Recommended system specs for Flight Simulator are out

There’s no denying that Microsoft Flight Simulator is visually stunning. From the volumetric clouds to streamed high resolution orthographic imagery wrapped up in a new DX11 based graphics engine, MSFS has visuals that push the boundaries of what we’ve seen in flight simulation. Are those impressive visuals going to need a monster PC to make it work? Well… we know the system specifications that Asobo Studios is targeting and it is cause for some optimism.

Find out if you can run MSFS

Although we’re used to sims like FSX, P3D and X-Plane 11 running at some decidedly average frame rates, I don’t think this necessarily needs to be the case. FSX and P3D trace their lineage back to a different era of hardware and graphics support while X-Plane has until recently been using the much older OpenGL platform for its graphics engine – with notable gains being made with their switch to Vulkan in the beta version of 11.50.

Asobo Studios and Microsoft have been hard at work taking what code they wanted from FSX but also writing a whole new graphics system for MSFS and I suspect that is going to pay off big time with some alpha testers reporting that the latest patches are running far smoother than other sims. Although these are anecdotal reports and should be treated with a dash of skepticism, it is good to know that a modern engine supporting all of the latest advancements can pump out some solid frame rates.

Here are the specs as they have just been released on the Flight Simulator website.

Doing a little analysis on what’s been released

Working our way down the specs sheet, Windows 10 is a surefire requirement for the new sim. If you’re a holdout for the newest OS from Microsoft, this may force you to upgrade although Windows 10 is hardly the bleeding edge having been out for nearly 5-years now.

Looking at CPU’s, it’s obvious that Flight Simulator will take as much CPU power as you can give it similar to every other sim on the market. What we don’t know is how much advantage more CPU cores will offer such as the 6 and 8 core options in the latest Intel Core i5, Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 5 and 7 series. Looking at the middle and low specs and we see some older hardware listed such as the Core i5 4460 which released in 2014. If your system is a little older this speaks to solid chances for being able to run the new sim in at least a basic capacity.

GPU’s make a big difference in the visuals department and the GTX 970 in the medium position suggests good things for visuals even if you haven’t dialed it up all the way on a 4K monitor. The 970 is bested by the more budget friendly GTX 1660 or RX 5700 these days. I will say, however, that their 4GB of VRAM probably is suggested when not using anti-aliasing which you do tend to need a fair bit of VRAM to do in a modern sim – in my experience anyways. Anything over 4GB is probably going to give good performance.

The new Flight Simulator will need some impressive specs but it looks like a mid-range gaming PC will do just fine too.

RAM for the sim plays out similarly to DCS World with 8GB being a minimum experience while 16GB works very well and 32GB is optimal. In the case of DCS World, 32GB is suggested for the most complex multiplayer scenarios and I’m willing to bet that may be the case here too.

Finally we have storage and bandwidth. At 150GB of storage required, Flight Simulator weighs in decidedly less than X-Plane 11 with some scenery packages installed. What we don’t know is how much storage you theoretically can devote to scenery that you’re flying over and how quick the streaming service is at bringing new textures in.

With the recommended 50Mbps service for network speeds, you can bet that this requirement is needed for the ultimate experience with minimal delay in bringing down new scenery. However, a slightly lower resolution experience is apparently possible and surely the slower speeds will do just fine except in the case of the slowest download speeds.

High end but not mind blowing

At the end of the day I look at the spec sheet and I see similar requirements that you need from other simulations. DCS World, X-Plane 11, IL-2, and the latest version of P3D (recently released) all take powerful systems to run optimally.

But that said you can get away with far less and still have nearly the entire experience and so these specs, while high end, don’t look like they are going to require you to immediately drop money on a new PC if you have something that can already handle the latest sims.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Solonas P says:

    For people that using DCS even the Higher specifications of Microsoft Simulator they are not even something you may consider any update for your own personal computer.Most users of DCS are pushing there hardware to the limits and have them up to date for having even a few more fps.Whats good with Microsoft Simulator is that there coding is updated for more detailed less buggy and more stable platform something unfortunately I can’t say for DCS.If DCS doesn’t rebuild there coding structure unfortunately we would always have the same problems again and again and again.

    I am sick and tired watching people fight each other in DCS forums others paid to protect DCS others just write something to create a topic or the few that care for the modules are paying hundreds of dollars or euro or thousands on there hardware and when they post something asking something serious they get bully.

    I never start a topic or post anything any were all my life but I lost a family member and buried him a few days ago and the pain is unbelievable that I had to write something to take my mind elsewhere by saying all this is nothing compared losing some one you love and loved by him.I know wrong place to write all that who cares right ;Forgive me but that’s my belief that’s how I feel right now and compare something that most flight simulators waiting to try out .Wish you all the best and be careful


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Hi Solonas,

      First, my condolences on your loss. There’s been a lot of that going around recently and it’s always sad to hear. I’m very much about family and so I am wishing the best to you and your family.

      Most flight sims suffer from some performance related issues including DCS World. While I agree that it does have some issues and I’ve run into many recently with the 2.5.6 update, I’m not completely on board with the idea that it’s a complete mess. When I compare normal DCS World performance with say X-Plane 11 version 11.4x – DCS is well out in front even with it’s problems. Both are working on moving to Vulkan and with that I hope we’ll see some performance benefits.

      Until we can compare the latest from Microsoft and Asobo on finished release ready code I think the jury will have the remain out on how this new sim competes. I have high expectations and I’ve heard good things but of course it’s not yet available to the masses. Once it’s out you can bet I’ll be doing a few comparisons to see how it stacks up! Should be a fun thing to do.

      Take care!


  2. Gretsch_Man says:

    Any word about VR support? I remember Microsoft saying they are considering it.

    For me without VR support this sim will be a no-go. With VR support I might very well going to buy it, depending also on reviews by others (I’m normally not into civilian flight sims, so I will need a bit of “persuasion” to go for it).

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      No official announcement but they did, as I think you know, say that they were reconsidering VR support before launch.

      I get the sense that the plans for this were set 5-years ago (they’ve alluded to that) and it’s taken this long to get to launch. VR was not where it is back then and it was maybe a bit hard to bet on it then.

      Hopefully they will have a good solution either for launch or after.


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