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I have my RDP client set up to use highest settings for connecting to another PC on my LAN, which has display settings 1280x1024x32bit. RDP is specifically set to use 32bit depth, but when I connect it drops to 16bit.

The PC I connect to is (amongst other things) used to do some 3D graphics. I don't expect great performance, just to check it works... but it doesn't over RDP, the 3D app doesn't think the hardware is the same. Does RDP's integration with Windows mean it is providing some virtualised rendering system? Should I use something less 'clever' like VNC, to literally screen-grab the contents of the screen without altering the settings?

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Remote Desktop uses a different graphics driver from when you view things at your computer on the monitor. It is, in essence, a completely separate GPU. Microsoft is planning to release a new feature called RemoteFX for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 which will enable much better remote graphics; however, this will not be ported back to XP. RDP does indeed use something more "clever"; it is not just a screen-scraper:

RDP uses presentation virtualization to enable a much better end-user experience, scalability and bandwidth utilization. RDP plugs into the Windows graphics system the same way a real display driver does, except that, instead of being a driver for a physical video card, RDP is a virtual display driver. Instead of sending drawing operations to a physical hardware GPU, RDP makes intelligent decisions about how to encode those commands into the RDP wire format. This can range from encoding bitmaps to, in many cases, encoding much smaller display commands such as “Draw line from point 1 to point 2” or “Render this text at this location.”

- Microsoft Top 10 RDP Misconceptions

You are unlikely to get good remote graphics acceleration with any system. VNC might work better in this particular situation, but it probably won't be quick.

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I trialled UltraVNC and over a LAN, it's pretty decent. The important thing is it only reports what's on the screen rather than controlling it on the server... so the app runs totally as normal and I basically get a streaming video of the rendering, enough to check it is working. –  Mr. Boy Feb 14 '11 at 9:34

Which version of RDP? I think a newer version might help.

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The server (machine connected to) is XPSP3, the client is W7 ultimate. Which one needs updating and how do I do this, I thought it was part of Windows. –  Mr. Boy Feb 7 '11 at 15:12
    
@John - Upgrading the XP machine to RDP 7 couldn't hurt. (support.microsoft.com/kb/969084) That said, I think your intuition may be correct that it's not going to do remote rendering, and you might be better off with something else. (If it's over LAN, I'd suggest Radmin simply because of how obscenely fast it is.) –  Shinrai Feb 7 '11 at 15:15

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