RDP, by default, is known for providing sub-par video performance. Most times this is dependent upon use cases and the underlying specs on the remote computer. In recent times, Microsoft has made great efforts to improve the underlying technology that RDP runs upon in an effort to meet the high video quality demands of ever changing technology (SD, HD, 4K, 8K etc.).
Even so, to get the best possible RDP video performance, there are some tips you can follow to optimize RDP. This tutorial will outline some of them, along with providing some of the reasons why RDP struggles with high quality video demands and provide a solution that provides a firm foundational platform to get the best performance from RDP in a virtual desktop environment.
What is RDP?
Remote Desktop Protocol abbreviated (RDP),in a nutshell, is a Microsoft Windows based protocol used for virtual desktop communication (providing a graphical interface) between a remote computer/server and a local computer, sometimes referred to as a client via a network connection.
It allows for the transmission of data on separate virtual channels if required (up to 64,000 separate channels). It carries device communications, and presentation data from the remote server and also encrypted mouse and keyboard data from the client side.
What Is Happening With Video on RDP?
When viewing video content in a RDP session, RDP by default, uses its own video driver to render video/display output. This rendered display information is then constructed into network packets by RDP then sent over the network to the client computer. The client then receives the information, interprets the packets into the corresponding graphical information that the client should receive.
Therefore, each time there is a change in the video content (frames) on the server-side, that change must be rendered, encoded and then sent across the network. After, it’s received by the client, then decoded and displayed. This process is done very fast, and of course, as you may have imagined, quality would be impacted by certain conditions.
Here are 5 tips to improve your RDP video performance.
1- Remote Session Settings
RDP’s video session settings can be the first line of troubleshooting to improve video performance in a remote session. To achieve this do the following:
Open up your Remote Desktop Connection app by:
Hitting the windows icon on your computer keyboard + R. This will launch the RUN dialog box.
Type (without the quotes) “mstsc” then hit Enter or click OK.
Type the target server/computer name and click Show Options.
Click the “Experience” tab.
Notice the settings under the section that says “Connection quality-dependent features”, by tweaking those you’ll be able to optimize performance.
Click the drop-down menu under “Choose your connection speed to optimize performance”.
You’ll observe that there are a few options to choose from. These are all preset configs set by Microsoft. Each selection will enable or disable certain connection quality-dependent features. Note, that the lower connection speed option preset will provide a less visually appealing remote desktop experience, and the higher settings will increase it.
Choosing the higher settings will improve your RDP visual experience, however, if your network bandwidth is on the lower side, your RDP performance will suffer (freezing, glitching, lagging, etc.). Tweak the settings and test until you have found an acceptable balance in performance (computer response and visual experience).
2- RDP Policies
You can optimize your RDP video performance by making config changes to Group Policies. However, when doing this keep in mind the specs of your remote computer’s hardware (memory, CPU, disk speed, etc.) and network bandwidth. Remember our goal is to improve video performance.
Type “gpedit.msc” in the windows search bar. Then hit Enter.
Navigate to “Computer Configuration->Administrative Templates->Windows Components->Remote Desktop Services->Remote Desktop Session Host->Remote Session Environment”
Within this container you want to focus on the following entries:
- Limit maximum color depth
- Prioritize H.264/AVC 444 graphics mode for Remote Desktop Connections
- Configure H.264/AVC hardware encoding for Remote Desktop Connections
- Configure compression for RemoteFX data
- Configure image quality for RemoteFX Adaptive Graphics
- Configure RemoteFX Adaptive Graphics
Read through each policy to determine if making config changes is right for your remote desktop environment.
3- Troubleshoot your connection method – go with a direct connection with an ethernet cable
WIFI is wonderful, it provides mobility and ease of use. However, WIFI is susceptible to signal interference from your surrounding environment. Devices that use the same open frequency can negatively affect your connection speed. In addition, WIFI’s underlying technology for data transmission uses something that is called Half-Duplex. This means that the communication via WIFI doesn’t happen simultaneously. Think of a Walkie-Talkie or two-way radio. Only one party can communicate at a given time. WIFI is like that. Data transmission is so quick that you don’t even realize this limitation.
