Maximum Graphics at 4K Performance

Before we begin to look at performance, there are a few tidbits of information you need to be aware of.  Firstly, this game’s performance (as all previous games have been) varies the closer you are to the ground, versus flying at high altitude.  This has always been the case in this game.  Meaning, when you are on the ground at the airport, preparing for takeoff, or taxiing, or taking off, performance is at its lowest.  As you climb in altitude, the performance actually starts going up the farther away from the ground you are.  Therefore, the most demanding parts of the game are on take-off and landings. 

This game’s performance can also vary based on the weather conditions, which you can manually set.  The amount or density of clouds, the winds, even the time of day, will all affect performance.  Terrain and the terrain you are flying over also changes performance.  Dense trees, or buildings or skyscrapers, or flat plains and desert, it all changes the performance you will experience.  Therefore, what we show you today, may not even be the most demanding performance the game can generate.

What we focused on for this first round of testing is take-off performance and landing performance.  We chose to set the weather for “A Few Clouds” using the preset and set the time of day at 1 PM for each test.  We also used two different airports in our testing, for this first one we used the Seattle airport and took performance measurements taking off and landing separately. Air traffic is set to AI.

This game also has different camera views.  For our testing, we chose the worse possible scenario, which is an external view zoomed out all the way, and then a cockpit view zoomed out all the way.

Also, the best way to show you performance is not bar graphs or average framerate, but rather framerate over time so you can see the performance every step of the way.

In terms of “what’s playable?” this game is very playable at 30 FPS, which is smooth for this simulator.  Therefore 30 FPS is our playable game performance we want to achieve or exceed.

Take Off Performance – Zoomed out Cockpit Cam

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 4K Maximum Graphics Settings Seattle Take Off Zoomed Out Cockpit View Graph Performance

In this performance graph we are taking off from Seattle airport in the Cockpit view, but zoomed out.  The game is running at maximum graphics settings at 4K.  You can see performance starts off pretty slow at 15 FPS until it gets its act together, and then starts out at about 25 FPS.  However, it starts to drop sharply to 20 FPS as we take off, then the framerate starts increasing to 30 and finally cruising at 35 FPS.  That initial take-off performance is well below 30 FPS though, and quite choppy.

Take Off Performance – Zoomed Out External Cam

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 4K Maximum Graphics Settings Seattle Take Off Zoomed Out External View Graph Performance

In this performance graph we are taking off from Seattle again, but with an external cam view zoomed out, once again at maximum game settings at 4K.  You can see that the take-off performance is about the same as within the Cockpit starting off, but there are a few more spikes that go lower in framerate.  It takes it a while to get to 35 FPS on the external view.  During the process, there are some down spikes where it drops for a second or a few seconds, like down to 15 FPS during the flight there.

Landing Performance – Zoomed out Cockpit Cam

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 4K Maximum Graphics Settings Seattle Landing Zoomed Out Cockpit View Graph Performance

Now we are looking at landing performance, i.e. the plan starting from the air, and then landing on the runway.  We are starting in the zoomed-out cockpit cam at maximum game settings.  We start off higher in performance because we are already in the air, but still under 30 FPS.  Then the performance drops to around 20 FPS as it lands, and then as it comes to a stop settles right under 25 FPS on the ground. 

Landing Performance – Zoomed out External Cam

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 4K Maximum Graphics Settings Seattle Landing Zoomed Out External View Graph Performance

Now we are doing the same landing, but with the external cam zoomed out, again maximum game settings.  It starts off near 30 FPS in the air, then drops to around 22 FPS as we land, and settles between 26-23 FPS on the ground.

