Windows 10 Installing old AMD Radeon Drivers
For several years now I’ve been periodically battling an issue on my work laptop. This machine runs an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU with an NVIDIA dedicated GPU. This setup allows the system to run in “hybrid” mode, which basically means it will switch between the dedicated graphics card when performance is needed and the integrated Radeon graphics on the CPU for general use. This enables the system to save power, reduce thermals, and prolong the battery life between charges.
However, this setup has always given me one major issue. I prefer to install my graphics drivers, even for the integrated unit, directly from the hardware manufacturer. In this case that means I’m installing the GeForce drivers for the NVIDIA card and the Radeon drivers for the integrated card. This keeps my drivers up to date with the latest fixes. Thus far, I’ve had no issues with the GeForce drivers. The Radeon drivers are a different story.
Windows Update has a nasty habit of removing my up to date Radeon drivers and installing an older version from the Windows Update Catalog, which has been provided by the device manufacturer as the most compatible version. This is not what I want, but no matter how many times I reinstall the up to date drivers, they always get deleted in favor of the Windows version. This is not only unnecessary, as the Radeon Drivers work just fine, but it also breaks the Radeon control panel since it’s out of sync with the version of drivers that have been installed and will not launch in that configuration. This forces me to use a “lite” version of the control panel from the Windows Store instead if I’m going to use the Windows drivers.
So far I have not seen this problem on my desktop PC with its Radeon GPU. This seems to be affecting just integrated “Ryzen” graphics chips, at least in my limited experience.
Thankfully, after a couple years of struggling with this, I’ve finally found what appears to be a real solution that won’t interfere with other hardware updates to the system. This solution applies to Windows 11 as well as Windows 10.
Fixes to Avoid for Window 10 Installing Old AMD Radeon Drivers
When looking for a solution to prevent Windows 10 installing old AMD Radeon drivers, I came across several suggestions, all of which either failed to work outright or had other impacts on the system that I did not like.
- The first suggestion I found was to uninstall the Windows drivers, turn off Windows Update, and reinstall the Radeon drivers. Then I was to leave Windows Update disabled until AMD fixed the issues. The problem here is that I don’t want to turn off all updates to the system, and this isn’t actually an AMD problem that needs to be fixed. This issue has persisted for years now on this machine. Turning off Windows Update and waiting for a fix is not a valid option. It’s the laptop manufacturer (Lenovo in this case) who has provided the most compatible driver to the MS catalog. That may never get updated again.
- The next fix was to just rollback the drivers in Device Manager to the version I had installed previously, i.e. the Radeon version. This is apparently supposed to set a flag that keeps Windows Update from downloading those drivers again. Unfortunately, while rolling the driver back does fix the issue, it lasts all of five minutes before Windows Update downloads and installs the old driver again. Apparently, that flag doesn’t get set at all.
- The next fix involves modifying your Device Installation Settings from the Hardware tab in the Advanced System Settings panel. You can change this to NO to prevent Windows from automatically downloading drivers for your hardware. This does work, but has the drawback of disabling driver updates for ALL hardware, not just the GPU. Considering how some manufacturers only provide drivers via Windows Update, this is not something you want to do. It also forces you to manually be on constant lookout for updated drivers for all of your hardware since you’ll have to perform those updates on an individual basis with these automatic updates disabled.
- There was also some mention of using a Windows Fix tool that lets you hide certain updates so they are no longer offered in Windows Update. Apparently this tool has been dropped by Microsoft and if you do find it and use it, it won’t actually work. Even if it did work, I’m not sure if it would actually work for this issue since these updates are automatically applied.
- There is also a way to prevent driver updates via group policies or registry edits, but these have the same issues with either being temporary fixes or affecting more than just the GPU drivers.
A Better Fix for Windows 10 Installing Old AMD Radeon Graphics Drivers
I finally came back to this problem again recently when once again I had an issue with Windows 10 installing old AMD Radeon drivers. This time I did some deeper digging and found a few mentions of a different method to combat the issue. This time around, it seems we have a solution that both works and does not have the negative side effects of the other methods.
First let’s take a look at the actual problem. This is my Radeon control panel which shows my up to date (at the time of writing) Radeon drivers.
This is Windows Update showing the older driver from the catalog ready to install.
When the install occurs, you will be met with this screen the next time you try to open the Radeon control panel. Even AMD does not offer a good solution to the issue. https://www.amd.com/en/support/kb/faq/pa-300
Now it’s time to fix the problem. Before proceeding, make sure you have already installed the latest AMD Radeon drivers that you want to use.
The first thing to know is that you must let Windows Update install the drivers from the catalog. This is a necessary step to avoid Windows constantly trying to redownload them if you uninstall them. Once they are installed and you can’t launch the Radeon control panel properly, you can move on to the next step.
Open Device Manager.
Expand your Display Adapters section and right click on the AMD Radeon graphics adapter. In the context menu choose Update Driver.
On the next screen choose Browse my computer for drivers.
On the next screen choose Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer.
On the next screen you should have a list of compatible driver, which include the up to date Radeon driver you installed directly from AMD and the older driver from Window Update, which should be currently in use.
Choose the newer driver from the list and click Next to install it.
That’s basically all there is to it. The Windows version of the driver is still present and installed on the system, so Windows Update will not try to download and install it again. You’ve manually selected the driver you want to use this way and left the other drivers intact.
The problem with Windows 10 installing old AMD Radeon drivers has been resolved for a few months now on my machine. So far, the fix is holding. Please note that nothing is going to be truly permanent. I’m sure the next time the Window Update catalog gets an updated AMD driver this issue will probably recur. It may even happen the next time a new version of the drivers from AMD gets installed. However, reapplying this fix should once again resolve the issue until the next update occurs.
Update 03/06/2023: I have recently had another driver update to the machine I was testing this on. Windows does indeed change the driver back to the old version during this update. The AMD installer even pops up a warning now that informs the user than the drivers installed correctly, but Windows Update changed the driver to its catalog version. Repeating the Device Manager steps to choose the newer driver once again resolves the issue. This is something that is going to happen each time AMD releases an update that you wish to install.
I hope this has been helpful. I don’t claim any credit for coming up with the fix. I came across it on a couple of random posts on Reddit and the AMD forums, which I no longer have the links to. Thanks go out to the people who actually found something that works.