• Microsoft Flight Simulator Performance & Benchmark Analysis

    Flight Simulator 2020 Ryzen RAM Scaling - Speed And Capacity

    AMD’s Ryzen processors have always been sensitive to RAM speed. The most recent Zen 2 parts are no exception and we’ve demonstrated how performance scales with optimally selected RAM. 

    In these tests we ran the system at 1080p with the RTX 2080 Ti to isolate CPU performance.

    MSFS Performance And Benchmark Analysis

    Worst case scenario is ‘default’ JDEC speeds of 2133 MHz. We can see this costing 10FPS or nearly 20% on average and maximum frame rates. 2666 MHz CL16 performs acceptably well is around 5 FPS or 10% down on better-optimized RAM. From 3000 MHz CL14 to 3600MHz CL14 speeds are less critical although 3600MHz posts the fastest average and maximum frame rates, it loses out to the 3000 Mhz ram in Minimum and 1% lows. It’s not clear exactly what causes this from the testing we’ve conducted but the results are on par across the higher speeds from 3000MHz to 3600 MHz.

    The overall trend here is a useful analogue for the general point about the importance of CPU core speed in Flight Simulator 2020. You certainly need optimized ram to allow the CPU to perform to its potential and be sure to enable the RAM speed profile in BIOS!

    16 GB vs 32 GB RAM for Flight Simulator

    We tested three RAM configurations as Microsoft recommend 32GB for Flight Simulator 2020. We ran tests of 32GB 3000MHz CL15 ram in 2x16GB dual-channel mode against 2x8GB  at the same speed. We also tested a single 16GB stick, necessitating single-channel operation.

    MSFS Performance And Benchmark Analysis

    There was no discernable performance difference between the two capacities, in fact 16Gb slightly out performed 32GB but not beyond margin of error. Interestingly when 16Gb was installed utilization hovered between 12 and 14GB, whilst with 32GB installed utilization reported between 16.5GB and 18.5GB: The game clearly can use more ram perhaps for pre fetching assets or textures but there doesn’t appear to be a huge difference in performance. The single channel 16Gb stick performed worst as expected nearly 10% behind the dual channel configurations. With ram prices dropping it seems sensible to buy a 32GB kit for this sim if the budget allows, but if it comes to a choice between 32GB RAM or a better CPU or GPU, we’d take the upgraded core components and 16GB. 32Gb will be required if you intend on doing any form of multitasking whilst running the simulator.

    RAM Recommendations for Flight Simulator

    For Ryzen 3600Mhz CL16 RAM is optimal (see our upcoming Ryzen RAM performance analysis article), and Flight Simulator 2020 is no exception. If you’re on a budget 16Gb doesn’t appear to hurt performance at all, but 32GB adheres to the developers recommendations and may prove sensible. We’d certainly recommend 32GB if you intend on expanding the game with modifications and additional assets, or running on a high-end CPU and GPU combination. To partner an Intel CPU, we’d recommend 3000MHz CL15 or faster RAM in a 2x16Gb kit

    Conclusion: Building the best PC for MS Flight Simulator 2020

    MSFS Performance And Benchmark Analysis

    In order of importance the factors that enable good performance in Flight Simulator 2020 are:

    1. A high-performance CPU with at least 6 and preferably 8 cores and multithreading.
    2. A current-generation GPU capable of good performance specific to the target resolution.
    3. Ideally 32Gb of speed optimized RAM in dual channel mode.
    4. An SSD – for load times rather than outright performance

    Critically, the CPU and GPU must be carefully balanced to work in harmony. The CPU dictates the ultimate performance ceiling of the simulator whilst the GPU must be capable of matching the framerate at the desired settings. If you’re experiencing ugly stutters, you may find that increasing your graphics settings cures them! Alternatively, the 20, 30 and 60fps frame rate caps can artificially limit frame rates to give the CPU breathing space. If all else fails we’d suggest experimenting with those settings. You may have to sacrifice average frame rates for consistent frame times.

    Ultimately Flight Simulator 2020 is a simulator that will tax the highest-end hardware currently available at high settings and resolution, but it will also run very well on mid-range equipment. To label it as poorly coded or unplayable is grossly unfair. Our extensive testing shows that with the sweet spot of hardware you will enjoy fluid, immersive play with utterly bewitching graphics and the full flight simulator experience. It needn’t cost the earth to be able to fly the world.

