Community Questions: Building a Flight Simulator PC

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Specter0420

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30fps is vomit inducing garbage for VR, and will be more like 20 fps in multiplayer VR when comparing old fashioned 2D... Everything else you have said wreaks of fanboyism, I just jumped in X-Plane 11 VR and checked my CPU usage, it is stressing one core... See screenshot for proof. This is with a ton of addons and using ortho tiles at a high zoom level at a high quality custom airport in the most modern sim.

I get ZERO stutter in VR with 45-75 FPS at near max settings with my 8086 running at 4.8Ghz... She goes to 5.2 but I don't need it yet. I've attached a screenshot to prove my claims. https://i.ibb.co/RztgCC7/AAA-XPlane-CPU.png

What modern sim are you making these claims about? I've not heard of it...

I'd invite everyone here to install X-Plane 11, the demo is free. If you press ctrl+shift+F it will display the frame times coming from your CPU and GPU. Divide 1 by this number and you will get the FPS provided by each component. The lower the better (.022 is 45FPS). See screenshot.

My 5.0 Ghz 8086K is the bottleneck compared to my 1080 founders and extra cores will do nothing... Don't make the AMD mistake like the OP.

Same goes for DCS and IL2. P3D and FSX are just too old to be considered, but they were the same.

EDIT: I just noticed you mentioned P3D. So I just did a quick search, it looks like it depends on up to 4 cores and Ghz are still the most important. I haven't touched this dinosaur in over 2 years so I had to look it up. https://www.reddit.com/r/flightsim/comments/80y8rk/ryzen_for_p3d/
 
Jan 23, 2019
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Jan 23, 2019
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To the OP about your proposed build:

Case NZXT H500 (Black) ATX Mid-Tower $70 ... fine

Cooling Cryorig H7 49 CFM ... not needed - save it for upping memory to G.Sill Flare-X

CPU AMD Ryzen 5 2600 ... perfectly fine for flight sim use - will deliver very smooth performance. Stock cooler is fine.

Graphics Sapphire Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB ... Change to fastest 8 Gb nVdia card you can afford

Memory G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 ... Use savings from not needing a cooler to upgrade to G.Skill Flare-X 3200. It has tighter timings 14-14-14-34 and Ryzen responds well to this (as does Intel).

Motherboard MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC ATX AM4...Fine

PSU SeaSonic Focus Plus Gold 650W ...Fine

Storage Samsung 970 EVO 250GB ... Great for boot drive and for base sim only. If he plans on later getting detailed scenery and aircraft, he can add another drive and move the whole sim to that. Storage is a cheap upgrade.

Monitor LG 34UM88C-P 34-inch 60 Hz ... you can also use a 4K TV at lower cost - first check the desired refresh. With simming, bigger and more detailed is nicer.

AMD advantage - guaranteed CPU upgrade path for not just the upcoming 7nm chips, but also 2020 released chips. Here is where VR is a realistic upgrade. Just look at Tom's Hardware comments on the just seen Ryzen 12 core/24thread chip and the incredible IPC.

You are doing OK. Don't be swayed by noisy fanbois and Team rubbish. Use what works.

 

Co BIY

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From X-plane.com

Recommended Hardware Requirements:

CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster
Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more
Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD)

Everything I've read indicates that Flight sims belong to teams Blue and Green. Team Red is not well supported. That is unlikely change soon just because AMD is back with competitive CPUs.

For those who wonder "What is x-plane ?" They have a free demo on their website and I encourage you to try it. The software is the same software used in real commercial flight training simulators but packaged for home use.

"The retail version of X-Plane purchased at X-Plane.com is not certified for flight training right out of the box, since certification requires a software and hardware combination. However, the software available for about $60 at X-Plane.com is almost identical what is found in the $500,000 full-motion FAA-certified platforms."

Benchmark your system against these commercial offerings
http://
I'm sure you can do better for less
 

AndrewJacksonZA

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Based on my colleague's setup at home, rather go for five screens abreast is portrait mode or three screens abreast in landscape mode. (His setup is pretty darn good... Plus we work for an airline, and our real simulators also use three or five screens, but they're so realistic when I entered one I thought that they hadn't turned it on yet and I was looking through glass to the outside world, meanwhile it was on and waiting for input. :) )

Please don't forget about the control inputs:


*Boeing uses yokes, Airbus uses joysticks.

**Or get the matching Joystick + Throttle matching set for a more "authentic" look and feel: http://www.thrustmaster.com/en_UK/products/hotas-warthog
 

alexluther74

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I agree with more SSD storage, flight sims can get very fat as you start adding scenery, my DCS folder is now over 130GB, my FSX folder is about 100GB. Some flight sims, FSX being a good example, also run better at higher clock speeds, 4 cores running at 4.5GHz will do better than 6 cores running at 3.9GHz as they don't distribute the work evenly across all cores. I find my flight sims tend to work 1 core heavily and the other cores only a little.
 

raybob95

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I don't know what the devs have planned for the future, but XPlane11 right now is still woefully single threaded. I advocate for Ryzen 99% of the time but if he's getting a PC only to play XPlane and not steam I'd *strongly* recommend getting an i5 and overclocking to the max.

