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

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Before you start streaming Netflix mid-transatlantic flight in Microsoft Flight Simulator (opens in new tab), 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

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 (opens in new tab)) simulator.

Microsoft Flight Sim data settings menu

(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.

Jacob Ridley
Jacob Ridley

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.