The trickle of news from Laminar Research on X-Plane 12 continues and this time its news of the system requirements for X-Plane 12. News that will interest just about every simmer looking at upgrading to the new platform. Let’s have a look!
Minimum and recommended requirements
If you’re into flight sims, you know that this is a hobby that commonly demands powerful systems to run them. One of the concerns I’ve seen expressed by many watching the demo videos that we’ve seen so far of X-Plane 12 is that the system requirements are going to go up and our old systems are not going to be able to run it smoothly. Of course the jury is still out on that and we won’t fully have a good sense of that until we’re all testing it out on our myriad of different configurations.
Despite all that, minimum and recommended system requirements give us a sense of what we’ll need to power this. It’s mostly good news.
First, we have the minimum requirements that have been published.
- CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9.
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 2 GB VRAM
These are fairly basic and they differ little from the X-Plane 11 requirements changing in two key areas with a requirement for 4 or more cores (11 requires just 2) and 2 GB of VRAM (11 requires just 1 GB).
Laminar, however, cautions that this is a borderline configuration for minimum performance. They encourage that people try the X-Plane 12 demo before purchasing if performance concerns on your system are present suggesting that performance will be the same. And this is notable too because its the first time, that I’m aware of anyways, that a demo has been confirmed for X-Plane 12. Good news of course for the reasons above because it enables everyone to try before you buy.
Now we talk about what Laminar Research feels is a good experience with more recommended hardware and here things get more specific.
- CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better
- Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more
- Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD).
This gives us a good picture on what kind of power you’ll need to bring to bear on X-Plane 12. The incremental nature of CPU performance increases also means that you’ll likely be fine if you had, say, a Core i5 7600k while meeting or exceeding the other specifications.
Meanwhile, the RAM requirements and GPU requirements are unsurprising and, for the most part, achievable as many of us running flight sims know that 6GB and more on the VRAM front and 16GB and more are often the minimum needed to make things work well. I look no further than DCS World for example where 16GB is now often regarded as a minimum for multiplayer enjoyment with 32GB recommended.
The good news is that none of these are exceptionally recent releases. The Core i5 and Ryzen 5 3500 are both a couple of years old now and the GTX 1070 is also several years old now and is bested by a couple of generations of newer cards (if you can find them in stock or at a reasonable price – ha!).
GPU specific requirements
Laminar goes on with some GPU specific requirements laying out a minimum generation that you need to have to make things work as intended.
- NVIDIA: NVIDIA GeForce 900 or newer, driver version 470.82 or newer.
- AMD: AMD Radeon RX 500 or newer, driver version Adrenaline 21.11.2 or newer.
Earlier cards, in my experience, might work but not without some trouble or some sort of graphical glitches. In other words… not recommended.
X-Plane is somewhat unique in that its the only sim that I cover that offers support for MacOS and Linux. Most of the specifications above seem PC oriented but they should apply to Intel based Apple computers. One absence that has been noted is if the sim will support Apple’s move to ARM based M1 chips or if they will continue to rely on emulation.
Here are the OS’ that are being supported.
- OS X: OS X 10.15 or newer (e.g. Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey).
- Windows: Windows 10 or 11, 64-bit.
- Linux: Varies
- While X-Plane 12 will run on Linux, we don’t provide support for specific distributions; if you want to run on Linux, you will need to try X-Plane on your distribution to see if it is compatible. With that in mind, we have developers using Ubuntu 18.04 and 20.04 LTS successfully.
- We require the proprietary driver from NVIDIA to run X-Plane. We require the Mesa drivers for AMD to run X-Plane.
So there you have it
Plan to run X-Plane 12? Now you know what Laminar Research are aiming for with their hardware support and performance. There are of course a few other things worth keeping in mind. X-Plane 11 installs are rarely, in my experience, just the stock configuration and once you start adding more complex aircraft and plugins things tend to drop in performance slightly (or significantly) so be sure to keep that in mind if you’re planning an upgrade.
As is usually the case in this hobby, the more CPU/RAM/GPU that you can throw at the sim, the better the experience. Not mentioned but something that is critical too is storage. Fast SSD’s are becoming essential requirements where a few years they were just nice to have.
Time for me to get back to planning that system upgrade…