Believe it or not, Microsoft’s Flight Simulator (eventually called Microsoft Flight Simulator X) was first released on PC all the way back in 1982. Needless to say, what’s become the definitive flight simulator program has come a long way since those early days, with intricate scenery, real world weather, and lifelike physics. And now with Flight Sim 2020 (aka FS2020), we’re seeing a rebound in popularity for Flight Sims once again.
So what are the best areas to focus on to build the best possible gaming PC for running Flight Simulator 2020 as well as other flight sim programs? Follow these recommendation and you’ll be off the ground in no time.
A Fast Multi Core CPU
Since Flight Sim X is a few years old and as of now is still considered the Gold Standard, flight sims do put more emphasis on CPU speed than do many modern games. So the faster your CPU, the better overall that Flight Sim will perform. We typically recommend a multi core Intel Core i7 or i9 like the 9700k – found on our Raptor Z55 – not only because of its impressive 4.9GHz Turbo speed, but also because it’s unlocked, and therefor very overclockable should you need more juice. If the i7-9700k is outside of your budget, the unlocked i5-9600k is a good substitute. Due to the lack of support for Hyperthreading, Flight Sim users will most likely not see much benefit from Intel’s i9 options.
With the release of its Ryzen architecture, AMD also offers some interesting Flight Sim options. The 8-core Ryzen 7 3800X is the likely best option here with a 4.5GHz boost speed and a pricepoint that gives it a value proposition that’s hard to argue with.
A Fast GPU
Traditionally, Flight Sim X relied so heavily on CPU, that GPU was a much less important component when configuring a Flight Sim PC. That’s changed a bit with FS2020 however. Now, a mid to high end GPU is strongly recommended, with an RTX 2060 Super our preferred choice for 1080p and 2070 Super or 2080 Super best if 4K is in your future.
A CPU cooling solution
All of that stress on the CPU will generate excess heat, especially if overclocked. So assuming crashes (pun intended!) and freezes aren’t your thing, you’ll want a CPU cooler beyond just the stock Intel or AMD heatsink. For ultimate cooling performance, we recommend the 240mm closed loop Liquicool 8, compatible in our GX5 chassis or 120mm option on our MX4.
Ready to build your ultimate Flight Sim PC? Give our experts a call at 804-419-0900!
PS – Flight Sim folks can be a serious bunch. Check out this setup an avid Velocity Micro fan and former WWII fighter pilot built in his garage:
Editor’s Note: This post originally from 2015 has been updated to reflect current hardware requirements and component options.