Computer specs request

  • The time has come to finally (after too many years) consider a new computer for Flight simulation. Many of you are users of multiple platforms (AF2, FSX, P3D, XP11), so what would you recommend as specs for a good system that will do the job for all platforms? Don't want to break the bank here, just want an idea of what the community advises. And should a person buy "off the shelf" or get someone to build one?

    - Kenneth

  • Hi Kenneth,

    That depends if you want to check out virtual reality, too?

    I think a good PC right now would have an i7 and a GTX 1060, 1070 or 1080 together with couple of SSDs and at least 8GB RAM, 16 would be better.

    As far as I know FSX/P3D still demand a high frequency on your CPU,

    XP11 wants both a good GPU and CPU and

    Aerofly is probably the most efficient of all of them and doesn't need THAT good specs to run just fine.

    I've experienced Aerofly FS 2 in VR on the GTX 1060 and it certainly is fast enough for it, so you might be able to save a few bugs :)

    Aerofly also doesn't need an SSD to load quickly, textures and scenery are loaded in the background, so when you just have HDD your scenery might just load a few ms slower but there is no stutter, even without SSD. I'd go with a large harddrive (1 or 2 TB HDD) or if money isn't a problem then an 1 or 2 TB SSD so that your own scenery projects can be converted quicker. I have an 512 GB SSD and it certainly is enough for Aerofly today but I already find myself limiting the download size of new areas just because I wouldn't know where to save all of the files.

    For your operating system (probably Win10?) you should get one SSD as well, it doesn't have to be huge. 254 GB is probably enough if you don't have that many programs - if you use the computer extensively then you'll probably need 512 GB or more for your C drive as well.

    My suggestion would be:

    i7 something with high frequency for FSX

    GTX 1060 or 70 (or 80 if you have the money)

    16GB RAM

    512 GB SSD C: drive for windows and a frequently used programs (254 GB if you're not using the PC for many other things)

    1 to 2 TB SSD/HDD for Aerofly

    512 GB for FSX and X-Plane (more if you have already purchased scenery for them I guess)

    1 to 2 TB HDD for all not so important programs, your personal data like pictures, movies, etc. - consider it a long term storage, you could even move this disk to your next PC after the next 5 years and wouldn't have to copy anything. :) This also depends on your needs - you might be able to use your current hard drive for it.

    If you already have an SSD or HDD in your current computer you might be able to continue using it. I've "stolen" a couple hard drives from old computers from my family before they were trashed, so I have a couple of HDDs for extra space, backups, etc. HDDs are probably still usable even if they are older, just make sure to test them and scan for broken bits. And if you only had one drive right now you should probably connect it to the new pc, then move all the data that you need and double check that you moved absolutely everything that you're going to need - then you should be able to format the old drive and get rid of all files from your old windows installation, etc. Then you can put the files back on that drive. I have my old laptop drive an there are files on it that I can't manually delete because they come from the old OS of my laptop. So would also need to move all files and then format everything but I'm too lazy :)

    I'll probably upgrade my system soon as well and that is roughly what I have in mind for my next computer. That is certainly not the cheapest of setups but that should be a hell of a computer to tackle all of your sims and even run Aerofly in VR.

    You can either purchase a PC that has a similar setup and then add additional hard drives (most mother boards have enough connections for couple of new drives and it's easy to add new ones. Or you can create your own setup. That is cheaper but you'll have to read up on couple of things probably.

    If you're building your own PC try to get a decent motherboard as well, maybe ask a local computer shop what they can recommend for your planned setup. For the i7 I think you'll need a motherboard that can cope with the hyperthreading of the i7 - and mine was a pretty cheap one and is giving me troubles with USB 3.0 and my mouse and keyboard freeze for couple of seconds every now and then. And if your PC is going to stay in a quiet environment you're probably want it to be quiet, so larger cooling fans, even though they are more expensive are also very good.

    For power usage I think there are probably calculators online - if you have no one else to ask, go to your local computer shop and ask them what they can recommend. you'll probably going to need 700W but that's just a wild guess. I'm not sure how much the different devices now consume nowadays, my last computer build was almost 4 years ago.

  • FSX will always be a problem. You will really need an overclocked CPU running in the 4.2 to 4.7 GHz range. It only really uses one core so you would not need an i7 but other sims use multiple cores.

    I've never overclocked a CPU before and wouldn't recommend doing it. To me it's a still a bit scary because someone designed the processor for a certain speed and probably knows best why the frequency is as high as it is. Yes you overclock it to get an extra 15% or so but only if you are sure you have enough cooling and you know where the next fire extinguisher is standing :D I'd prefer a CPU that natively has a high frequency and software that knows how to use a CPU...

  • Hi Jan,

    Truth is, I have never thought about VR. I can't really see myself messing around with those big devices, especially as I wear glasses.

    - Kenneth

    Good thing is, with that superb setup you'll be able to test it out - or just run Aerofly on a 4K monitor. Or multiple 1080p monitors. :)

    (Its an investment for the future if you like)

    off topic - Having multiple monitors also helps me to increase working speed, so if you're also working with your PC you can have multiple documents in full screen view at a time. Run Aerofly on one side and read the forum on the other, Have your music program running on the side whilst you write an email. Or look at some PDFs one monitor and code on the others, like I do. Then have the code on one side and Aerofly on the other :) Its a lot less switching between programs, instead you just move the cursor from one monitor to the other. Or play Aerofly and have your checklists on the other monitor - there is a lot you can do :D

    I've seen people with glasses use the oculus rift - some prefer to leave the glasses on, which works ok if they aren't too wide, others are able to take them off and use the adjustments of the lenses on the oculus to still see well. In your position I'd just try it out in a local store, if you can. Then you'll at least know how VR is like and if you're able to use it with or without your glasses.