    Jon
    Source: Premium Builds


    13 Comments
    1. SpookyDiver's Avatar
      SpookyDiver -
      My custom built system consists of an i9-9900k CPU all cores @5ghz (Liquid Cooled), MSI Pro Carbon with 64 Gig RAM Corsair RGB 3200 Dominators, MSI RTX 2070 OC +170/+750, Drive C: 970 Pro M.2 512Gigs , Drive D: 2TB 970 EVO Plus M.2 NVMe, two 960 EVO 1TB SSD, and an external Raid Box. 34440x1440P wide screen monitor. My internet is 1 Gig Fiber.
      The only thing I don't have that it is not "optimal" is my video card. But even then, my "worst case scenario", with EVERYTHING (I mean everything) in ULTRA, and at my monitor's native resolution is 24FPS. This only happens when I am flying over a very dense city, such as Tokyo or Buenos Aires at a very low altitude, like 1500Ft. which is very unrealistic to fly that low. If I keep my altitude at up of 2500 feet, I average 30-34 FPS. IMHO, 25-30 FPS is acceptable and anything beyond that is a plus. This morning I was in middle of the hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico with all the magnificent looking clouds, and I was able to look at my plane and clouds with the external CAM moving it as fast as I could without any hiccups, all at 28-30 FPS. And the most noticeable thing is that my CPU runs at maybe 40-55%, while my video card runs at 99-100%. Moral of my story, the CPU doesn't matter much, what matters is your video card and having at least 32 gigs of fast RAM and a very fast internet connection. A lot of the folks that are having problems will be able to solve it most likely with a new video card.
    1. zswobbie1's Avatar
      zswobbie1 -
      Great article.
      It does not take away the fact that, apart from mediocre GA aircraft, awesome eye candy scenery, the whole world to fly in, & a high performance PC with it's costs to get relativley decent performance...
      I'm not too sure if it is all that mind boggling & justifiable..

      To me, it seems to be a very different sim to any other. Maybe it compliments them, but certainly is not a replacement. Scenerywise, obviously it is all modern, with no regression available at this stage. There are many of us that fly in the classical/vintage world - 1950-1960, & MSFS, at this stage, does not give us that opportunity.

      So, who is this new sim for? obviously the Xbox generation, (rumour has it that MFFS will be released there. The high tech simmer? Us casual simmers will need a costly high end PC to run the sim smoothly.

      Gone are the days of the virtual clubs where we used to meet up with our PCs & laptops & do a Saturday morning flight together.

      However, time & technology moves on.. & I still think that the older sims still have their place.

      Godzilla rocks!
    1. falcon409's Avatar
      falcon409 -
      I agree as well. I knew there would come a time when my system (as good as it is) would fall short and MSFS2020 is that "wall". This is a Sim for a new generation or any old farts that have money to spare (most of us don't). FSX is where I will stay, but I am impressed with 2020, just no longer have the big bucks it would take to enjoy it.

      Rock On!!
    1. piet06273's Avatar
      piet06273 -
      Very informative, based on an ASUS Z390 MB , 32GB RAM DDR4 3000 mhz and SSD M2 1TB (and WIN10 2004) could the author please give some max $1.000,00 recommended combinations of CPU and GPU ? thanks in advance.
    1. richjb2's Avatar
      richjb2 -
      Can someone please translate this into English? I have an i9 9900K, 32 GB RAM, RTX 2060 card Build was last November. Yes, I didn't get the best video card; had to draw the line somewhere. The i9 is running at 4.7Mhz. I have not really pushed overclocking on the CPU or video card. In MSFS 2020, my frame rates with Ultra settings are around the 18-20 FPS range, sometimes better depending on scenery or weather. At LAX in the fog, it was down to 15 FPS at one time.

      In developer mode, from what I can tell I am GPU limited by the FPS meter, if anyone understand that display.

      What settings are needed to get the frame rates higher? That's all I need to know.

      Thanks,

      Rich Boll
      Wichita KS
    1. N069NT's Avatar
      N069NT -
      As a 20+ year overclocker builder for both games and FS, I found the 4.7GHz->4.9GHz overclock bump having an actual reduction in performance across Min/Avg/Max spectrum interesting (only showing gains in low FPS 1% & 0.1% spectrum). Previous FS versions always responded with higher FPS across the board the higher you overclocked, but they were one-threaded programs. My last FSX rig was an i5 4690K overclocked to 4.6GHz, the happy spot (good cooling, low Vcore). Had it up to 5.1GHz for a test in the cold of winter outside and the frames shot up significantly using aftermarket weather and complex weather and scenery, but that was unsustainable for a Noctua NH-D14 cooled rig indoors year round.

