Windows 10 Bandwidth Estimates for XenDesktop

How much bandwidth do I need between my endpoint and a Windows 10 virtual desktop?

Note: Windows 2016 Bandwidth for XenApp on this blog

It depends on the apps, on the usage, on the user and on the XenDesktop version.

But “It Depends” isn’t a very good answer. Most of us who ask this question want a rough estimate, which is why I broke the bandwidth estimate down into 3 categories

  1. VDA Version: Certain releases of XenDesktop make improvements to the network utilization.  Bandwidth tests must account for these changes by looking at different VDA versions.
  2. Policy: XenDesktop policies can have a drastic impact on overall bandwidth utilization.  With heavier compression (at the expense of CPU), overall bandwidth usage drops.  Each test includes a look at WAN and  User Experience policies (defined at the end).
  3. Workload: A user watching videos and browsing Internet content will consume significantly more bandwidth that someone mostly using Office applications.  The workloads are broken down across task worker, knowledge worker and power worker.

First, let’s look at the averages for a 60 minute simulation:

For the task worker, there appears to be a noticeable bandwidth reduction with the 7.17 release. By only focusing on the averages, we miss out on capturing spikes in network usage.  To get a better idea on the network bursts, let’s look at the 95th percentile

Again, we see a drop in the task worker with the User Experience Policy in the 7.17 release.  We also see a constant drop in network usage for the Power worker with the User Experience policy.

Let’s now break this down by app:

Why is PowerPoint so high?  When presenting, each slide change causes a spike in usage. Creating slides, on the other hand, has minimal bandwidth usage, similar to the usage estimates for Word.

Finally, let’s look at one more graph, looking at different bandwidth usages for video (based on quality).

Will these numbers be what you will get from a real-world environment? Not likely because your applications and your users are unique.  However, these data points will let us see how different VDA versions, policies and workloads can impact the overall bandwidth usage.

Note: The naming convention is follows: “Workload – XenDesktop Policy”

The XenDesktop policies are

Policy WAN UX
Audio Quality Low High
Desktop wallpaper Disabled Allowed
Dynamic windows preview Prohibited Enabled
Extra color compression Disabled Disabled
Limit video quality Max 480p/720kbps Not configured
Menu animation Prohibited Allowed
Preferred color depth for simple graphics 16 bits per pixel 24 bits per pixel
Target frame rate 16 fps 30 fps
Target minimum frame rate 8 fps 10 fps
Use video codec for compression Do not use video codec For the entire screen
View window contents while dragging Allowed Allowed
Visual quality Low High


Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
XenApp/XenDesktop On-Prem Poster
XenApp/XenDesktop Cloud Service Poster
Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 VDI Handbook


Latest XenApp XenDesktop bandwidth utilization tests

As many of you saw, XenApp and XenDesktop 7.17 was recently released.  And again, there are statements saying that due to optimizations in the codecs, bandwidth usage rates dropped again.

Is it just me, or does it seem like every few releases Citrix finds ways to further reduce bandwidth consumption. When 7.13 came out, there were statements saying bandwidth utilization dropped. And in 7.17, we are hearing similar remarks.

I wanted to see how true this was, so I ran my own simulations. I decided to run tests against the 7.11, 7.12, 7.13, 7.14, 7.15, 7.16 and 7.17 releases.

Bandwidth Utilization

I know, the lines do get a bit jumbled, but you can see each simulation ran similar workloads as the rises in usage all appear within similar time periods.

To make it easier to see the overall bandwidth reductions, lets switch to a bar graph.

Bandwidth Utilization

Now you can easily see 3 distinct groupings of data:

  1. Group 1: 7.11 and 7.12
  2. Group 2: 7.13-7.16
  3. Group 3: 7.17

So it is true, 7.17 further reduces bandwidth consumption.

Daniel (Follow on Twitter @djfeller)
XenApp/XenDesktop On-Prem Poster
XenApp/XenDesktop Cloud Service Poster
Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 VDI Handbook