My current old hack PC has an i7-3770 with an RX 580 8GB, and I game on a single 4k monitor (but not at 4k in every game, ha). In XPlane I typically get no more than low 20's FPS. The GPU is at 20-50% usage (yes at 4k) and the CPU is always pegged on a single core with maybe 30% usage overall. The 3770 is just not fast enough single threaded.

This is one of the very few cases I'd go for maximizing single thread performance.
 

raybob95

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I also got the 4k monitor partially for XPlane. Even at 4k, GPU load is low enough that 1440p is not better, and you'll benefit from the 4k since there's detail in the gauge text, switch labels etc. That is nicer to see at 4k.
 
Jan 24, 2019
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I just built a $2200 pc for XP11, and I still wish I had more money to spend! This parts list can be found here: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/fs6LBb

Obviously you have a tighter budget, but here are some of my thoughts, and feel free to pm me with questions. I have three 1080p monitors for the simulator with one additional 1080p monitor for an instructor's station, so its basically a 4k resolution, and I've found that I still only get 20-30 fps with medium high graphics settings and medium anti-aliasing. For gaming thats obviously unacceptable, but for the sim, its tolerable. I've found that the sim is single thread processor bottlenecked, so don't cheap out on on the processor. 16BG of memory in dual channel is ample. 8GB should suffice. The RTX 2080 is nice, and I don't think a 2080 Ti would give me that much more since the processor seems to be the limiting factor.

But with looking to upgrade to VR in the future, I'd seriously save some more money so your budget is greater. If you're only running one 1080p monitor right now, that doesn't appear to be too bad of a build.

Here is a parts list with everything we have, including the flight controls, monitors, and chair. We operate out of a very nice flying club for an GA aircraft OEM, and we had most of the noncomputer hardware donated. https://pcpartpicker.com/list/36dYzY
 

Specter0420

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Are you sure you read it twice? I only read it once and remember this;

"My friend, normally a console gamer, wanted what he could never have: an awesome PC built to play flight simulators, and more specifically, a mainstream build that can play X Plane 11 with a future upgrade path to VR."

Notice how he specifies X-Plane 11 AND a path to VR? The max OC Ryzen 2 competes with an i5 from SIX years ago in his desired use case! I've provided screenshot proof in his exact use case of it being single threaded, old fashioned 2D is the same. Feel free to download the demo and test yourself, I'll provide both a VR, and non-VR screenshot to prove it for anyone just reading this convo. Both use the exact same GFX and flight settings. The single core performance of my 8086K@4.8Ghz is the bottleneck regardless;





Congratulations, you've probably fooled yet another person into wasting their money on something that CAN'T meet their needs. An Intel system so old that you could probably get for free these days would have provided better performance for what he is asking, even in old fashioned multi monitor or whatever... Notice the 100+FPS? Do you really enjoy your "good for last millennia" 30FPS?

Hopefully the people you trick won't need to wait 6 more years to enjoy the performance I have now... AMD better deliver for your sake! I honestly hope they do.

32 bit vs 64 bit has to do with memory allocation and usage, it has nothing to do with the multi-threaded capabilities. You are heavily misinformed.

Sorry for any perceived attacks, it is just that these debates will go on for days. The VR flight sim community is small, we don't need people like you ruining the experience of newcomers. Your fanboyism will kill my favorite hobby... Please stop giving bad advice.

What makes you think AMD will be able to deliver 4K to each eye any time soon? They can't even do 1080×1200 per eye today. Intel/Nvidia did that like a decade ago.

If you are truly another flight sim fan, don't try VR until you are ready to buy-in. Once you try it (on a good Intel system with nvidia!) you won't have a choice. That is my advice.

Please back any further claims about your X-Plane performance and core usage with screenshots like I did, because I don't really believe you.
 

timf79

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May 10, 2011
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Current Pilot and someone that did a lot of additional training on the (home Built) sim for the license.
Question is if he wants to use it for fun only (then nothing but budget matters), flight training not FAA log-able, or FAA log-able training.
I have my sim for not log-able training and found the following key things:
You need to have the Logitech Yoke, Pedals and Power quadrant.
VR is the absolute best, forget any multi screen set-up.
Budget money for software and all the add-ons (planes, sceneray, etc.)
If only for sim, save $$ on the screen (as you wont need it) and get the best GPU you can afford.
 


Great links and info. I'd just include that most general aviation and corporate aircraft including turboprops still use yokes for those not interested in airliners all the time - that's the great thing about having both a joystick and a yoke to swap out so I probably should have expanded a little.

