Under the miniscule prism

Windows 8.1 Upgrade: Brightness and Auto-Dim issues on a Notebook PC*

*Difficulty Level: Advanced Users

If you performed an upgrade installation from Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 Preview most likely that’s the reason you are reading this post now. Apparently, there has been numerous accounts on Intel GFX issues with AMD’s Hybrid GFX drivers for Notebooks and Laptops that the Screen Brightness got stuck at a High or Low Setting without any ability to adjust or toggle the slider using both the Management Function (Fn) keys or from the Display Settings of Windows.

Techie Note: The steps that I will provide in this post requires that you are able to navigate and understand what Display Drivers are and the Registry. If you have a faint heart I do not recommend that you continue and rather stop right here and seek for assistance with your Notebook’s Manufacturer or continue with a Clean Installation of Windows and download all drivers from their OEM support site.

Quick Steps:

  1. Connect to the Internet.
  2. Enable Windows Update during the Initial Setup.
  3. Open Windows Update not from the Start Menu PC Settings but through Control Panel.
    • Using a keyboard on your Windows 8.1 system, you can press the Windows Key and Q keys together to access SEARCH, type Windows Update then hit Enter.
    • Additionally in Windows 8.1, swiping on the Start button, press-and-hold or stylus right-click, will also bring up the Advanced Menu then choose SEARCH. In the SEARCH box type Windows Update then tap the result.

      WUAU Search

  4. Click Check for Updates and let it finish the check. You should have several results.
  5. Choose to install all Important Updates and select Optional Updates for any Intel and/or AMD WDDM Drivers for your Graphic Display.
  6. Reboot and test.

It didn’t work? Continue below then.

  1. Check if Windows 8.1 installed the latest Intel Drivers. It would have been highly possible that Windows 8.1 was able to acquire the drivers if you were connected to the internet during and after the upgrade using Windows Update, assuming that you did not disable it.
  2. Best way to make sure that you do have the latest Intel Drivers is to open DXDiag.  

    a. If you have a keyboard, press the Windows Key and R. Type DXDiag and then Enter.
    b. If you only have Touch, swipe the Windows Logo on the lower left and tap RUN. Type DXDiag then OK.

  3. Check your Display Driver Version. Depending on your Notebook or Laptop you might see two different things. As an example in the screenshot below, I am on a desktop PC and using an AMD/ATI Card. But what you should be looking at is the Driver Version and Driver Model. Windows 8.1 requires WDDM 1.3. This is your first hint. If it’s still at 1.2 then your Display is using an old Driver Version. Otherwise, I strongly suggest that you use the Automated Intel Driver Update Utility from Intel which will check your hardware for any latest drivers that it needs. Only install the recommended drivers for Windows 8.1 either for 32-Bit or 64-Bit. Don’t mix the driver platforms* around or you’ll be in more trouble.

    Capture DXDiag 2

    *Beginners Note->Find out if you are using a 32-Bit or 64-Bit Platform of Windows 8.1?

    Using a keyboard on your Windows 8.1 system, you can press the Windows Key and X keys together to access the Advanced Menu, which has a shortcut for System. Additionally in Windows 8.1, swiping on the Start button, press-and-hold or stylus right-click, will also bring up the Advanced Menu then choose System. Look under System Type to find out if its 32-Bit or 64-Bit.

  4. If you are using AMD/ATI display drivers, do not touch the Driver or update it using the current Catalyst version found in their website or you will lose Hybrid Switchable Graphic capabilities. Regretfully, contact your Notebook Manufacturer for their version of the AMD/ATI drivers and keep your fingers crossed that they have an 8.1 driver version for you. Here is AMD’s official reason why they don’t have a version of Mobility Graphics for an OEM Notebook: http://goo.gl/QctSy2. There are also numerous claims for workarounds. But I will not personally recommend anything for you to search and follow. However, when you are near to your wits end trying to figure out what to do you may want to try the BETA Catalyst version from here: http://goo.gl/HFg9W7 read the description and instructions there. Heed my warning though, BETA applications receives limited support for End-Users. Better something than nothing, right?
  5. Don’t forget to reboot after installing the updated drivers.


Now for the fun part!

After you have made sure that all Drivers are up-to-date following all previous steps above we now need to continue into deleting another cause for your Brightness or Auto-Dim issue.

Disclaimer: The usual blah, blah, blah for use of Windows Registry – If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall Windows. I will not guarantee an error free result from your use of Registry Editor. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

  1. Open Registry Editor as Administrator.

    Using a keyboard on your Windows 8.1 system, you can press the Windows Key and X keys together to access the Advanced Menu, which has a shortcut for RUN. Additionally in Windows 8.1, swiping on the Start button, press-and-hold or stylus right-click, will also bring up the Advanced Menu then choose RUN. In the RUN box type REGEDIT then tap OK.

  2. In the Registry Editor window find this Path:
    HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4d36e968-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}000
    a. Backup the Main Key named 0000 by Right-Clicking and choosing EXPORT.
    b. Save it with any custom name to where you can easily access it, preferably the Desktop.

    RegBak

  3. Now look for an entry on the right pane called FeatureTestControl, click and delete it it.
  4. Coup de Gras, Reboot. Try adjusting Brightness and Auto-Dim using your FN keys or Management controls.

Was this tested? Yes, a Samsung ATIV XE500T1C Model. Does it work for everyone? No. Like I said contact your OEM if you have any other issues which could not be resolved through this post.

Cheers~!
Party smile

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