Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 system requirements: Can my PC run it?

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Daher Socata TBM 930
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Daher Socata TBM 930 (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Flight Simulator has returned on a ground-breaking scale, leveraging real-world mapping data to construct a digital replica of the globe. The wild undertaking comes from Microsoft and partner Asobo Studio, with new real-time weather systems, improved aerodynamics, and other highly-detailed refinements, delivering its most authentic simulation yet.

Before diving into Microsoft Flight Simulator, here are the PC requirements, suggested internet speeds, and recommended hardware to get you airborne.

List of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 PC requirements

Microsoft Flight Simulator Xtra330

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The concept of Microsoft's global cloud-powered simulator is overwhelming, let alone the demand on your PC to run it. With the ability to travel anywhere on the planet, it sounds like you'll need a top-end supercomputer — but it's not too different from your average PC game. With Microsoft Flight Simulator handing its backdrop to cloud, your PC only needs to stream map data in real-time, while displaying it on-screen.

Microsoft provides three suggested PC hardware tiers for Microsoft Flight Simulator, divided across the entry-level minimum, recommended, and ideal. While the expected performance from each tier varies, the "recommended" specification balances performance and visual fidelity, while "ideal" represents its world in its fullest in 4K.

Below follows the full Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 system requirements, as provided by Microsoft.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Minimum SpecRecommended SpecIdeal Spec
CPUAMD Ryzen 3 1200
Intel i5-4460
Ryzen 5 1500X
Intel i5-8400
AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 2700X
Intel i7-9800X
GPURadeon RX 570
Nvidia GTX 700
Radeon RX 590
Nvidia GTX 970
Radeon VII
Nvidia RTX 2080
Storage150 GB150 GB150 GB (SSD)
Minimum OS versionWindows 10 Nov 2019 update (1909)Windows 10 Nov 2019 update (1909)Windows 10 Nov 2019 update (1909)

If Microsoft makes any minor refinements to its recommended hardware for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, we'll also update this table of requirements. But if your PC meets those demands, it's now live via the Microsoft Store and Steam.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 internet speed requirements

Microsoft Flight Simulator Airbus A320 Jfk

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 also features firm internet speed requirements, with streaming essential to delivering the virtual world. The studio has previously discussed the two petabytes of mapping data that feeds its simulation — far from feasible when over 2000 times the size of a 1TB hard drive. The game instead streams the world detail from Microsoft's cloud data centers, requiring a stable internet connection.

Microsoft Flight Simulator's internet bandwidth requirements have also been outlined, broken into the same minimum, recommended, and ideal tiers, akin to PC specifications. To compare your internet speed with Microsoft's suggestions, find your download speed via an online speed test.

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Internet requirement5 Mbps20 Mbps50 Mbps

The bandwidth requirements for Microsoft Flight Simulator aren't crazy, provided you're fine to stream some HD videos or experience online gaming. The best-available "ideal" assets equate to your average 4K video stream, meaning the faster your connection, the better the result.

While Microsoft Flight Simulator embraces streaming, it's likely not fully mandated. The game does provide the ability to pre-load certain areas of the world for those with slow connections or without an internet connection entirely.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 PC requirements for VR headsets

HP Reverb G2

Source: HP (Image credit: Source: HP)

Microsoft Flight Simulator will support virtual reality (VR) headsets with a forthcoming free update, scheduled for later in 2020. VR support straps its expansive world and highly detailed cockpits just inches from your face, complementing its drive for airborne authenticity. The initial implementation will arrive in a somewhat experimental form, coupled with strict limitations.

The first VR iteration launches through Windows Mixed Reality, exclusive to headsets tied up in the Microsoft-owned ecosystem. While the studio previously stated VR would launch exclusively on the HP Reverb G2, an upcoming headset designed in collaboration with Microsoft and Valve, plans have changed.

The debut version will now serve all Windows Mixed Reality headsets released since the platform's launch in 2017. The move ensures a smaller variety in headsets during early tests, with plans to support additional headsets, at a later date. However, the scarcity of these headsets causes issues, with most manufacturers having abandoned their hardware, pushing prices higher than ever.

We're also unsure how PC requirements differ when factoring in VR, given the additional resources often required. Expect more details over the months ahead, once testing commences.

Will my PC run Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020?

Microsoft Flight Simulator Boeing 747 Multiplayer

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 sets the bar for virtual aviation, but with high requirements, you might be thinking — can I run it? Using Microsoft's suggested hardware, it's relatively simple to cross-reference your existing setup with the recommendations.

