Windows 7 Video Driver for Older Laptop: Dell XPS M140

I have a five year old laptop (purchased April, 2006) that I wanted to upgrade from its original Windows XP to Windows 7. Windows 7 installed without difficulty, however it took some effort to find a driver for the integrated graphics chip.

The laptop is a Dell XPS M140. It has an integrated Intel graphics chip instead of a replaceable card. Intel says the chip cannot handle Aero, a visual effect introduced in Windows Vista, and so they never offered a driver for Vista or Windows 7. As it turns out, the XP driver works fine with Windows 7, albeit without Aero.

After Windows 7 installation I tried downloading and installing the video driver from Dell. The install application balked because it doesn’t support Windows 7. After hitting several dead ends, here is what finally worked.

I downloaded and ran the Intel Chipset Identification Utility. The utility shows exactly which graphics chip is installed. That allowed me to search the Intel site for the specific graphics driver. I downloaded the Windows XP driver from the Intel site and installed it. This is known as the “generic driver” since it is not vendor- or system-specific. Even though the driver is designed for XP, the Intel installer does not prevent installation under Windows 7.

That’s it! Dell and Intel want you to buy a new computer to get Windows 7. But Windows 7 works well on older machines. You don’t get Aero but who cares? The Dell XPS M140 was my all time favorite laptop for personal use. It still is great for surfing, media, Word & Excel, photo editing… all the usual stuff. It runs very well with Windows 7 and now it can run the latest, greatest applications.

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