Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020): PC graphics performance benchmark review

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System requirements

PC System Requirements

It is stated that the game will require moderately modern hardware only to run smoothly upon release. Microsoft has already revealed the minimum official requirements. It will be necessary to have at least a Ryzen 3 1200 or Intel i5 4460 processor. Also, 8 GB of RAM and 150 GB of free disk space. As for graphics cards, an AMD Radeon RX 570 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 at least is detailed. It remains to be seen if the final version will provide further optimization and performance improvements, as in the closed beta, the game ran between 30-40 FPS at 4K / Ultra with an NVIDIA RTX 2080Ti. Airports and planes meticulously designed to offer excellent precision, as we can see in the following trailer which was captured in UHD in real-time.

There is another thing not related to the graphics card we must mention, you need a proper internet connection as the engine uses Microsoft's own Bing Maps. The landscape that you see in FlightSim is therefore based on what Microsoft has available as satellite images from Bing.  But again, you need a proper internet connection. it's not just satellite imagery though, the simulator engine (Asobo) creates more details by hooking into the computing power of Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform, so flat and dull-looking images of Bing Maps are rendered into a moderately realistic landscape. The world is then filled with three-dimensional objects, according to the prediction provided by the algorithm. All good and bad, Bing doesn't update their maps as much as Google does. And as such scenes can be based on years-old imagery.  The sim btw is DirectX 11 only.

Minimal specificationsRecommended specificationsIdeal specifications
OS Windows 10 (1909)
Processor Ryzen 3 1300X Core i5-4460 Ryzen 5 1500X Core i5-8400 Ryzen 7 2700X Core i7-9800X
Graphics card Radeon RX 570 GeForce GTX 770 Radeon RX 590 GeForce GTX 970 Radeon VII GeForce RTX 2080
SRAM 8 GB 16 GB 32 GB
HDD 150 GB
Internet 5 Mbit / s 20 Mbit / s 50 Mbit / s


On July 13, 2020, Microsoft opened up preorders, and announced that Flight Simulator for PC would be available on August 18, 2020. The company announced three different versions of the title — Standard, Deluxe, and Premium Deluxe, each providing an incremental set of airplanes to choose and additional airports with more detailed visuals. The pricing ranged from US $59.99 for Standard, to US $89.99 for Deluxe, and US $119.99 for the Premium Deluxe edition. While the initial launch is focused on the PC, the date for launch on the Xbox family of consoles is awaited. Airports like San Francisco or London’s Heathrow airport are locked behind the premium edition, while Chicago’s O’Hare airport and Amsterdam’s Schiphol are available in the deluxe version. Microsoft Flight Simulator will also launch free of charge as part of Xbox Game Pass for PC.

Flight Simulator features multiple terabytes of texture and heightmap data. Using a base mesh and textures, the game uses the Internet connection to stream even higher quality terrain data onto the PC or console through the Azure cloud as the player plays, boosting the game's fidelity and graphical diversity.


Asobo has created their own flight model engine, allowing thousands of surfaces and 3D forces and moments to be fully simulated. There will also be realistic physics and weather systems, and utilization of real-world weather data. An example used at E3 2019 was that if it was raining somewhere in real life, it would be raining in-game. Individual clouds will have their own behaviours and they will impact aircraft performance depending on its location within the system.[9] Flight Simulator features a 600-kilometre draw distance and allows the player to see storms hundreds of miles away, with lightning cracking inside of clouds.

Through cloud-based technology, Flight Simulator streams data to the computer or console in real-time, with AI being utilized to extrapolate geometry from a blend of satellite and flyover imagery. Flight Simulator coverts 3D scans of the environment into the game world. Other sources of data include terrain data for landscaping, data for foliage density, real-time meteorological data, and air traffic updates. A separate atmospheric renderer simulates accurate humidity and pollution. Microsoft has stated that the player's aircraft will feel air as it lifts, drags, or slides as they come in contact with it, accounting for ice on the wings, pollution particles, or how wind moves through buildings or across tree tops, as well as friction of rubber to asphalt when the aircraft touches down, with the aircraft responding accurately to each of these instances. Skyscrapers will cast shadows over each other that darken as the player reaches street level and cities will disperse light at night that radiates the sky. Cloud technology is also used to calculate things such as the way air flows around natural structures such as mountains to cause pockets of turbulence, or stream in air traffic, time of day and weather from the real world. In regards to foliage, the game will geometrically render individual blades of grass and seas will also contain waves created by the wind. Volumetric lighting is utilized for various effects, including illuminating water droples, some of which will occupy the entirety of the cockpit window, and with everything being simulated in real-time. Light sources such as the sun, moon, or city lights scatter through the environment appropriately, pollution levels and humidity affect refraction and overall visibility, and the atmosphere is layered the same as it is in the real world. Clouds are volumetrically modelled, with 32 layers determining shape, density, and “fuzziness”. Flight Simulator makes use of "ray-marching" - a lower-fidelity version of ray-tracing with surface movement being traced. The game's reflection system also at times utilizes ray-marching by retranslating voxels. Otherwise, the reflection system uses a mix of screen-space reflections and cube maps to show reflections on more distant bodies of water. In addition to a complex lighting system, Flight Simulator makes use of highly-detailed shaders. Flight Simulator makes extensive use of screen-space reflections and bokeh depth of field.

Flight Simulator will populate the world with animals and roads with vehicles, water will flow realistically based on wind direction, grass will have individual grass blades and trees will have individual leaves, creating the illusion of a living world. The game world will include over two million cities and towns, 1.5 billion buildings, 2 trillion trees, and 37,000 real-world airports.[26] In regards to runways, dedicated tools allow Asobo to outline the site perimeter, runway footprint, orientation, as well as other properties. This approach also allows Microsoft to flag artifacts and visual anomalies from a birds-eye view, clearing up the input for a world-building algorithm. The result is fed into Microsoft's artificial intelligence, stringing the environment together in the cloud, and is streamed to the PC or console in real-time.

Flight Simulator allows the player to scout, "chase" and interacts with real-world storms as they occur in real-time.

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