New machine or upgrade to play Flight Simulator 2020

Sep 2, 2020
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I am pretty sure I know the answer to this but I thought I'd get opinions. I am not a gamer or at least a modern gamer. Until now, I have never given much thought to graphics cards but then Microsoft relased the new flight simulator which has a high spec requirement. My kids didn't need to go to college anyway.

I discovered my highest spec PC did not have enough room for even a low profile graphics card so I put the card I bought for it, a GTX 1050ti, in another PC I had with a Core i5-4570 and 8GB of RAM so just over minimum spec.

The game runs but only on the lowest settings and even then it drops frames.. Is the issue the video card or the old machine?

Oussebon had mentioned in a different thread that better performance is possible for this game by beefing up the CPU. I could get a core i7 4790k and it would work in this configuration. If I did that and upgraded the RAM to 32GB, would that yield a significant performance boost or would I be better off taking my credit card to Microcenter (when my wife isn't looking lol) and getting parts to build a new machine? A used 4790K goes for around $175 but I feel like I could build a new system around a Ryzen 5 for about $400 if I scavenge the RAM and NVMe drive from my business PC.
 
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If it's A or B - 4790k or getting a new machine (i.e. replacing the CPU, mobo, and RAM) - Get a new machine

You might not have to though.

First thing, 32gb RAM should be last on the shopping list. It's going be the the last thing to make any difference vs 16gb RAM, and even then the difference is small. See:

And also:

The main limit to your experience is your graphics card. Whatever else you might also buy, the GPU is first on the list.

Your CPU may also affect performance, likely giving you a less consistent framerate. If you look at the Tom's Hardware article above you can see the i3 9100 (a 4 core, 4 thread CPU like yours, though faster than yours) has bigger drops than the Ryzen 5 3600. (a 6 core, 12 thread CPU)

The most economical way to proceed would be to get a new GPU, and see how the experience is. Which GPU will depend on your budget and expectations for settings. Also, FS2020 isn't a game where you're targeting fluid 60fps. Apparently, 30fps is fine. A 1660 Super should make a decent fist of it at 1080p on High settings (again see the Tom's Hardware article)

So you get a new GPU - and if FS runs way better and you find the experience acceptable, job's done.

If it's better but you still find stuttering bothersome, double check that it's indeed due to CPU load, and then proceed with the R5 3600 + mobo + 16gb 3200MHz / 3600MHz RAM option for a platform upgrade, as and when you have the funds.

In terms of bang for buck, don't go with a used 4790k. It's old, being used comes with no warranty, and will perform meaningfully worse than the R5 3600.

Before performing any upgrades, make sure your case, PSU, etc all support them.
 
Sep 2, 2020
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Thank you! This is very helpful and interesting. After doing some research on the flight sim boards, I think that GPU manufacturers are going to be bringing in some cash with all of us flight sim guys having to upgrade our GPUs.

My initial thought was that I would upgrade the GPU in my existing machine to somethinng like the GTX 1660 Super which did well in the testing you linked and is in my price range of around but hopefully under $300. I am limited by the form factor of my existing case though. I haven't looked too closely but I'm not seeing any 1660 supers with a low profile bracket so I might have to just go on a shopping spree at Microcenter and buid an entirely new machine. That would be a shame.

With my current GTX 1050 ti and the older CPU, I have been able to play on low settings and it looks pretty good but I have to play in windowed mode at lower resolutions. My monitor is 2560 x 1080 but it is unplayable at that resolution and full screen.
 
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What is the full spec of your current system? The make and model of every component?

Or is it a prebuilt from a company like HP or Dell or something? In which case what model is it?
 
Sep 2, 2020
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Here are the specs of the PC which I am using for Flight Simulator because the card I bought fit it. It is a prebuilt machine.

Lenovo Thinkcentre M73 SFF
Intel Core i5-4570 3.2 GHz
8 GB DDR3 RAM 1333 Mhz
Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 Ti OC Low Profile 4GB GDDR5 Graphic Card
512 GB SATA SSD
Intel Wifi 6 AX200 160 MHz (I use a PCIe wifi and bluetooth card because I don't have an easy way of connecting ethernet)

I also have this PC but unfortunately I can't find a decent GPU that will fit in the case:

Dell Optiplex 3060 SFF,
Intel Core i5-8500 3.00GHz,
16GB DDR4 RAM 2400 Mhz
Intel UHD Graphics 630
1 TB m.2 NVMe Drive
500 GB 7200 RPM drive
Some cheap usb wifi and bluetooth dongle I got on Amazon

I did try to run it on machine 2 with the onboard graphics but I couldn't get it installed. I am not sure if it has anything to do with the graphics card because it wouldn't even finish the initial update. I would get to 70GB or the 91 total and it would freeze.
 

Frindis

Moderator
Not sure how much help it will be, but this YouTube video from JayzTwoCents (Tech savvy) helped me squeeze my fps performance from 30 fps to around 50 without any major changes to how the game looks. I don't have to best PC myself for this game, so every fps helped greatly. That said, 30fps is pretty ok if you do not fly into any dense populations.
 
