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How to enable Accelerated 3D Graphics in VMware

How to enable Accelerated 3D Graphics in VMware


VMware, as a virtualization platform, provides various features or options to enhance the functionality and performance of the VMs. One such option is 3D acceleration, which helps us enhance our experience working with applications that use advanced graphical functionalities. This article will share how to enable 3D Accelerate in VMware.

Enable 3d Accelerate in VMware

What is Accelerated 3D Graphics?

In a virtual environment, 3D acceleration involves improving or enhancing images or graphics using the host system’s dedicated hardware and software resources. Specialized hardware like graphics cards or GPUs and related device drivers or applications can help create three-dimensional images, mainly in games, movies, and high-end designs.

Dedicated hardware like the GPU is known to handle these tasks more efficiently than the general-purpose CPU, thereby accelerating the task. In such scenarios, software applications like DirectX (for Windows) or OpenGL (Open-source) act as the interface between the VM and the hardware.

To use Accelerate 3D on a VM, VMware creates a virtual graphical processing unit (GPU) that utilizes the processing power of the host CPU or GPU. This allows graphic-intensive applications to improve their performance.

How to enable Accelerated 3D Graphics in VMware?

For improved performance, while working with high-end graphic applications in VMs, the host system’s GPU enables Accelerated 3D Graphics. However, before enabling 3D acceleration in VMware, due checks and configuration must be performed to ensure compatibility.

  1. Update DirectX and Graphics Card Drivers
  2. Configure Hardware Acceleration on the Host System
  3. Configure 3D Graphics Setting in VMware

1] Update DirectX and Graphics Card Drivers

  • For VMs with Windows as the host OS, the graphics card installed needs to support DirectX 9 and above. The latest version of DirectX Runtime should also be installed on the host.
  • Graphics drivers must be updated to the latest versions on the manufacturer’s website.

2] Configure Hardware Acceleration on Host System

Enable Accelerated 3D Graphics Settings

Once the compatibility checks are performed and the necessary graphics drivers are installed, we need to enable hardware acceleration on the host system as the next step.

  • Right-click on the Start button and click on Settings.
  • On the Settings Window, click on System > Display > Graphics Settings
  • Click on Change Default Graphics Settings under the Graphics Settings section.
  • Toggle the button to turn ON Hardware- accelerated GPU Scheduling.
  • Restart the system so the changes take effect.

3] Configure 3D Graphics Settings in VMware

Accelrate 3D graphics

  • Select a virtual machine in the Virtual Machine Library window and click Settings.
  • In the Virtual Machine Settings window, click Display.
  • Select the Accelerate 3D graphics check box.

VMware Accelerate 3D Graphics not working

Sometimes, it may fail to function even after following the above steps to enable 3D Acceleration. Various causes on the software and the hardware front could be responsible for the said failure, as detailed below:

Possible Causes

Unsupported hardware or OS: The absence of compatible hardware, device drivers, or both can obstruct the normal functioning of DirectX or OpenGL, the API or software interface of Accelerated 3D  in VMware. Additionally, if we are using an outdated version of an OS that doesn’t support graphics acceleration, the graphics acceleration may fail to work.

Incorrect settings: Incorrect settings in the host system or the VM configuration can also significantly cause the issue. If hardware acceleration is not enabled on the host or the VMware settings are not configured correctly, the said problem might occur.


Troubleshooting these potential causes systematically can help diagnose and resolve the issue with Accelerated 3D Graphics in VMware.

Check for Hardware/Software Compatibility: The primary step involves checking if the system’s hardware supports 3D Acceleration to resolve the issue. Additionally, we need to check if the correct or compatible version of DirectX or OpenGL is installed for uninterrupted functioning.

Update graphics driver: Updating the graphics driver can resolve bugs or configuration problems that might prevent it from working on a VMware VM.

Force VM to use dedicated GPU: If the above steps fail to resolve the problem, modifying the VM settings in its configuration file can be the best step toward resolving the issue. To do so,

  • Shut down the VMware workstation.
  • Open the VMX file from the Virtual Machine folder.
  • Add the below-mentioned line in the file:
mks.forceDiscreteGPU = "TRUE”

The above statement instructs VMware to forcibly use discreet or separate graphics hardware (GPU) instead of the built-in or integrated one. GPUs have dedicated memory and processing capabilities designed to deliver better performance, especially with high-end graphics applications.

  • Save the file
  • Open the VMware workstation and enable the acceleration from the VMware settings.
  • Start the VM and check if the problem has been corrected.

Note: By default, the VMX file is stored under the Virtual Machine folder under Documents.

I hope the post was easy to follow and you were able to enable the Accelerated 3D Graphics in VMware.

ReadInstall VMware Tools greyed out

Can multiple VMs share the same GPU?

Multiple VMs on a single host can share the same GPU. However, the level of support for each VM will depend upon the virtualization platform ( VMware, Virtual Box, etc.)

What are the OSs that support 3D acceleration in VMware?

All widely used OS, including Windows, Linux, and MacOS, support 3D acceleration in a virtual environment.

ReadNot enough physical memory is available to power on the virtual machine with its configured settings.


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