Revision [1554]

This is an old revision of SystemRequirements made by MarioKleiner on 2009-12-05 17:45:03.


Psychtoolbox-3 - System Requirements

Operating system:
Runtime environment:
Additional software:
Basic hardware requirements:
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 and the types of stimuli you can create with ease will depend much more on the horsepower and features of your gfx-adapter than on the horsepower of your cpu.

If you buy a new computer and want to be on the safe side, make sure to get a recent Direct3D-10 or Direct3D-11 capable (also known as OpenGL-3 capable, or ShaderModel 4 compliant) graphics card from NVidia or AMD/ATI. Almost all cards of the NVidia GeForce 8 series and later (e.g., 8600, 8800, 9600, 9800, GTX 280 etc.), as well as all cards of the ATI Radeon HD series and later (HD 2400, 2600, 3000 series, 4000 series etc.) and their corresponding counterparts from the NVidia Quadro series and ATI FireGL / FirePro line of cards are technically state of the art and Psychtoolbox can take full advantage of their features.

Follow this link to our graphics hardware requirements page for more detailed information and recommendations for graphics hardware.

Users of Intel-based Macs should be aware that some iMacs (e.g., Intel MacBook) use a built-in Intel GMA graphics adaptor. The gfx-cards of the GMA-950 series are known to have very low graphics performance and a very restricted feature set. They are cheap and sub-standard by any definition. See e.g., this Wikipedia article for further information. While the Intel GMA X3100 series and later are also Direct3D-10 compliant in theory, in practice they suffer from a few limitations, and the quality and performance of their driver support is unclear and untested by us. They may or may not work well for your purpose, but chosing a NVidia or ATI part has historically proven to be a safer bet.

The same holds true for most products of Matrox and 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 dual display work (e.g, binocular stereo stimulation), we recommend using dual-head gfx-adapters (i.e. one card with two output connectors) instead of multiple separate adapters. 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. We also recommend mostly avoiding Mac OSX for dual display realtime stimulus presentation, as Apple seems to be mostly incapable of and uninterested in implementing decent support for high performance, tear-free dual display support. For rather static stimuli or use as a control monitor, OSX may be good enough.
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