4K vs 1080p - resolution vs detail

Greetings all, I am a noob to this forum and to MSFS in general, however I am enjoying the simulator greatly and have been struggling with FPS and judder and other typical performance issues and have formulated the following observations/comments:

Firstly, my system spec is as follows: Ryzen 5600X, 32GB DDR4, RTX 3070 OC, 1TB NVME (fastest currently available on PCIE 4.0). Am displaying on my LG OLED558B TV (this is significant in the context of this post)…

Ideally, like most, I guess I would want to be able to run the sim at 4K ULTRA and for everything to be perfect. However, the world is not a fair place (fact) and compromises must be made…somewhere.

Initially I had looked at what settings needed to be tweaked in the sim to allow me to run at 4K native resolution, which for my system, meant rather low settings everywhere and still poor frame rates. I have accepted that 4K is not an option for me at this time.

I’m going to cut what would otherwise be a long story short here…

I have realised that reducing the sim settings for graphics quality is pointless if the aim is to achieve playable frame rates at 4K; if the sim does not generate the content, then no amount of resolution will make that content better. For example, if I change Volumetric Clouds from ULTRA to LOW the difference in graphical quality is much, much more measurable and apparent than changing the GPU resolution from 4K to (say) 1080p…volumetric clouds ULTRA at 1080p look significantly more realistic than on LOW at 4K.

I suspect you see where I am going with this…

I have now configured by GPU to output at 1080p and have all sim settings on ULTRA. My TV does a reasonable job of upscaling to 4K and the additional content that the ULTRA settings afford makes for a visually stunning experience. Furthermore, I achieve around 60fps in most places, dropping to maybe 45fps in highly congested areas in airliners.

I plan to take some screen shots of typical scenery and cockpit views at both 1080p and 4K and study them to see if there is an appreciable difference…I suspect not. All of the textures and lighting effects look superb at 1080p upscaled by my TV to 4K and the sim is now very enjoyable on what is now a mid-tier graphics card.

I post this as I hope it might help some and I’m happy to receive some feedback and comments about any similar findings.

Will now go back to waiting for the World Update 3 due TODAY!!


I’ve tried it both ways. Not a substantial difference in frame rate, and 4k looks SO much better. Look forward to seeing your screenshots though.


I’d like to understand your comment better. You’ve tried it both ways - I assume you mean GPU @ 4K and @ 1080p? If so, you then say no difference in frame rates, therefore you must have (presumably) reduced the graphics settings in the sim @ 4K to achieve similar frame rates to 1080p on ULTRA?
If this is the case (and I accept I may have misunderstood your meaning), then I fail to see how 4K of reduced content can look any better than 1080p of entire content.

Expanding upon this a little; all of the standard scenery (buildings, trees, grass, roads, cars, including photogrammetry data etc.) are all very low resolution, even at ULTRA settings, as they should be given that this is a flight simulator and not a world we ought be walking around in. The items that ought to exhibit the finest detail and therefore benefit from high(er) resolutions are the cockpit textures etc.

Going back to your comment, can you confirm you have tried 1080p at ULTRA upscaled to 4K vs 4K native at lower in sim settings to achieve similar fps?

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I had an OLED 55 which I ran at 4k smoothly (Alienware R11). I experimented with running it at 1080 and there is a noticeable difference, especially with the cockpit gauges. The engine and PFD numbers were blurry, the aircraft model had a roughness to them, as did the runway numbers. The LG OLED panel is so beautiful, it’s a shame to not run it at 4K. True, running at 1080P I could run everything at Ultra and it screamed. But, once you’ve had Carl Hungus, you can’t go back. So, I run at 4K with most settings at Ultra, some High, some Medium (b/c there is no noticeable difference visually). The sim runs very smoothly with airliners, CJ4, dense cities. It’s a ton of fun and looks amazing. I don’t care about frame rate numbers, I just want fluid motion without stutters. I am able to achieve that and I’m very happy.
I would experiment with your graphic sliders to see if you too can get the sim to look amazing and run smoothly at 4K. You’ve got an amazing panel, take advantage of it.

I have a middle-aged system with a 1080ti and do quite well at 4k. I can’t deal with lower res, I just can’t, so I make sacrifices where they need to be made until I can get my hands on a 3090, which I suspect will be sometime in April. Yeah, I know, a lot of people will disagree, but I’m hopeful the market will cool off a bit by then, just like it did with the 1080ti after a few months.

Meanwhile- I tried using a TV before but there was some lag and I’m eager to see how your setup performs. Can you do a video clip too?

Could you take a look at lights (at night) and see how they look 1080p(upscaled to 4K) vs pure 4K?
As of now (distant) lights look terribly blurry at (all?) resolutions but 1080p.
See: Blurry lights on ultra-wide/4k resolutions - #31 by Fornax4188

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. Looks like I have a busy night ahead with the update and the screenshots/videos. Might actually do this properly over the weekend.

Yes, 4k vs 1080p. I upscaled 1080p 200x to get a 4k. Surprisingly, to me anyway, the framerate seemed very similar with everything maxed out (the only differences being scaling at 90, and terrain detail at 100 on 4k vs 200 and 200 in 1080p). Terrain, instrument panel, etc all much blurrier in 1080p. 4k for me.

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Yes, I see in that case, by upscaling 1080p by 200% in the sim, you are still dealing with 4K pixels and the frame rate ought to be similar. What I am suggesting is keeping the scaling at 100% in the sim and allowing the TV to upscale to 4K. This way, the sim can run at ULTRA settings with a high frame rate and my belief (at this stage) is that the ULTRA settings @ 1080p are more of a benefit than (say) HIGH or MEDIUM settings @ 4K. I will make some screen shots and videos and analyse this further.

