Desktop Composition Redirection (DCR), H.264 Enhanced SuperCodec or Legacy Graphics Mode. Which Graphics Delivery Mode is right for you?

While working at Citrix as a Technical Relationship Manager and now at Anexinet as an Architect, I get asked a lot of questions regarding which graphics should be used in their new XenDesktop 7.x environment.  My answer is, it depends!  In this blog, I will give you a brief description of each Graphics Mode and when it will benefit you in your environment.

1.      Desktop Composition Redirection (DCR):   Allows the redirection of Desktop Composition from VDA to client to enrich user experience.
Recommended Use Cases:   Main office LAN or remote home user on broadband due to high bandwidth requirement.
How to enable graphics mode:   ICA\Desktop UI\ “Desktop Composition Redirection” = Enabled

2.      H.264 Enhanced SuperCodec - Uses Deep Compression allowing for the delivery of server rendered video in low bandwidth connections. The codec runs completely on the server CPU and allows for a full Aero enabled desktop on any device.
Recommended Use Case – XenApp, WAN environments, mobile end points. Any endpoint which does not support DCR. Especially if accessing server rendered video or graphical content.
How to enable H.264 Enhanced SuperCodec:  ICA\Desktop UI\ “Desktop Composition Redirection” = Disabled

3.      Legacy Mode (XenDesktop 5.X Adaptive Display) - This setting disables the rich graphics experience and provides a fallback to the legacy graphics experience.  This can improve scalability. 
Recommended Use Case – WAN environments where end points cannot be updated to support H.264 and delivering Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2. If server scalability is more important than user experience with Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2.
How to enable Legacy Mode:  ICA\Graphics\ “Legacy Graphics Mode” = Enabled.
Refer to the graphics policies in Citrix eDocs for configuring legacy settings.

So now that I have explained what each graphic delivery offers, below are the requirements for each.

Desktop Composition Redirection (**Note** Only available for Desktop OS VDAs)

Since HDX queries the Windows device to verify that it has the required GPU capabilities and automatically reverts to server-side desktop composition if it does not. 

H.264 Enhanced SuperCodec (**Note** For both XenApp & XenDesktop 7.x for Server OS VDA's)

Legacy Mode (XenDesktop 5.X Adaptive Display)

Additional Resources:

CTX139331 - CitrixVirtual Desktop Handbook 7.x
Citrix Blog -  CitrixXenDesktop/XenApp – How to Determine HDX Display Mode
Citrix Blog - GoSuperSonic with XenDesktop 7.x Bandwidth SuperCodecs
Citrix Blog - PerformanceTip: Disabling Mouse Shadow for XenDesktop and XenApp

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