Microsoft Flight Simulator returns on a ground-breaking scale later this year, leveraging real-world mapping data to construct a digital replica of the globe. The wild undertaking comes from Microsoft and partner Asobo Studio, debuting new real-time weather systems, improved aerodynamics, and other highly-detailed refinements, delivering its most authentic simulation yet.
With Microsoft Flight Simulator set to release over the months ahead, we've rounded up the PC requirements, suggested internet speeds, and recommended hardware to get you airborne.
List of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 PC requirements
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.
With early Microsoft Flight Simulator tests now underway among select participants, we've also received an overview of current system requirements. Microsoft has provided three suggested PC hardware tiers, divided across the entry-level minimum, recommended, and ideal. While it hasn't discussed the expected performance from each tier, the "recommended" specification seemingly 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 ahead of release, as provided by Microsoft.
|Minimum Spec||Recommended Spec||Ideal Spec|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 3 1200
|Ryzen 5 1500X
|AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 2700X
|GPU||Radeon RX 570
Nvidia GTX 700
|Radeon RX 590
Nvidia GTX 970
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 further refinements to its recommended hardware for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, we'll also update this table of requirements.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 internet speed requirements
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 your 1TB hard drive. The game instead streams the world detail from Microsoft's cloud data centers, requiring a stable internet connection.
We already know Microsoft Flight Simulator's internet bandwidth requirements, broken down 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.
|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 developer has previously discussed cooking up a solution to pre-load certain areas of the world for those with slow connections or without internet entirely. While we haven't received an update on that feature's status for some time, it has considerations planned.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 PC requirements for VR headsets
Microsoft Flight Simulator will also provide support for virtual reality (VR) headsets with a forthcoming free update, scheduled for after the August release date. VR support brings its expansive world and highly detailed cockpits just inches from your face, complementing its drive for airborne authenticity. However, the initial implementation arrives in a somewhat experimental form, limited to only one headset during early testing. We're also unclear how PC system requirements differ with VR, given the additional resources likely required.
VR for Microsoft Flight Simulator first arrives through the upcoming HP Reverb G2 head-mounted display, designed in collaboration with Microsoft and Valve. The Windows Mixed Reality headset hits store shelves this fall, suggesting its VR update releasing in the latter months of 2020. Microsoft also plans to support additional headsets, at a later date.
While HP is yet to announce a release date for the HP Reverb G2, preorders are live at $600 in the U.S.
HP's Reverb G2 is now made with the help of Valve and Microsoft. The premium VR headset brings 2K by 2K resolution, 90Hz refresh, new Valve-designed lenses, improved spatial audio, and a massive focus on comfort. It is the ultimate VR headset for Windows Mixed Reality, gaming, or professional use.
Will my PC run Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020?
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 sets the bar for virtual aviation, but with requirements now in the wild, you might be thinking — can I run it? With Microsoft previously outlining its PC requirements, it's relatively simple to cross-reference your existing hardware with the recommended setup.
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.
- Press the Windows key on your PC.
- Click dxdiag from the list of results. Windows will present your PC specifications.
- Navigate to the System tab for details on your CPU, RAM, and Windows version.
- 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
With the next 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 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.
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
Microsoft Flight Simulator's expansive, detail-rich environments reward capable GPUs. We've also pulled together our top recommendations for best graphics cards, 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.
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