Improving 6300 video performance on your INTEL/NVIDIA GPUs laptop

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  • Updated 5 years ago
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EDIT: I moved this from a response to an old thread to a new Post so it might a get a bit more visibility.

Dear OMs,

I recently purchased a Flex 6300 and was at first disappointed with the performance of the waterfall display and panadapter. I had to lower the speed and FPS way down to avoid the lines the OP was referring to.

I was very surprise by this because my laptop is an Intel Core i7 with 8GB of RAM and a dedicated 2GB Nvidia GT550M video card. 

I am running 2 24" LCD monitors off the laptop, one on the VGA port and one on the HDMI port.

After some research online I discovered the culprit of my performance issues.

By default, desktop applications use the integrated graphic card, in the case of this laptop, an Intel HD 3000. While this card is perfectly capable of running a couple of monitors and display 2D content, it does struggle with games and GPU intensive apps such as SmartSDR.
It is only when you run a computer game, that the default setting on the Nvidia card will kick in, utilizing the more powerful Nvidia card to run the graphics.

All of this time I was running SmartSDR on the integrated Intel HD 3000 card instead of taking advantage of the better video card.

The following are the steps to change it if you happen to have a similar configuration to mine, with an NVIDIA video card.

First go to NVIDIA Control Panel. You can easily do this on Win7 by right clicking an empty area of the desktop and selecting "NVIDIA Control Panel" on the context menu.

On the top menu options "File | Edit | Desktop | 3D Settings | Help" click on "Desktop". Once there, select "Display GPU Activity Icon in Notification Area". This will add a little square icon on the bottom right of your task bar. If it doesn't have any color, you are not running any program through the NVIDIA GPU engine. You can also hover the icon and it will tell you the number of programs running on the video card.

Next, we need to make sure SmartSDR uses the better video card.

Inside the NVIDIA Control Panel you can see a list of Tasks on the left column. Open the 3D Settings group and select "Manage 3D settings".

Inside the "Global Settings" tab you can select the option to Always run the "High-performance NVIDIA processor" instead of the default "Auto-select".

You can also select the "Program Settings" tab and individually add the programs that will use the NVIDIA card versus using the integrated intel HD GPU.

You can add "smartsdr" and that will make a world of difference! It did on my laptop.

I hope this helps!

My waterfall and panadapter are buttery smooth now.

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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Posted 5 years ago

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Photo of k0eoo


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Thanks Salvador, very helpful post!  I have the GT635, CP display was a bit different but found the appropriate settings....  Thanks again!!  Dennis, k0eoo
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Walt - KZ1F

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That was very useful Salvador, thank you!
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SSDR 1.3.8 runs just fine on my Intel HD 3000 card. The performance is no different at all to that when run using the nVidia 630M card - all settings maxed out in both cases. It could be that in this case, the extra performance of the nVidia card is making up for a PC that is not efficiently configured.
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Since my 6500 is en-route, I have some time to work on a PC. From all that I have read, I am leaning towards my PC tower or commercial desktop workstation as opposed to a laptop.

Cons with these two is added fan noise and size, but there are ways around that. Its great reading all the feed back and what you guys are experiencing.

Salvador is of great help, a wealth of knowledge and not too I am lucky in that respect. Have been taking his advice, hence the 6500's journey to my home ;o)
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Walt - KZ1F

