[INVITATION] Compare FSX to MSFS 2020

Not trying to be funny here by comparing a decade old sim to a current one… just wanted to express an opinion - but importantly seek YOURS to present a balanced consensus. In part because the Zendesk seem to list the main “issues” as centered around installation.

I intentionally DID NOT want to compare to XP11

** Weather **
Weather physics has improved in MSFS 2020. Additionally, the visual rendering of percipitation like rain, snow, icing etc in 2020 is rather impressive. Importantly though, the key consideration for weather in a simulator is how the aircraft interacts with the weather and the customization of said factors.
(Live weather needs smoothing out a bit)

Weather FSX: 7/10
Weather 2020: 9/10

** ATC **
No real change, and in some instances, 2020 simply fails to announce or announces inaccurately. More than a decade later, no leap in ATC for MSFX 2020

ATC Score FSX: 7/10
ATC Score 2020: 5/10

** Graphics **
Let’s not beat around this: MSFS is a visual masterpiece. A leap forward, and Asobo deserves a beer. :slight_smile: HOWEVER, DirectX 11 in 2020 [seriously limits exploiting hardware optimization].

That said, no flight game on the market looks THIS GOOD on a global scale by default!!!

Graphics FSX: 6/10 (visuals/fps)
Graphics 2020: 9/10 (visuals/fps) would be 10/10 if DirectX 12 multi-thread performance efficiency
NOTE: I do not count the lack of multi-monitor support against “Graphics” see “Advance Users”

** Peripheral Hardware Integration **
Oh boy. It could have been so much better 15+ years later… Siatek, CH etc. all require 2+ hr of tweaking and customization just to get them usable. The interface in MSFS 2020 for peripheral integration is thorough but is not INTUITIVE.

UX/UI peripheral module should be redone completely in MSFS 2020

Peripheral Hardware Integration FSX: 9/10
Peripheral Hardware Integration MSFS 2020: 5/10

** API/Software Integration **
MSFS 2020 was released with a BROKEN simconnect API. They know it. They will fix it.
And the Oscar goes to: “Launch as As Is” written by Asobo, Directed by Microsoft

API/Software Integration FSX: 9/10
API/Software Integration 2020: 2/10 (I was kind)

** Multi-Player: **
FSX: 6/10
2020: 9/10

** Advance Users **
Do you have a home built cockpit? In binary terms, you can forget MSFS 2020 for now.
Do you want multi-monitor views? You can forget MSFS 2020 for now.
Do you want to fly ILS in a 747? Auto Pilot? FSUIPC?
Do you want detailed post flight analysis? Integrated replays etc??
Did you dream of Garmin G1000 accuracy and functionality, 15 years post FSX?

Stuff that has been standard in Sims for at least a DECADE are MISSING/broken/incomplete for the launch version of MSFS 2020

Let me stop comparing “Advance Users”.

Advance Users FSX: 9/10
Advance Users 2020: 2/10 (seriously 2)

** Summary: **

MSFS is a visual (VFR) masterpiece. Candy for the eyes and a joy to “play” (I already have 40+ hrs logged) but it lacks completeness we expected from the legendary predecessors it evolved from…

Devs: Your work has JUST begun. Don’t just off-load these areas of weakness to 3rd-party - your baseline is below par in many areas (except the stunning visuals)

What are YOUR comparative ratings as per above categories?


Weather is a total dumpster fire at the moment. How could you give it 9/10? Completely forget about the visuals as you put that in a different category and take into consideration the lack of cloud types, the problems with real world weather, lack of wind, lack of cloud turbulence, and the poor fog and visibility implementation. Not saying FSX did all of these things either but weather in MSFS is a 3 or 4 out of 10 until they fix stuff.

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First I’m a long time FS user all the way back to running it on an 8088 with one color green two id if you count the black screen LOL…

I would agree with your assessment of MSFS 2020. Worst things for me are lack of multi-monitor along with the ability two open multiple windows, and Peripheral Hardware setup.

I miss the training in FSX. It’s been a very long time since I played FSX so I’m going off memory here, but I remember learning how to fly a glider, ultralight, etc and working up to the 747. MSFS 2020 just has a quick and ■■■■■ in the Cessna but doesn’t really explain the lessons as well.


I agree. FSX has better tutorials for flight training.

