• Microsoft Flight Simulator - Can I Run It?

    Microsoft Flight Simulator - Can I Run It?

    Microsoft Flight Simulator - Can I Run It?

    By Michael Hayward

    You're looking to run Microsoft Flight Simulator but don't have access to a NASA-spec PC? You need not worry, as you don't need one! Don't believe me? Then read on!

    A lot of the tips and tricks mention come from an MSFS Beta user named Babu, who helped me with some of the finer details of the video I published on my channel. Those who have Beta access to the simulator should check out his fantastic guide to see what they can push out of their platform! His guide also goes into detail surrounding his benchmarking and finer details as to what each option does.

    Microsoft Flight Simulator - Can I Run It?

    In this article/video we will take a look at my system spec in some detail, while also having a look at my in-sim settings to see what I am running and what tweaks I have made to allow the simulator to look good while running on an older spec machine.

    My computer consists of the following:

    • Intel Core i7 6700
    • Nvidia GeForce GTX1660
    • 16 GB DDR4 RAM

    Bar the GTX1660 which was a purchase made just over a year ago, my system spec matches closely with a system that someone would buy back in the mid-2010s. This includes a 6th generation Intel processor (released in 2015) while my ram is DDR4, which became widely available back in 2014. Most newer systems will include 16GB of RAM as standard, while the 6700 will have around the same performance as a modern-spec i3 processor (or thereabouts).

    Taking a closer look at the graphics card, the Nvidia GeForce GTX1660 is sold as a medium-high spec card for those on a budget. This was bought for £215 when new, but nowadays they can be purchased for around £175. The card is geared towards those that want to enjoy 1080P on most AAA games, but didn't want to fork out for the then-new RTX20 series cards and now the RTX30s (these often generate a lot of heat and so are unstable for small form factor builds).

    Coupled with 6GB of VRAM, the 1660 is certainly enough to run the new simulator with relative ease (as long as you stay at 1080P. As a minimum, Microsoft Flight Simulator only requires a GTX970, which is quite impressive considering the visual quality.

    Microsoft Flight Simulator - Can I Run It?

    On my system, the simulator is installed on an SSD. This means that loading times are certainly improved, especially when you consider the install at present is over 100GB. If you're reading this, and have Flight Simulator installed on a regular HDD, then an SSD would certainly help in terms of maximising your performance, and is therefore something I would highly recommend.

    In terms of finding a bottleneck, I have found two on my system, and this is only during certain conditions.

    When running the simulator on its own, my CPU usage will jump to around 50-70% depending on the type of aircraft I am flying and what operations I am doing, for example...manipulating the FMS and creating flight plans will require some more calculations and therefore a momentary CPU spike. My RAM sits at around 40% usage, while my GPU will run high at around 80-90%. This is due to the large textures involved and the limited VRAM on my GPU. If you're looking to upgrade your card and want something to give the simulator an extra helping hand, then an 8GB graphics card will definitely help.

    The other case of a bottleneck is with the CPU, but only when recording videos. Running an encoder in itself can be a rather heavy task, and so when run alongside the simulator, it just adds to the strain. If you're looking to record videos of the flight simulator from your system, then giving the CPU a little more breathing room or changing your encoder to potentially run off the GPU would certainly help. A little food for thought...as well as the PC; Flight Simulator 2020 is going to be released on the new Xbox, which is based around Zen/Ryzen hardware. With this factored in; I would say that a 6 or 8 core Ryzen or Intel CPU would serve you well.

    Taking a look at both the minimum and recommended spec for the all-new platform, it is certainly safe to say that you don't need NASA hardware to make it look good!

    The Technical Bit

    Review PC Spec:

    • Windows 10 Professional
    • 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 6700K Processor
    • 16 GB RAM
    • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1660
    • 200 Mbps Download

    Microsoft Flight Simulator Minimum Requirements:

    • Windows 10 May 2020 Update
    • Ryzen 3 1200 / Intel i5-4460
    • Radeon RX 570 / NVIDIA GTX 770
    • VRAM: 2GB
    • RAM: 8GB
    • HDD: 150GB
    • Bandwidth: 5 Mbps

    Microsoft Flight Simulator Recommended:

    • Ryzen 5 1500X / Intel i5-8400
    • Radeon RX 590 / Nvidia GTX 970
    • VRAM: 4GB
    • RAM: 16GB
    • HDD: 150GB
    • Bandwidth: 20 Mbps

    Microsoft Flight Simulator Ideal:

    • Ryzen 7 Pro 2700X / Intel i7-9800X
    • Radeon VII / Nvidia RTX 2080
    • VRAM: 8GB
    • RAM: 32GB
    • HDD: 150GB (SSD recommended)
    • Bandwidth: 50 Mbps

    Michael Hayward

    Flight Simulator 2020 First Impressions

    Tags: mfs, microsoft, msfs

    9 Comments
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Very impressive, thanks for the tips!

      W33
    1. meko's Avatar
      meko -
      Good post.

