I’ve seen many threads on this forum about individuals being upset by certain aspects for MSFS with some outright claiming they are leaving the platform for X-plane 11 or P3D v5. While people are free to make their own decisions, as an infrequent user of X-plane 11 presently and a big user prior to MSFS being released and now using MSFS close to exclusively I wanted to do an in depth comparison between the two platforms. I have last used both yesterday to make an evaluation of both in their current state.
The comparison was conducted on my “high end” gaming computer that was built by XForce. I should point out that XForce is a company owned by Michael Brown, who is a good friend of Austin Meyer who works for X-Plane as a designer. Michael’s rigs usually are built for optimization for X-plane. My system uses an I9-9000KF that is overclocked to 4.9GHz, along with an EVGA 2080S, 2TB of Samsung ultra M2 SSD, and 32GB of G.Skills Ripjaw V RAM. My computer is rarely used for other games. It is important that I identify my computer as performance may vary on other computers and is a key component of my method to comparing the two platforms.
X-Plane 11 vs MSFS Graphics
Even with the recent Vulkan update to X-Plane 11, MSFS is still lightyears ahead of X-Plane 11 in graphics even with Orbx and third party scenery detailing installed on X-Plane 11. This is a very easy decision to make. Easily MSFS is the better option if you are solely looking at graphics.
X-Plane 11 vs MSFS Controls
Initially when I had downloaded MSFS on release I struggled with the difference in key binding as there are notable differences from X-Plane 11. However, after becoming acquainted with MSFS controls more, MSFS has a far easier search for inputs and nearly identical key and hardware assigning is there as X-Plane 11. Quite a few people that are migrating to MSFS from X-Plane 11 post FAQ questions on this forum about key assignments but I have found that beyond the newcomer learning curve and new aircraft input assignments, there really isnt much assistance needed regarding controls. The same can be said with X-Plane 11. Overall, this leads me to conclude that issues regarding controls is not so much a platform issue, so much as a new user learning curve issue.
X-Plane 11 vs MSFS Optimization
Using X-Plane 11 all data is housed inside your computer, whereas for MSFS quite a bit of data is streamed. This makes figuring out how to best optimize MSFS for your system paramount to having a good user experience. X-Plane 11 has the edge on MSFS for ease of use to get X-Plane 11 best optimized for your system as really that comes down to third party aspects whereas MSFS requires you to know what your system can handle in order to have a good experience. This can be a major problem for users especially in areas where a large multiplayer presence is as this may require the user to have to re-optimize their data and graphics to be able to run MSFS smoothly. -Plane 11 doesnt have this issue as a true multiplayer system is not included for X-Plane 11 and that even with private servers for multiplayer on X-Plane you arent going to run into much change needed to optimize your graphics and data settings as you need to do on MSFS. MSFS users can expect on new releases to run into optimizations problems, especially with World Updates. This is where I believe most people are put off by MSFS, they expect their computer to run MSFS the same as it did prior to each update, with some failing to understand that each MSFS update is a major update compared to infrequent major updates done by X-Plane 11. Just like any major update for software you can expect initial bugs that may have been missed even in Beta programs. You can also expect that sometimes optimization changes. Just because there is the initial hit to optimization for a software, doesnt mean that optimization degradation is permanent. Nearly all software developers go back and optimize their software further after major updates. These come in smaller updates and hotfixes. The fact that MSFS does hotfixes should not be seen as a sign the simulator is poorly run, rather it is a good sign that developers are in engaged and active development of the software. CTD are expected for a platform as demanding as MSFS. I even had frequent optimization crashes with X-Plane 11, even when doing this comparison I ran into a CTD on X-Plane because of a available memory issue. Comparing the two X-Plane gets a slight edge over MSFS in optimization but this is because -Plane has less that can go wrong with it due to requiring less from computers.
X-Plane 11 vs MSFS Stability and Reliability
As I discussed in comparing the optimization between the two platforms I found that both can have stability issues, with MSFS more prone due to reliance on streaming data and frequent major updates. Earlier on in the simulator’s life CTD and stutters were expected frequently, but has recently subsided even seeing better FPS stability with hotfixes. Stability issues I have noticed in MSFS are largely due to a third party product installed in the community folder causing the system to crash or because of a rare hick up caused by my computer. Having been with MSFS from initial release, the platform ahs matured nicely in regards to stability and is really hitting it’s stride. The change Asobo has made to rapid nearly weekly Sim Updates to the monthly Sim Updates has done wonders regarding the stability of the platform. Compared to X-Plane, MSFS has caught up nicely to the stability of X-Plane. While MSFS has progressed in resolving stability issues, I have found that X-Plane has regressed, especially with Third Party developers keeping products up to date and how old X-Plane is, even with major updates. The Vulkan update really allowed X-Plane to do more visually, but it seems that some back end stability bugs are still there, especially when it comes to the specific needs of a flight simulator. Interaction with components of default aircraft has poor response to selection, such as interacting with avionic components. Using both i would rather stick with MSFS and any of the in frequent stability issues that arise and are addressed in a relatively short time than using X-Plane and what feels like a now neglected platform in regards to stability and reliability.
All this is of course my personal opinion, and how MSFS and X-Plane 11 operate on other’s computers will vary, but overall even with the performance issues that sometimes arise after major simulator updates on MSFS, I feel that MSFS is just as mature and complete of a product in it’s current state as X-Plane 11. In certain regards I think that MSFS is far more mature. Having used MSFS and X-Plane just as much recently really made it clear the direction both seem to be heading. It really feels like MSFS will soon surpass X-Plane 11 in regards to how reliable and stable the platform is, while it just seems that the more is done to keep X-Plane 11 current in flight simulators the more issues it runs into. MSFS doesnt have that issue. Will I keep using X-Plane 11? For now yes, but my desire to keep using X-Plane 11 isnt because of what is wrong with MSFS so much as what is missing from MSFS in regards to third party aircraft. Once the Third-Party Aircraft market has matured in MSFS I will be leaving X-Plane 11 for good. Using both simulators side by side really makes clear where both are heading and that X-Plane 11’s time is mostly up even when Asobo makes the occasional update blunder.