Saturday, July 5, 2014

How to fix the graphics drivers on a Dell Inspiron 1501 on Windows 8

I use an old Dell Inspiron 1501 that I recently upgraded to Windows 8. Although it's an old computer, most all the features of Windows 8 worked fairly well right after installation. I had had only one problem: the graphics drivers. This laptop has a ATI IGP Radeon Xpress 1150 graphics card, but the Windows 8 system was using a generic driver for the display, resulting in a low-resolution picture. This wasn't terrible for using the system, but when it came to video playback, VLC, GOM Player, nearly everything, would freeze up and be unable to play at full screen.

It turned out that the solution was super simple, despite me spending hours that day trolling internet message board threads. Do NOT worry about trying to extract the .INF files and try to deal with them not being signed and all that. For me, it basically, it came down to two simple steps: (1) download the drivers for Vista, (2) run that installer in compatibility mode, and viola!

Slightly more detailed instructions on what I found that works:
  1. Visit the official Dell product support page for the Inspiron 1501 and ensure you're in its "Drivers and Downloads" section.
  2. You'll see a list of all the older official Dell drivers for the 1501. Change your viewing list from XP to Vista (it will only offer 32 bit for Vista, but I used these on my 64 bit Windows 8 install just fine).
  3. Down in the Video section, download the .exe file for ATI IGP Xpress 1150, v. VISTA WHQL 061124a2-053906C-Dell, A07 or just click here to go to that page directly.
  4. Once it's finished downloading, right-click on the file and choose "Troubleshoot Compatibility" 
  5. Windows 8 will scan the .exe file, and soon a pop-up will suggest running it in Windows Vista compatibility mode. You'll need to click "Test" before you can click "Next" but "Test" will launch the installer.
  6. The Vista installer will come up. Follow it's instructions and just let it run. Afterwards you'll be prompted to restart the computer.
  7. That's it! Your computer will restart in a higher resolution and you'll find both Catalyst Control Center and Catalyst Install Manager entries in your Start Menu (assuming you installed Classic Shell to get the old style Start Menu)
Hope this helps any other 1501 users out there, or anyone else trying to use modern software on aging hardware. Squeezers of every last drop, unite! 

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