official NVidia drivers and then adds some lines to the .inf file to allow the driver to run on machines where the laptop manufacturer does not support updating drivers directly from NVidia.

    You can use Windows Device Manager » Display Adapters » » Properties » Details » Hardware IDs to see the dev and subsys IDs for your card.

    Seems fine for multiple monitors/suspend and resume so far. (I only use VGA on this oldish laptop). I noticed the Windows Experience index went down a little, and the version of Lenovo Access Connections that I used won’t start. (So I’ve uninstalled it)

    March 18th, 2011 at 04:01

  8. Khaled

    I have an Acer laptop with Intel HD graphics (Core i3 330M) and I can’t update to the newest drivers because Acer hasn’t provided any updates (and they probably never will). I tried installing the official Intel graphics drivers, but alas, no dice. My PC isn’t even a year old and i can’t enjoy hardware acceleration or WebGL in Firefox? That’s just stupid. IE9 does hardware acceleration like a champ and Chrome makes no fuss about WebGL.
    Any hope of a future update/solution from Mozilla?

    March 23rd, 2011 at 06:20

  9. Benoit Jacob

    @ Khaled:

    First of all, Chrome has now adopted our blacklist for ATI and NVIDIA. Their Intel blacklisting looks strange, so I’d assume it’s still in flux

    If you want, you can always force-enable WebGL and other Graphics features, see:

    March 23rd, 2011 at 08:54

    1. Khaled

      Thanks, I wasn’t aware Chrome was also blacklisting outdated drivers.
      I know I could force-enable those features, but somehow it doesn’t feel right. I don’t understand what the reasoning behind the blacklist was. Was it because the outdated drivers caused serious problems or did the developers just not want to support them?
      I’m still hoping Acer will come through. I mean, I can’t be the only one complaining :)

      March 23rd, 2011 at 15:50

  10. nemo

    Outdated drivers crash browsers :)

    March 24th, 2011 at 14:43

  11. Chris Thomas

    DRIVER SCANNERS: I was reluctant to try these services (such as Driver Cure, Driver Detective, Driver Genius, etc.), but now after doing many side-by-side tests of them, I think they’re a great thing. Driver Cure is the most user-friendly in my opinion, but they all work fine. Yes, these are yearly subscription services because it scans your system thru their database each time you scan, and their driver databases are ever expanding.

    With an older system, the respective manufacturers of all the older hardware parts that comprise your computer will not be offering newer drivers for their older hardware components forever….you get to a point where you have the most recent driver that respective manufacturer will ever offer for that respective component. In other words, subscribing to Driver Cure (for example) is a good idea when your computer is relatively new, as this is when the hardware component manufacturers are most likely to be regularly coming out with newer and newer drivers for their components, but as the computer ages some, you likely are wasting your money for yearly subscriptions to a driver scanner because you will seldom if ever see new drivers for you old components. If you upgrade (install) some new hardware components on your computer, THEN regularly checking for updated drivers for that respective component becomes an issue again.

    In general, DRIVER SCANNERS SAVE A LOT OF TIME and hassle for busy folks who don’t have all day to fart around with their computers, constantly looking for the most recent drivers for every piece of hardware on their box manually, just to save a few bucks. Also, the Microsoft driver lookup tool built into Windows (start menu>control panel>system>hardware>device manager>….) is terrible, as I’ve seen Driver Cure locate new drivers MANY times when the Windows tool says that “no newer drivers exist”.


    March 25th, 2011 at 08:45

  12. Dre Tuch

    I’m in love with Firefox but this lack of hardware acceleration for me really sucks. I have a Sony Vaio VPCCW23FD and the latest driver the manufacturer offers is in the 188.xx range. I’ve tried several ways to force the system to install a later driver but it just won’t budge. Am I truly doomed to absolutely never have hardware acceleration? IE doesn’t mind the version, Chrome didn’t mind when I forced acceleration on it and Opera just works out of the box. Why is Firefox so damned picky?

    Should I just be using Opera instead?

    October 25th, 2011 at 14:45

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