Microsoft Flight Simulator PC Performance Review and Optimisation Guide
Published: 24th August 2020 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
Microsoft Flight Simulator is unlike any other game on the market today. This is a game that lacks the spectacle and story-rich aspects of most modern AAA titles and focuses instead on simulation accuracy and the wonders of flight. This is no combat sim, just a simple game about flight, allowing gamers to experience what it is like to be a pilot, and the difficulties they face when traversing the globe.
With Microsoft Flight Simulator's 2020 incarnation, Microsoft and Asobo Studios have combined their latest technologies to deliver gaming's most realistic world-scale map and visuals which are worthy of the phrase "next-generation". Microsoft plans to update and upgrade Microsoft Flight Simulator over the next 10 years, and that means that players can expect the game to change over time, receiving new content, upgraded visuals, ray tracing and more.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has already been called "this generation's Crysis", citing the hardware demands of the title, especially during take-off and landing actions. In this piece, we will be exploring how CPU core counts, latencies and graphical settings impact this game's performance, and how much GPU horsepower you really need to play Flight Simulator with stable framerates.
While this title is demanding, Flight Simulator is a game which will likely run better as the game is patched and updated over time. In the future, and Xbox version of this game is planned, as are ray tracing upgrades, confirming that the game will be upgraded from DirectX 11 to support DirectX 12. These developments will likely enable further hardware optimisations on PC, even for those without ray tracing hardware.
- PC System Requirements & Graphics Options
- Graphical Settings Comparisons - Near Land/Take-Off
- Graphical Settings Comparisons - In the Air
- CPU Performance - Core Scaling - Does Flight Simulator need a DX12 Update
- CPU Performance - Settings Scaling
- GPU Performance Scaling - RX 5700 VS RTX 2060 & RX 580 VS GTX 1060
- Resolution Scaling - Faux-K VS 4K
- 1080p Performance - CPU Limits Revealed
- 1440p Performance
- 4K Performance - Is MSFS the new Crysis?
When testing Microsoft Flight Simulator, we opted to use the newest drivers from both the Radeon and Geforce camps. These drivers are AMD's Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 20.8.2 driver as well as Nvidia's Geforce 452.06 WHQL driver.
Testing Methodology - Our New Test System
A Total War Saga: Troy is the first game to utilise OC3D's new games test system. We plan to detail this system further at a later date and explain our hardware selections in detail.
For now, we will say that we can see many future PC games utilising larger core/thread counts and requiring SSD storage. This system will allow us to provide more detailed core scaling tests and provide us with a strong baseline for storage-based performance testing; which can span from 3.5-inch SATA-based mechanical storage drives to PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSDs.
You can expect to hear more about this system in a future article, where we will detail the construction of this system and compare it to our previous games testing system.
CPU & Motherboard - AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Formula
There is a lot to consider when building a new games testing system. Will this system stand up to the test of time. Does this system contain the features that new games will require, and are we choosing the right CPU platform for the job?
With the next-generation of consoles coming with Zen 2 processors and support for PCIe 4.0 storage, it was logical to choose a Ryzen-based test platform. Intel's current offerings do not offer PCIe 4.0 support, and we cannot build a new test system knowing that it will be outdated as soon as games start to utilise faster storage mediums.
With ASUS' ROG X570 Crosshair VII Formula, we know that we have a motherboard that has capable VRMs to withstand the punishments that a hardware test system must face. With X570 we also know that we can upgrade to Zen 3/Ryzen 4000 should we ever need to.
Memory - Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB Series DDR4 @ 3600MHz
Having chosen a Ryzen processor for our new test systems, we needed capable memory modules which offered clock speed that would allow us to get the most out of our Ryzen processor.
3600MHz memory is the "sweet-spot" for Ryzen 3000 series processors, offering high levels of memory bandwidth while settings AMD's Infinity Fabric speeds to optimal levels. With this speed in mind, we decided to opt for Corsair's Dominator Platinum RGB series of DDR4 modules, as it offers us a great aesthetic, has modules that offer our optimal memory speeds and has relatively tight timings given its clock speeds.
SSD Storage - Corsair MP600 2TB PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD
As we mentioned previously, future games are going to require fast NVMe storage. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will make fast SSD storage a baseline feature of new gaming systems.
PCIe 4.0 devices are an obvious choice for those who want SSDs with the most potential throughput, making Corsair's MP600 SSD a great option for us. With 2TB of storage available to it, it offers us more than enough storage for even the largest of PC games. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare/Warzone will need a lot more 50GB upgrades before we would even dream of filling this SSD.
Case - Corsair Obsidian 500D RGB SE
When it comes to PC cases we require two things, a large case (to accommodate large GPUs) that's easy to access and looks good on camera. When new graphics cards start to flood in, we need a case that can look good on video. Beyond that, when testing new graphics cards, we need an enclosure with a side panel that's easy to take on and off, speeding up our testing procedures.
With these requirements in mind, Corsair's Obsidian 500D RGB SE was a perfect fit. It is large enough to accommodate any graphics card without interfering with a front-mounted AIO liquid cooler, and it has a hinged side panel to make component switching fast and straightforward. For our use case, this chassis is perfect.
Power Supply - Corsair RM1000i
Your power supply is the most important part of any test system. There's a reason why rule number 1 for PC building is no never cheap out on your power supply.
Over the years, we have used many test systems which have been powered by Corsair's RMi series of power supplies, and the reasons behind that are simple. They are 80+ Gold rated, making them very power efficient, and we have never had an RMi power supply fail on us. If you read our PSU reviews, you will know that these units are solid performers.
Corsair Link is also a useful component of Corsair RMi series power supplies, as they allow us to see how much power the unit is using at any given time digitally.
We have also paired this unit with Corsair's premium braided cables, which gives our test system a more premium look.
Cooling - Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT
While we are keeping our Ryzen 9 3950X at stock clock speeds, we do want to do what we can to keep it cool under load. We also want to do what we can to keep our system as quiet as possible. With this in mind, we have decided to use Corsair's latest 360mm H150i series All-in-One Liquid Cooler.
With the iCUE H150i, we can control the units fans, pump and RGB lighting with the same software as our other system components and keep AMD's Ryzen 9 3950X cool with relative ease. When testing graphics cards, keeping other fan noise to a minimum is a must, as this allows us to properly judge the noise levels of specific graphics cards or other system components.
Full System Specifications
OC3D Game/GPU Test Rig
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Processpr
ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula (X570) Motherboard
Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB Series DDR4 3600MHz (2x8GB) Memory
Corsair RM1000i Power Supply
Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT All-in-One Liquid CPU Cooler
Corsair MP600 2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
Corsiar Obsidian 500D RGB SE Case
Windows 10 x64 "May 2020" Update
No gaming test suite would be complete without a large selection of GPUs. At OC3D our current test suite covers Nvidia's RTX 20-series and GTX 10-series GPUs alongside AMD's RDNA, RX Vega and RX 500 series graphics cards.
Radeon RX 5700 Series - Navi (RDNA)
- Powercolor Radeon RX 5700 XT Red Devil
- Powercolor Radeon RX 5700 Red Devil
Geforce RTX 20-Series & GTX 16-Series
- Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
- Nvidia RTX 2060 Founders Edition
- Palit GTX 1660 Super StormX
Geforce GTX 10-series
- Nvidia GTX 1070 Founders Edition
- ASUS GTX 1060 Strix Gaming OC
AMD RX Vega Series
- AMD RX Vega 56
AMD RX 500 Series
- AMD RX 580 Strix OC