The long awaited and highly anticipated Microsoft Flight Simulator is nearly here, after we saw those system requirements I think we all took a gulp looking at those beefy specs. So how well does this PC flight sim perform on our PC setups? We take a look at the PC performance benchmarks for Microsoft Flight Simulator...

First of all, in this PC performance benchmark article for Microsoft Flight Simulator, we benchmark a few graphics cards ranging from the RTX 2080, RTX 2060 and the mid-range GTX 1060 which is close to the recommended GPU for 60fps High graphics settings in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, as well as the low-end R9 380. Then we go through the FPS test results of each graphics card running at 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolutions. From there we can see the performance of the recommended system requirement graphics cards and consider how well optimized MS Flight Sim really is.

Unfortunately, Microsoft Flight Sim does not come with an official in-game benchmark, so for these tests we started out on a small landing strip in New York, took off in the air and flew around the buildings of the city. We took a predetermined path that was run using the co-pilot feature to setup a set flight path with limited deviations for the most accurate results.

We chose this flight path as we felt it was fairly representative of the most demanding moments you'll experience in the game. Most areas with vast and barren landscapes will provide higher frame rates, but when encountering busy areas like cities that include lots of 3D buildings and AI controlled land, air, and sea traffic will prove to be the most demanding. As such, this benchmark article is representative of the most demanding moments in MS Flight Sim.

Microsoft Flight Sim can also have some extremely long loading times thanks to all the assets included in the game, and a stronger internet connection (if you're streaming the data) or a faster SSD can help alleviate these slow loading times. We also experienced a few crashes whilst playing, but these weren't at all considered often or regular, but can happen from time to time.

MS Flight Sim 2020 comes with a vast array of options to tweak your game, some of which can affect your performance and not all of them fall under the graphics options. Because of this, we left all the games settings on default, only adjusting the various graphical presets available. Due to this, there are some anomalies in the data, but we feel this will be the setup that most users will be experiencing when the game officially launches.

With that in mind, let's jump into the performance benchmarks for Microsoft Flight Simulator...

Microsoft Flight Simulator PC Graphics Settings

Check your PC can run Microsoft Flight Simulator system requirements

Microsoft Flight Simulator most important graphics options - every video setting benchmarked

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Microsoft Flight Simulator Minimum System Requirements

Microsoft Flight Simulator Recommended System Requirements

Microsoft Flight Simulator Ideal System Requirements

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Microsoft Flight Simulator RTX 2080 benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Intel i9-9900K | 16GB

Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 in Microsoft Flight Simulator @ 1080p

Microsoft Flight Simulator Low-End Medium High-End Ultra
Average FPS 58.2 45.9 38.7 32.9
Min FPS 30.4 19.7 15.9 15.2
Max FPS 70.9 55.8 48.7 41.6
1% Low FPS 13.4 12.3 11.9 11
0.1% Low FPS 9.7 2.2 2.4 2.8

The FPS performance for the RTX 2080 in Microsoft Flight Simulator at 1080p resolution is decent, achieving nearly 60fps on Low settings but above 30fps on Ultra settings. Luckily MS Flight Sim does not need high frame rates to feel comfortable and enjoyable, and so 30fps is definitely still fine. This means the RTX 2080 is perfectly suitable for playing MS Flight Simulator on Ultra graphics settings at 1080p.

Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 in Microsoft Flight Simulator @ 1440p

Microsoft Flight Simulator Low-End Medium High-End Ultra
Average FPS 46.1 44.6 38.1 27.7
Min FPS 14.5 14.8 14.2 11.7
Max FPS 53.5 52.9 44.2 32.7
1% Low FPS 2.9 10.3 11.1 9.5
0.1% Low FPS 2.8 1.9 2 1.9

At 1440p, the RTX 2080's FPS performance in Microsoft Flight Simulator is relatively okay, reaching just below 30fps on Ultra graphics settings. This means that the best graphics for 1440p gaming would be High-End or below for the smoothest experience. Overall though, the RTX 2080 is perfectly suitable for 1440p resolution at High graphics settings or lower in MS Flight Sim.

Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 in Microsoft Flight Simulator @ 4K

Microsoft Flight Simulator Low-End Medium High-End Ultra
Average FPS 40.4 33.9 27.8 22.1
Min FPS 12.5 15.8 10.8 17.4
Max FPS 54.2 40.2 33.9 24.5
1% Low FPS 5.1 13.1 9.2 9.4
0.1% Low FPS 4 2.1 2.5 7.1

Finally, at 4K resolution the FPS performance for the RTX 2080 in Microsoft Flight Sim is actually alright, although only at Medium graphics settings or lower. On the whole, the RTX 2080 is relatively alright for playing Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, though if you want to play at Max graphics settings you will have to stay at 1080p resolution for the most comfortable experience.

