Find Unknown Hardware Device Drivers

Building, or rebuilding a PC with only the Windows Operating System CD on hand can be a headache.  Typically you will end up with a whole list of "unknown devices".  As this is a cruel world, one of them will be your Network Adapter so you cannot even get online to download the drivers.

Even if you know the hardware (or if you don't, you just have more work), there will always be those one or two devices that are still unknown.  You already installed what you thought were the appropriate NIC, Audio, and video adapters.  Ok, so now what?

If you open your Windows Device Manager List, right-click the unknown device and select the "Details" Tab.  You should have a drop-down list and you can select the "Hardware Ids" option.  Select the 1st and typically longest entry.  Use CTRL-C to copy the value and paste in a Notepad window.  You will have something like this:

PCI\VEN_14E4&DEV_1713&SUBSYS_02271028&REV_02

Open your web browser to http://www.pcidatabase.com.  In the "Device Search" box, enter in the value "1713" as extracted from the string above.  You will probably get a list of items in response.  Now match the Vendor ID from the results with string, "14E4" in this case.  The voila, this unknown hardware is actually a "Broadcom NetLink (TM) Fast Ethernet". 

Now you can go to the vendor site and grab the drivers.  Or in my case, it was a laptop and I figured out the appropriate drivers to download from the manufacturers site.  Worst case, start googling cause at least you know what you have now!