Amidst a full day of updates from IDF, I'd like to draw your attention to some more Intel-related news: Intel has refreshed its generic Sandy Bridge graphics driver to version for 32-bit Windows Vista and 7 and version for 64-bit Windows Vista and 7.

You can read the full release notes from Intel here, but I'll try to highlight some of the more interesting fixes and improvements: non-gaming-related fixes include fixing crashes when using an HDMI monitor, WebGL rendering problems in Firefox and Chrome, and various OpenGL optimizations. On the gaming side, several games have issues with "rendering artifacts" addressed, and a few games have had their performance improved when compared to the previous driver released in April.

The new driver should support all desktop and mobile variants of the Intel HD 3000, Intel HD 2000, and Intel HD Graphics processors included in Intel's Sandy Bridge processors. The Intel HD Graphics chip in older Westmere-based processors is also supported, but no fixes or enhancements targeting it are listed in the release notes.

Gaming on Intel's integrated graphics is generally not an optimal experience, but to anyone stuck with a low-end or ultralight computer that lacks a dedicated GPU, these drivers should improve the situation somewhat. You can download the 32-bit drivers here, and the 64-bit drivers here. Windows XP (32-bit here, 64-bit here) drivers are also available, but these are maintained separately from the Windows Vista and Windows 7 packages and include a different set of improvements.

Finally, Intel notes that specific OEMs may make changes to the generic driver to suit their purposes and that the generic driver omits these customizations; I've never had a problem running Intel's generic drivers on systems I've worked with, but your mileage may vary.

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  • KPOM - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Have you ever tried Intel's generic drivers on a Mac running Windows in Boot Camp?
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Only on older (GMA 950 and X3100) Macs, but they worked fine. No reason to believe that these wouldn't work on the current crop of SB Macs, though again YMMV.
  • Taft12 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    My mileage varied with every Dell laptop I have ever laid my hands on. Not that you should expect to see any differences after upgrading Intel graphics drivers. Terrible performance, but the stability and lack of problems is a fair tradeoff.
  • Aikouka - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    The largest problem that I have with the Intel graphic drivers is that it seemingly won't let me set the overscan adjustment less than 85%. Every time I attempt to go below and hit Apply, it just goes back to 85% and part of my desktop is still off the screen. =\

    Fortunately, XBMC has really good overscan settings.
  • code65536 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Anyone else notice that their WEI scores dropped after updating to this driver? I've seen this happen on two separate systems now. Specifically, the "gaming" score drops, and if you look at the raw WEI benchmarks (which you'll see if you ran the assessment from the command line), both of the Direct3D Geometry scores (there are two, one for Dx9, one for Dx10) DROPPED OFF A CLIFF: from about 110 and 90 F/s down to around 40 and 30 F/s, respectively!
  • gevorg - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Yep! Graphic drivers will be a can of worms for Intel.
  • Ogdin - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Well considering that the WEI scores don't actually tell you anything useful i wouldn't worry about it to much.
  • code65536 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I generally don't pay much attention to the overall point score. But the underlying benchmark figures that go into calculating the point score do matter. And the HUGE fall in the raw benchmark results are... worrisome.
  • thunderising - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Would someone be kind enough to post some benchmarks?

    Oh man I was looking forward to this driver set, and now this.
  • KPOM - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I installed them on my Boot Camp partition on my 2011 MacBook Air (11" 1.8GHz i7). On Cinebench, the OpenGL and CPU tests improved by 2%. I went from 9.76fps to 9.94fps, and 2.24 on the CPU score to 2.29.

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