Cirrus and Cessna's 350-400 Columbia bought out series use a weird angled side controller so a typical joystick wouldn't be realistic in that scenario. The only corporate jet series I know that use side stick controllers these days are the following:

-Falcon 7x-8x
-Gulfstream G500-600 (brand new series, yes, GS went backwards in numbering with x00 replacing x50 series..Nvidia own 'em?)
-Embraer Legacy 450-500 (brand new series)

I know of only one developer that has created an aftermarket version of these for a flight simulator, the Dassault's Falcon 7x, and yep, you guessed it, it's only for FSX. While the FSX engine itself is old, it still keeps going because of aftermarket high quality add-ons. FYI we'll never see a Gulfstream corporate jet release because they refuse to license their name to any developers like Carenado who could make one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-zz7yLnIQ8&feature=youtu.be
 
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AndrewJacksonZA

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The thing is, trying to partition USD1 200 between the engine that powers the game and the human computer interface bits that will help increase the "feel" of the sim might be a bit tough. I'd encourage emphasis on the input controls, even if the graphics have to be dialed down significantly. Our brains can compensate for bad graphics quite well, the inputs will be a huge plus.
 


Not sure where you are getting your 1% from but anyway, just to illustrate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_aPaj5QkmM

Maybe research some more before posting.
 
Jan 23, 2019
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To those going off about VR. Quote from OP "Since VR was not a priority, I recommended a budget of $1,200 for the PC and to save at least $500 for the monitor" So, VR is not a factor in this build.

To the OP - The top 2 sims in the flight simming world are P3D and XP 11, by a big margin. Now I now know why X-Plane 11 is graphically lame - it is still dinosaur coded like 32 bit programs and uses mainly one thread of a cpu. That is why it has poorer framerates and needs a very fast CPU to compensate.

An alternative is the Lockheed Martin Prepar3d version 4 (P3Dv4) that is developed for, and used by, the US military and many commercial airlines. The size of the user base of both XP and P3D is about the same. An Academic licence is $50. There is a 60 day refund period, so it is buy try and LM will refund if you don't like it.

P3Dv4 is coded to use ALL your cores/threads and gives much better framerates at maximum settings. My cpu is an older Ryzen 1700 running at only 3.4 GHz but gives great P3D performance. Your proposed R 2600 has 2 less cores but is a much faster cpu than mine, and should perform similarly. Best with an Nvidia graphics card with 8 Gb.

So with a Ryzen 2600 your friend may be better off with P3d.

I have rarely used XP 11. It is a good sim, also developed for commercial use, but I find P3Dv4 looks and works so much better.

I could not figure out how to add pictures (new here), so I put a gallery of six 4K pics showing cpu load, framerates and settings on IMGUR. There are detailed explanations with each pic.

https://imgur.com/a/LuU1ruC

These are big, detailed images and might take a while to load, but click on each image in turn and it will load at full 4K resolution. The fps details are in the upper right. Note that while I show 140fps at 4K with sliders maxed in one pic, I usually set the max fps in the sim to 30, as it runs extremely smoothly with no stutter.

I had previously assumed that XP 11, being 64-bit, was modern multithreaded software and was massively surprised tonight to see that it isn't. That explains why, for me, it just does not look or perform as well at detail. I am now taking XP 11 off my PC (freeing up 60 Gb of SSD) and won't re-install it until it is recoded to use my computer efficiently. Maybe XP 12 or 13 or 14.

My PC is built with flight simming as its primary purpose, but is dynamite at everything else I do as well. As someone earlier pointed out, the 2600 will also be a great workhorse for everything else.

Think about future upgrade ability.

If Intel's 10 nm chips work out late this year, these current 1151 mothererboards will be end-of-the-line for any cpu upgrade. Most of their revisions in past years have needed you to also get a new motherboard when you want a newer Intel cpu. AMD guarantees compatibility until its 2020 cpus. I skipped the 2700X (a drop in replacement), waiting for the new 7nm 3rd gen AMD cpus later this year.

Also some posters have recommended, a 5 or 5.2 GHz Intel cpu - overclocking needs serious cooling that you have to buy. This money can go towards your graphics card, because the free stock cooler AMD gives you works fine.

Both P3d and XP 11 are the leading sims available. They are both good. My preference, having bought both, is P3D, and it will work better on a R 2600.

To all those with different opinions, good on you. Enjoy what you got - I won't argue.
 

Fluke031

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Is he planning on physical cockpit parts (switches, instrument panels etc)?
If yes, forget about VR. Use a beamer on a curved projection screen. Or a 4K. Or triple screen. Get a trackir or cheap diy knockoff to bridge the immersion gap a bit.

