In an earlier blog,  we had discussed what is Microsoft AVD – Azure Virtual Desktop and why it is gaining popularity. In this blog, we present various community and vendor resources that can help you choose the right Azure instances for your Microsoft AVD deployment.

Updates: This blog is updated as the community releases new material.

Windows virtual desktop logo

In a recent survey of 1,050 digital workspace professionals, eG Innovations and xenappblog reported that 34% of respondents were already using Microsoft AVD. AVD was also the most popular DaaS service in the cloud.

Key Questions Regarding AVD Deployment on Azure

Here, at eG Innovations, we offer a wealth of monitoring and simulation tools to allow you to monitor what real users are experiencing when accessing Microsoft AVD. You can also use our tools to benchmark user experience when using different configurations for AVD. There are a vast array of different Azure instances, storage, and networking options available to administrators.

At the same time, Microsoft AVD is a relatively new product. Hence, many administrators are looking for data points and recommendations from the community on what they can expect when using different Azure instances and methodologies they can use to baseline and sanity-check configuration choices.

Digital workspace administrators want to know:

  • Which Azure instances to select from the large number of instance types available for AVD?
  • What user densities they can expect with multi-user AVD relative to their traditional RDSH deployments (How many users can be supported for a VM)?
  • Man thinkingWhat user-densities to expect for a single-user VDI?
  • What GPU, networking, and storage is needed?
  • Cost vs. density balance

So, I thought I’d collect some community and vendor data around benchmarking and baselining specific Azure instances to use as external data points. This is really a collection of links to other people’s real-world methods and experiences that I can reference if folks ask me for external independent data. I’d like to keep updating this list as new instances become available – so if you spot or generate any data-testing specific instances that might guide choice, do comment on this blog or let me know so that I can add it!

Choosing the Right Azure Instance Types for AVD

For many larger organizations looking to use Microsoft AVD, they are choosing to retain their existing Citrix management stack and organizational expertise by leveraging a Citrix Management Stack on Azure. Often, their administrators have experience with deploying both Citrix Virtual Apps (was XenApp) via RDSH or full VDI Citrix Virtual Desktops (formally XenDesktop) on on-premises hardware. With multi-user Windows 10 being only available on AVD via Azure, to offer a full native desktop experience (vs. what was a “Windows 10 desktop experience” via RDS on a Windows Server OS), many are looking for to move RDS workloads across and have expectations on user densities thatcan be achieved.

In practice, most reference architecture seem to be looking to a few specific Azure families of instances, notably the D and F series, and the NV series when GPUs are required.

Citrix Consulting themselves state: “Most Citrix deployments use the D-Series and F-Series instance types. The D-Series are commonly used for the Citrix infrastructure components and sometimes for the user workloads when they require extra memory beyond what is found in the F-Series instance types. F-Series instance types are the most common in the field for user workloads because of their faster processors which bring with them the perception of responsiveness.”

Further details as to why are within an excellent recent reference architecture (Feb 2021) from Loay Shbeilat: Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service on Azure.

There is also some guidance for Azure instance sizing available from Microsoft including guidance on multi-user usage and considerations, available here.

Nagaraj Arumugam, System and Network Engineer at Vembu Technologies, has a great blog summarizing the differences between the different Azure instance series relevant to EUC and VDI use cases. It’s a great summary reference, although the comprehensive Microsoft site will always be the ultimate reference.

Update 2nd March 2023: Microsoft have recently announced some new instance families with a public preview of Azure Dlsv5/Dldsv5 Virtual Machines, promising to offer “up to 30 percent increased performance and better price-to-performance than the Fsv2 VMs”, Compute Intensive workloads gain better price-performance on Azure Dlsv5/Dldsv5 VM in public preview – Microsoft Community Hub. These may well be a newer alternative to the F-Series options popular for Citrix and AVD type use cases for the community to evaluate.

Community and Vendor Resources detailing Azure Instance Choices

Author Article / Blog Key Methodology Points Azure Instances Investigated Date
Ryan Mangan, ex-CTO at Systech IT Solutions and now CTO at appCURE Sizing and Performance benchmark testing – Windows Virtual Desktop – Ryan Mangan’s IT Blog
  • PC Mark 10 benchmark
  • Compared AMD vs Intel
  • Investigated NVIDIA GPU-enabled N6 instances
  • Investigated burstable Virtual Machines
D64as_v4, D16as_v4, D8as_v4, D4as_v4, D2as_v4, DS3 v2, D4S_v3, NV6, F16s_v2,
E16-4s_v3, B4ms, NV6
August 2020
Patrick van den Born, CTP What is the best Azure Virtual Machine size for WVD using Citrix Cloud? | GO-EUC (
  • Investigated lower user density due to hyperthreading and CPU exploit mitigations (spectre)
  • Investigated cost/value and concluded that the D-series VM’s (D4S_v3 and DS3_v2) are the best VMs for multi-session workloads based on the user density results
D4s_v3, DS3_v2, F4S_v2, B4ms July 2020
Loay Shbeilat, Solutions Architect, Citrix Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service on Azure Details of appropriate VMs to use for Delivery Controllers/Cloud Connectors and other components as well as user desktops F16s_v2, DS2_v2, DS2_v3, DS5_v2, F4_v2, F8_v2,
F2_v2 Also mentioned are GPU enabled options NVv3 (NVIDIA) and NVv4 (AMD)
Feb 2021
Loay Shbeilat, Solutions Architect, Citrix The scalability and economics of delivering Citrix Virtual App and Desktop services on Azure
  • Focus on cost vs user-density considerations
  • Compares density expectations of RDS on Server 2016 and 2019 with Windows 10 Multisession
DS2_v2, DS3_v2, DS4_v2, DS5_v2, D12_v2, D13_v2, D14_v2,
L8s, E8_v3, F2s_v2, F4s_v2, F8s_v2, F16s_v2
Oct 2020
Stefan Dingemanse (Senior Platform Engineer @Veerman ICT) & Neil McLoughlin   Technical Architect @New Signature (Now UK CTO Nerdio) PPT from Microsoft meets the WVD Community – Episode 1!
  • Includes investigations and discussions comparing F-series and D-series
  • Includes real application tests including Word, PowerPoint and Excel
Ds2_v3, D4s_v3, F16s_v3, F8s_v2, D8s_v3, D4s_v4 Oct 2020
Marius Sandbu Write up of a session at Microsoft Meets WVD Community – 3rd Edition A general migration guide including some details on instance choices D2_v3, D4_v3, Das_v4, NVv3 / NVv4 Nov 2020
Torbjörn Tbone Granheden, Solution Architect, Coligo AB Teams Media Optimizations on Windows Virtual Desktop A great investigation into Microsoft Teams and Teams on AVD with Media Optimizations
Investigated benefits of choosing a GPU-enabled instance
NV4as_v4, D4s_v4 Feb 2021
VDI Drones – Performance Gurus Benchmarking the Windows Virtual Desktop A close look at the AVD IOPS values DS1_v2, DS2_v2, DS3_v2 Feb 2021
Toby Skerritt at Foundation IT 3D Performance Benchmarks in Azure Virtual Desktop Benchmarking and cost to value evaluation of GPU enabled instances NVas_v4, NVs_v3, NC_T4_v3, NCasT4_v3 July 2021

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About the Author

Rachel has worked as developer, product manager and marketing manager at Cloud, EUC, application and hardware vendors such as Citrix, IBM, NVIDIA and Siemens PLM. Rachel now works on technical content and engineering and partner liaison for eG Enterprise”