Interestingly this was the only time we could actually record any benchmarks at 4K resolution, as some sort of bottleneck prevented us from setting to 4K on some lower spec rigs than this one. You can have a look for yourself in the results below for the RTX 2060...

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Microsoft Flight Simulator RTX 2060 benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on Nvidia PNY GeForce RTX 2060 | Intel i7-5820K | 16GB

Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 in Microsoft Flight Simulator @ 1080p

Microsoft Flight Simulator Low-End Medium High-End Ultra
Average FPS 43.8 36.1 29.1 20.9
Min FPS 26.2 25.8 20.6 13.3
Max FPS 49.8 41.5 34.9 24.9
1% Low FPS 11.2 12.2 8.2 8.9
0.1% Low FPS 5.9 8 5.4 5.6

The FPS performance for the RTX 2060 at 1080p resolution in Microsoft Flight Simulator is okay, reaching above 30fps on Medium or lower graphics settings. Anything above Medium settings results in sub 30fps average performance, and can have a negative impact on performing actions in-game.

Unfortunately it seems that there is a bottleneck going on here, as you'll be able to see in the 1440p resolution results below and the GTX 1060 results below that. This is most likely due to the CPU and RAM which start to struggle in busy areas like cities with 3D buildings and AI-controlled traffic.

Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 in Microsoft Flight Simulator @ 1440p

Microsoft Flight Simulator Low-End Medium High-End Ultra
Average FPS 39.1 33.7 25.9 20.4
Min FPS 25.3 21.9 18.8 12.7
Max FPS 47.1 39.3 31.9 24.8
1% Low FPS 11.8 11.3 10 7.8
0.1% Low FPS 6.1 6.1 5.3 5.3

At 1440p, the FPS performance for the RTX 2060 in MS Flight Sim is once again okay, achieving just under the 1080p results above and showing that the bottleneck is still present here. At Medium or below graphics settings the performance is fine, but any higher graphics settings results in the same issues mentioned above where it becomes harder to execute actions during flight due to the lower than 30 frame rate.

Overall, the RTX 2060 is great for running at 1440p and 1080p resolution at Medium graphics settings or lower. Though with this equivalent hardware, you should consider upgrading your CPU and RAM in order to achieve higher frame rates on higher graphics settings at higher resolutions.

And what about 4K resolution? Well, you see I would normally put our 4K performance results here... that is if we had any. Upon loading up the game at 4K resolution even on the lowest graphics settings with an RTX 2060, my frame rate dramatically crashed to an astounding 2fps. At this frame rate, it was hard to even open the menu and restart at the latest runway (I had to mash the escape key several times before the game would register it). Suffice to say it, 4K is absolutely unplayable with an equivalent setup to this unfortunately, and will require a lot more GPU & CPU power as well as added RAM.

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Microsoft Flight Simulator GTX 1060 benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on Nvidia MSI GeForce GTX 1060 | Intel i7-5820K | 16GB

Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in Microsoft Flight Simulator @ 1080p

Microsoft Flight Simulator Low-End Medium High-End Ultra
Average FPS 40.9 35.7 28.8 20.8
Min FPS 26.2 21.6 20.4 12.5
Max FPS 48.4 40.6 32.7 24
1% Low FPS 9.9 10.2 8.1 4.3
0.1% Low FPS 4.6 4.8 4.5 3.7

The GTX 1060 does an okay job in terms of FPS performance in Microsoft Flight Simulator at 1080p resolution, reaching above 30fps on Medium graphics settings or lower. Same as above, anything above Medium graphics settings will result in sub-30fps performance and can affect gameplay and simulation features.

Also the same as the RTX 2060 above, there appears to be a bottleneck occurring that prevents the GPU from being utilized to its full capacity and resulting in lower frame rates at higher graphics settings.

Average FPS for Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in Microsoft Flight Simulator @ 1440p

Microsoft Flight Simulator Low-End Medium High-End Ultra
Average FPS 38.8 33 25.9 19.3
Min FPS 12.6 14.6 9.9 7.2
Max FPS 46.6 37.6 29.7 22.4
1% Low FPS 5.6 5.4 4.3 5
0.1% Low FPS 2.4 4.3 2.7 2.6

One again, the GTX 1060's FPS performance at 1440p in MS Flight Sim is okay, reahing just below the same FPS results at 1080p. Luckily this means you can play at 1440p whilst getting the same performance as 1080p, albeit with a little more stuttering unfortunately.

