Highest Playable Settings at 4K

In this article, we have found out that the maximum game graphics settings are not really playable at 4K even with a factory overclocked GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and AMD Ryzen 9 3900X.  The performance was well below 30 FPS at the most critical times.  Therefore, we need to find out what game graphics settings we actually need to lower in order to make the game playable at 4K, i.e. staying above 30 FPS most of the time.

For this test we are changing locations, we are going to Atlanta and flying between Atlanta and Dekalb-Peachtree.  We are recording a full-flight taking-off from Atlanta airport and landing in Dekalb.  This takes us right over Atlanta proper, hitting the framerate hard.  For our weather settings, we are using the “Few Clouds” option at 1PM daytime. The external view is zoomed all the way out.

Ultra Global Graphics Setting

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 4K Ultra Graphics Settings Performance Graph

We already know that “Maximum Graphics” is not playable, so let’s lower the options to the official “Ultra” Global Graphics Setting.  Remember, this will only reduce two options, Terrain Supersampling and Terrain Shadows.  Well, it appears the “Ultra” setting is also not playable.  It starts off at 25 FPS but can drop a lot under 20 FPS taking-off, then cruising and landing puts us between 25-30 FPS.  Therefore, “Ultra” is not playable.

High-End Global Graphics Settings

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 4K High-End Graphics Settings Performance Graph

The next global graphics setting below “Ultra” is “High-End.”  This one definitely helps performance.  At take-off it’s still a little choppy initially at 15-20 FPS, but then it does go up to 30 FPS quickly and mostly stays above that as we cruise.  There are a few down spikes to 25 FPS though, but certainly a lot less than at the higher “Ultra” setting.  “High-End” could be an acceptable gaming experience.

Medium Global Graphics Settings

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 4K Medium Graphics Settings Performance Graph

Now we lowered the game down to “Medium” global graphics settings.  This really did the trick, while we start off at 25 FPS, it quickly rises to 35 FPS and stays well above that the whole time.  Only a few times does it spike down to 30 or 25 FPS.  Otherwise, the experience is a lot smoother at “Medium” settings at 4K.

In terms of what is playable with this setup, it seems “High-End” or “Medium” is your target for smooth gameplay at 4K.

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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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