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This page is for detailing compatibility issues that certain graphics cards have with Second Life. Officially, Linden Lab only supports what's listed on our System Requirements & Recommendations. However, we understand some Residents want to run SL on unsupported configurations — your results may vary, but this info will give you a better idea of what to expect.
Buying graphics cards
A great graphics card may not be as expensive as you think! Be a savvy shopper and check deals sites & stores like:
A wealth of comparison-shopping tools like:
also exist. Those mostly focus on the US, but there are deals to be had around the world.
While there are too many possibilities to describe succinctly, it's generally true that as time goes on, progressively powerful technology gets cheaper. For instance, as of 2008-10-30, GeForce 8800GTs which can run Second Life's graphics at Ultra (the highest) can be found for under US$100 after mail-in rebate. And many capable mid-range cards, like are US$50 or under.
More buying tips
- Yes, card numbering can be confusing — reading hands-on reviews at Tom's Hardware can help clarify which give the best "bang for the buck", like their "Best Graphics Cards For The Money: October 2008" article.
- With Nvidia cards, the second number in their model number is usually more important than the first (e.g., you're better off with a 7800 than an 8400). As such, you can usually find bargains amongst older generation high-end cards, which will outperform newer generation budget cards while being comparably priced or cheaper. Never buy an Nvidia card with a second digit lower than "6" if you intend to run heavy 3D applications (which SL clearly is), unless you have no choice.
- Your graphics card should be part of a well-balanced system. It won't do you much good to have a top-of-the-line card if you have a lacking power supply or small amount of RAM.
We highly recommend updating to the newest stable versions:
Ideally, we want SL to run and not crash on any graphics card that supports OpenGL Version 1.2 or later. Realistically, we can only support the latest version of drivers right now.
Sometimes you may get an error message upon starting Second Life that claims your drivers are out-of-date or unsupported. First, download the latest drivers for your graphics card and install them. If you've recently done so and have the latest drivers, uninstall them completely, then reinstall.
Drivers on Mac OS X
It's often assumed that Mac OS X does not use graphics card drivers, and it's certainly true that separate graphics card "updates" and "drivers" cannot be downloaded for the Mac.
However, OS X certainly does use graphics card drivers, but incorporates them into the OS itself. With the Mac, Apple integrates the hardware and software more closely than with Windows. The advantage: problems arise only rarely. The disadvantage: Macs are generally much less upgradeable with respect to their graphics capabilities.
Does this mean that any problems that emerge cannot be resolved? Not quite: on the occasions when a graphics driver has to be updated for Mac, it will be incorporated into the next Software Update release for the OS itself. So if you keep yourself up-to-date with these, then driver upgrades will take care of themselves.
If you're having problems with a specific graphics card and/or driver version, please share your details here.
- Knowledge Base - Search for words like "graphics". Relevant articles include:
- Public Issue Tracker - We use this to help us identify bugs to be fixed. Search for terms like the model of your graphics card (e.g., "X1600" or "GeForce") or related keywords (e.g., "invisible AND avatar"). You can also report a new issue and discuss it with fellow Residents.
- Technical Talk forums - The forums are searchable. This is Resident-to-Resident help; Lindens don't actively check here.
You can also contact our Support. Remember that specific details, and solid reproductions when there are bugs, help us help you.