• Review: Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v4

    Review: Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v4

    By Michael Hayward

    Prepar3D v4     Prepar3D v4

    Prepar3D v4 is the latest of the Lockheed Martin Enterprise Simulation Platform (ESP) simulators. Having first been released in April 2011, there have been four generations of this platform, each improving on the version before, with v4 adding numerous new features. We finally have a full 64-bit platform to work with along with other tweaks to the CPU and GPU usage - something we will definitely be covering in this article.

    In this review, we will take a deep look into this simulator and where this takes the world of flight simulation.

    Which Licence?

    There are five separate packages available for P3D, with each one catering for a differing consumer market.

    The first is the professional license, used by flight schools and major corporations that work in the aerospace industry. This is the most expensive version costing $199. Then there is the Academic License, used by students and pilots in training, and this costs $59.95. Finally, there are three different developer licenses each with their own tiers and benefits, ranging from $9.95 per month to $2,300 in total.

    As I will be working towards my NPPL this year, I decided to go for the Academic License as this suited my needs best.

    Prepar3D v4     Prepar3D v4

    64 Bit?

    The biggest stand-out upgrade on the P3D platform is the fact that it now runs as 64-bit.

    Unlike 32-bit programs, which on modern hardware can be quite limiting due to the fact that a program can only use up to 4 GB of ram, P3D v4 can now access the entirety of your computer memory. It can also access much more of your graphics card, providing less strain on the CPU, and minimising the chances of a crash to desktop. While not perfect due to the age of some of the code, I personally have seen the improvement this brings to the simulator.

    GPU Or CPU?

    As well as providing 64-bit support, Lockheed Martin has been able to unlock additional GPU features, along with multi core implementation. FSX used to suffer from the fact that it could only access a single core on your system, essentially making 7 of an 8-core PC redundant. By sharing the load of the simulator across all of your system cores, the simulator can be processed at a much faster rate.

    Prepar3D v4     Prepar3D v4

    As mentioned above, Prepar3D unlocks additional features of your GPU. This means the platform can now render graphics directly off your graphics card, rather than on the CPU like before. This allows for much higher quality models and details. When combined with the 64-bit upgrade, the simulator now runs far smoother than its ageing predecessor, and has a lot more room to spare.


    27 Comments
    1. ftldave's Avatar
      ftldave -
      Michael intentionally made a glaring omission in the review: P3D - still not licensed for recreational or hobby use. The ugly rotten albatross hanging around P3D's neck since its beginning.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Very nice review Michael, and as you pointed out, for those looking for a simulator which aids them in their studies, this is the way to go.

      Good luck with your own career as a pilot!

      W33
    1. mlam's Avatar
      mlam -
      Quote Originally Posted by ftldave View Post
      Michael intentionally made a glaring omission in the review: P3D - still not licensed for recreational or hobby use. The ugly rotten albatross hanging around P3D's neck since its beginning.
      And that's not going to change. It's the thing that's held me back from purchasing. The $200 price tag I can live with - but at the end of the day if I'm completely honest, I really don't qualify for any of the licenses. Maybe "learning"? After nearly 30 years of flight simming though, how much more am I going to learn?

