PSA: turn off data features to ensure the best Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 performance

Cloud data may make for a more stunning Microsoft Flight Sim experience, but turn it off for better performance.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Before you start streaming Netflix mid-transatlantic flight in Microsoft Flight Simulator, you might want to consider the impact your available bandwidth may be having on your frame rate—in our testing it looks like a lack of downstream bandwidth is having a negative impact on frametimes.

Cruising at 30,000 feet with all data options turned on (Microsoft Flight Sim uses a variety of streamed data to inform weather, traffic, and satellite information), we were able to scrape together an average framerate of 40fps and a 1% low of 26fps across an average of three 1440p runs with the high-end preset enabled. With data turned off, that increased a little to 44fps average and 1% low of 27fps. Not an insignificant bump in performance for a couple of data streaming options.

Microsoft Flight Simulator data performance

(Image credit: CapFrameX)

Yet it was when we also enabled a download of a game, to a different SSD, in the background (thus gobbling up all our network bandwidth) that the game struggled most of all. With data turned back on, and Devil May Cry 5 downloading behind the scenes, Microsoft Flight Simulator managed an average of 40fps—okay, all good there—and a 1% low of 18fps. Ouch.

So it appears that a slow or bottlenecked internet connection may cause poor, inconsistent performance in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Test bench:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 9700K
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
  • RAM: 32GB Corsair Vengeance @ 2,666MHz effective
  • Storage: OS / 1TB WD Black SN750, Game / Addlink 1TB SATA
  • Motherboard: Asus Maximus XI Formula Z390
  • Monitor: Asus XG32VQ

This isn't entirely surprising news. Developer Asobo has been keen to point out during the game's setup that it requires both a steady connection and a fair chunk of data if you are to enable all its online features, but we thought it a worthy PSA if you're trying to eke out every last drop of performance from your GPU and CPU in the expansive (and demanding) simulator.

(Image credit: Asobo)

The game itself isn't much of a network hog, however, yet what little data it uses it appears to rely upon for game performance. So just make sure to disable what you don't need using the in-game data settings and bandwidth limits if you're worried your connection might not be up to scratch.

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