Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Daher Socata TBM 930Source: 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.

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List of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 PC requirements

Microsoft Flight Simulator Xtra330Source: 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.

Minimum Spec Recommended Spec Ideal Spec
CPU AMD Ryzen 3 1200
Intel i5-4460
Ryzen 5 1500X
Intel i5-8400
AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 2700X
Intel i7-9800X
GPU Radeon RX 570
Nvidia GTX 700
Radeon RX 590
Nvidia GTX 970
Radeon VII
Nvidia RTX 2080
Storage 150 GB 150 GB 150 GB (SSD)
Minimum OS version Windows 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 Box Art Square

The Legend Returns: Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has taken to the skies, promising a cloud-powered globe, with authenticity on an unmatched scale. It's out now exclusively on Windows PCs, offered in three flavors.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 internet speed requirements

Microsoft Flight Simulator Airbus A320 JfkSource: 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.

Specification Minimum Recommended Ideal
Internet requirement 5 Mbps 20 Mbps 50 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 G2Source: 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 MultiplayerSource: 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 RyzenSource: 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.

Ryzen 3 3100

Best Budget CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3100

If taking to the skies on a budget, the latest entry-level offerings from AMD still ensure reliable performance. It's your affordable ticket to get sky-high, if you're happy playing on lower settings.

Best Balanced CPU: Intel Core i5-9600K

The Core i5-9600K represents a higher-end pick from the Intel camp, providing impressive performance at a relatively affordable price. While on the market for over one year, it's still a strong pairing with capable graphics cards, comfortably exceeding the recommended specifications for Microsoft Flight Simulator.

You'll be getting impressive performance below $200, slotting into the LGA1151 socket, and pushing many titles into the realm of 4K. That's enabled by six cores and six threads, with base clocks of 3.7GHz, 4.6GHz boost, 9MB L3 cache, and 95W TP. The i5-9600K also graces buyers with additional overclocking headroom but losing out on hyper-threading through older silicon.

Intel Core i5-9600K

Best Balanced CPU: Intel Core i5-9600K

When pursuing the full Microsoft Flight Simulator experience without going truly overkill, the i5-9600K ensures detail and steady framerates across the board.

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.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Best Performance CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

While overkill for the average PC gamer, it's an ideal match for the not-so-average pilot in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. This CPU will ensure high settings when coupled to a leading GPU.

Best GPUs for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 TiSource: 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.

XFX RX 570

XFX RX 570 8GB

Despite countless entry-level GPUs to choose from, the Radeon RX 570 stays price-conscious but flight-ready.

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.

NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super

NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super Founders Edition

The RTX 2060 Super fulfills its duties at 1080p or 1440p, as our recommended mid-tier GPU for Flight Simulator.

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.

EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Super XC Ultra

EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Super XC Ultra

This powerhouse is guaranteed to show the world of Flight Simulator in its best light. While the RTX 2080 Super doesn't come cheap, it's all you need to crush those ideal specifications.

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