- Apple Macintosh: Psychtoolbox is developed and tested under the latest version of Mac OSX (currently 10.4.11, resp. 10.5.1). We encourage users to use the latest version of OSX. Generally, we have found that keeping up to date with the OS provides better performance. Intel Macs are fully supported, as explained below. Although the toolbox continues to work (for the most part) under OSX 10.3.9, we no longer test for compatibility with that OS and don't plan to fix bugs or other issues related to it.
- Windows: Psychtoolbox-3 runs under Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Other Microsoft OSs are untested up to now. We do aim to keep the toolbox working under these versions of Windows, but this is a lower priority than OSX. As of 1. January 2008, Windows Vista is not tested for compatibility with PTB-3 by the developers, but we are aware that some people do run the toolbox under Vista and didn't receive any reports of trouble so far, so there are probably no apparent problems with it. Apart from that, there is no known benefit of running Vista over XP, so there is no reason to switch to it.
- Linux: There is also experimental support for the GNU/Linux operating system on Intel PCs in combination with Matlab 7.x or GNU/Octave 2.1.73. Due to our limited resources, we can only provide very limited support for this version. We are interested in feedback, and would welcome contributions from someone who wants to help develop this version.
- Recommended: the latest 32 bit version of Matlab (currently 7.5). PTB-3 is developed and tested for compatibility with the latest 32-bit version of Matlab. We normally only fix bugs that affect running with the current Matlab. Even so, most functions work in Matlab 6.5 and later under Mac OSX and in Matlab 5.x and later under Windows.
- Windows: Matlab version 7.4 (Release 2007a) and later are mostly supported. You may need to install some Microsoft Visual C runtime libraries to make it work, but our installer should give you instructions on how to do that if neccessary. Some old and rather obscure / obsolete MEX files that used to be bundled for Matlab releases prior to 7.4 are no longer supported - they are not really needed anymore.
- Linux: Currently only Matlab 7.4 and GNU/Octave 2.1.73 are supported, other Matlabs of the 7.x series may work as well.
- 64-bit Matlab: Running under Matlab in 64 bit mode is not supported. But 64-bit Matlab can be run in a 32-bit mode by starting it with a command line switch: matlab.exe -win32 will start 32 bit matlab on Windows, matlab -glnx86 will start 32 bit matlab on Linux.
- Apple Quicktime: Psychtoolbox needs Quicktime 7 on OSX or Quicktime 6 or 7 on Windows for movie playback. We recommend staying up to date with the latest releases.
- For video capture support on Windows, you need to install a Quicktime video digitizer component. The free WinVDIG is known to work for USB webcams and standard consumer DV cameras with Firewire connectors and Psychtoolbox has been tested with some version of that plugin. Another (untested) option is the VDIG from AbstractPlane, which costs a small bit of money, but presumably comes with commercial support. Please note that video capture capabilities on MS-Windows are very basic and limited, probably only useable for projects with low demands.
Basic hardware requirements:
- Power-Macs: Any PowerPC based Macintosh computer capable of running Mac OSX 10.3.9 or later.
- Intel-Macs: Any Intel-based Macintosh computer. For the most up to date infos on Intel Macintosh support, click this link.
- Matlab V7.4 (Release 2007a) and later fully support Intel Macs. The current PTB-3 works flawlessly with it, so we recommend this for productive use.
- Old Matlab 7.x versions for Power PC based Macintosh computers are known to run successfully in the Rosetta software emulation mode when started from a terminal window with the matlab -nojvm switch. They will run without any graphical user interface, however, and any Java based functions (e.g., GetChar) are disabled.
- Intel PCs: Any Intel-compatible PC that is capable of running the 32/64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows 2000/XP or GNU/Linux.
Graphics hardware requirements:
Basic Psychtoolbox functions should work on any OpenGL 1.2 capable graphics card with at least 16 MB of video ram (VRAM). Fast stimulus drawing and use of the more advanced features requires recent graphics hardware. In general you should not try to save money on the gfx-adapter, as performance of your stimulus script may depend much more on the horsepower of your gfx-adapter than on the horsepower of your cpu.
Follow this link to our graphics hardware requirements page for detailed information about requirements for graphics hardware.
Users of the new Intel-based Macs should be aware that some iMacs (e.g., Intel MacBook) use a built-in Intel GMA graphics adaptor. These gfx-cards are known to have very low graphics performance and a very restricted feature set. They are cheap and sub-standard by any definition. The PTB evolves to use new OpenGL features as they appear in graphics cards. If you want to use these features or just want high performance graphics we recommend buying computers and cards that contain recent gfx-hardware from ATI or NVidia. See e.g., this Wikipedia article for further information.
The same holds true for most products of Matrox ans S3. As Matrox and S3 seem to have mostly retreated from the 3D graphics market, most of their products are not a good choice for OpenGL based applications like Psychtoolbox. Even the products that nominally claim to support hardware accelerated OpenGL, have a pretty limited feature set and performance, and the quality of their 3D drivers leaves something to be desired. If you're searching for a good graphics card for pure 2D imaging (non OpenGL , non PTB etc.), multi-display office work or medical imaging, they are a good choice though.
For the impatient, the following is a rough classification of gfx hardware by its suitability for PTB-3.
- Absolute minimum configuration: Any graphics card capable of basic support for hardware accelerated OpenGL 1.2 with at least 16 MB of video RAM (VRAM) and good (high quality) driver support from its manufacturers.
- Reasonable minimum configuration: A graphics card that supports the GL_TEXTURE_RECTANGLE_EXT and (on Mac OSX if you make use of Quicktime movie playback) GL_UNPACK_CLIENT_STORAGE_APPLE extensions. All gfx-cards on OS-X except the ATI Rage (128/Pro/M) series do support these extensions. On MS-Windows, NVidia Geforce-2 and later are known to support these extensions as well. We recommend at least 32 MB, better 64-128 MB of VRAM if you want to run a dual-display setup or make use of textures or offscreen windows.
- Recommended configuration: The more recent, the better! Recent gfx cards improved continously in the following areas:
- Drawing performance: For example, state of the art gfx can draw more than 500,000 points per frame at a refresh rate of more than 100 Hz.
- Anti-aliasing: Automatic high quality anti-aliasing and subpixel accurate positioning of drawing primitives is supported on recent gfx-adapters.
- Programmability: Psychtoolbox takes advantage of modern programmable pixel shaders for features like built-in stereo presentation algorithms, on-the-fly image processing, or support for special purpose output devices like, e.g., high dynamic range displays.
- For dual display, we recommend using dual-head gfx-adapters (i.e. one card with two output connectors) instead of multiple separate adapters. Multiple cards may work equally well, but PTB has only been tested with single card, dual-head configurations. We expect dual-head single-card performance to be higher and the likelihood of gfx-driver bugs to be lower. Note, too, that stereo work may benefit from the display synchrony provided by the dual-head cards. Synchrony is usually hard to achieve with separate cards.