Sep 2, 2020
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Not sure how much help it will be, but this YouTube video from JayzTwoCents (Tech savvy) helped me squeeze my fps performance from 30 fps to around 50 without any major changes to how the game looks. I don't have to best PC myself for this game, so every fps helped greatly. That said, 30fps is pretty ok if you do not fly into any dense populations.
Thanks! I will check it out. It is good to see that I am not the only one that has these issues. He makes a good point that Flight Simulator X ran terrible at the beginning too and now my old laptop can run it at the highest settings. I'm glad that they pushed the envelope. I haven't really used it much because I'm pressed for time this week and by the time it finally loads, I usually only have a few minutes but it does look pretty amazing.
 
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Lenovo Thinkcentre M73 SFF
Dell Optiplex 3060
My concern is that these are the kinds of systems that often have proprietary connections in them. i.e. you couldn't easily, or at all, move them to a different case, or change the PSU, or whatever.

I'm not sure on those specific models but certainly some previous Optiplexes and Thinkcentres have. A quick glance at

Both seem to have non-standard connectors for at least some things.

So it may well be a new PC job. If you can't fit a decent GPU into the case, and if you can't move the stuff into a new case.
 
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I don't think Dell and Lenovo had double slot GPUs in mind when they built these I'm sure they were thinking more about deploying hundreds of them to offices. i bought both of them used on eBay for very little money. I was thining the same thing about propietary connectors and stuff, not to mention that the motherboard in the Dell, which is the better of the two, still only has that one weirdly placed x16 PCIe slot so I'd have to mod the case probably even if I could move it.

When I get the chance to play the Sim some more, I'll post some more results. Now that I am seeing even higher end GPUs and systems are struggling with it, I don't feel so bad. At least I am able to play it. One day when the hardware catches up, this thing will be incredible. Even at low settings, it is dramatically better than Flight Simulator X.
 
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I tried to fly today and it is choppy even in windowed mode at 30 fps. I think the CPU on this machine is the bottleneck. When I play the game, the GPU usage sits anywhere from 3-30% but the CPU is pinned at 100% the entire time. I ran a benchmark on the CPU and it is in the 29th percentile for performance. I have recently cleaned the entire machine and put new thermal paste on the CPU because it seemed like performance was bad.
 
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I ran a benchmark on the CPU and it is in the 29th percentile for performance.
What benchmark?

Using MSI Afterburner and RTSS:

check CPU usage per core (not just the total), and CPU temps, as well as GPU usage and GPU temps.

Task manager is iffy at best for reporting GPU usage, if that's what you used before.
 
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This is what I am seeing a lot of the time. The GPU temp and percent is pretty low.


Hopefully you can see this but if not, all 3 CPU cores are at 100% and one is at 98% with temps ranging from 58-63c and the GPU is showing temp of 39c and 27%. I do have the GPU fan set to 100% all of the time because it doesn't bother me.

There are times when the GPU will drop to 0%. What is that about?

There are times when CPU usage will drop to 50% and the gpu will be around 30% and it is playable but then the CPUs ramp back up.

Thanks for your help! I priced out at Ryzen 5 3600x CPU and motherboard combo. With psu and case, the total comes to $350. I can scavenge the rest of the parts if it comes to that.
 
Sep 2, 2020
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In case anyone finds there way here looking for answers. My rig doesn't seem to be the problem. As a matter of fact, once I am off the ground, I am able to fly in full screen mode at 2560 x 1080 on low settings and possibly higher as I haven't tried.

The issue appears to be with Microsoft or a bug in the sim itself or both. The lag and dropped frames happens only when I am on the ground and for a short time after I take off when I am around the airport. Even in windowed mode, lowest settings and 1024 x 768, the sim was choppy to the point of being almost unplayable and all 4 cores of the CPU go to 100% usage. Once I am in the air and away from the airport, the CPU usage drops down into the 40% range and I can actually switch to full screen mode at full resolution for my system.

There are other posters on reddit with much more powerful processors reporting the same issue. Some posters are theorizing that there is just too much traffic near the airports and somehow Microsoft is not able to send the terrain data fast enough so the processors are trying to fill in the holes. Seems plausable but the airport I was flying out of is a small airport near my home in the Atlanta suburbs so I wouldn't expect it to have a lot of other players trying to use it.

In any case, I am still planning on building a Ryzen 5 3600x rig next week even if it won't yield much better results near the airports for now probably. Thank you Oussebon for all of your help!
 
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There's the 3600, the 3600X and the 3600 XT.

There's almost no difference in performance between any of them, but sometimes a steep price premium. At launch the 3600x was called out as "$50 for a letter".

The difference according to partpicker is as little as $10 right now - in which case, fine, why not get a 3600x for that price difference if money's not too tight.
But just mentioning as a warning in case you find yourself paying over the odds for an x/xt suffix at a given retailer :)
 
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Good to know.. I had only seen the 3600x and 3600xt at Microcenter. They apparently don't have any 3600 CPUs at my local store. They sell them as bundles with a board for $250-300. I don't buy everything at Microcenter but it is convenient. Anything I should be watching out for with the mother board?
 
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That depends on your plans for the system.

Any old motherboard would be fine for an R5 3600.

If you might swap in a Zen 3 CPU with more cores in the future, then something with decent VRM would be ideal.

That said if you were likely to do that there's be an argument for just waiting 2 months for Zen 3 to release anyway.

B550 boards and X570 boards support PCIe 4.0, which could be useful for future generations of GPU (including possibly Nvidia's new set), fast storage as PCIe 4.0 SSDs mature.
 
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