Login VSI & VMware show simple tuning of Windows 10 settings can increase VDI density almost 50%!

Windows 10 is great on the desktop, but in VDI it's been a beast. LoginVSI found some tweaks to bring it back down to earth.

Last week, Jeroen van de Kamp and Omar Bouhaj of Login VSI blogged about their tuning template for Windows 10 desktops that can result in a nearly 50% increase in the number of VDI VMs you can get on host.

Their tuning template is based on VMware’s OS Optimization Tool which they found results in a VSImax value that’s 44% higher than vanilla “untuned” Windows 10 VMs. (I wrote about the VMware OS Optimization Tool a few months ago.) So really this article is about two things. First, congrats to VMware for a tuning tool that’s actually useful, and second, congrats to Login VSI for optimizing it even further.

If you’re not familiar with VSImax, it’s essentially the number of sessions that can run on a host before the performance is so bad that users would complain. In other words, the higher the VSImax, the more users a system can support. (It works for both VDI VMs and RDSH sessions.) The idea behind VSImax is it’s a way to have repeatable tests that are as “real world” as possible, and to make it possible to play with different hardware and software settings to see what actually makes a difference. (There are limitations to VSImax, especially around testing GPUs and graphics performance, but it’s a good start, and still valuable when comparing different configs.)

Anyway, so the VMware tool is used to apply a bunch of default tuning options to Windows 10 when you run it in a VDI environment. (And even though the tool is from VMware, the optimizations it provides for Windows 10 VMs work equally as well regardless of whether you’re using Horizon, XenDesktop, vWorkspace, or a pure Microsoft solution.)

VMware’s OS Optimization Tool allows plug-in templates, and that’s what Login VSI has created. (Here’s a direct link to a PDF which shows the additional things they’ve tuned for Windows 10.)

It's interesting to see how tuning has evolved over the past 15 years or so (both in VMware’s templates and Login VSI’s). Back in the day, "performance tuning" it was all about minimizing the amount of bandwidth required by the remoting protocols, as it was all about graphical things like disabling showing window contents while dragging. But the modern optimizations from VMware and Login VSI go far beyond disabling eye candy, really digging into minimizing the CPU load (by disabling unneeded services and tasks), minimizing what’s written to and read from disk, and generally disabling all the “gunk” that Windows does behind the scenes (which most people won’t notice anyway).

The bottom line is that there’s actually a lot of very legitimate optimizations that can be made to a Windows 10 VM today, and thanks to tools like VSI max, we can actually dig into the data to see which settings make a difference and which ones are urban legends.

Oh, and did I mention that all these optimization tools are free?

If you haven’t seen Login VSI's webinar, it was recorded and now available on demand. Good stuff.

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