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Microsoft Flight Simulator heavily CPU-bound, struggles to push 60 FPS at FHD on high-end hardware

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a demanding game. (Image via Steam)
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a demanding game. (Image via Steam)
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a graphically punishing game; initial benchmarks from several reviews show that the game struggles to hit 60 FPS at 1080p and 1440p, even when running on high-end hardware like the Intel Core i9-9900K and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

Those hoping to virtually smoothly cruise at 10,000 feet in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 may be sorely disappointed.

Initial benchmarks and reviews of the game are in, and many landed at the same destination: Microsoft Flight Simulator is an extremely demanding game that struggles to hit 60 FPS, even at Full HD (1920x1080). The main issue seems to be that the game is heavily CPU-bound; even high-end silicon like the Intel Core i9 9900K or the AMD Ryzen 9 3800 XT work hard to approach the 60 FPS threshold.

Guru3D’s 1080p/Ultra benchmark managed an average of 51 FPS using an eight-core CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. The best AMD GPU tested, the Radeon VII, managed 44 FPS in the same benchmark.

PCGamer’s benchmark used an Intel Core i7-9700K, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, and 32 GB of DDR4 RAM at 2666 MHz. The game was tested at 1440p (2560x1440) with the High preset. The rig managed an average of 65 FPS when cruising at high altitude and using the exterior camera. However, moving into the cockpit tanked the FPS to 38, and landing using the exterior camera managed 37 FPS.

John Papadopoulos at Dark Side of Gaming claims Microsoft Flight Simulator is the “new Crysis” of the PC world. His rig, which ran a test flight at 1440p/High, used an Intel Core i9-9900K, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM at 3600 MHz, and an Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti. He managed between 30-50 FPS. Papadopoulos also disabled the game’s Texture Streaming feature, which he said would land a massive hit against the FPS.

The key takeaway, as many of these benchmarks note, is that the game puts heavy loads all CPU cores. It seems to ignore multithreading, opting instead for physical cores. Intel CPUs seem to offer slightly better performance (5-10%) than their AMD counterparts, depending on the resolution.

The game also demands high amounts of VRAM; Guru3D reported that it filled up most of the VRAM in an 8 GB card (7.1-7.6 GB, depending on resolution). The game seems to be able to scale VRAM usage as well. When using a 16 GB AMD Radeon VII GPU, Flight Simulator used almost 10 GB at FHD with the “dense terrain” setting and a whopping 12.5 GB at UHD (3840x2160).

Notebookcheck is currently testing Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. We will post our benchmark and results soon.

What do you think of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020? Is this the new benchmark program for high-end PCs? Let us know in the comments.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 08 > Microsoft Flight Simulator heavily CPU-bound, struggles to push 60 FPS at FHD on high-end hardware
Sam Medley, 2020-08-21 (Update: 2020-09-30)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.