      It is also good to know that the current sim is no more than a 4-core user. For now anyway. One can only believe that MS will eventually patch it up to use DX12 for the PC as we now know that the new XBOX X will utilize DX12 (as will the PS5). One also has to wonder if future patches will unlock more core use as well. I remember when FSX SP2 (aka Acceleration) used as many cores as were on the processor. However, being a single core coded design, a single core still does most of the work. Other cores are used for loading textures and things I can't remember off the top of my head in testing. But it still helped in squeaking out the precious frames we needed, especially with aftermarket frame wrecking payware like aircraft from Carenado.

      It will be interesting to see if MS does anything more with more cores, at least for the PC version. No idea what their plan is for the upcoming 5th generation Xbox X on patches, but that will be interesting to watch too. In any event, it is good to know that the GPU now makes a big difference according to the tech review site Guru3D which now has MSFS in their game review benchmark reports for video cards. Even if you have a last generation Nvidia 2xxx GPU, you will benefit from a new 3000-series GPU as the sim currently is still severely CPU bound...especially at higher resolution. For example, going from an 8GB RTX 2080 to a 10GB 3080 makes a whopping difference from 29fps to 42fps at 4K!

      https://www.guru3d.com/articles_page...review,20.html
    1. Jon PB's Avatar
      Jon PB -
      Quote Originally Posted by piet06273 View Post
      Very informative, based on an ASUS Z390 MB , 32GB RAM DDR4 3000 mhz and SSD M2 1TB (and WIN10 2004) could the author please give some max $1.000,00 recommended combinations of CPU and GPU ? thanks in advance.
      Hi There!

      I'm Jon from PremiumBuilds.com, Author of the article.

      You have a basic great system there. FOr CPU I'd recommend either the i7-9700K or since prices are droppping the i9-9900K. Both are compatible with your motherboard and remain close to the highest performance CPU's you can get. I'd err towards the i9-9900K because whilst it can only use 4 threads, Performance really does seem to be helped by hyperthreading when the CPU is near peak demand - fewer stutters and frame drops.

      You don't say what monitor(s) you use and that's critical to match GPU power to the target resolution.

      At 1080p a GTX 1660 super or RTX 2060 does fine.

      At 1440p I'd recommend 8Gb VRAM, so look at RTX 2070 Super, RAdeon RX5700XT, RTX 2080 Super. There are used bargains to be had now that Ampere has been released. If you can find a RTX 3070 that will also be excellent.

      At 1440p ultrawide, 1440p multi-screen, or 4K, you just need as much GPU as you can afford. I'd look for used RTX 2080ti's, or RTX 3080.

      RTX 3080 at about $700 and an i7-9700K fills your budget and gets about as much performance as possible as a 'perfect pairing'. My own PC is a i7-9700K, 32Gb ram, RTX 2080ti and I run 1440p ultrawide. I can vouch for the performance of such a set up, with smooth framerates on ultra settings -but still the occasional stutter at airports or on take-off, even with the new update containing 'performance optimisations'!
    1. Jon PB's Avatar
      Jon PB -
      Quote Originally Posted by richjb2 View Post
      Can someone please translate this into English? I have an i9 9900K, 32 GB RAM, RTX 2060 card Build was last November. Yes, I didn't get the best video card; had to draw the line somewhere. The i9 is running at 4.7Mhz. I have not really pushed overclocking on the CPU or video card. In MSFS 2020, my frame rates with Ultra settings are around the 18-20 FPS range, sometimes better depending on scenery or weather. At LAX in the fog, it was down to 15 FPS at one time.

      In developer mode, from what I can tell I am GPU limited by the FPS meter, if anyone understand that display.

      What settings are needed to get the frame rates higher? That's all I need to know.

      Thanks,

      Rich Boll
      Wichita KS
      Hi Rich. Jon Stom PremiumBuilds here, I wrote the article.

      You don't say what monitor you're using and that's important to gauge the required GPU performance. Resolution dictates performance.

      Firstly, try global settings to medium and see if that lifts up performance. If it's still not good enough then you can try setting resolution scaling to 70-80% and see how that looks and feels. You'll trade some visial sharpness for better frame rates. Leave TAA on if you do this.

      As I say in the article, it's a fine balance of getting the most out of your CPU without actually hitting it's lmiits. If you start to encounter big frame drops and stutter once frame rates are higher that could be a CPU limit: Try a frame rate setting at 30 fps to eliminate it, or dial graphics settings back up a little.

      Hope that helps.

      Jon.
    1. Jon PB's Avatar
      Jon PB -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpookyDiver View Post
      And the most noticeable thing is that my CPU runs at maybe 40-55%, while my video card runs at 99-100%. Moral of my story, the CPU doesn't matter much, what matters is your video card and having at least 32 gigs of fast RAM and a very fast internet connection. .
      This is contrary to my findings!