      X-Plane is probably the future for me in flight simming.
    1. pugilist2's Avatar
      pugilist2 -
      Great review! I agree, P3D really needs an updated database and airports.
    1. anaismith's Avatar
      anaismith -
      I have had every instance of P3D since v1 but have never warmed to any of them. I cannot abide the start up interface and aircraft selection screens which are clunky. FSX was superior there. Plus I have so much invested in FSX payware wise that FSX remains my go to sim. I have no intention of starting all over again in purchases. XP11 may well be the future (I have that too) but has no seasons and again cannot warm to it.
    1. ryogahibiki345's Avatar
      ryogahibiki345 -
      Quote Originally Posted by anaismith View Post
      I have had every instance of P3D since v1 but have never warmed to any of them. I cannot abide the start up interface and aircraft selection screens which are clunky. FSX was superior there. Plus I have so much invested in FSX payware wise that FSX remains my go to sim. I have no intention of starting all over again in purchases. XP11 may well be the future (I have that too) but has no seasons and again cannot warm to it.
      The aircraft selection screens are just about the same. I like the ability to favorite aircraft and show only the ones I fly most often. It's much more stream lined in every sense of the word. The only thing for me that changed is the in world menu. Used to I could hit Alt+A to bring up the aircraft menu but now it's Alt+E for 'Vehicles', not the end of the world but it was hard to get used to after being with Sub-Logic Flight Simulator since the C-64 days, all the way to FSX. It's not clunky you just have to get used to it.
    1. Roger Wensley's Avatar
      Roger Wensley -
      Well some things I learned from that were interesting, that Xplane 11 has no seasons (plus no or little atc?) and P3D has lousy scenery and few aircraft. FS9 plus investments and several hundred free airports seems the way to go.
    1. scottm's Avatar
      scottm -
      I'm holding off until I see the large list of addons that will be disabled/crash the sim with this new V5.... a certain developer's WXR seems to always flake out when there's an incremental update. But I hope that won't be the case this time.
    1. DavidN16's Avatar
      DavidN16 -
      I believe it is too early to switch to P3D v4 [64 bit] (stay with P3D v3 [32 bit]) as there just isn't much in the way of freeware scenery or aircraft that will work in the sim.

      If you stay with version 3, you can still use a lot of the FSX freeware. So, upgrading the standard P3D airports you need are available to you to install what you want.

      A weather program ought to be included with P3D for that price.

      As for joining up with other FSX, XP and P3D simmers .. simply using the freeware program JoinFS. It works perfect for joining all the platforms (it's apparently not rocket science to get it done.)

      As long a hobbyists continue to support the 32 bit format, I am happy simmer.
    1. gt401964's Avatar
      gt401964 -
      I'm more than happy with my FSX Steam and P3D V2. All my FSX addon/payware aircraft and ORBX scenery work in it. Except my PMDG which do not allow a double install. P3D works so much smoother than Steam I must say and loads quicker.
    1. anaismith's Avatar
      anaismith -
      Quote Originally Posted by Roger Wensley View Post
      Well some things I learned from that were interesting, that Xplane 11 has no seasons (plus no or little atc?) and P3D has lousy scenery and few aircraft. FS9 plus investments and several hundred free airports seems the way to go.
      I almost totally agree. A well modded FS9 gives them more recent sims a run for their money. Plus on modern machines it runs so well. MSFS peaked with FS9 in many ways.
    1. rooitou's Avatar
      rooitou -
      Quote Originally Posted by anaismith View Post
      I have had every instance of P3D since v1 but have never warmed to any of them. I cannot abide the start up interface and aircraft selection screens which are clunky. FSX was superior there. Plus I have so much invested in FSX payware wise that FSX remains my go to sim. I have no intention of starting all over again in purchases. XP11 may well be the future (I have that too) but has no seasons and again cannot warm to it.
      I agree with everything you say; FSX start-up and aircraft selection screens are far superior to clunky P3D. Still prefer FSX, especially due to steep price hikes of add-ons for P3D4 and many developers (eg Aerosoft, A2A, Simskunkworks) requiring separate purchases for the same thing.
    1. nathantw's Avatar
      nathantw -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlam View Post
      And that's not going to change. It's the thing that's held me back from purchasing. The $200 price tag I can live with - but at the end of the day if I'm completely honest, I really don't qualify for any of the licenses. Maybe "learning"? After nearly 30 years of flight simming though, how much more am I going to learn?

      X-Plane is probably the future for me in flight simming.
      I've been flight simming since its inception. I'm still learning. I purchased Aerosoft A320/A321 and it's like I just went back to school. Don't kid yourself. There's still a lot of learning out there.
    1. zswobbie1's Avatar
      zswobbie1 -
      Nice review.
      Guys, it's a review of a sim, NOT an opening for comparisons between different sims & personal choices.
      Obviously we have our favorites. It's purely a review, NOT what is better than other sims & moist certainly not a debate on licence requirements at all. Those type of comments do not belong here, as we are not internet police!.