Follow this guide to optimise your settings. I have a 2080 Ti and following this optimal settings get me a smooth 30 fps with great graphics. It’s not Ultra, because 4K Ultra is designed for future generation hardware, not current. But optimised settings still looks good while being playable.

As an experiment try reducing render scaling.

4K output resolution but set render scaling to 80% for example. (That way your game is scaling not the TV)

Also experiment with LODs which effect CPU. If you install the tree distance mod you should still get OK results with the LODs around 90 or 95. (Terrain LOD effects more than tree distance but it is the trees that you notice the most)

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. I did take some screenshots last night and reviewed them briefly today only to realise that the captures done in the graphics card are of course at the selected resolution (4K or 1080p) and do not show the on-screen detail from an upscaled image.

My intention here is to provide as much detail as possible in the sim by setting everything (within reason) to ULTRA and reduce the GPU scaling to allow for decent frame rates. The TV will then upscale the GPU output to 4K using it’s own interpolation algorithms. This is opposed to the common approach of setting the GPU resolution as high as possible (4K in my case) and reduce the sim graphics settings to achieve acceptable smoothness and realism.

Good point made by EdamllamaB that I should use NVCS set to my screen native 4K and use the sim setting for render scaling to achieve the same thing: I’ll make some tests at 50% (1080p) and 100% (4K) which will give me (on my system) around 60fps and 30fps respectively. The key question here is does the TV upscaling provide any compensation for a lower render scaling, thereby sharing the load between the CPU, GPU and TV capabilities.

I tried to scale down the render to even 80% from 4K with everything Ultra… It’s not worth it. The objects and texts becomes too blurry. I’m already playing on my TV and I’m nearsighted, anything short of 100% render scaling on the native 4K resolution as my TV makes it difficult for me to read the instruments.

indeed, simply getting the panel to upscale the graphics without the intervention of a technology like DLSS results is super blurry cockpit graphics that completely destroy the immersion, 4K with frame rates just above 30 to give you some headroom in more than enough, below 25 is the place you don’t want to be.

Hello friend! Please, describes you graphic options here for us. I just bought a 4k monitor and…well, I had my sim stable at 1080p but now it is terrible with a lot of fps drop (I thought that, using a 4k associated to my rtx3080, the GPU would precess graphics and let the CPU do whatever it had to do, but now I think it is not this way).

I too have spent way more time than I like trying to tweak the settings to find the right balance in order to have the most enjoyable visual experience with this sim. I also have a 4k monitor (32in) with a $$$ premium rig purchased within the last year just for this
application and without going into all the hardware choices and settings here is the best solution I found for my situation and may be an easy way for others to try regardless of differences:

-Set native resolution on monitor to 4k (in my case)

-Setup sim resolution to same and mostly Ultra settings. Play with what is most important to you.

-Then depending on game setup; aircraft, location, flight levels, weather, etc. I only adjust one thing…the “Render Scaling” for the smoothest performance at that time. Scaling down has worked better than scaling up in my case but this is based on the 4k monitor.

-100 is matching resolution of 4k which works fine for me at higher flight levels with moderate clouds which I tend to stay below 15,000 anyway. Smooth until close to ground and dense cities.

-Make adjustments between 100 (4k) and down to 50 (HD) depending on other flight preferences at the time. Usually have to go to 50 when dealing with low level city flying for similar smoothness.

-Use the FPS monitor in developer mode (I’m not a dev) to see the cause and effect with your particular CPU/GPU

-Goal being to avoid the stutters indicated by red vertical bars while flying and looking around (I use Trackir). Typically a higher FPS may not give you the smoothest viewing but in my experience the sweet spot seems to be in the mid 40’s.

I’m also hoping the upcoming updates will help with all of this to where we can spend more time just enjoying the sim vs tweaking it all the time in order to do so.

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So I ended up taking some photos of my TV using my iPhone and comparing the results side by side and you (or several of you) were indeed right! My TV upscaling to 4K from (say) 1080p (achieved by render scaling 50% in the sim) is not nearly as clear and good as native 4K.

Thanks to TANGOFLY670 for outlining his approach which is what I now use → 4K output from the RTX 3070, ULTRA settings in the sim (LOD sliders to 100% and motion blur off as I don’t like it) and use render scaling to achieve fps performance where it’s needed.

I’m flying the A320NX from Flybywire atm, and I’m seeing mid 20s fps around airports and mid 30s fps up in the sky, sometimes > 40fps, all at 4K ULTRA so I’m quite happy with that.

I’m happy to drag the render scaling down as low as 50% if it gets too choppy and I’ll wait for a) better GPU when in stock at sensible prices and or b) sim update with better performance.

Thanks to all for your comments and suggestions - much appreciated.


If you haven’t found this yet it helped me out in the beginning too.

First impressions after update: So far performance seems improved after having to reset most of the graphics settings back to where I had them prior. Can now keep Render Scaling values higher on most scenery and the stutters seem to have gone away as long as you stay above 30pfs. I’m still getting best smoothness in mid 40’s. The terrain spikes have disappeared but the terrain pop-ups (mainly in mountains) are still there and that is not a settings or hardware related issue.

how about 4k on a 1080p display with zero frame it. plugged in a 4k display… setup sim then plugged in my pits 1080p… Walla, 4k at High settings with zero frame hit on a 1080p display. my 2080ti went from 45% to70% usage.