Understanding Windows Vista Aero Glass Requirements

By Lowell Heddings on January 21st, 2007

The Windows Vista Aero Glass interface is one of the major changes in the newest version of windows. What is less clear for most people is what conditions have to be met for Aero to be enabled. If you are sure your system meets the requirements but it’s still not enabled, Here’s a list of conditions.

  • Your graphics card should support DirectX 9. Most decent cards already do.
  • The graphics card must support Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware. This is the critical piece that you will have to check with your graphics card manufacturer. If you have a newer ATI or NVIDIA card, you should be good.
  • The driver must be written specifically for Windows Vista. You’ll be able to see that your graphics card driver is a Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) driver by looking at the adapter type in device manager:
  • The system must be set to 32 bits per pixel. If you are running at a different color depth, this could be the reason why your system doesn’t have Aero enabled.
  • The primary monitor refresh rate must be set to at least 10hz. Why you’d have it set to less, I have no clue.
  • You must have a graphics card with at least 64MB of RAM in it, although I’d suggest a card with more memory. If you have a lower memory graphics card, you may have to decrease the resolution to enable Aero.
  • Your system must have at least 512mb of available RAM. I’d suggest using at least 1GB of RAM in your computer, and preferably even more.
  • Aero will not work on Windows Vista Basic edition. For best results, get the Ultimate version.

If you meet all of the conditions and Aero still isn’t enabled, you can manually enable Aero by right-clicking on the desktop, clicking Personalize, and clicking Window Color and Appearance.

You should see Windows Aero in the list. Click that, and hopefully Aero will now be enabled.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/21/07
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