3D acceleration with Virtualbox 3.0 : DirectX, OpenGl and a Windows guest

I recently managed to get 3D acceleration working with Virtualbox 3.0.x running a Windows guest.

I can’t lay claim to figuring this out myself, all credit goes to the guide at Dedoimedo.com, “DirectX in VirtualBox 3.0.0 – Pure joy is here”.

In a nutshell:

  • Install a Windows guest under Virtualbox, as you normally would.
  • Shutdown the virtual machine, and under SettingsDisplay, click the checkbox to turn on 3D acceleration. I also pushed the slider up to 128 Mb of video memory.
  • Reboot the Windows guest into Safe Mode, by pressing F8 during bootup.
  • Install the Virtualbox Guest Additions while in Safe Mode. Ensure you select the optional component “Direct3D Support” during the installation.
  • Reboot the Windows guest. You should now have 3D acceleration for programs that use DirectX …

The “Safe Mode” trick was the key part I was missing when I first tried – the Guest Additions installer seems to give no indication that the Direct3d component will silently fail if it is not installed under “Safe Mode”.

One extra issue I experienced, in my case when running Unity3D, was that the mouse was ultra-sensitive, to the point of being unusable, when used in a window displaying 3D graphics. In VMware, this can be fixed by setting Preferences – Input – Optimized Mouse for Games – Always. Presently, I do not know how to fix this issue in Virtualbox.

3 thoughts on “3D acceleration with Virtualbox 3.0 : DirectX, OpenGl and a Windows guest

  1. My suspicion with the mouse being ultra-sensitive in Unity3D is that it’s getting absolute mouse coordinates?

    I had that issue while using Unity3D and synergy (share a mouse and keyboard across different machines).

    My windows box was the client, hence getting absolute mouse co-ordinates. In synergy, you can change the mouse to use relative mouse co-ordinates by locking the mouse to a client, hence solving the ultra-sensitive mouse problem.

    Maybe try disable mouse integration? I would try, but my Direct3D fails in VirtualBox 🙁

  2. I’m now running VirtualBox 4.2 (the Oracle non-opensource edition). You should be able to go to the Devices->Install Guest Addtions menu, and on a Windows guest an installer will launch inside the VM. If that’s not working, I’m not sure this is the best place to ask.

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