Driver disks of some sort have been part of a PC enthusiast's life as far back as I can remember. Before Windows included drivers, they all came from media included with the motherboard. I first recall them on floppies then once optical media took hold, moved to CDs. As the number of drivers and included software increased in both quantity and size, it outgrew the capacity of CDs and board partners moved to DVDs offering more capacity and faster read speeds. For example, a board partner's driver disk from a Z370 based board weighs in at 6.57GB on the disk, far eclipsing the capacity of a CD (~700MB) and that of a single-sided DVD (4.7 GB).

To that end, yesterday on Twitter, EVGA’s Global Product Management Director Jacob Freeman announced that in the future, EVGA motherboards will not come with driver disks, but USB Flash which contains all the needed drivers and software. This includes H370 based boards now and others moving forward. Instead of a DVD we are used to seeing, EVGA will include a small 8GB USB flash drive with the EVGA logo printed on it instead. While this isn’t a first (a high-end Asus board in the past included one), it certainly is welcome, if only for the quick installation from USB versus CD/DVD installs. The drive is also re-writeable so it can be used for other purposes as well. 

 

Overall, it is good to see EVGA embrace what we feel is the modern, and faster, medium for base driver and software installations, and hope other board partners follow suit. I do wonder a bit about the cost, but even if it adds $1 more, it is worth it (to me). No more whirring from the optical drive to install drivers with H370 and future EVGA motherboards. It’s about time!

Editor's Note: EVGA has confirmed the drive is USB 2.0 based and costs about twenty times more than an optical disk would. Thankfully, EVGA says that significant cost increase will not trickle down to the consumer, which we all appreciate. 

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  • edzieba - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    Sticking drivers onto an EMMC chip on the board would be a neat idea (could even be updated when network-connected to a fresh re-install will always be on the latest version), but a non-removable storage device seems like a ripe vector for malware too. Sticking a drive on a DOM into one of the USB 2 header ports could be an option, but that is likely more expensive than the encapsulated-PCB style drive shown here. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    The problem is that you'd then have the driver flash showing up as a storage devices on your computer 24/7; and explorer is already too crapped up with useless stuff MS has jammed into the sidebar. Reply
  • RagnarAntonisen - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    One approach would be to put the drivers into the Bios. MS have an admittedly very dubious way to do that already. It's how Lenovo put a rootkit in there.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/12/lenovo_fi...

    In fact the vendor wouldn't need to put the actual drivers into the Windows Platform Binary Table, just an exe file that knew how to download them from the server.

    The problem with this is that they might decide to put some value added software into the download too. That would suck because even a clean install of Windows wouldn't be clean on such a system - the WPBT exe file would download all the value added stuff that people had paid the motherboard vendor to preinstall.

    tl;dr - it could be done, but you'd better hope motherboard vendors don't start doing it. One of the reasons for building a PC rather than buying a prebuilt one is because you want to avoid value added software, aka bloatware.
    Reply
  • Azurael - Saturday, May 19, 2018 - link

    Ah, that must be how the CompuTrace/LoJack rootkit works, too. I'd always wondered.... Reply
  • Alexvrb - Sunday, May 20, 2018 - link

    It was a good concept at a high level, but as you said it was quickly abused by OEMs, plus said OEMs didn't do a very good job of securing their end of things.

    The last thing I want is for retail mainboards to get such a feature.
    Reply
  • ET - Monday, May 21, 2018 - link

    Interesting idea. Would be cool if motherboards included a microSD slot by default and shipped with the drivers on a microSD card that's already inserted. That could be expanded to shipping a full work / rescue environment, Linux based, with a motherboard. Reply
  • fred666 - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    Don't people get their drivers on the Internet anyways?
    Of course when the bare OS doesn't have the driver for your network card that sucks, but other than that I don't see any use for the DVD/USB thumb drive.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    And with nearly everyone owning connected smartphones, even that isn't such an obstacle as it was 15 - 20 years ago. I remember when I was waiting for gaming magazine CDs and DVDs to deliver fresh graphic card drivers, especially when it was the hacked, more capable version such as Omega for my ATI 9500 @ 9700 Pro. :D Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, May 18, 2018 - link

    If you don't have network drivers you won't be able to connect to your smartphones WIFI either. Or if you want to transfer via USB I think there's a certain company which doesn't allow its phones to do such simple things. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, May 19, 2018 - link

    I was thinking of the normal USB cable route. :) Apple still doesn't have USB mass storage capabilities in their smartphones? Reply

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