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Microsoft Flight Simulator - Can I Run It?


Microsoft Flight Simulator - Can I Run It?

By Michael Hayward

You're looking to run Microsoft Flight Simulator but don't haveaccess to a NASA-spec PC? You need not worry, as you don't need one!Don't believe me? Then read on!

A lot of the tips and tricks mention come from an MSFS Beta usernamed Babu, who helped me with some of the finer details of the videoI published on my channel. Those who have Beta access to the simulatorshould check out his fantastic guide to see what they can push out oftheir platform! His guide also goes into detail surrounding hisbenchmarking and finer details as to what each option does.


In this article/video we will take a look at my system spec in somedetail, while also having a look at my in-sim settings to see what Iam running and what tweaks I have made to allow the simulator to lookgood while running on an older spec machine.

My computer consists of the following:

  • Intel Core i7 6700
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX1660
  • 16 GB DDR4 RAM

Bar the GTX1660 which was a purchase made just over a year ago, mysystem spec matches closely with a system that someone would buy backin the mid-2010s. This includes a 6th generation Intel processor(released in 2015) while my ram is DDR4, which became widely availableback in 2014. Most newer systems will include 16GB of RAM as standard,while the 6700 will have around the same performance as a modern-speci3 processor (or thereabouts).

Taking a closer look at the graphics card, the Nvidia GeForceGTX1660 is sold as a medium-high spec card for those on a budget. Thiswas bought for £215 when new, but nowadays they can be purchasedfor around £175. The card is geared towards those that want toenjoy 1080P on most AAA games, but didn't want to fork out for thethen-new RTX20 series cards and now the RTX30s (these often generate alot of heat and so are unstable for small form factor builds).

Coupled with 6GB of VRAM, the 1660 is certainly enough to run thenew simulator with relative ease (as long as you stay at 1080P. As aminimum, Microsoft Flight Simulator only requires a GTX970, which isquite impressive considering the visual quality.


On my system, the simulator is installed on an SSD. This means thatloading times are certainly improved, especially when you consider theinstall at present is over 100GB. If you're reading this, and haveFlight Simulator installed on a regular HDD, then an SSD wouldcertainly help in terms of maximising your performance, and istherefore something I would highly recommend.

In terms of finding a bottleneck, I have found two on my system,and this is only during certain conditions.

When running the simulator on its own, my CPU usage will jump toaround 50-70% depending on the type of aircraft I am flying and whatoperations I am doing, for example...manipulating the FMS and creatingflight plans will require some more calculations and therefore amomentary CPU spike. My RAM sits at around 40% usage, while my GPUwill run high at around 80-90%. This is due to the large texturesinvolved and the limited VRAM on my GPU. If you're looking to upgradeyour card and want something to give the simulator an extra helpinghand, then an 8GB graphics card will definitely help.

The other case of a bottleneck is with the CPU, but only whenrecording videos. Running an encoder in itself can be a rather heavytask, and so when run alongside the simulator, it just adds to thestrain. If you're looking to record videos of the flight simulatorfrom your system, then giving the CPU a little more breathing room orchanging your encoder to potentially run off the GPU would certainlyhelp. A little food for thought...as well as the PC; Flight Simulator2020 is going to be released on the new Xbox, which is based aroundZen/Ryzen hardware. With this factored in; I would say that a 6 or 8core Ryzen or Intel CPU would serve you well.

Taking a look at both the minimum and recommended spec for theall-new platform, it is certainly safe to say that you don't need NASAhardware to make it look good!

The Technical Bit

Review PC Spec:

  • Windows 10 Professional
  • 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 6700K Processor
  • 16 GB RAM
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1660
  • 200 Mbps Download

Microsoft Flight Simulator Minimum Requirements:

  • Windows 10 May 2020 Update
  • Ryzen 3 1200 / Intel i5-4460
  • Radeon RX 570 / NVIDIA GTX 770
  • VRAM: 2GB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • HDD: 150GB
  • Bandwidth: 5 Mbps

Microsoft Flight Simulator Recommended:

  • Ryzen 5 1500X / Intel i5-8400
  • Radeon RX 590 / Nvidia GTX 970
  • VRAM: 4GB
  • RAM: 16GB
  • HDD: 150GB
  • Bandwidth: 20 Mbps

Microsoft Flight Simulator Ideal:

  • Ryzen 7 Pro 2700X / Intel i7-9800X
  • Radeon VII / Nvidia RTX 2080
  • VRAM: 8GB
  • RAM: 32GB
  • HDD: 150GB (SSD recommended)
  • Bandwidth: 50 Mbps

Michael Hayward


Flight Simulator 2020 First Impressions

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