PC Performance - To Build/Buy or simply use what I have

Hello All,

I’m new to MSFS. I’m currently starting my private pilots license training and want to start simming to reinforce what I’m learing in the real planes.

I have an old PC that I build several years ago. I’m curious if its worth getting set up on this machine first or if I need to move to a new platform/build prior to starting MSFS.

Alternatively, I’m told the xbox is a decent entry options, and at ~$500 this is MUCH less than some of the high end gaming PC builds I’ve seen ($4-5+K!!!).

The goal will be to get realistic flight controls, similar to the Piper’s I’m training in.

All this said, how would you suggest I start?


What is in your system?

The first thing you should appreciate is that a real aircraft feels entirely different to a “game” flight simulator. You get no feedback from the controls plus unless you use VR you won’t get visual cues either. I’ve been told that flight instructors have difficulty with students who have “learned to fly” on a simulator before commencing real world training as they usually have to get the student to “unlearn” various practices.

That said flight simulators do have use in practicing procedures, provided they have been properly explained by the instructor beforehand.

A friends grandson pestered me to “teach him to fly” on my sim and we started off pretty well, he was a natural. But when he decided to start real world instruction, with a view to becoming a commercial pilot, I stopped his “training” with me. He subsequently agreed with me that for initial training the sim was of very limited use, although his instructor did say he was impressed with some of the things that students normally had difficulty with.

So to your question. In your position I think I’d go for the cheapest option, which is likely to be the Xbox route. MSFS needs a pretty powerful machine to get only the basics to work satisfactorily and you’re right, they cost! Instead I’d use the funds to finance more real life experience.

Long-winded I know but I’d hate for you to be disappointed and lose interest . Regretfully I’m a little long in the tooth to resurrect my licence so get my aviation kicks out of MSFS instead.

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If you go the xbox route, you may not get the same flexibility to create your piper simpit and aid in your PPL studies. There’s a yoke, throttle and pedals for the console sure but there’s a gobsmack amount of things you could add. Less cumbersome nav maps. Freeware airports and scenery, VATSIM etc

You can get a system that runs MSFS at a playable quality for around 2 or 3 grand and you can take advantage of the greater ecosystem of peripherals and addons on PC.

as Terry mentioned, this video game will only provide you familiarity with a airframe it’s procedures and radio communications, regardless of how realistically you treat it. If your end game is a real PPL and you want to use MSFS “seriously” as a training aid, it’s worth considering a PC. Don’t think you have to spend $5000 on a computer and accessories all at once. Even the fanciest of simpits are built over many years (or actually by people who have too much time and money on hand, but those are much rarer).

Not that i have anything against Xbox. It’s just worth considering what you need the sim to do and what each platform is capable of doing. You will have so much more flexibility and ease on PC to practice your real world lessons virtually.

Everyone’s personal tastes vary, but my now secondary system is probably worth about $700 in current costs if you bought things used, and I was able to play MSFS on mostly high settings, in 2D, at 1440p, with frame rates in the 40’s and 50’s. Some might say that is playable.

I guess I just wanted to put out there that you could have a very nice setup even under $1k depending on what’s important to you, and then you’d have a lot more funds to get the peripherals you want if you find the sim rewarding enough.

Understood on the difference.
I’m looking at the sim as a means to practice Navigation, IFR, procedures etc. I do appreciate the difference of the real thing versus a sim. Time in the seat can be beat as a learning tool, but hopefully I can reinforce the basics with the sim.
Seems like maybe the PC route is a better option. I have some funds, and if I can slowly build the system that may fit the bill.

What are the minimum requirements for MSFS just to run the software in basic configuration?

I’ll post the specs of my most recent build and see what you think about me downloading onth that machine just to familiarize myself while I thinkg about building a proper system…

not impossible. I’m content at 40-50fps myself at 1080p. Personally I try to future-proof a little when i’m upgrading parts but budget only takes me so far on that.

But I agree it’s all about what the individual wants from their sim. Some demand 4K at 60fps regardless of what the requirements are

The system I referenced above was an i7-10700 on a B460 MoBo, 32 GB of 3000 MT/s DDR4 RAM, an “office quality” Dell 32inch 1440p 60 Hz monitor, 512 GB NVMe, and a GTX 1080.