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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12 Comments

  1. I was impressed by the promo videos, but not by the actual product. It doesn’t look nearly as good. My biggest disappointment is the ai generated terrain. It’s awful. I loaded up a city I know, I expected much better, most buildings doesn’t have the right shape or even their height I’ve seen a lot of multi storey buildings that were just one level here. And they didn’t even try to use real world textures. All the buildings in the entire city use the same brownish grey canned texture, which makes it look a kind of north korea, zero variation, zero color. Then there are rivers flowing over bridges. And cars drive underwater, where there is no bridge, cars that seem giant compared to everything else. And the bing aerial imagery is just very lowres and misaligned for the most part. Google earth’s ai generated 3D terrain is 100 times closer to reality. I’d actually prefer to fly over that to this. I was struggling to get my bearings things are so off. Plus I noticed a lot of fake light sources just floating in the air, not attached to a building or a light pole.

    As for the performance it seemed good enough for me, I definitely didn’t notice drops to 10 fps, I played at 3840×1600, but also have 32GB of ram.
    But this is the type of game where low fps is not that big of an issue to me.

  2. I do agree with you on the terrain, I have noticed it can look low quality at times when it really shouldn’t.

    I also wish they had used Google Maps, but it’s Microsoft, they have to try and make it look like Bing is worth it.

  3. I do agree with you on the terrain, I have noticed it can look low quality at times when it really shouldn’t.

    I also wish they had used Google Maps, but it’s Microsoft, they have to try and make it look like Bing is worth it.

    Have you tried the game with 32GB to see how it affects performance?

  4. I do agree with you on the terrain, I have noticed it can look low quality at times when it really shouldn’t.

    I also wish they had used Google Maps, but it’s Microsoft, they have to try and make it look like Bing is worth it.

    How long before someone makes a mod that uses Google Maps instead of Bing though?

  5. I’d guess: Never? You can’t extract actual raw data from google earth. Only map tiles as 2D images.
  6. I’d guess: Never? You can’t extract actual raw data from google earth. Only map tiles as 2D images.

    Oh I did not know that. I definitely assumed that data was available for download. Seems if Microsoft allows or has that ability they got something on Google Maps/Earth.

  7. Oh I did not know that. I definitely assumed that data was available for download. Seems if Microsoft allows or has that ability they got something on Google Maps/Earth.

    Well, there are things you can do when you own the service that aren’t necessarily offered to everyone…

  8. Well, there are things you can do when you own the service that aren’t necessarily offered to everyone…

    I thought about that, too. Though, it seems a lot of the data is entered by a third party person. I seen an article that had a 212 story building in the Sim that was only supposed to be 2 stories tall. Turns out, someone who was entering data for a University project had a typo and entered 212 instead of 2.

    While that doesn’t mean anyone can, it does seem to lean towards it being more open than Google Earth possibly.

  9. I thought about that, too. Though, it seems a lot of the data is entered by a third party person. I seen an article that had a 212 story building in the Sim that was only supposed to be 2 stories tall. Turns out, someone who was entering data for a University project had a typo and entered 212 instead of 2.

    While that doesn’t mean anyone can, it does seem to lean towards it being more open than Google Earth possibly.

    MS used an outside contractor to do the world terrain: blackshark.ai. I bet they used various databases and the kitchen sink to fill in all the blanks, and then used ai to fill what was still missing. It is safe to say they didn’t use the best data available, just what they could get their hands on for cheap or free. So university project falls right into that.

  10. Seen over 20gb of system ram usage on TR 3760x system with 64gb and 1080 Ti. 1080 Ti was using around 9.8gb average. 1440p Ultra settings

    For 16gb Ryzen 2700x system with Radeon FE, 11gb-12gb for system ram and over 15gb at times on the Radeon FE. Looks like the game can use the vram if you have it if the system memory is restrictive. 3440x1440p Ultra settings.

    The 5700 XT AE system with 32gb of ram, Ryzen 3900x, 19gb-20gb system ram and up to 7.8gb vram. Radeon 5700 XT AE has issues flying around the San Francisco/Oakland area with frame time spikes going up to close to 200ns. Other areas or locations so far are OK. 1440p Ultra settings.

    Brent please compare 32gb to 16gb system memory if you can update your computer.

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