The best way to compare your existing PC with Microsoft's specifications sheet is the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, which provides additional insight into your video and sound hardware. Running this integrated Windows tool will break down your components, providing an immediate point of reference. Here's how to pull your PC specifications, through the DirectX Diagnostic Tool.

  1. Press the Windows key on your PC.
  2. Type dxdiag.
  3. Click dxdiag from the list of results. Windows will present your PC specifications.
  4. Navigate to the System tab for details on your CPU, RAM, and Windows version.
  5. Navigate to Display tab for details on your GPU and VRAM.

These tabs will detail the exact specifications for your device, for comparison with the requirements outlined above.

Best CPUs for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

AMD Ryzen

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

With the latest Microsoft Flight Simulator rendition marking a sizeable visual leap, there's no better time to ensure your PC hits the mark. The game will support an extensive spectrum of hardware, providing equally varied results. We've rounded up the best CPUs across various price points, in accordance with Microsoft's own pre-release recommendations.

Best Budget CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3100

For an entry-level CPU balancing affordability and performance, the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 hits that sweet spot. That includes the latest Zen 2 microarchitecture and the efficiency of its 7nm process. You can expect four cores and eight threads, delivering speeds from 3.6GHz, boosting up to 3.9GHz, with a TDP of 65W. While pairing with a B550 or X570 motherboard enables PCIe 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6, B450 and X470 offerings also suffice.

While the 3100 won't push Microsoft Flight Simulator to the extreme, you're still falling comfortably above the demanded specifications. If you're not the type to examine the seat leather grain or admire individual trees, you'll have a smooth flight with this CPU onboard.

Best Performance CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Positioned for the forefront of bleeding-edge games and applications, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X prioritizes horsepower. It's built on the latest Zen 2 microarchitecture and 7nm process from the U.S. firm, representing its most advanced silicon, thanks to the Ryzen 9 badge.

The 3900X sports a crazy 12 cores and 24 threads, a base clock of 3.8GHz, boost up to 4.6GHz, clocking in at a 105W TDP. You're also looking at an unlocked CPU here, with additional leeway to overclock. It works with B450, B550, X470, and X570 motherboards, although the newer B550 or X570 comes with PCIe 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6 support.

Ushered into the Ryzen 9 lineup, this powerful processor proves it's there for a reason. When coupled with an equally capable high-end GPU, expect to push the latest blockbusters to the max. For Microsoft Flight Simulator, you're far exceeding requirements and guaranteed to show every kilometer in its full glory.

Best GPUs for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

Microsoft Flight Simulator's expansive, detail-rich environments reward capable GPUs. We've also pulled together our top recommendations for best graphics card, once again targeting various price tiers, in-line with suggested specifications.

Best Budget: AMD Radeon RX 570

It's not mandatory to spend hundreds on a capable GPU, with the entry-level of AMD's RX lineup prime evidence. The 4GB variant of the RX 570 meets minimum requirements for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, provided you're sticking to HD gaming and lower graphical settings.

The XFX-branded 4GB card comes with its twin-fan cooler, lined with connections for three DisplayPort connections, one HDMI, and one DVI. That's more than satisfactory lightweight gaming, productivity, and browsing, with room for multi-monitor setups. This affordable card provides one of the best ways to get started with Microsoft's next title if you're watching your spending.

Best Balanced: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super leads the mid-range from team green, ideal for 1080p or pushing into the 1440p range. This upgraded version of the RTX 2060 pushes closer to the RTX 2070, with 8GB memory, a boost clock at 1,815MHz, and higher memory bandwidth of 448GB/s. You'll also receive dedicated hardware built to support ray tracing and DLSS 2.0 technologies, as a standard for the RTX family.

For a winning spin on the RTX 2060 Super, the Gigabyte Gaming OC variant tops our list. That means a slick cooling setup bolstered by three fans, with three HDMI and one DisplayPort to hook up your monitors. There's also a dash of RGB lighting, if your style.

Best Performance: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super

Venturing into the GPU elites, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super delivers 4K-ready graphics power, providing an unmatched performance boost for the price.

While the 2080 Ti bests this card when pursuing the absolute best 4K visuals, the several hundred dollar premium is hard to justify. The Super carves out that bridge between, ensuring a top-tier Microsoft Flight Simulator setup at a relatively palatable price.

The 8GB RTX 2080 Super falls comfortably above those ideal specifications and like won't be overkill for high-resolution outputs. While it's not a cheap investment, you'll reap the rewards on the daily. You also get 48 dedicated ray-tracing cores and AI-enabled upgrades from DLSS 2.0, among the best RTX-branded cards to buy. We recommend the EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Super XC Ultra, down to its balance of cooling and design.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.