Is 1200 his max budget?
If yes, forget about VR. Especially commercial jetliner sims do fine without VR. It saves serious money on gpu and vr. Get a trackir or cheap diy knockoff to bridge the immersion gap a bit.

Also as sims tend to be more... euh.... simulation than graphics oriented, i'd go for a (3?) cheaper monitor (s) for now.

And finally... simming is nothing without the proper controls. They will outlast more than 1 system and deserve more priority.

Everything else is sim specific. Great advice has already been given on the whole amd/intel/nv thing.
 

Specter0420

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X-Plane 11 is, by far, the leading civilian (non-military) sim right now. Its Blade Element Theory simulates the air flow and physics, it is MUCH more realistic compared to the lookup tables from 30 years ago, still used by P3D and FSX.

P3D and FSX still do some ATC stuff better though so make sure you do your research in what you want; Comms simulation or flight simulation.

I understand that people become invested in their sims, buying aircraft, airports, plugins, and the like over the years... That stuff won't transfer over to X-Plane so you are stuck. Your poor single threaded performance probably gives you no choice anyway. It can't handle simulation, it does lookup tables just fine though!

But...

This guy is just getting into flight sims, he doesn't have lots of dollars invested in some antique "sim" running a dinosaur engine holding him back... And he hasn't built the computer yet (hopefully), so he hasn't made the Ryzen mistake, locking himself into an inferior pretend-to-simulate "simulator".

Before you uninstall XP11 set all GFX options to minimum so your CPU might have a chance and do a few landings with a 20 knot crosswind, do the same landing in P3D... You see that? I can tell you from RL experience, landing in a crosswind (and every other aspect of flight) is NOTHING like P3D makes it but XP11 does a GREAT job. There is no argument here, actually simulating air particles and flight provides a more realistic experience, it is also much harder to multithread but they are working on it.

I understand some third party companies have made some VERY extensive lookup tables that do an OK job of pretending to simulate flight in P3D/FSX, but the core sim is still lacking severely and would make a poor decision for 2019. At least the "buddy" did his homework on what sim to build for!

A person's opinion is invalid if their computer is incapable of running both sims with acceptable performance. Of course they are going to like the one that their PC can run, even though it is the inferior simulator.

Also, thank you for proving me correct with your screenshots! I proved Intel can do EXACTLY what he is asking for with performance to spare.

You proved Ryzen simply can NOT do what the guy is asking for.

We actually proved that Intel is at least 5 times better for his use case! Ryzen in old fashioned 2D = 20 FPS. Ryzen in VR = not a chance.

Intel in old fashioned 2D = 100+FPS. Intel in VR = 45-90FPS.

What a constructive debate!

OP, take note and change your build!
 
Jan 23, 2019
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Or consider doing as I suggested - change sims to P3Dv4 and use all those cores and threads in your AMD build.

It is good enough for the US Military.
 

Where exactly was any evidence of this presented? It seems like you're spreading just as much misinformation here as anyone. It's quite a stretch to believe that one CPU overclocked to a bit over 40% higher clock rates than another would manage to perform over 400% faster. That just doesn't add up, unless something were seriously broken with the software in question, or the settings and scenario were completely different. It's more likely to mean the difference between maybe 20fps and 30fps under identical conditions, which would still be significant at such low frame rates, but certainly not "five times" the performance. There's no need to massively exaggerate the differences. Considering a quick search turns up people reporting abysmal performance with high-end i7 processors and Nvidia cards, claims of maintaining 100+ fps under an identical scenario seems unlikely.

In general, I would agree though that at least in X-Plane 11, it sounds like per-core performance seems to matter the most, and due to that, an overclockable mid-range Intel CPU might currently be a better choice for that particular piece of software. Perhaps that will change in some months if the Ryzen 3000 series manages to offer similar or better overclocking performance for less, but for now, those processors are still not an option.

From what I can tell, all these problems seem to come down to X-Plane being inefficiently coded, probably due to it being built off a code-base that likely stretches back to the mid-90s. For around the first 15 years of X-plane's existence, CPUs generally only offered one or two threads, so multithreading obviously wasn't a priority. Now we're at a point where 4 threads are the norm, and 6+ threads are becoming very common, but X-Plane still doesn't seem to have adapted. While I don't know the exact specifics of how their air-simulation system works at a low-level, from the sound of it, it should be a rather parallel process that could be spread fairly evenly across cores. If that's the case, and is what's holding up performance, then they need to really look into recoding their physics system to make better use of additional cores.

Even if that were something which would be more complex to fix than it at first appears, there's one thing they should be able to do more easily, which is to decouple the rendering from the physics, or at least provide an option to do so. Just because the physics might be getting performed at around 30 frames per second doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to estimate interim frames based on prior data. There's little reason why a leading flight sim shouldn't be able to push out a solid 90fps in VR, provided the graphics hardware is there to support it.
 

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