• A Better, More Stable Experience With MSFS

    A Better, More Stable Experience With MSFS 2020

    A Better, More Stable Experience With MSFS

    By twotonemurphy

    There is no question, us flight simmers tend to spend a lot of our time tweaking and tinkering with the sim settings in order to gain an extra few fps and hopefully achieve a smoother experience in MSFS. I can remember back to FS2004 and FSX, most of my time was spent chasing down better performance rather than enjoying the flying. When it came to X-Plane, I spent most of my time trying to make it look a little better. When MSFS was announced, after the initial amazement and indeed shock that a flight simulator was on the horizon that featured next generation graphics, I suddenly realised that my still somewhat beefy rig would soon be under pressure.

    I was lucky to take part in the alpha stage, which as you could have imagined, varied when it came to the performance and stability of the sim. However, my then Nvidia GTX1080 and Intel i7 7700k along with 32 GB of RAM was able to return a very decent average frame rate of about 35. For an alpha product, that was amazing.

    I made the decision to upgrade to a stronger pc in early 2020 to be able to take full advantage of this new sim. With an RTX2080Ti and an Intel i9 9900k along with 64 GB RAM I was feeling confident about getting the best experience. Granted, Microsoft have in the past built simulators that would exceed the capabilities of the strongest rigs getting 100% efficiency and performance. That's actually a good thing considering it's a next gen sim, current generation hardware shouldn't be able to max it. In saying that, after the brief beta period, the sim was released and from the get go my rig could handle a solid 60 fps with a general aviation aircraft and about 50 fps with an airliner.

    Fast forward a year and a bit and the sim has had multiple updates, additional features and a lot of third-party products injected into it. How is the performance now you ask? Well - prior to Sim Update 5, they were OK. Sort of. Stuttering, frame drops, memory leaks and random crashes, the core sim still felt strong and progress was being made. Not to mention the multiplayer actually worked. SU5 introduced a fantastic performance boost but a lot of the PC pilots felt MS and Asobo had dumbed down the product in order to make it work over on the consoles. It also introduced a massive problem with multiplayer. Aircraft simply vanish at random times and this is still true to this day. Most folks saw a performance boost of anything from 5 to 25 fps. That is a big deal but it also created a few issues. Random CTD's occur more often - without any indication as to what may have caused them (come on MS/Asobo - give us a crash log so we can check for ourselves). It also introduced some additional micro stutters and very long loading times. With SU8 due to release, the focus here seems to be on additional functionality, a few tweaks and the odd refresh. Not exactly the bug fixing update we were hoping for but the good news is they will focus on SU9 to sort that.

    There is no doubt that MSFS can push even the strongest computers to the limit. The base entry keeping things at 1080p with medium settings does a decent job at keeping stable frame rates but there are still some stability issues. Pushing the sim to higher settings and even into the 4K regions can really take its toll on your hardware.

    So where does that leave us? How do we manage to get smoother, sharper and more stable performance? The internet is full of hints and tips to squeeze every last drop of performance from your hardware. One person suggests turn this on and another says turn it off. Its very much the case of your mileage may vary! So to try and make this process a little easier, I have listed my solutions below in the hope that we can finally get to a time where we shall worry not of tweaking and tinkering with settings and instead spend our time flying and exploring the incredible world MS and Asobo have created for us in MSFS.

    Operating System and Windows Settings

    Windows 10 or Windows 11?

    As Windows 10 is the most popular at present, my testing has been based on this. However, some users have reported slightly better performance using Windows 11. I will evaluate this a little later this year and report back.

    With all Windows settings - you can click on the start icon on the bottom left of your screen and just start typing the name of what you are looking for.

    Windows Update

    To start off, make sure your Operating System is fully up to date. Open your Start menu and just type update. You will see a "Check for updates" icon. Go ahead and click on it. A new window will open and you can check the status if you are up to date or you need to update. It is also a good idea to disable automatic updates for Windows. This process tends to run in the background and can actually have an impact on MSFS, especially if it goes looking for an update mid-flight!

    Microsoft App Store

    Be sure that all the apps in the Microsoft App Store are also up to date. You can do the same again, click Start and type in App Store. You will see the Microsoft App store icon. Once open, look for the library in the bottom left/hand side of the window, click Get Updates on the top right and install them.

    Windows Settings

    Game Mode

    There have been mixed reports on the impact of having this on or off. Essentially, it's designed to prioritise the systems resources for games and reduce the amount of background process to improve performance. In reality, with Game Mode On - this has a negative effect on MSFS. It can cause stutters and slower fps. I recommend keeping Game Mode Off.

    A Better More Stable MSFS 2020

    Hardware-accelerated GPU Scheduling

    This is on the same page as Game Mode - look over to the right side. I tend to leave this off and have been happy with performance. Be sure to check the Capture setting (Find a setting) and make sure Background Recording is turned off.

    A Better More Stable MSFS 2020

    Virtual Memory - VRAM

    You can increase the Pagefile allowing Windows to use your hard drives to store additional memory. This can be particularly helpful if you are suffering random CTDs during MSFS.

    In the Windows Search bar, type and open View advanced system settings. Click on the Advanced tab and hit Settings (Performance). On the Performance Options, go to the Advanced tab and set Processor scheduling to Background services and click Apply, then click Change (Virtual memory). Uncheck the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives. Click to select the drive you have Windows 10/11 installed on (by default its usually C. Select the Custom size and for both fields below, type the Pagefile in megabytes according to your physical memory present in your computer:

    • 8 GB RAM = 8192 megabytes
    • 16 GB RAM = 16384 megabytes
    • 32 GB RAM = 32768 megabytes
    • 64 GB RAM = 65536 megabytes

    Finally, click Set, then click OK, and restart your computer.

    A Better More Stable MSFS 2020

    Anti-Virus and Firewall

    MSFS needs access to the internet. This is for verifying files, licences, weather, traffic and scenery. Windows Defender does a pretty good job but if you do use a third-party provider, check to see if it has "Game Mode" settings that will limit scanning and updates during your operation of the sim. Ideally, you want to add your MSFS files (Game Folder) to the exclusions list. To do this, click Start and type Virus & Threat protection. Under the Virus & Threat protection settings, select Manage Settings, and then under Exclusions, select Add or Remove Exclusions. You can select the entire drive or drives or just the MSFS folders.

    Tags: msfs

    1. FrankPilot's Avatar
      FrankPilot -
      Interesting read. Just for fun I might check some of those settings just to see, but, really, on my mid-range PC with no fancy software and no tweaking, MSFS has performed pretty well from Day 1 Alpha testing. I could count the number of CTDs on the fingers of one hand, very little stuttering, usually OK FPS on high-end setting for graphics, etc. Just llucky I guess! Cheers.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Excellent article, many thanks!

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