How to Fix Direct3D
By Aaron Parson
Updated September 28, 2017
Many computer games, as well as some 3D modelling programs, rely on the Direct3D component of DirectX to render graphics. If your computer has a problem with a DirectX file or a graphics driver, it can cause these programs to crash or not open. Windows includes a tool for testing your DirectX installation, and you can solve most issues by turning on hardware acceleration or updating DirectX and your video driver.
Checking the DirectX Installation
Press "Windows-R" and enter "dxdiag" to run the DirectX Diagnostic Tool.
Open the "Display" tab to see the status of Direct3D and other graphics components in DirectX.
Read the "Notes" box to learn about any errors with Direct3D. If DirectX is installed correctly, it will read "No problems found."
Read the "Feature Levels" line in the Drivers section to see which versions of DirectX your video card supports. Programs that require a version other than those listed will not work on your computer.
Check the DirectX Features section to make sure each line reads "Enabled." If any line does not, you need to enable hardware acceleration.
Enabling Hardware Acceleration
Right-click the desktop and choose "Screen Resolution."
Click "Advanced Settings."
Open the "Troubleshooting" tab and click "Change Settings." Enter the administrator password if prompted.
Slide the "Hardware Acceleration" option to "Full."
Updating DirectX and Video Drivers
Run Windows Update from the Control Panel to install updates for DirectX 11, available on Windows versions dating back to Vista. On Windows 8, Windows Update is the only method to update DirectX 11. On Windows 7 or Vista, you can alternatively download the updates manually (links in Resources).
Download and open the DirectX End-User Runtime Web Installer (link in Resources) to update DirectX 9. DirectX 9 installs and runs separately from DirectX 11, and many games require it even on systems with DirectX 11 installed.
Install the June 2010 version of DirectX 9 (link in Resources) if the Web Installer reports you already have an up to date version but you continue to have trouble with DirectX 9 applications. This offline installer includes every update to DirectX 9 and will reinstall over your existing copy, potentially fixing its problems.
Update your video drivers either through Windows Update or by downloading drivers from the Nvidia, ATI or Intel website, depending on your graphics hardware. If you already have the newest version from Windows Update, check the hardware manufacturer's website, as it may offer an even newer driver.
On computers that use Optimus to switch between Nvidia and integrated Intel graphics hardware, you might need to update both the Nvidia and Intel graphics drivers.
If a particular program has trouble running on a computer with Optimus, open the Nvidia Control Panel, click "Manage 3D Settings" and select the program in the "Program Settings" tab. Change the graphics processor to the opposite of its current setting to try running it with the alternate graphics hardware.
Even if the DirectX diagnostic reports no issues, try updating DirectX and your video drivers anyway, as it might solve the problem.
Information in this article applies to Windows 7 and Windows 8. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.
Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.