Fixing Lenovo T460S Wifi connectivity issues (removing the evil versions of Intel Dual Bank Wireless-AC 8260 driver)

This post was most recently updated on August 26th, 2022.

2 min read.

I recently received a new work laptop – Lenovo T460S. A cute little thing with impressive performance and reasonably good battery life. However, what people frequently complain about online in regards to this laptop, is its absolutely, horribly awful wifi. This, in turn, is probably caused by its bad wifi chip, Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260. And they’re right – it’s a load of crap.

The laptop out-of-the-box, at least for me, requires a very strong wifi signal. You need to be close to the router and without any obstructions, or you’ll end up with a connection like mine – see the screenshot below of me pinging Google’s DNS servers:

Ping timeouts
Ping timeouts

So, I had a connection like that, while another laptop right next to that machine was connected in the same wifi but scored constantly under 200ms ping times to the same server. That’s not very impressive from a brand-new laptop. The real fault lies within the drivers, though – the machine uses a wifi chip called “Intel Dual Bank Wireless-AC 8260“, which apparently Intel has been publishing just worse and worse drivers for.

Wifi driver version
Wifi driver version – Intel Dual Bank Wireless-AC 8260

When I got the machine, the driver’s date was 30.10.2016, so it was fairly fresh (got my laptop at the start of 2017). That’s the driver with constant timeouts and the one that Intel probably used all their skills on to mess it up as badly as they could.

The simple solution to (at least my) wifi problems on this laptop, is uninstalling the driver and using an older version of the driver as possible.

How to uninstall the driver and use an older version to fix connectivity issues

  1. Uninstall the drivers

    That’s achieved by uninstalling the drivers as many times as you can until finally you can’t uninstall it anymore and it defaults to something like this:

    Intel Dual Bank Wireless-AC 8260 default driver
    Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 default driver (technically speaking, the Uninstall -option should be disabled at this point, but after restarting the machine before taking the screenshot it was re-enabled)

  2. Remove the driver from your system

    Every time you click “Uninstall”, also remember to actually REMOVE the driver from your system. Otherwise, you won’t achieve much.

    Uninstalling drivers

  3. Ping

    This is what the ping on bad wifi looks like after removing the fresh driver and using an older one:

    Normal Ping
    Pretty normal ping. Still not good, but the wifi was a crappy one!

At least for me, the uninstallation process far fairly straightforward, and I wasn’t even required to reboot my machine before the wifi started working again. You might have to uninstall quite a few driver versions though, so repeating the steps for uninstalling, searching for the device, and uninstalling again a few times might be necessary.

Issues with Windows Update

What I haven’t found a solution for yet, is Windows 10’s tendency of forcing updates on the driver. Every time you notice your wifi connectivity becoming super bad, go and roll back your driver, or if that doesn’t help, uninstall it time and time again. There’s a good chance the wifi will start working again.

When I find a way to block the driver from ever updating, I’ll update it here :)

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