Intel Releases New Sandy Bridge Graphics Driversby Andrew Cunningham on September 13, 2011 4:00 PM EST
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 126.96.36.1999 for 32-bit Windows Vista and 7 and version 188.8.131.52.2209 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 184.108.40.206.2361 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.