• 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. jacklyon2's Avatar
      jacklyon2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by zswobbie1 View Post
      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!
      Yes, but, in the review, Michael talked about licence choice, for that reason, some people, talk about this part of the review.
      But it's true, that the subject has been debated a lot in a lot of thread and forum..., probably because 99.9% people in flightsim community (and others), use X-Plane, FS91, FSX, P3D, in exactly the same way, for flight simulation+learning+entertaiment.

      By the way, I consider Prepar3DV4, as the best "flavor", of FSX type simulators, and i'm happy that exist.

      Cheers
    1. jacklyon2's Avatar
      jacklyon2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by howlak View Post
      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, total agree with you,

      4.5 is the best of the MSFS saga.
    1. Kirk's Avatar
      Kirk -
      Having moved from FSX SE I've already committed to Prepar3d v4 with an extensive set of 3rd party addons and aircraft. This very well researched and written review has helped verify that I made the right choice... for myself. I was aware of the "cons" associated with P3Dv4, but this review has revealed several "pros" that I wasn't aware of! That's a nice surprise. Thanks for taking the time to write and publish this. I found it very useful and enjoyed reading it.
    1. widowmaker320's Avatar
      widowmaker320 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ryogahibiki345 View Post
      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.
      I agree totally...I'm not a fan for the same reason...And FSX with Steve's scenery fixer and DX10..has stopped all OOM's for me...plus I'm not going to spend what I have already spent on FSX...just to upgrade a few Graphical features i'm afraid.
    1. Stansy's Avatar
      Stansy -
      Quote Originally Posted by widowmaker320 View Post
      I agree totally...I'm not a fan for the same reason...And FSX with Steve's scenery fixer and DX10..has stopped all OOM's for me...plus I'm not going to spend what I have already spent on FSX...just to upgrade a few Graphical features i'm afraid.
      Exactly. I have FSX and use Steve's Fixer and now all of my OOMs are history despite using my newest payware aircraft with my ORBX scenery, REX utilities, Live Traffic and gorgeous payware airports. I can't duplicate that in any other simulator without spending thousands. (I have a LOT of payware).

      If I was starting from scratch I would probably just go with X-Plane to avoid the technical debt that P3D carries.
    1. evm's Avatar
      evm -
      As I will be working towards my NPPL this year, I decided to go for the Academic License as this suited my needs best.
      The P3D Academic License EULA says this in chapter 14: (note the part where it says NOT)
      14.13 "Academic Education" means education programs for elementary through undergraduate students in fundamental academic disciplines such as science, technology, engineering and math, including history and social sciences related thereto, but NOT in connection with graduate students, professional training or certification of any kind, including, but not limited to, military training, emergency responder training, commercial flight training, private pilot training, air traffic control training, airport ground control/logistics training, driver training or nautical training
    1. Rupert's Avatar
      Rupert -
      During my "upgrade" I lost the H-46, Beechs, P-38, etc. but TBTG THEY DIDN'T TAKE MY INFANTRY MEN, DRONES, OR SUBMARINE AWAY!! BTW: Just out of curiosity, what am I supposed to do with an infantry man, whether or not he is armed? And the view from inside the sub is pretty boring as well.

      Rupert
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