Troubleshooting Graphics Issues with SmartSDR-Win

SmartSDR for Windows is a WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) application that can use graphics rendering for greater display (panadapter) performance which can put a strain on older video or graphics adapters.  SmartSDR-Win will automatically sense the video card's GPU capabilities and use its own DirectX-based hardware-accelerated rendering pipeline, when available, to draw the contents of the  screens (panadapters).  If your video card does not support hardware graphics acceleration or DirectX 9 and greater, then SmartSDR-Win will use your PC's CPU for rendering the graphics, which will be slower than running with hardware accelerated graphics capabilities.  The greatest video performance is gained by using a graphics adapter that supports DirectX 10 and greater.

As a result, the visual quality of SmartSDR-Win is heavily dependent on the quality of the system’s graphics adapter and its display drivers. Faulty graphics adapters may cause drawing artifacts within SmartSDR-Win or elsewhere on the desktop when SmartSDR-Win uses the WPF hardware-rendering pipeline.

Here are some common symptoms

Graphic issues in WPF applications can include any of the following symptoms:

  • A  window that fails to refresh  or does so slowly.
  • A window that contains distorted and corrupted visuals.
  • On Windows Vista, the screen flickers.
  • On Windows XP, a blue screen crash sometimes occurs.
  • The occurrence of a Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR) which is when the computer appears completely "frozen" while, in reality, it is processing an end-user command or operation.
  • SmartSDR indicates that your graphics adapter is not providing any graphics acceleration when the graphics card meets the requirements to provide partial or full graphics acceleration.

Steps to resolve graphic issues in SmartSDR-Win

1.  The first step is to install the most recent version of the .NET 4.0 Framework. You can get the latest version of the .NET Framework from the .NET Framework Developer Center. Also use Windows Update to ensure that you have installed the latest service pack for your operating system, as well as, all recent updates.

2.  The next step is to obtain and install the most recent drivers for your graphics card. Visit the Web site of your graphics card’s or system’s manufacturer to obtain the latest drivers. Furthermore, it is always a good idea to upgrade your system BIOS to the latest version that is available, as there may be fixes pertaining to your graphics card in the most up-to-date system BIOS especially if the video is integrated on the motherboard. Visit the Web site of your system manufacturer to obtain the most recent system BIOS for your computer. You can then re-launch your application to see whether the issue is resolved or is persistent. 

3.  Third-party graphics driver "wrappers" are interfering with the native operation of your graphics adapter.  Some PC remote control programs will load a graphics driver "accelerator" that will adversely interact with SmartSDR-Win preventing the GPU on the graphics adapter from rendering the spectrum displays.  In these cases, the CPU is providing the rendering which is slow and will result in high CPU utilization. The LogMeIn (LMI) applications has been identified as one of the worse culprits for interfering with the proper operation of SmartSDR-Win.  Disabling or removing the third-party remote control program will resolve this issue.

4.  If you have multiple monitors connected to different graphics adapters, starting SmartSDR-Win on the monitor connected to a graphics card that does not support DirectX 9 or greater will cause SmartSDR to use software rendering rather than hardware rendering.  In this case, try starting SmartSDR-Win and use it on a different monitor

5.  If the issue persists, try running SmartSDR-Win on another computer with a different and better model/brand of graphics card and the most up-to-date drivers. This will indicate whether the issue is due to bugs in the display drivers.  If this is success, recommend upgrading the video card to one that supports DirectX 10 or greater.

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