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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Graphics memory requirements for our developing workstations

When choosing a graphics card for a developing workstation, I often forget how demanding Aero is. The way we used to calculate memory requirements, based on multiplying resolution and color depth, just doesn't work with Aero. Here are the requirements:

  • Single Monitor and Mobile Systems
    • 128 MB up to and including 1920x1200
    • 256 MB over 1920x1200
    • 64 MB up to but not including 1280x1024
  • Desktop dual monitors
    • 256 MB for larger dual monitor configurations
    • 128 MB up to but not including 1280x1024x2

Oops, way higher then I expected... Here are Dell recommendations for Levels of Aero Support on Desktops with Two Monitors:

These specifications indicate minimum configurations to support Windows Vista Aero based on current Dell testing*.

High resolution, dual monitor or many open application windows may require additional memory for optimal Aero experience.




256MB Discrete

AERO for all dual monitor resolutions

128MB Discrete

AERO for Dual 1024x768 with 0MB shared

All dual monitor resolutions with 128MB shared

64MB Discrete

AERO for dual 1024x768 with 64MB shared

All dual monitor resolutions with 192MB shared

Basic for any dual monitor resolution with 0MB shared

Integrated Graphics

AERO up to

Dual 1024x768 with 128MB shared

All dual monitor resolutions with 256MB shared

Basic for Any dual monitor resolution with 64MB shared


Dell recommends systems to be configured with at least 1GB dual-channel memory and a premium graphics card. To further optimize the Aero user experience, Dell recommends 2GB dual channel memory.




Bottom line is: on a developer's rig, 256MB is a must for dual monitor with high resolutions. I'll try to hook some 128 and 256 MB graphics laptops on a couple of LCDs to check the limits, and post the result back here.


On my first test with NVidia Quadro 135M I setup 1280x800 and 1280x1024 on a 17' LCD. Please note that as 135M has TurboCache, I may be incurring on some performance costs...

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