    When you're really not into it or it just doesn't work with glasses or if you prefer a much cheaper mid-range working PC then my suggested setup will be expensive.

  • Ken,

    BTW, I wear glasses that are 135 mm wide (5.5 inches) and they fit inside the Oculus Rift ($400) OK - the VR experience with FS2 is simply amazing!

    The PC specs above are fine - get an i7 7700K CPU that has a Turbo Boost of 4.5Ghz built right in - no need for "overclocking". You will need to spend at least $1500 USD and can find a company that makes it for you.


    Dave W.

  • I bought a kit of parts and added a big cooler and fan but it never went above 42 degrees C!

    Mine is only a 2 core G3258 Anniversary Pentium set-up so it never makes that much heat. It runs 4.3 GHz (just!, in the winter) and is great for FS2 with a fairly decent graphics card.

    I was concerned bringing home an overclock box of parts but honestly it was quite easy in the end. I followed on line and YouTube guides and used free software tools to help me slowly increase the speeds to find the point where it would black out from instability. I think I got 95% of the tuning done over two days. I also got an overclockable graphics card so it was fun too, it was more relevant to getting FS2 running on ultra everything.

    Honestly if you are getting a new PC give overclocking some thought, look at a few YouTube videos to defuse the apprehension and look up some supplier's offers. I got guaranteed compatible parts and it went together without even the slightest hitch. You can buy a made up and overclocked PC to get you started but you won't get one fine tuned to get the very highest performance, that would be your job!

    I got a 34% CPU speed increase plus many mysterious performance increases from the graphics card which I don't really understand.

  • These work very well in VR for people needing to wear glasses......

    I pretty much purchased and tried all the various prescription VR lenses, and like these the best by far.

    Devons rig

    Intel Core i7 8700K @ 5.0GHz / 32.0GB G.SKILL TridentZ Series Dual-Channel Ram / ZOTAC GAMING GeForce® RTX 2080 Ti Triple Fan / Sound Blaster Z / Oculus Rift VR Headset / Klipsch® Promedia 2.1 Computer Speakers / ASUS ROG SWIFT PG279Q ‑ 27" IPS LED Monitor ‑ QHD / 2x Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB / Windows 10 Pro 64-bit /Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Gaming 5 Motherboard

  • Definitely go VR, I feel AFS2 is best used in VR.

    I tend to disagree. AFS2 is big fun in VR but for serious flying I use 2D nowadays. Currently the Dash Q400 is (by far) my favorite plane in AFS2 but in VR it is really hard to read the text on the various buttons. Even when you lean forward. So I have to rely on memory a lot (knowing where which knob is etc.) Not IPACS fault but this is simply how the plane is. I also need to use a checklist otherwise I might be missing steps and at this moment using checklists is problematic in VR. Apart from that you are missing out on all the detail that IPACS is giving us in the scenery: last weekend I flew into Denver KDEN using the Rift and the entire airport was a bunch of pixels during the entire approach: if I hadn't seen the airport in 2D before I wouldn't have known what I was looking at until I was at the threshold and even then I couldn't see things a bit more further away. In 2D however I can see every single car on the parking lot and really miss that in VR. Another thing: the device can get heavy on your head after a while. In my case it also has to rest on my cheeck bones somehow (I apparently have an odd face) and doing that for more than 30 minutes gets annoying already.

    In short: VR is totally awesome for a quick fix but for serious flying (longer flights with more complicated planes) I absolutely prefer 2D. I think that right now I use VR only 5% of my time spend with AFS2.

  • Just before I waved a sad goodbye to FSX, I was running it with steves directX 10 fix (google it) and getting pretty good performance in 2D, 50-60fps with orbX scenery. It costs about £20, but more than worth it. No good for VR/flyinside, but if you just fly in 2D I found it was the best performance boost for the money compared to any hardware upgrade.

    i7-7700K/Gigabyte RTX2080/Win10 64bit/32Gb RAM/Asus Xonar DX+ Beyer DT990 pro headphones/LG 34" UM65 @2560x1080/Rift CV1/TM Warthog+VKB MkIV Rudder pedals

  • There is certainly a lot of food for thought for you Kenneth. I tend to side with Jan on everything he points out. Remembering of course the more people who reply the more complicated you will get as some have trouble with VR others don't.

    I bought off the shelf this time as prior to this I had one made up. It was interesting as it drew a number of differing views, some commented this card was better than that and so it went on.

    Being completely honest with you, we couldn't really afford a top of the pops computer but I'm glad I did go that direction as every month something new and better comes out. For me SSD, a big, really big hard drive ( which I couldn't get at that time), the best graphic's card available (N'Videa) for me, but do your homework first. Big cooling fan, latest USB ports and although you say it now, cover yourself and get a VR compatible.

    Not knowing much about computers I decided to go for a gaming machine, crossed my fingers and hoped. So far so good I havn't regretted going for the best at that time. There are a lot of knowledgeable people on this forum, listen to them all.

    Best of luck, hope it all works out for you.


    Computer: PB Gaming 62000 Skylake Core i5 6600, Quad Core 3.3Ghz with Premium Cooling, 16GB DDR4 Gaming Ram, 250GB SSD, 2TB HHD, N'VIDEA GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5, DIRECTX12 Gaming Graphic's Card, VR Ready, Windows10 Home Edition, 64bit, 2 x 24" Widescreen HDMI 1080p VDU's

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