From System Requirements Lab

Some things to keep in mind though. MSFS is the new Crysis:

  • Fast CPU. 8 Cores minimum. AMD Radeon 5800X3D is probably one of the better gaming CPUs out there. I’m not terribly familiar with Intel but a 12th or 13th gen should be fine
  • Lots of Memory: The standard these days for gaming is 32gb. MSFS uses half that just sitting cold and dark at an airport.
  • Powerful GPU. You could get away with a 3080 or 4070ti if you can find one. a 3060ti will suffice if you have budget concerns. If you can find something with more than 8gb of RAM in your budget, snag it, but 8GB is plenty
  • Storage: The game is big. Buy a 1TB NVME m.2 solid state and dedicate it entirely to MSFS. Addons add up
  • Internet: Unless you plan to play exclusively offline, a beefy internet is recommended to get the most out of the sim as the game is for the most part streamed in real time

Ive Got:

Intel(R) Core™ i7-4790K CPU @ 4.00GHz 4.00 GHz
16G Ram
GTX 760

Think its worth a shot?

If I download 40th Deluxe, can I transfer to a new build down the road?


Your experience will probably be poor. 1080P on all low settings I’m guessing.

But yes, if you purchase it and upgrade your system, you can install it again when you upgrade.


goin with bigcow on this one. You’re gonna struggle with the system you have now based on those specs. I know someone with a similar CPU and a 1650 Super 4gb and he can’t run MSFS at all without it being a slideshow.

I’m going to start thinking about a build. Its been long overdue.
Anyone care to suggest a system for me? I’d like to get high quality use but not break the bank.
That said, maybe a mid and ultra system comparison?

start with your budget. How much are you willing to spend? Do you want a prebuilt or are you putting it together yourself? What kind of performance do you want? Do you want the game to run good enough for a pleasant experience or do you want to be completely blown away? Just for the sake of example, i’ll add some peripherals in

A mid-grade system might have:
AMD Ryzen 5700 with an air cooler
Nvidia RTX 3060ti OR 4060 if you can swing the dough.
32gb DDR4 Memory @ 3200mhz
750w PSU
Mid-size Case
1x 1TB M.2 NVME (For flight sim)
1x 2TB SATA SSD (for OS and Apps
Thrustmaster T16000m FCS Flight pack (Joystick, Throttle Pedals)

An Ultra-high end system might have:
13th Gen Intel OR AMD Threadripper with high end AIO Liquid Cooler
Nvidia RTX 4090
1000w PSU Platinum rated
Full size case
Premium PCIe Soundcard
Brunner Yoke (It’s force feedback)
Honeycomb Bravo
Logitech Radio Panel
Your choice of AP Panel (GA or Airliner)
Virpil Pedals
A yuge monitor (34"+)
A credit card with no spending limit and a 7 figure a year salary to pay for all of it.

Yes, the Ultra high end system meant to be overkill. The Peripherals in the ultra system costs as much as a mid-grade gaming PC alone. The type of people who purchase them (nothing against them) are the ones thinking they need it so they can play everything at 60fps @ 4K. That is not realistic for MSFS given all that goes on. But doable nonethless

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I think you would want to avoid this. Threadrippers are for massive parallel compute loads and favor # of cores versus “single core” types of loads. MSFS likes cache and clock speed, so for AMD you would want one of the 7000-series 3D VCache CPUs. 7800X3D, 7900X3D, or 7950X3D.

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I’ve read the whole thread and I’ll try to keep it short and to the point, but your situation reminds mine a lot.

I currently have a Ryzen 5800X3D CPU and an AMD 6800XT GPU, which to be honest, are there for the eye candy but aren’t necessary at all for procedures practice. I started like three years ago with a Ryzen 3200G and a Radeon 550. Of course that won’t run the sim in any acceptable way.

After that I started upgrading. First jumped to a GTX1660Ti (which was a marvel but those 6GB VRAM were short for the sim). Then upgraded the CPU to a 3700X, which was a significant jump. Then upgraded the GPU to a GTX 2060 12GB. Then upgraded the GPU to a 6800XT. And lastly upgraded the CPU to a Ryzen 7 5800X3D. Nowadays I run the sim at ultra settings, 1440p and always between 40 and 60fps which I limited because the sim is basically the same at 40, 60 or 90fps.

All I bought was either used, bargained, or on sale. The CPUs always bought when prices were low because they were old, except for the 5800X3D which I paid current retail (a little bit more actually). The GPUs always bought when they became cheap because were superseeded by next gen (for example, bought the 1660Ti from a friend when he jumped to a 3060, and the 2060 12GB when 30xx series came out) or when prices plummeted because of market (bought the Radeon 6800XT used after crypto mining crash).

