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

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I wanted to perform a review for our flight-sim fans on this title. But man-oh-man, how difficult and time-consuming this is:) To those that have requested a flight-sim benchmark for years now, yes we'll keep this one in the test suite as we can reasonably objectively script what we are doing/flying and thus somewhat objectively measure performance. We'll keep updating and expanding on this review throughout the week.  It has been a long wait on a new revised Flight Simulator, and Microsoft simply put did a fantastic job from a graphics point of view. Applying a recommendation as to how precise the sim is, I'll leave the other experts. The graphics can be both normal and sometimes exceptional. The focus on more detailed cities and airports is a crucial factor here, which also influences performance.


There is room to tweak performance but at the cost of image quality. We could recommend High-end quality mode as the second-best option.

A cardinal rule with flight sims is that 30 fps (as repulsive as that sounds) is enough as a simulated experience. We're not stating that 30 FPS is a good thing, but the scenery in flight is slow-pacing and slow-moving; it really does not need 100+ FPS, at 30 to 60 FPS you'll feel very comfortable; it's your simulation FPS / refresh domain to look out for. This is not different from watching a movie that anyone does at 24p, you prefer it over 60p right, as otherwise all just does not compute in your brain. Just have a look at the videos we included, and you'll soon realize that it's all good. So in your preferred resolution, your target can be 30 (at minimum); perhaps 25 FPS might even do it. As you have been able to see, something is bottlenecking at Full HD as the cards are just too close towards each other. This might be CPU related, but also can be a throttle based on retrieving satellite imagery from the cloud servers. We'll have to investigate a bit more to see what is going on there. Graphics performance-wise, we'd recommend a beefy setup, of course. I'd recommend an enthusiast-class graphics card for the highest resolutions, 32GB on the System memory and obviously and SSD. processor wise four cores work, but my recommendation sits at an eight-core configuration for best experience.

However, there's far more to say here, as reviewing and benchmarking this title is complicated. We use a once screen setup. Surely many flight-simmers will use multiple screens. Do you measure cockpit mode, or measure externally. Of you use multiple monitors, how much will be used for actual flight views, as opposed to a dashboard.

All these factors combined do make this a challenging title to measure. Overall though, I think it safe to state that we measure the more stringent conditions. Flight Simulator 2020 does exceptionally well on many vital points, high framerates at Ultra quality settings; however, not so much. As stated, running a flight-sim at 30 FPS is fine, please trust me on that. The planes look detailed and fly + function well. The Flight Sim universe looks very beautiful from high and above, but also in detail over cities and major airports. One point of criticism would be the choice of Bing Maps; Bing often has outdated maps. Hopefully, Microsoft will be able to improve this in the future. Another critique would be pricing; the standard edition is quite meager if you like to fly the larger airliners. The basis with this new Flight Simulator, however, is unique with an excellent weather system as well.

Graphically speaking, while not perfect graphics-wise and with a stutter here and there, this is among the best and realistic flight-sims to date. The landscape looks very good, though not everywhere. But especially the cities and airports that have been modified by hand are breathtaking. The one thing I am left baffled by is the fact that this title is DirectX 11 only, A Microsoft title, developer of DirectX, not using or even offering DirectX 12. Yeah, that's just fascinating when you think about it longer than 2 seconds. 

Right, now where is the stewardess? I want to join the Mile High Club. Hey, this is supposed to be a realistic sim you know?


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