Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a laptop with a really old video card and I was just thinking about how I can connect to a newer machine via RDC at my school. I'm curious if anyone knows if terminal clients handle the video processing or if it's all done by the local video card?

I'm sure some amount of video processing has to happen on my end, as my monitor has to render the output, but I'm curious if it's more like looking through a dirty window, where I could see really great 3d graphics on my monitor with no performance penalty, only it wouldn't actually look all that great as my monitor wouldn't be able to output the colors, etc.

Anybody know?

share|improve this question

The PC you're connecting to acts exactly as it normally would, except it sends an image of the desktop over the net. Unfortunately there's no processing done to help the remote PC on the PC connecting to it.

share|improve this answer

There are two answers based on the technology you use.

VNC sends an image of the screen and refreshes zones based on them changing. It's dumb but it works.

RDP inspects the screen and "describes it" semantically to the client. The client puts that back together (ie does the rendering). This means more load on the client but a much quicker process and saves some cycles creating/compressing/sending/decompressing huge bitmaps.

However, it's all quite basic. We're only talking about simple UI elements. Complex visuals still get sent as compressed bitmap data AFAIK.

And the server needs to know what the client is doing so it does still render everything itself. So I guess the answer for RDP is actually both the client and server do the same rendering.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.