• X-Plane 11 Preview

    X-Plane 11, The Sky's The Limit!

    By Stuart McGregor

    X-Plane 11 beta     X-Plane 11 beta     X-Plane 11 beta

    Since being introduced to the flight sim world several years back via FlightGear and then more recently to X-Plane via version 10, I have become totally addicted. So much so in fact, that a large chunk of my free time is now taken up either flying my favorite aircraft to far flung corners of the globe (well Scotland really) or making scenery or objects for use in my own and other flyers' sceneries. So when I became aware of the news that X-Plane 11 was to be released before the end of 2016, I was ecstatic to say the least! Over the subsequent weeks, I eagerly awaited for confirmation of the release date and signed up for the electronic download early on, as Laminar Research intimated that it would be out during the US holiday season.

    X-Plane 11 beta     X-Plane 11 beta     X-Plane 11 beta

    This preview is an initial quick look at the first public beta of X-Plane 11 and as such, I have tried to pick out a few bits and pieces that may be of interest to sim fans, especially those wondering what it offers over X-Plane 10. Hopefully this will also help with the question of whether to upgrade or purchase the full version for the first time. If however you are looking for an in-depth technical assessment of all the pros and cons of X-Plane 11 and all the finer points of the new sim, this probably isn't the place to look. However, if you're happy with a general overview and the observations of a very enthusiastic amateur then please read on.

    Purchase & Installation

    The $59.99 price tag for the X-Plane 10 digital download which included X-Plane 11 on the day it was released, for me, was almost irrelevant. It could have been 5 times that and I still would have bought it, such was my anticipation (the price of my addiction). Obviously not everyone will have the same view, but when you think about the endless hours of enjoyment you'll get from a product like X-Plane, 60 bucks doesn't sound too bad! Don't forget that in the bundle you're also getting the tried and tested X-Plane 10.

    X-Plane 11 beta     X-Plane 11 beta     X-Plane 11 beta

    So off I went, link and security code in hand and set about downloading the installer from the Laminar Research website. I have an internet speed of typically up to 1.5 MB/s on a good day, and on that particular day (a Sunday) it was ranging from 500 KB/s up to 1.5 MB/s, and I estimate the full download took about 5 to 6 hours to complete with the Europe and Asia base mesh selected. After pacing up and down like an expectant father, and regularly checking of the installation progress (every 5 to 10 minutes - crazy I know), X-Plane 11 was eventually installed in all its glory, nestling nicely on my desktop.

    I should mention that I had earlier moved my copy of version 10 to an alternative drive on my PC until such a time that I am happy to move over to version 11 permanently.

    If I'm honest, it's taken me a good couple of years to really understand X-Plane with all its permutations and add-ons, so I wasn't about to ditch my old comfy shoes until the new ones are totally broken in. This is one of the helpful features X-Plane has over some of its competitors, the fact that it isn't embedded in the registry files and you can freely move (or delete) the whole folder with limited fuss.

    X-Plane 11 beta     X-Plane 11 beta     X-Plane 11 beta

    My own setup is based around a Windows PC running 8.1 Pro with 32 GB of RAM, an i7 5820K 3.3 GHz (stock) CPU, an NVIDIA GTX980Ti 6 GB GPU, an Asus X99-A motherboard, 500 GB SSD, 1 TB HHD and 3 x 27 inch screens. Not the absolute latest in tech, but still pretty decent in my view and more than capable of running X-Plane 10. In the rural Scottish scenery where I normally fly my Cessna with the HD mesh v3, high rendering settings for objects and graphics details such as roads and trees, I am typically getting fps rates of 40 to 50 on the ground and generally higher when up and about.

    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Great writeup Stuart!

      X-Plane 11 really does looks fantastic! Let's hope it has a promising future!


    1. alpilotx's Avatar
      alpilotx -
      Great preview! Thanks!

    1. btwallis's Avatar
      btwallis -
      Thank you sir. I have FSX, and now P3Dv3+, I find I don't fly FSX anymore. I would love to finally give Xplane a kick of the tires....I think it has come of age.
    1. SWM1968's Avatar
      SWM1968 -
      Many thanks folks, glad it was helpful.
    1. graaant's Avatar
      graaant -
      Good review, but I was disappointed that it didn't talk more about specs, performance on different systems. I tried out the beta yesterday on my Intel 5 3.3 Ghz (Turbo to 4 Ghz,) Geforce 970, 16 GB Ram, and in spite of moving sliders further and further left, the FRs stayed ridiculously low, and I sadly uninstalled the beta and went to fly in FSX. Always possible, of course, that I was doing something wrong, but ...
    1. pinkyjr's Avatar
      pinkyjr -
      I've tried XPlane over and over, and keep coming back to FSX/P3D over and over.
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      I think it's important for people to remember, that the version of X-Plane 11 they are trying, is an unoptimised beta release. Many of the rendering functions which would normally help in fine-tuning a system are (at time of writing) not present.

      Hopefully these functions will become available as the beta progresses.


    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Can I also add, that if you're experiencing issues (not uncommon in beta releases) then you should file a bug report to Laminar Research:

    1. Darren Howie's Avatar
      Darren Howie -
      As a real world pilot i gave up on the poor way FsX and P3D makes aircraft feel more like they are trains than aircraft. The feel of the way the aeroplane flows and moves through the sky really set it head and shoulders above any other sim.
      Xplane is my only sim now after years of FS its the only simulation of flight that is close to really flying.
    1. keithjsimmons's Avatar
      keithjsimmons -
      I find that in FSX and P3D, you can fly faster at low level than at Altitude and find I have to go full power to maintain cruising speed at 35,000 ft using modern airliners. Is X plane more realistic in that aspect?
    1. casarabill's Avatar
      casarabill -
      I definately looked at the comparison between it and FSX Gold and I like where X-11 is going. I like to see good landscape details, accurate mesh details , accurate roads, lakes, rivers. I like low level virtual VFR flying with real world air nav maps. So and with all the GEX, FSGLOBAL mesh addons for FSX-G, I still like it better then X-11. But X-11 I feel will get better and there will be add-ons that will push it past FSX in VFR details for sure, I do Love the light effects and the Virtual cockpits in X-11 and it is far superior to FSX Gold and that aspect is secondary importance to me. 3rd thing of importance to me is the realistic effects of flying which X-11 is probably far superior to FSX. This latest version of X-11 will probably mean I will get it and fly it. I have X-10 and found the landscapes were a turn off so it stayed on the shelf. I will continue to fly FSX-G and watch how the FS community takes to it. Eventually it will eventually go on the shelf like a well read book. Much the same way as MSFS 98 did back in the day. ☺
    1. casarabill's Avatar
      casarabill -
      "MSFS 98....Now that's a term I not hear in a long long time"....Obi Wan Kaobi
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