Intel graphics drivers can now be updated separately from OEM customizations

Intel stickers
Intel stickers (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Intel has decoupled its graphics drivers from customizations from your PC manufacturer.
  • Now you can update the drivers as Intel releases them without losing OEM customizations.
  • OEMs can distribute customizations via Windows Update, Intel says.

Intel released a new set of graphics driver updates today, and they bring a significant change for anyone using a laptop. The latest drivers decouple generic driver updates from OEM customizations, meaning that you can now update them as Intel releases them without losing out on customizations made by your PC's manufacturer. This eliminates the need to wait for OEM validation before receiving the latest Intel graphics driver updates on your PC.

From Intel's release notes (via @D2Kx_):

We heard how much our users want the freedom to upgrade their systems to our regularly released generic graphics drivers and enable our latest game enhancements, feature updates, and fixes. As of this release, Intel Graphics DCH drivers are now unlocked to upgrade freely between Computer Manufacturer (OEM) drivers and the Intel generic graphics drivers on Download Center.

According to Intel's release notes, you can just download the exe files and install the drivers on 6th Gen Intel processors and higher on the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and newer. Computer manufacturer customizations will remain intact and can be updated separately by your manufacturer via Windows Update, according to Intel.

Theoretically, this means, for instance, that Surface users can update their graphics drivers at will, without worrying about customizatiosn that Microsoft has made specifically for Surface PCs. The same applies to any other PC manufacturer.

Beyond this significant change, these drivers verify that Gears Tactics and XCOM: Chimera Squad are playable on Intel Iris Plus graphics or better.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • What exactly do the OEM customizations do? Will this run the risk of breaking anything? (Since I don't know what the optimizations do, I have no idea how likely breaking would be) Drivers are super architecture dependent (hence why so many are missing for Windows on ARM and need to be created), and I would imagine possibly hardware dependent at times? Also, do I have to wait for Microsoft to update my surface to this level of driver before I'm allowed to update it independently in the future? Or literally I can hop on Intel's site asap and download? (Not that I'm in any rush, things are stable right now)
  • It shouldn't break anything. Worst case scenario, you may lose out on specific OEM customizations (I'm honestly not sure what they are either besides just certification on their end for warranty purposes). The biggest benefit of all is getting newer drivers MUCH faster than through the OEM (who is not really incentivized to update it that much) A similar incident actually happened a few years ago with AMD. When they released their first Ryzen mobile chips (2500U series) on the HP Envy x360, HP initially supported the driver for two versions and then stopped..then they released a BIOS update that really messed up the graphics and people complained to AMD, who in turn said it was on HP to update driver. Finally after numerous online complaints, AMD relented and started updating Ryzen mobile drivers directly along with the desktop ones and it has paid off in spades in terms of customer goodwill and better-than-ever graphics performance on my HP machine.
  • You don't wait for Microsoft. You should install Intel® Driver & Support Assistant on all your PC's from day one. It's an important feature you can't go without.
  • Color calibration for the display for one.
  • The only one I'm aware of is when I bought a RCA Cambio V2 !0 Windows tablet that had a native screen resolution of 1080x1920 and not 1920x1080 (since the screen itself was made for android tablets) so when I updated it from 8 to 10 it defaulted to everything being sideways-even the boot screen, and every time you used it with the keyboard you had to do the Intel key shortcut to rotate the screen 90 degrees
  • I've been installing vanilla Intel updates from their driver support website for quite some time now on my laptops. No need to wait for those OEM updates that are scarce or may never come. Just download the ZIP of the driver from Intel's driver support webpage, extract it and manually install the driver from the INF file (right click it). From there on, you can update the driver directly from Intel's webpage using the EXE file.
  • Gears Tactics on Iris Plus? I'll have to check that out!
  • finally... now realtek should do the same for audio drivers
  • "OEMs can customizations via Windows Update, Intel says." -Does not compute