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Returning to flight sim , off the shelf advice please


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Good evening all!


After about 8 yrs away from Flight sim it’s time to return. A few years ago I went from pcs to a Mac (mainly for work purposes , and it’s great for that) .. however I’ve been trying to run X-Plane 11 on it , and if I have more than one tree showing at a distance of 900 miles the frame rate allows me to boil the kettle and have a small meal before it updates.


So , I’m looking for some advice re an off the shelf pc (I’ve built one many moons ago but don’t really want to go down that path again for now) ... something that can live with p3d and X-Plane 11 , but here’s the catch .. ideally I would like to spend up to £1000 ... sorry for the noob question , but any advice is appreciated!





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If you've built a PC in the past, then you'll know what to look for and the various 'gotchas' to avoid with pre-built PCs, i.e. a lot of PCs built to a price which might at first glance look like a bargain will have one or two things which give the game away and which will make them not a great choice. For a kick off, there is the motherboard, and specifically, what socket it is using for the CPU, thus what CPU it can actually take if you should decide to ever swap that down the line. If on the other hand you know you'd be happy to stay with the CPU you get, then this is less of an issue of course. The other thing is what slots the motherboard has, i.e. is there room to add more RAM? can it take additional things such as fancy soundcards etc.


So, with this in mind, first thing to probably decide, is what CPU you want, and so you know what to look for, here's some of the better CPUs you can get at present, these are some which will give you the kick which P3D will be happy with. Don't be afraid to go with something other than an Intel processor, just because many people do so does not mean they are the only viable choice, in fact, the best AMD Ryzen processor is faster than the best Intel one:


AMD Ryzen 5 2600, AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, Intel Core i5 8400, AMD Ryzen 5 1600X, Intel Core i5 8600K, AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, Intel Core i7 8700K, AMD Ryzen 7 1700X, AMD Ryzen 7 1700


That's not an exhaustive list, but you probably won't go far wrong with any of those.


Next up, the GPU, again, just because everyone and his uncle says to get an NVidia graphics card, that doesn't mean you have to do so, AMD Radeon cards run flights sims really well too and the best ones are faster than the best NVidia ones as well because they have a larger memory bus (256 bit as opposed to the 192 bit of the NVidias, which can help to push those pixels around a bit quicker). But, whatever the choice, the really big deal with these things is how much VRAM they've got, and what speed that VRAM is, i.e. you're going to be wanting your GPU to have DDR5 VRAM, and if it has either 6 or 8GB of that, it'll be more than up to the job of running a flight sim okay. Here's a few good GPU choices:


Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB, AMD Radeon RX 570, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070.


Again, not an exhaustive list, but you probably won't go far wrong with any of the above.


Now you'll want to look at motherboard RAM. P3D and XP11 will actually run on as little as 4Gb of RAM, they'll take ages to load up, but they will do it, so realistically, you want a decent amount of RAM, say, at least 12 Gb, but more will definitely not hurt. since you are unlikely to find a cheapish PC which has a ton of RAM in it, what you can do is look at how many slots it has for RAM and perhaps look at adding to what it comes with some time in the future, so if you buy something with 8Gb of RAM in it, you can probably double that yourself for another 80 quid and the 2 minutes it takes to slot it in there, and 16 Gb of RAM is enough to have P3D and XP11 zipping along okay. But, make sure it is fast RAM, i.e. you want DDR4 RAM with a decent bus speed, and a good brand too, i.e. Corsair or some such.


One thing you also need, is stable power, so don't skimp on the PSU, i.e. go for something like a Corsair unit, but keep in mind that unlike a few years ago, when powerful GPUs needed a very high wattage PSU, GPUs are much more efficient these days and so you will find that what might seem like quite low wattage PSU in comparison to what you needed years ago for performance, is invariably up to the job these days.


The other thing which speeds things up a bit is a fast HD drive, and a solid state (SSD) one will make things load a lot quicker. But if you don't want to go for an SSD, since traditional HDD are cheaper and generally bigger, then don't get caught out by purchasing a PC with a smallish SSD, because XP11 and P3D with a bunch of add-ons is going to take up a lot of room. Keep in mind that external SSDs or mechanical HDs are always an option, as is adding another one internally, so if you plan on that, make sure you PC's case is up to it. and on the subject of cases...


Unless you're twelve years old and impressed by fancy PC cases which look like something off a crashed UFO, this is where you can save money by going for something with a fairly mundane yet functional case. Even better, you could buy a motherboard+RAM+CPU pre-built bundle and simply slot that into a plain case and that would doubtless save you some money and not be a difficult thing to build if you wanted to avoid getting the screwdrivers out for anything other than a few minutes work. A quick search online will find PC cases which are more than adequate for really not much money.


What is a useful thing to do, is to have a look on a web store which has a lot of choices, which gives you a bit of a feel for what things are going to cost and what you'll get for your money. then you can shop around with a good notion of what you are looking for, so here's a link to a UK-based PC store with a lot of choices, you don't have to buy from there of course, but there is plenty to browse to get you started on what you might want:



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For P3D (not sure about Xplane) it's largely CPU based and to make matters worse single threaded. Go here and look at the CPUs with a higher score in the single threaded department. Base your decision on that. I'm not too sure how well PCmark is, but it's probably better than shooting for any old CPU.



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