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Yup, there is a lot to improve on in MSFS …
So much so in fact, that I have been flying in FSX most of the day today. More fun.

Could be centered around Live Weather, and I have to confess I turned it off, if not my assessment would have reflected your 4/10
Did not realize Live was THAT bad.

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You and me both. Long time user. 1988 1st time


1 more:

Aircraft lighting (distant strobes and nav lights, etc) are soooo much better in FSX.

Missions. Landing challenges are fine but those crazy missions of FSX were fun. Maybe later in a DLC.

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The Inflight map in FS2020 looks much better than in FSX…

But…the inFlight Map in FSX was way more usefull. In FSX you could just click on airport in the map and get all the facility details (elevation, runway lengths freqs etc). Plus you could see all the nearby airports at a glance on the map even when zoomed out.
In FS2020 you only see nearby airports on the map when zoomed in very far with no details other than its code. Which makes it very difficult to make a random short flight to an airport in the area.

The autopilot in FSX is better. Yes understand no FMS, no VNAV in FSX etc. But at least if you entered an altitude in the MCP with V/S it went there and held it. If you entered the right ILS freq, it flew the approach no problem. With FS2020 you have no idea if the autopilot will actually do what you commanded it to do.

Likely we will see improvements I’m sure.

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the nostalgia is strong here


I have learned to fly with the FSX. The flight school just was great. A theoretical part and a very well explained training flight afterwards. And not just for VFR but also for IFR. There where even exams and the charts for every lesson were given and explained. Compared with that the “flight school” of the MSFS is just very basic and not really good. Where is the stall training and the explanation of the instruments - the heading indicator and the Altimeter Setting aren’t even mentioned. For every beginner i would cleary recommend the fsx. It is way cheaper (now) and even runs smoothly on a potato.

Difference between FSX and MSFS 2020

FSX Installs and Runs
MSFS Stalls and crashes and is unusable.

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Going by consensus thus far:

MSFS 2020 is superior to FSX in only one category, possibly two (Multi-player): Visuals, which is a big kudos to Asobo Studio

@Aok7696 yes it is! Aside from the sentiment, do you disagree with anything stated? I would love to hear from active users (like you) where the new Sim is an improvement over the previous version.

:flight_departure: IMPROVEMENT being the keyword.

:white_check_mark: GRAPHICS
:x: Weather
:x: ATC
:white_check_mark: Multi-Player
:x: API/Software Integration
:x: Advance Users
:x: Tutorial/Flight Analysis

The objective here is consensus…


If you’re looking for a comprehensive comparison you’re missing stuff like game engine and performance, which give MSFS a massive advantage over FSX. DX11 vs DX9, 64 vs 32 bit, etc.

Edit: sound as well. The audio engineering in MSFS is sublime.

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Not in disagreement, this is an open document. :slight_smile: That you feel the game engine is an improvement over the previous version, I will add it to the list.

Shifting from DX9 to DX11 in year 2020 release is not that significant a leap, 15 years! Now DX12 would have been an impressive step forward. I am not sure performance on a NVIDIA 2080 Super reflects your “performance” nod… DX12 would have been a knockout!

But this is consensus so:
:white_check_mark: DX11 Game Engine/Performance

I’ll give a few early thoughts, mostly from a GA/VFR perspective, but no particular ratings.

** Weather **
So far, MSFS has blown me away with the weather implementation. I’ve had a few cases of ‘no weather’ but let’s see what is better than FSX out of the box:

  • No sudden wind-shifts between layers
  • Realistic fall off in wind speed right next to the ground
  • Far more natural and random turbulence that varies during flight and not just by ‘layer’
  • Noticeable turbulence near hilly terrain; I’ve had GA aircraft thrown into a 20° bank from a hefty gust!
  • Variable visibility that isn’t omnidirectional but can vary by direction, so you have misty dark areas under one cloud but glorious sunlight and clear visibility in the other direction. Makes English weather look very realistic :laughing:

I’ve only logged 10-15 hours in the last week but a vast improvement out of the box.

The bad:

  • Too many rainbows! I don’t think the presence of clouds blocking the sunlight stops rainbows appearing yet.

** ATC **
Mostly the same, except the speech sounds better and it will now read out your name without it being in its own dictionary (remember the hassle of adding in the additional airline names in FSX?).

