New MS Flight Simulator update to deliver dramatic performance uplift on PC

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Microsoft Flight Simulator (opens in new tab) developer Asobo Studio has demonstrated a new update that is coming to the game next month, one that should dramatically improve frames per second and memory usage—we're talking massive performance improvements on PC that could make your next transatlantic flight a totally turbulence-free experience.

During a developer live stream yesterday, CEO and co-founder of Asobo, Sebastian Wloch, outlined all the improvements coming to PC with the coming update, alongside the version for Xbox Series S/X.

"So basically we have rewritten a lot of the parts of the engine, the architecture, or improved, in order to get the maximum performance out of the sim. And the minimum, I would say, resource on memory or bandwidth footprint," Wloch says during the stream (via VGC (opens in new tab)).

Wloch then demonstrated the improvement we're talking here, and it's rather impressive. 

"You can see the memory of the system is down to 14GB, and the sim is down from 16GB to 4.7GB. Frame rate is 50, or 54 in this case, where it's really hard for the system. I balance it between GPU and CPU, it's really the GPU which is more load because of the buildings in the background, but completely stutter free on my computer. It's up by 20 frames, I would say, per second, 20-30 frames per second, and 25% CPU free on the system."

"You can see the GPU is 100% and the CPU is 75% only so it's totally moved over the work and now the CPU is free, so you can even run other stuff in the background which is not gonna make your sim stutter anymore," Wloch continues.

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The test system is an Intel Core i7 9700K and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super, which is running the game at 4K, Ultra settings with a 40% render scale. Wloch admits that not all the testing has been completed yet, either, so your system may vary in just how much improvement it will gain from the update. 

I imagine most gaming PCs will see a serious benefit from the update, at least. Greater utilisation of the GPU and lessened load on the CPU will help remove bottlenecks that may have been the root of the game's stuttering issues. Similarly, so too will lessened memory demand from the sim itself.

We may have Xbox gamers to thank for these updates. The new consoles are powerful, that we know, but even some of today's top PCs struggled to run Flight Sim in its initial state (opens in new tab). No doubt Flight Sim has received a new lick of paint in time for its release on the RDNA 2 and Zen 2 powered consoles later this month.

Sim Update 5 will arrive that same day, July 27, 2021, and includes heaps of bug fixes too. Check out the table below for the full scoop.

(Image credit: Asobo, Microsoft)
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Furthermore, once the game moves to DirectX 12 on PC (it already is on DX12 on Xbox but the PC version is lagging slightly behind), Asobo will fit ray tracing into the game. There's no exact date for that yet, but Wloch says the migration is already in progress.

Time to dig out the ol' flight stick again, I think.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

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.