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@Raf My 'main' machine is a Q6600 processor in a tower type form factor, 4 disks sda, sdb, sdc, and sdd. Currently I am really only using sda. It runs Linux as Linux is faster than Windows, 17.68% faster. Besides, with Windows you need all the anti-virus crap. What's funny and maybe others will identify with this, is this machine has been my main development machine (I write commercial software) for the better part of 12 years. The four processors run 2.4GHz. I got the laptop, which also runs Linux, predominately, as this machine tethered me to my desk and sometimes I use that laptop in the family room. So I dual boot to Windows when I want to get on the air. Used to be I only did that when I did taxes. Both PC and main Linux box take almost the same time to boot but what I like about my iPhone is less about the phone and more about the apps, financial, weather, news, ConsumerReports, banking, etc. It comes on as soon as I hit the wakeup button. But, as a browser it kind of sucks and it's too small form factor wise) to run a panadaptor. However, since I got the Nexus 9, that browser works fine. The Nexus 9 uses the 64 bit Tigra K1 chip and uses the Kepler GPU architecture. Here is what NVIDIA says about it:
And because we built Tegra K1 on our Kepler GPU architecture – which powers some of the world’s fastest gaming PCs and supercomputers – the Nexus 9 supports all major graphics standards. That includes the new Android Extension Pack in Lollipop, bringing state-of-the art graphics to Android for PC and console-class games.
So, once I re-retire in a month, writing a Java based SmarterSDR will be my full time job, that and being a gym rat. This will allow me to do voice to CW on the tablet and have multiple Panadaptors spread across different monitors. It will support integrated AMP control, rotor control and dxcluster that will drive logging. On Linux (or perhaps even WIndows) all of these subunits will be able to span multiple monitors as they will all be child windows of the Desktop, not main app window. What this means on the tablet is multiple panadaptors will need to be swiped in or out. It'll also do WAN remote, even though it initially will need a local proxy to appear like a local user. What's the main challenge? Replicating the look and feel or something close to it. I have to have a conversation with FRS on that however. I think that'll do it, instant on and my radio travels with me. Do they have wifi at Dayton? I am not really happy with the hit rate of DM-780 so even though it's open source (v5) I am not sure it will make the trip to tablet land.

Is the 6000 series a really nice radio? Absolutely it is. However, for me, if I have to get a $10,000 business class machine to run it on (Xeon E8400, error correcting memory, 16 processors) that would be one bridge too far and I'd be looking at alternatives. So when I push back on those who (inadvertently) make others feel self conscious that theirs isn't as big. That is why. I don't want people to think they need the Tesla when, that 4 year old Kia will do just fine, or theirs  has to hit some magical arbitrary size to be considered an equal.

I'll reiterate though, people should get the biggest machine they are comfortable buying. It's one thing to get it because you can and another to get it because of the mistaken belief SSDR requires it.

 BTW,  I am not the boss of you. It's a hobby, it's supposed to be fun.
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WOW Walt, quite interesting and thanks so much for the detailed explanation and insight. You are quite a talented guy I see. After taking a look at my 7-8yr old tower which was a top of the line machine back then, I decided its time for an upgrade.

I had not used that machine much within the last 5 years or so hence it being neglected. As a matter of fact I used this machine for a while as a server to host two phpbb forums back then.

Consulting with Salvador a bit we looked at some options and I might be going for a 4 GHz quad core machine with 8 Gigs of ram and maybe the ATI Radeon R9-280.

Since I fly RC aerobatic airplanes, my aerobatics training sim will run on the same machine along with my racing sim too. It will be my machine for the HAM Shack/ toy room.

Yes I have seen the speed with Linux, booting up and simplicity for what I was doing. I have used it when I overhauled an Echo Link / IRLP node here.

I am excited about receiving my 6500, thanks to Salvador EA4GLI - 8P9EH for introducing me to it, building a new PC, getting a new 7 Band Hex Beam, AMP and a new shack.

Salvador is single highhandedly "launching" Flexradios here for free. He takes his time to demonstrate and help local HAMS to see the fun and practicality of SDR's here.

Its a huge investment but well worth it I think. Its great to know that there are smart and great individuals like you here on the forums, who help and share making the HAM community a happier and more exciting environment.

Thanks again Walt and look forward to continued correspondence here and on the air.


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Walt - KZ1F

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@Raf, et tu? When I found myself in involuntary retirement last spring I decided I wanted to get into model RC planes. Acrobatic would be even more fun, Are you on your 6500 yet? What's your email. I'd like to discuss more the RC aircraft, which is out of scope on this forum. BTW, I also hold a commercial multi-engine pilot license.I think the only way that will help with RC is with a nose mounted camera.
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Walt you would totally enjoy the RC airplane hobby especially since you are a HAM and a full scale pilot. Up to the mid 90s HAMS were into RC planes and vice versa.
Wow must be nice to be a licensed commercial multi-engine pilot. RC flying is the next best thing to full scale flying, aerobatics makes it more fun exponentially. I would love to share any RC info with you, you can email me @
Yes many of my friends who fly full scale too says its a lot easier for them when they fly FPV camera with the models.
I would definitely encourage you to get into RC flying. BTW, I had written a reply and thought I had uploaded it, lets try this again lol.
Photo of WA6FXT Mike


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Thank you for an excellent "tip". Thank you.