Improve Remote Desktop frame rate to 60fps by enabling AVC 4:4:4 encoding

I am a great fan of Remote Desktop and have been using it for over a decade. It’s built in and just works. One gripe of mine has always been the poor framerate which makes animations and transitions super janky by default.

In RDP 10 it turns out this can be massively improved by enabling a screen encoding based on AVC/H.264 video. By enabling the group policy “Prioritize H.264/AVC 444 graphics mode for Remote Desktop Connections” under Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session Host > Remote Session Environment, I was able to get a glorious 60fps, almost double what I was getting before.

There is also another group policy to use your GPU to do the encoding, “Configure H.264/AVC hardware encoding for Remote Desktop connections”. Turn this on and you can see your GPU in task manager doing a little bit of work to encode the video, potentially saving the CPU from some effort. However in my testing I actually saw slightly worse performance in this mode, as you can see from this video:

I do wonder why this option is buried in Group Policy and not more user accessible – it appears to be enabled by default in cloud hosted environments with virtual GPUs (such as the Azure GPU instances). I also wonder if you can actually game using it?