What I’ve learned:

  • Don’t cheap on things like motherboard, storage, PSU or ram. Those elements will remain on your system. I cheaped on the first motherboard and ended up having to buy a new one because the cheap one I got didn’t get 5xxx series CPUs. Same with storage or RAM. Get 32GB of RAM because I see my system constantly using 14-18GB. 64GB aren’t necessary at all.
  • A system like the 3700X and a 2060 is more than enough to run MSFS at 1080p and high settings. Ultra settings are for the eye candy.
  • Forget about serious VFR. The sim doesn’t have the necessary definition to have all the small visual details for a VFR approach like a defined building. Perhaps in cities with good photogrammetry, but not all around the world.
  • If you want to future proof you’re going to spend some cash. PC world is moving to new technologies which are incompatible with previous gear, like AMD moving to AM5 socket and RAM moving from DDR4 to DDR5, which aren’t compatible.
  • If you’re not going for VR, then save a little cash and get a TrackIR. It changes everything, more if you’ve flown IRL (which you’ve done, you’re taking lessons).
  • Do not lose sight on MSFS2024. It’ll come next year and we don’t know the requirements.
  • Save some cash for decent peripherals. In my case, rudder pedals made a significant difference. Can’t say the same about the joystick. Had an old Saitek AV8R and while my current X52Pro is better, flight experience didn’t change abruptly. Rudder pedals, on the contrary, made a huge difference (and I have a cheap Thrustmaster TFRP, there are much better ones).

In your place, I’d play with two options:

  • Get a mid tier previous gen PC. As I said, my Ryzen 3700X CPU which I had until two days ago and my old 2060 12GB GPU were able to run the sim decently at 1080p and high settings. This would be the cheapest option.
  • Get a basic current gen PC and upgrade in time. A Ryzen 7600X and a Radeon 6700X or a RTX 3060GPU should be actually good for even 1440p gaming, at a mixed high/ultra settings. This is way more expensive I believe, but is current gen and upgrading shouldn’t be an issue.

I tend to choose AMD because they stick to their sockets far more than Intel, which change sockets very often and render motherboards useless. Most probably I’d go with the former option because prices will probably fall for current gen in the near future, and we don’t know what MSFS 2024 will need. Also, current gen GPUs were kinda a fiasco. Just check reviews, unless you go for the TOTL current GPUs, they aren’t a significant jump from previous gen,m the 4060 being the most obvious example of a horrible product.

In any case, do not forget that controls and dynamics are actually more immersive than eye candy, which is really nice, until you make a night flight on instruments and you realize that you could make a complete flight without ever looking outside.

Hope that helps!



Intel System that you build.
Add the Graphics Card you desire.

Motherboard - $239.99

Intel i5-13600K - $309.99
Thermalright CPU Contact Frame - $17.97

CPU Cooler - $129.95
Noctua NH-U12A chromax.Black, 120mm Single-Tower CPU Cooler

Memory - $319.98 ($159.99 each)
G-Skill DDR5 32 GB @ 2 x 16 GB, 7200, 1R8, QVL
G-Skill DDR5 32 GB @ 2 x 16 GB, 7200, 1R8, QVL

MVMe SSD - $69.99
Samsung 990 PRO Series - 1TB, Gen 4

PC Case - $174.99
Corsair 5000D Airflow Tempered Glass Mid-Tower w/2 120mm fans

Case Fans - $47.88 ($23.94 each)
Noctua 140mm Premium Quiet Quality Fan (NF-A15 PWM)
Noctua 140mm Premium Quiet Quality Fan (NF-A15 PWM)

Power Supply - $159.99
Corsair RM1000e - ATX 3.0 & PCIe 5.0

TOTAL = $1491.42 (Amazon.com 7-6-2023

Epic fail :rofl:

But a ton of great suggestions :+1:


Knew it the moment I wrote that sentence :joy:


I use Intel(R) Core™ i7-5930K CPU @ 3.50GHz 3.50 GHz
16G Ram
GTX 970
1TB fast hard drive

I can use the sim on 4K with lowest settings with a few FPS - up 8-18. With 1080P, everything low - FPS up to 70:) In windowed mode (about 1/2.5 of the 4K screen) I have up to 30-40 FPS with med/high settings.

My thoughts -
i7-5930K CPU @ 3.50GHz 3.50 GHz is enough at least for default airliners, 16G RAM is… OK, however I/d like to have more.

GTX970… yes, I can run the game, but… definitely I need a better one.

1TB hard drive is not enough (I have DCS, FSW and MSFlight! installed as well and currently I have only 60GB free on my disk) also with HDD my loading time is huge - up to 20 minutes.