And once again same as the RTX 2060 above, we just couldn't run Microsoft Flight Simulator at 4K resolution with the GTX 1060, getting around the same 1/2fps even at the lowest graphics settings. So 4K is unfortunately off the table for a GTX 1060 running MS Flight Sim.

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Microsoft Flight Simulator R9 380 benchmarks and frames per second analysis performed on AMD MSI Radeon R9 380 | Intel i7-5820K | 16GB

Average FPS for AMD Radeon R9 380 in Microsoft Flight Simulator @ 1080p

Microsoft Flight Simulator Low-End Medium High-End Ultra
Average FPS 9.5 6.5 4.7 3.2
Min FPS 2.9 4.5 2.6 1.5
Max FPS 14.3 9.3 7 4.9
1% Low FPS 1.2 4.2 2.8 1
0.1% Low FPS 1.2 2.8 1.5 1

Finally, the R9 380's FPS performance in Microsoft Flight Simulator is very bad even at 1080p. Granted this area is the most demanding the game will ever be for this card, but even still this low frame rate made it very difficult to perform any important actions whilst flying and was largely an uncomfortable experience.

If you want to play MS Flight Sim with this kind of hardware, consider lowering many other settings outside of the graphics options to limit CPU and RAM usage. Also be sure to avoid certain areas like busy cities with lots of 3D buildings.

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Microsoft Flight Simulator CPU and RAM usage breakdown

So there's clearly some sort of bottleneck going on here, and further research shows that our RAM usage was being completely maxed out most of the time and the CPU running at around 50% utilization whilst the GPUs running anywhere from 20-60%.

In this screenshot you can see that the memory usage is actually hovering around 11.7GB in this instance, whilst the GPU and CPU are at 43% and 42% respectively. This screenshot was taken during a not so demanding point in the benchmark run, but clearly shows how much RAM Microsoft Flight Sim likes to use.

Whilst we can certainly say that there is some sort of benchmark going on definitely has something to do with the CPU and RAM, we still can't quite pinpoint exactly what's causing it. So as always, if you have any suggestions or ideas then please do let us know in the discussion area below!

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Conclusion

Overall, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a very demanding game and will require the latest high-end hardware in order to run perfectly above 60fps at higher resolutions, especially at 4K. If you want the game to run at it's best though with the highest graphics settings even at 1080p, you will need a powerful GPU along with a lot of RAM and a good CPU.

Most of the time you might find the frame rate to be perfectly comfortable, even reaching above 60fps in a lot of barren landscapes with not many buildings or AI controlled traffic. However, entering certain busy areas will dramatically decrease the overall FPS thanks to all the 3D models and land, air, and sea traffic, which requires a lot of CPU power and can end up bottlenecking your setup if you own any mid-range hardware.

Our CPU was constantly running at around 50% utilization when in these busy areas, withe the GTX 1060 and RTX 2060 reaching between 20-60% utilization. RAM was also constantly maxed out, even at 16GB. Whilst we can certainly say that there is some sort of bottleneck happening and most likely has to do with the CPU and RAM rather than the graphics cards themselves, we'd like to invite you to discuss in the comments are below on what you think is going on here.

However, MS Flight Sim is also a relatively relaxed game, with little need for lighting fast reflexes seen in competitive shooters for instance. As such, it is still perfectly playable even at low frame rates, though around 30fps is the optimal mark for the simulation processes to feel smooth.

Unfortunately low end hardware users will be unable to run the game at a playable frame rate without significant reductions in quality. The general user experience with lower tier GPUs is not achievable, and will require a great deal of image quality downgrades to achieve a playable frame rate. You may find that a lot of areas are perfectly fine to fly in with decent FPS performance, however a lot of busy locations may be off limits due to the sheer density of objects and traffic which will significantly decrease your performance.

Thankfully, there are some settings available outside of the graphics options which can help to increase the performance: like land, sea and air traffic density. Playing in offline mode also helps to add a few frames as you may find performance limited even due to bandwidth thanks to some of the title's online features.

Microsoft Flight Simulator also seems to be very demanding on the CPU and RAM as much as it is on the GPU. As such, consider upgrading your computer's processor and system memory before upgrading your graphics card if you own any modern hardware.

In the end, MS Flight Sim 2020 is a very demanding game and will require some high-end hardware in order to play comfortably at it's best. Thankfully Microsoft Flight Sim does not require high frame rates in order to be playable and feel comfortable, and so most modern cards should be able to run MS Flight Simulator at a playable experience.

Our Favorite Comments
"What i mean is, Microsoft promoted dx12 like it was the 2nd coming, then years later their game still uses dx11, see ? "