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Flight Simulator Buying Guide

11 Dec 2020 23:03 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

This article is contributed by BFC Flyout Director Charles Barnes.

The BFC will be hosting a Flight Simulator zoom session in January.  In case there are members who have simulator-related items on their gift lists, our panel has put together ideas for checking if your PC has the necessary capacity as well as some simulator peripherals to help get the right gifts under your tree!

The Zoom session will focus on software (XPlane 11 and FSX 2020), electronic flight bags and virtual ATC networks for those looking for more 'realistic' sim flights.

Happy shopping and see you in January.

PC System Capacity

Will my current system run X-Plane 11?

It helps to know what the vendor expects you to have and what they officially support because they've usually tested to exactly that hardware.

With XPlane you can test using their free download version.  The result between the free version and their full version will be identical (not similar - identical).

Will my current system run Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020?

I need a new computer. Upgrade Vs New?

The important factors may vary from person to person.  Lots of CPU and memory and a faster drive will significantly improve load time on X-Plane 11.  It takes a very long time to load depending on hardware.  Once loaded, frame rate is the most important thing.  Older or lesser hardware will not keep up.  What worked in XP10 might be a dog in XP11.  My current realistic frame rate on my older machine is down to about 10fps with XP11.  That's why I was going to load on updated hardware.  

So yes, you can upgrade successfully (if not buying new) but this is a buyer beware situation. 

What new computer would you recommend, for a casual player? 

  • Check this one out - Alienware Aurora R11 Gaming Desktop
  • On Sale for $1,799.99 down from $2,469.99  - If you’re not computer literate, make sure to take advantage of chatting/talking with one of their sales support people. 
  • Does NOT include the monitor, speakers/headset or the Yoke/Throttle/Rudder Pedals (see the Sporty’s link below for info on that).
  • This configuration has an SSD hard drive (at the time I sent the link) and that is very important for this game to load quickly.
  • Caution: The hard drive is FAST, but it’s not very big.  If you’re moving stuff from another computer, you should probably get a 2nd larger hard drive or opt for the larger hard drive model (it will be slower)
  • What Monitor should I get?  I think bigger the better.  You will see monitor options, if you follow the purchase link.
  • If you want to use multiple screens, the video card becomes more complicated.  This configuration will not work for multiple monitors.
  • I’ve bought a bunch of Alienware (Dell bought the company) PCs for home gaming and have not had any problems.  The support is pretty good too.


What other equipment do you use?


What about Virtual Reality?

  • X-Plane 11 supports VR now
  • Flight Simulator is supporting VR very soon, they have tested and approved the HP VR headset, more will come..
  • Here’s a link to the latest HP VR headset: HP Reverb G2

What if I’m rich and want to stay legally current in the comfort of my own home?


Other good information to check out:

Sporty’s Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Guide: Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 - What Pilots Need to Know  

Hardware Buying Guide for Nerds: Microsoft Flight Simulator Performance and Benchmarks (Tom's Hardware)

Sporty’s Webinar on picking the right gear for Flight Simulator:


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