Second Life: Intel HD Graphics – How to Improve

Recently an acquaintance with HD graphics ask for help because of video problems. We haven’t been able to find the solution needed, yet. But, we did come across a number of tips on how to make Intel’s HD Graphics work better. So, I’ll pass those along.

.✻ Soft Tones ✻.

.✻ Soft Tones ✻.

First before spending time beating on a problem only to discover it is a dead horse, check the system requirements. Next read through what I have here, before you start beating. Also, remember, clearing the viewer’s cache is likely to make things worse. So, save that idea for the ‘no-hope-left’ stage. 

With HD Graphics it is, IMO, impossible to tell which chips belong to which generation. Its like buying an i3, i5, or i7 CPU and trying to decide if you are getting and old CPU, 4th gen, or a new CPU, 6th gen Skylake. Then realizing there are more generations of HD Graphics than there are generations of iCore CPU’s. Headaches…

So, use a free program named GPU-Z to determine which HD Graphics chip you have.

Because this seems so confusing I tried to dig out the HD Graphics designators and the year they were released. This should give an idea of what will and won’t work with Second Life™.

Acceptable Intel Video Chips

  • 2008-2010 – GMA Series: 500 – VR Power Chips – Questionable IMO
  • 2013 – 4000 Series: 4850, 4870, 4890 – 4th generation – Minimum
  • 2012-2013 – 5000 Series: 5850 ?, 5870 ?, 5970 ? – 5th generation – *
  • 2012 – 4000 Series: 4000, 4200, 4400, 4600, 4700 – 7th generation
  • 2013 – 5000 Series: 5000, 5100, 5200 – 7th generation
  • 2014 – 5000 Series: 5300, 5500, 5600, 5700 – 8th generation
  • 2015 – 6000 Series: 6000, 6100, 6200, 6300 – 8th generation
  • 2015 – 500 Series: 510, 515, 520, 530, 540, 550 – 9th Generation – Skylake CPU’s
  • 2016 – 400 Series: 400, 405 – 8th generation
  • 2016 – 500 Series: 505, 580 – 9th generation

*Listed on Linden System Requirements page. Not shown in Wikipedia Intel List of HD Graphics chips. I don’t understand what’s up with these chips. These look like model numbers for ATI graphics cards.

You can check which operating systems work with which HD Graphics Chips: Supported Operating Systems for Intel® Graphics Products.

Even those with Series 500 HD Graphics chips run into problems. While my Toshiba Satellite with an HD 4000 chip runs SL on Mid-High pretty well at 12 fps, no shadows with minimum problems. So, it isn’t as simple as having the right chip. So, it may be a matter of knowing how to tweak what you have.

4 Ways to Improve Intel HD Graphics Performance

If you aren’t having problems and just want better performance try these:

  1. Update the graphics card driver – On desktops this means visiting the Intel site and getting your updates. Use GPU-Z (free program) to get your EXACT chip model. On a laptop, try the laptop manufacturer’s site FIRST. Some laptops use customized drivers only available from the manufacturer. Search the SL Forum for other people with your HD Chip and see what they are running into.
  2. Increase the amount of RAM and make it work in dual channel mode – HD Graphics chips usually have no video RAM, only some video cache. They use system RAM. This means the more RAM devoted to video the less is available for the CPU. On Windows machines with 8gb of RAM you can devote 1GB to video use. That isn’t much. To increase video RAM you must increases system RAM. This usually means replacing your laptop’s RAM chips with higher capacity chips. Youtube has video showing how to upgrade. Use CPU-Z (another free program to find what type of memory chips you have. Check the specs for your motherboard to find the fastest chips it supports. – See: How to Increase Intel HD Graphics Dedicated Video Memory – Be sure you have matching chips, meaning same speed and size. That allows the CPU to handle memory in duel channel mode, which is faster than single channel.
  3. Make sure the graphics card is not in power saving mode – This is a common problem on laptops.
  4. Set the 3D preference of Intel HD Graphics to “Performance” – I’m not too sure how many people know about making this change. But, for SL it definitely needs to be made.

You can get more details on these 4 tips here: 4 Ways to Improve Intel HD Graphics Performance

Firestorm Tips

As of Firestorm viewer version 4.7.3 (August 2015) and Windows 10 HD 2000 and 3000 are pretty much out of the running. You can try the Intel Fix. But, you probably won’t be happy trying to run FS on older chips. A better choice is to see if your laptop’s CPU can be upgraded, slim chance but, a possibility. (Reference)

Also, you and try using the 32-bit version of Firestorm. As of version 4.7.5 (late 2015) Firestorm 64-bit won’t run on pre-4000 series chips. See: FS 32-bit and HD Graphics.

The FS Team recommends reinstalling the graphics driver. Download the driver from the graphics chip manufacturer and reinstall it. Avoid the Microsoft driver if you are having problems. For HD Chip users I will add, the laptop user should try the manufacturer’s site then try the Intel site.

When you just can’t seem to solve a HD Graphics problem, start regressing your HD Video Driver version. You can search the SL forum or ask in the Firestorm Support group for the current best working driver, which is not always the newest. Otherwise, you are left to walk your versions back one by one until to find one that works… if there is one. See the problem? So, ask.

For some problems it is recommended to:

Click Me->Preferences->Graphics->Advanced and disable VBO. Others find enabling this feature fixes their problem. So, experiment.

Change Windows to the BASIC theme in Personalization->Basic and High Contrast Themes. You can search for Basic Theme, Win 8 and 10 should find the panel you need.


Some laptops have a dedicated graphics chip, AMD or NVIDIA, in addition to the CPU’s HD Graphics. But, the Laptop may not use the dedicated chip in an effort to save power. It often requires you tell the laptop that Second Life is an app that needs performance over power saving.

You can use the free program GPU-Z to check which graphics process is in use.

You can use the NVIDIA control panel to setup a profile for Second Life.

6 thoughts on “Second Life: Intel HD Graphics – How to Improve

  1. I have the HP X360 laptop (I7core with 8gb memory and SSD) with Intel HD 5500 graphics chip and run SL pretty well on it, though the screen is a bit smallish for me.

  2. My first 2 years in SL I only had an elderly Lenovo S10 lappie run on minimal graphics settings. I had no idea how bad it made SL look and was having so much fun I wouldn’t have cared. As soon as I could afford a basic desktop, I took the advice of NeoBokrug Elytis (ty) and paired a cheapish Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card with a donated i5-4460 saw SL with new eyes. Still using it, fingers crossed it lasts another year or so.

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