One pet hates remain:

  • Automatic switching of transponder code when reading back to ATC. I wish that could be switched off so I was forced to set it manually. Ultimately, it’s an “assist” that I cannot disable! I have to remember to adjust the transponder before confirming the instruction, which has always irritated me. :rage: (Same for radio channel auto-switching.)

I expect the ATC topic will be improved in future.

** Graphics **
Mostly fantastic. Of course, some scenery can look weird but it’ll get there with time as Bing Maps improves and corrections are fed in.

I wish the depth-of-field (aperture) could be adjusted in the drone cam. It’s nice, but a bit overdone with a very narrow focal plane. Also wish we had a fly-by view (can make your own in drone cam, kind of).

** Peripheral Hardware Integration **
UI for mappings isn’t great. Could be worse, could be better.

No default mapping scheme for a generic joystick is a shame. Matching an X-axis with roll and a Y-axis with pitch on any new controller (or giving the player a prompt) wouldn’t have been hard.

The toe brakes on my Saitek pedals are read as a two-way axis (like a joystick) instead of a linear axis (like a throttle), which makes it weird for setting up curves. The ‘flat spot’ in the curve would appear to be in the middle of the toe brake axis, not at the start. In practise, the curve appears to work correctly (at the start of the axis), but the interface shows it differently.

The trim keys function like in FSX. Holding the button down will first apply a small, single ‘notch’ of trim, then after a short pause it applies more trim quite quickly. Makes it difficult to trim. Should change at a linear speed, or perhaps exponentially for finer control when close to neutral trim.

** Advance Users **

  • I would like to be able to see post-flight analysis.
  • I would like to see a better in-flight map where I can see airfield names, ATIS frequencies etc. (but I am happy that the new map doesn’t pause the sim!)
  • I would like a replay feature (on the roadmap)
  • I would like to get more weather information in-game. Other than ATIS services there’s not much of a ‘window’ into the weather yet.
  • I would like to be able to change the time AND date while using real-world weather. At present, the date is tied to weather (live weather = today’s date), while time can be varied independently. I want today’s real weather, but to have the option to change the month which can change the sun position etc.

I’ve no comments on the other topics but one that has perhaps been missed:

** Flight Models **
Although I think the ‘feel’ is much better by the improved weather & turbulence, to some extent the aircraft feel a bit ‘on rails’ still, certainly at the edge of the envelope. While sightseeing, I have been regularly making tight turns in GA aircraft without much care, with not even a hint of an accelerated stall in sight. Similar story with the landing challenges, making steep turns in full landing configuration close to stall speeds - no sign of any impending stall.

Ground behaviour seems very timid¹, with little influence from propwash (I’m not a pilot IRL but expected taildraggers to be a bit more ‘wild’ at take off. At least there is more lateral friction with the tyres now so aircraft don’t slide around if you kick the rudder. Might contribute to ground stability. The ground could do with being more ‘bumpy’ even on a smooth runway. (Just not sinusoidal bumps like FSX had off-runway :face_vomiting: ). Off-runway should be much more rough.

(¹ Edit: After throwing the Savage Cub around a bit on the ground this evening, I feel a bit more positive on the ground physics. A bit tame still, and it’s quite easy to get the Cub riding on two wheels with a wing in the air for a period of time.)

The aircraft perhaps feel a bit too benign and stable. Better than FSX but quite different (more forgiving) than something like X-Plane (though I don’t have a lot of time in that sim & know you didn’t want to compare with that).

And those are my (early) thoughts :slight_smile: I’m very happy with MSFS so far, but some of its legacy is still readily apparent - sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.


What are you talking about cloud types. You can control the clouds size and dimensions from cloudy day all the way to a storm or in between.

Wind is so realistic you can test a cessna flight without moving by meeting the minimum 40kts with full flaps.

I think you’re playing on basic settings or doing live settings and just happened to have no wind and didn’t actually test anything yourself.

LOL. Yeah I’ve just been using it wrong for the last 9 months. That’s it. The game is actually perfect.

The sim contains no cirrus clouds or stratus clouds, only cumulus at different altitudes. It rarely renders fog in a realistic manner, usually just cumulus clouds sticking out of the ground which is ridiculous.

I was doing that wind trick when I was a little kid. The real weather is busted unless you are flying in a tiny patch of Europe. You are wrong, the real weather is wrong. Look at the literal hundreds to thousands of posts about it.