      Remember, those serious simmers are learning all the time, just as serious real pilots are.

      Nels, thanks for the review. Much appreciated.

      Regards,
      Robin
    1. Rupert's Avatar
      Rupert -
      Yes it's good review. Having said that, obviously the reviewer wasn't reviewing the "updated" P3D. As of the latest update several aircraft mentioned in the review have been deleted. For example there are no Beechcraft there anymore.

      if you still have Beechcraft aircraft in your P3D don't update it!
    1. jacklyon2's Avatar
      jacklyon2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by DavidN16 View Post
      I believe it is too early to switch to P3D v4 [64 bit] (stay with P3D v3 [32 bit]) as there just isn't much in the way of freeware scenery or aircraft that will work in the sim.

      If you stay with version 3, you can still use a lot of the FSX freeware. So, upgrading the standard P3D airports you need are available to you to install what you want.

      A weather program ought to be included with P3D for that price.

      As for joining up with other FSX, XP and P3D simmers .. simply using the freeware program JoinFS. It works perfect for joining all the platforms (it's apparently not rocket science to get it done.)

      As long a hobbyists continue to support the 32 bit format, I am happy simmer.
      Most of "native FSX freeware", works well on P3DV4.x
      The others freeware, most of them, was (or are going), converted to P3DV4.x
      Most of "native FSX payware", works OK also on P3DV4.x
      And the others payware, (the more complex and expensive ones), are also been converted to P3DV4.x
    1. jacklyon2's Avatar
      jacklyon2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ftldave View Post
      Michael intentionally made a glaring omission in the review: P3D - still not licensed for recreational or hobby use. The ugly rotten albatross hanging around P3D's neck since its beginning.
      They will never, write on the site "entertaiment allowed", because if they do that, the Microsoft lawyers will make a party on.

      But, the true is after, Dovetail, sunk the "ESP entertaiment license", is that is hard to believe that someone other, will try to fight
      with Lockheed, on FS market. and re-buy the "entertaiment license".

      So, ESP entertaiment license, is dead... and the only reason that P3D is not officialy for "entertaiment", is that they not want to pay (again) to Microsoft

      By the way, Microsoft was smart, they sold two time the same product/license/code... one to Lockheed, and after to Dovetail,
      with the great marketing idea of "entertaiment FS" or "serious FS"....
    1. zswobbie1's Avatar
      zswobbie1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ftldave View Post
      Michael intentionally made a glaring omission in the review: P3D - still not licensed for recreational or hobby use. The ugly rotten albatross hanging around P3D's neck since its beginning.
      Guys, this is a review, NOT a debate about P3D's different licensings.

      It is totally irrelevant to what the review is all about. P3D's licensings have been debated on every single sim forum to death, & has no place when commenting about a review.

      Non of us are 'official' internet police, & finger waving has no place here. nor has any debate about FS2004, X-Plane or any other sim.

      A word of thanks to the Michael, who compiled the review would be most welcome, as it is obviously not easy to write something to share with fellow simmers, who, as we know, tend to nit-pick evrything!

      Be thankful & gratefull, guys!
    1. howlak's Avatar
      howlak -
      Thanks for the review, Michael
      I expected in the comments, lets say, more "user info".
      From my side V4.5 has made a great improvement in scenery loading and night lights. As user of FS9, FSX, FSX-SE, and Prepar3D from V1 to 4.5 (the subject of this review), this version is the best of the MSFS saga.
      Agree with Michael that the scenery should be renewed, but seems that LM has given this business to ORBX.
    1. punnett's Avatar
      punnett -
      I don't agree with Robin, it's good to hear people's view on the different sim's. I have been trying to decide for months but don't want to give up all my fsx freeware and payware.