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I built a pc and wanted to share some thoughts.

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As the title said, I built a PC. Mainly it is for office use and serious photo editing, but I wanted to make sure the thing ran flight simulator well enough. For me it does, and that is astounding considering how old my graphics card is and wasnt one of the best in the first place (RX580- but more on that in a bit).


Disclaimer. When I say runs well, I find that above 24 fps I am happy, Oh and I dont have much traffic in the sky and run the simulator either in a window at 1080p or full screen at 1440p. Like all previous recent (ish!!) versions of FS, it runs better in a window presumable due to the lower pixel count. Most of the time I get at least that with HIGH settings and Live weather, often with the ULTRA preset too. On MEDIUM settings, the thing just runs and runs and no problems.


I thought I'd share some of the thinking behind spec selection and have a little look about what the computer is doing while flightsim is running. I am no expert in these matters at all, and any wisdom will be a summary of other peoples ideas from various corners of the internet.


The processor.


The Intel vs AMD question. In my own case this was answered for me by my need to do multiple core processes (non FS). AMD Ryzen is just cheaper. The internet seems to think that these Ryzen processors are fast enough. So I went with one of those. A 3900x.


I have checked the processor usage while flying, and of the 12 cores I have, FS uses 1 core extensively and 3 others to a lesser extent. So a 6 core processor (Ryzen 3600) would have been enough. However I am mindful that Direct x 12 support (supposedly coming soonish) will up the core count usage- dont ask me how or why.


Motherboard and RAM.


These were the hardest things to understand as from my reading I gathered that not all RAM is equal, that there is speed and latency- you want more of the first and less of the latter, and that achieving the advertised specifications of RAM sticks is an overclock to the processor. That meant a motherboard with sufficient power delivery.


I had decided on 64gb of RAM, speed 3600mhz latency 18 in two 32gb sticks (they need to be a matched pair). This is overkill for flight simulator (in terms of capacity). I've not had the simulator use more than 18-20gb of it at any one time yet- but that is still a lot and leads to the conclusion that 32gb is probably a decent minimum for no fuss.


I went with a B550 motherboard and was glad that the prices had become more reasonable by late August. I wanted plenty of USB ports, wifi, and more than one type C. I went with a Gigabyte Vision D. I could have spent £100 less on an MSI Gaming Edge Wifi. However for me the built in thunderbolt controller was a very desirable feature. I doubt very many people would need that.


Graphics Card.


I was so close to the release of new graphics cards by Nvidia and AMD that I could not justify spending serious money on something that would probably drop in price significantly after November. So I pulled my old RX580 out of my 2012 Mac Pro and gave it back its original.


Storage and power supply.


These chose themselves. I wanted 2tb of SSD storage and the cheapest and easiest way to do it in late august was an NVME 2tb ADATA SX8200pro. And for the power supply I went with the most reasonable 700W Bronze I could find.


The thing has cost me £1300, but bear in mind that there is an additional 500 or so to spend on a graphics card at some point. If we take off the features that were specific to my build (extra cores, RAM, thunderbolt etc) then it would have been closer to 800(however I already had a GPU to shove in there temporarily)


Oh and I already had a monitor.


Putting the whole thing together took less than an hour start to finish. The only tools required were a couple of screwdrivers. This was however after a lot of research and notemaking.


My monitor is 1440p, so 4k isn’t an aspiration for now, nevertheless I was surprised at how well FS runs on this machine. The processor is not particularly fast, AMD processors are fast enough and no more, and the graphics card is a mid to low range from quite a few years ago.


At 1440p MEDIUM is always playable and playable well and smoothly. High works well as long as I’m not flying over Athens or some other BIG city with lots of drawn buildings, and ULTRA is ok once I’m a few thousand feet over the ground.

Playing in a window, 1080p is fine at ULTRA.


I do find in terms of visuals, HIGH is a nice setting, so I am looking forward to upgrading the graphics card, and perhaps multi monitor support, secure that the settings are not THAT taxing on my system in general.


Moreover I feel I have laid down the foundations for a system that can grow as the simulator becomes more bulky and resource intensive over the years.


I've posted this because there are many questions asking if this or that hardware is suitable. Well it would seem that any AMD Ryzen processor with 6 or more cores will be suitable. There are many complicated guides about how to squeeze the last framerate out of it, but I have used an old GPU and got reasonable results. I will admit my RAM and storage are fast, but they were not particularly more expensive than slower RAM or storage.


NAturally others will be more demanding in terms of frame rate, but with new graphics cards being released, there are ways to achieve those things in the near future.

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