Direct ethernet cable connection on the other hand is Full-Duplex. Data transmission is done simultaneously, thus you receive maximum capacity received from your ISP. Also, you do not receive signal interference that WIFI connections suffer from.
Remember, bandwidth capacity directly impacts your RDP video performance. Thus, going with a direct ethernet cable connection will help.
4- Tuning the Applications that run on the host along with other parameters
This option is to tune your remote computer in such a way that all running apps and other functions run optimally, in that only necessary tasks are executed at any given time. This will free up the computer’s resources, thus providing more power for RDP to perform well. This is critical, particularly in a multi-user remote desktop environment.
Consider performing the following when configuring apps being used in a remote desktop environment:
- Minimize background idle loop processing – examples are data indexing for search, background saves, etc.)
- Minimize the frequency an application performs state checks and checks for updates
- Disable unnecessary processes that load at user-logon or a session startup.
Consider performing configuration changes to the following parameters:
- Tweaking page file size settings to use “memory-to-committed bytes performance counter”
- Exclude all folders that hold temporary files from being actively monitored by antivirus software.
- If you use Task Scheduler, examine the necessity of your tasks being ran, the times of execution and when they are executed (example, at user sign-in, session connect, disconnect, when certain triggers are made, etc.)
- Disable desktop notifications
- Tweaking the remote desktop data compression protocol in Group Policy
- Changing device redirection configuration (printer, audio etc.)
5- Adjust System Performance Settings
You can adjust your computer’s system performance settings to optimize video performance on RDP. Please see the following:
Open your Advanced System Settings, by typing “view advanced system settings” in the windows search bar, then click the corresponding search result.
Select “Settings” under the Performance section of the System Settings dialog box.
Select “Adjust for best appearance”.Then click “OK”.
Note: You can customize the settings to your liking by selecting or deselecting whichever option you prefer.
Get the best RDP performance with V2 Cloud
Best performance starts with having the best possible hardware to begin with. RDP’s video performance is directly dependent upon two (2) things. The remote computer’s specifications (CPU, RAM, Hard disk etc.) and your network bandwidth. At V2 Cloud these two factors were carefully thought of. Our virtual desktop solutions are built upon Datacenter class hardware.
This means that our customers can expect a better overall performance (including video) as it relates to their RDP experience. We also provide high-speed internet from our remote virtual computers. (note: the bandwidth from your ISP impacts your experience) We are proud of our solutions’ ability to outperform major competitors like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. Please see the below graphic.
It can be seen that on all the above performance metrics analyzed V2 Cloud significantly outperformed Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, in some cases by more than 40 times better.
V2 Cloud’s Data Center reach is global. We have Data Centers in North America, Europe, South-East Asia and Australia. This allows for a low-latency, fast RDP experience no matter where our customers are in the world. The below shows a speed test result from a V2 Cloud RDP session.
Overall, V2 Cloud provides the best in-class virtual desktop environment for your business. Our platform provides the fundamental necessities for a true high performing RDP video experience. Our virtual computers are built upon solid Data Center class hardware and we provide high speed internet from within our virtual computers to ensure high bandwidth (from the remote computer’s side) thus providing the platform for the best RDP performance in the virtual desktop space on the market today.
Our daily business and professional lives bring with them their fair share of problems and complexities. Having a poor or sub-par RDP video experience shouldn’t be one of them. While we have outlined in this article various tips that can be implemented to optimize video performance on RDP, the overall result is dependent upon the technological platform your remote desktop environment runs on.
At V2 Cloud we understand this. We provide a solid platform that runs RDP optimally out-of-the-box, including video (for general purpose use cases). Thus making your RDP video experience rich, clean and smooth, as it should be.