      Your CPU reports 40-55% usage because the game can only occupy 4 threads in your 16 thread CPU. You can hit a single core performance limit, and be CPU limited, and your total CPU usage will still not show 100%. Ryzen 3950X rigs with 16 cores and 32 threads hit a CPU limit and show under 20% cpu usage! That's why I graphed per-core usage and also how I demonstrated that performance in this sim does not scale with core count, but with core speed.

      The actual findings are that CPU is critically important to performance: You need a fast single core speed and at least 6 cores, prefereably 8 with hyperthreading, which you have in your oiverclocked i9-9900K.

      GPU dictates what resolution and settings you can run comfortably, but only inside the confines of the potential CPU performance.
    1. SpookyDiver's Avatar
      SpookyDiver -
      Quote Originally Posted by richjb2 View Post
      Can someone please translate this into English? I have an i9 9900K, 32 GB RAM, RTX 2060 card Build was last November. Yes, I didn't get the best video card; had to draw the line somewhere. The i9 is running at 4.7Mhz. I have not really pushed overclocking on the CPU or video card. In MSFS 2020, my frame rates with Ultra settings are around the 18-20 FPS range, sometimes better depending on scenery or weather. At LAX in the fog, it was down to 15 FPS at one time.

      In developer mode, from what I can tell I am GPU limited by the FPS meter, if anyone understand that display.

      What settings are needed to get the frame rates higher? That's all I need to know.

      Thanks,

      Rich Boll
      Wichita KS
      Hi Rich. Read my previous post, I also have an i9-9900k but I OC to 5 ghz on all cores. Having your i9-9900k running at 4.7 is perfectly fine, because FS2020 only uses like 60 percent and less of my CPU power. I also have an RTX card, the model 2070. Depending on who built your video card, it should have a control panel that allows you to overclock it. My RTX 2070 was built by MSI and I manually overclocked it with their Afterburner utility to +170 on the clock and +750 on the video RAM. I was running it a little higher but it caused crashes. Now is rock solid and the temperature stays at 67c which is really good. With the RTX 2060, you will need to lower the graphics, no other way. I use a 3440x1440 monitor. If your monitor is also a wide screen and you have a spare monitor with less resolution, like a 1080p, use that one. The games today are more dependent of video cards than CPUs. Go to your graphics setting and try the setting FS2020 picked for your system and start bumping the options to ultra one at a time until you get to the point where the frames are not lower than 25/sec. The biggest frame drops are always below 2000 feet and over dense cities, like for example Tokyo or Buenos Aires. 25/30+ FPS is your goal. You can change the Graphics settings on the fly.
      Good luck.
    1. SpookyDiver's Avatar
      SpookyDiver -
      Quote Originally Posted by richjb2 View Post
      Can someone please translate this into English? I have an i9 9900K, 32 GB RAM, RTX 2060 card Build was last November. Yes, I didn't get the best video card; had to draw the line somewhere. The i9 is running at 4.7Mhz. I have not really pushed overclocking on the CPU or video card. In MSFS 2020, my frame rates with Ultra settings are around the 18-20 FPS range, sometimes better depending on scenery or weather. At LAX in the fog, it was down to 15 FPS at one time.

      In developer mode, from what I can tell I am GPU limited by the FPS meter, if anyone understand that display.

      What settings are needed to get the frame rates higher? That's all I need to know.

      Thanks,

      Rich Boll
      Wichita KS
      I forgot to say, make sure you close every application you have running in the background, in particular virus checkers. You can turn them back on after you are done flying.
    1. jeep9's Avatar
      jeep9 -
      try "jet boost" . a small app that may help in shutting off background programs.
      also in the guide by "SoFly" they have a very good chapter on setting-up , to wring out those extra fps.
    1. SpookyDiver's Avatar
      SpookyDiver -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jon PB View Post
      This is contrary to my findings!

      Your CPU reports 40-55% usage because the game can only occupy 4 threads in your 16 thread CPU. You can hit a single core performance limit, and be CPU limited, and your total CPU usage will still not show 100%. Ryzen 3950X rigs with 16 cores and 32 threads hit a CPU limit and show under 20% cpu usage! That's why I graphed per-core usage and also how I demonstrated that performance in this sim does not scale with core count, but with core speed.

      The actual findings are that CPU is critically important to performance: You need a fast single core speed and at least 6 cores, prefereably 8 with hyperthreading, which you have in your oiverclocked i9-9900K.

      GPU dictates what resolution and settings you can run comfortably, but only inside the confines of the potential CPU performance.
      You are absolutely correct! I was getting the info from the built in Windows xbox interface, which (now I know) was giving me a general usage information. I fired up HWinfo64 and check the CPU usage and darn I was wrong! Thank you for pointing it out to me.
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