      The more that I keep diving in a comparing my specs to what the game needs...I'm going to need to build something dedicated to this. I'm using a laptop (I travel a lot for work) so I have mobile this and that on the chassis. A Ryzen 7 3750H, GTX 1660ti, 32gb Corsair Vengeance, and a 1tb 970 evo as my main storage. The heart of my system is weak if you do a comparison online. Lets just say I'm working on convincing the Wife that its time to upgrade for playing at home. If I can play this at 30fps on 1080p on the ground in dense areas...I'll be happy
    1. CRJ_simpilot's Avatar
      CRJ_simpilot -
      Sounds like this new Sim really takes advantage of the new hardware capabilities that are now current versus that of FS2004 or FSX's capabilities which were more geared toward single thread performance and CPU-based. It really is about time a modern Sim was released to take advantage of the hardware capabilities today. The one thing I fear is that over time the Sim will require newer OS updates as time goes on in order to play the Sim. And I realy don't have too much faith in Microsoft's quality control with updates. I know for a fact updates need updates and that is in fact what happened yet again now with the recent 2004 update and now another update was released to fix crap in the 2004 update. Never mind all of the other updates that messed things up or out right deleted your data. On top of OS updates, you'll most likely have to contend with game updates and in this era of Steam, Battle.net and Epic games, updates are almost a weekly occurrence and can be to the tune of some 30 or more GB a piece. I shun to think how much data some gamers are pulling through the WAN with a massive amount of Steam games, etc.

      For me, I'm just going to wait a long while before I even consider pulling the trigger for this new Sim. I'm going to let all the guinea pigs report in. Props to those that pre-ordered! LOL
    1. piet06273's Avatar
      piet06273 -
      winning 'stupid question' of today: what is the '2004 update' ?
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      Quote Originally Posted by piet06273 View Post
      winning 'stupid question' of today: what is the '2004 update' ?
      2004 is just the version number for the May 2020 update of Windows 10.
    1. fullflap's Avatar
      fullflap -
      Although close to most of the recommended spec, my pc has an Intel i5-4460 chip.

      Would you reckon it worth the upgrade to an i7 CPU as a performance gain or would you reckon it wiser to invest in a bigger video card? The current card is a GTX 970.

      I have also been using the Microsoft Sidewinder 2 joystick for years. Will this still be compatible and should I still expect to experience force-feedback? Are there any other more modern joysticks offering force-feedback?
    1. Disneyflyer's Avatar
      Disneyflyer -
      Quote Originally Posted by fullflap View Post
      Although close to most of the recommended spec, my pc has an Intel i5-4460 chip.

      Would you reckon it worth the upgrade to an i7 CPU as a performance gain or would you reckon it wiser to invest in a bigger video card? The current card is a GTX 970.

      I have also been using the Microsoft Sidewinder 2 joystick for years. Will this still be compatible and should I still expect to experience force-feedback? Are there any other more modern joysticks offering force-feedback?
      From what I read, yes the Sidewinder 2 will be compatible.

      I went on a spending spree last week and got the following rig:

      Intel I7 9000k, EVGA Geforce RTX 20270 Super, 1 TB SSD, 32GB DDR4 Ram, Corsair liquid cooler.

      I remember when I had FS9 and it was tweaked out really good on my old Dell 8300. I would get great fps even in bad weather with the sliders maxed out. Then FSX came out. I couldn't run that dog at all. About 4 years ago the Dell died and I stopped playing. I was in the market for a new pc and then I heard about the new Flight Sim and was blown away. Can't wait till next week.
    1. gtraptor63's Avatar
      gtraptor63 -
      For the budget minded: 30-50 fps 1080p setup, HIGH settings:

      -Ryzen 3300x $120, up to 4.3 GHZ
      -RX580 Version 2.0 8GB DDR6 $180
      -Motherboard anything above a B450. I have a B450 from Gygabite, excelent at overclocking, VRMS stay decently cool.
      -SSD 256 GB $50
      -16GB Memory DDR4 3200 2x8GB (ALWAYS USE DUAL CHANNEL ON RYZEN)
      -recommend 450+ watt PSU

      The Ryzen 3300x is AMAZING, 4.3 GHZ boot overclock. It runs like a dream, it is 4 core 8t processor.
      Runs faster than a 5/2600 by 25 to 30% and it stays at 40-60% use in FS

      RX580 V2.0 is also a bargain for the performance, just don't expect it to run cool, on my setup (mini ITX Case, regular airflow) it gets to 90°C. (installing extra fan and applying new thermal compound)
      This baby overclocks to 1400 MHZ. Use MSI afterburner to overclock, simper than Radeon SW and less memory usage.

      SSD is a must, go for a 256GB unit, not much pricier than a 120GB, I personally use an M.2

      So for those that want a fair price, this is an excellent setup.

      Attached an example of EXTREMELY complex scenery: PARIS, does run close to 30 FPS, BUT with ZERO LAG, ZERO stuttering.
      On simpler scenery 60fps all around.

      Again, settings are on HIGH

      BTW, forgot to introduce myself, Rob from Mexico, IT Engineer, Flight sim since Version 1 in 1982!!!Attachment 221100
    1. Josette's Avatar
      Josette -
      with an Intel I9 an RTX2020 video card and 64 GB of ram with window pro 10 and it goes well
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