Best Graphics Cards for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2021

— 20 minute read

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is as demanding as any other game in the market, and there is no reason for you to believe otherwise. Just think about it:

  1. The game recreates mega-realistic scenery
  2. Emulates real-time weather conditions and traffic systems
  3. Has revolutionary uncannily realistic graphics
  4. Fetches digitally distilled images from a cloud server

So, if you are intending to fly across the Globe in MS2020, you will have to beef up your PC (unless you have one of those $4000 monsters). The ideal solution to this problem is to buy one of the best pre-built PCs for Microsoft Flight Simulator 😂😂😂 (Sarcasm intended!) . If that’s too rich for your blood, you will have to contend with upgrading the essential components of your PC.

Best GPU for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

And when we are talking about “essential PC components”, Graphic Card is right up there with the CPU. The Graphics card is responsible for feeding data to the display screen. To better grasp this concept, we need to understand that the screen is made up of Pixels. We can manipulate these pixels to cast distinctive images to the display screen. As computers can only understand binary language, hundreds of thousands of computations are needed to display 3-D graphics. Every computer has an integrated GPU to perform these tasks, but built-in GPUs (often) can’t sustain the workload of fast-paced games (let alone a revolutionary flight simulator). In order to facilitate optimal performance and vivid imagery, we need a Video Card.

Note: A GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is a component in Graphics Card that is responsible for the processing. In this article, though, we won’t be differentiating between the two and will use them interchangeably.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a card burner. Even Nvidia RTX 2080 TI wasn’t able to crack the 60-fps barrier on Ultra settings. To be honest, it didn’t even come close, maxing out at 40. Don’t get me wrong! With that statement, I don’t intend to insinuate that we can’t break the 60-fps barrier. With better cards available in the market, we are able to get better performances. The sole purpose of the statement was to emphasize how demanding Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 actually is.

If Nvidia RTX 2080 TI doesn’t do, what will?

Well, the gist of this article is to address this very question. There are hundreds of graphic cards in the market, but Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 overwhelms most of them. Yet your choices aren’t limited and the process of scouring the internet for details is exhausting and irksome. By mentioning the best GPUs for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, we intend to simplify the process as much as possible. But before we do so, I would like to reignite an ever-lasting debate (Can’t help it, bro 😔😔....

Some men just want to watch the world burn

Nvidia vs AMD permalink

The Great War is upon us. Millions of virtual soldiers have died on either side. If recent events are an indication, causalities are bound to increase.

Both Nvidia and AMD inspire quite a cult and make formidable products. Over years, gamers have debated the merits and demerits of Nvidia and AMD GPUs, trying to prove the superiority of their preferred Graphic Card.

So, which one should you choose?

A couple of months ago, I would have a one-word answer for this-Nvidia. Nvidia had just launched the much anticipated RTX 3000 series and had taken the Gaming World by Storm. They undercut themselves by offering 3070 at $499. For context, 3070 matches the performance of RTX 2080 TI- a card that Nvidia had originally sold for $999 (!). The Graphic card market was more loop-sided than ever.

Things have changed since then, with AMD firing back with their 6000 series. The 6000 series offers better performance per dollar and competes head to head with RTX 3000 series. Over companions at Tech Edged concluded that the 6000 series beats RTX 3000 in several titles. Just to be clear, I don’t mean to assert that AMD GPUs are better than Nvidia GPUs. The results in the aforementioned research are inconclusive as the comparisons weren’t done on Intel Processors. The only thing that we can say for certain is that AMD have gotten competitive post their 2020 lineup.

Technically Nvidia GPUs still have an edge over AMD GPUs. They are faster and best out AMD GPUs as far as Power consumption and efficiency are concerned. They do, however, come at a hefty premium.

With the GPU War hotter than ever, it is irrational to choose a winner. It is too close to call. At best, AMD and Nvidia would be separated by a feather!

Most of the time, it doesn’t even matter. If your monitor supports AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync, you will have to buy the relevant GPU. In case your monitor doesn’t support either technology, you can opt for any of the two.

Note: Nvidia cards have a huge advantage over AMD cards as far as Ray Tracing is concerned. Unlike a limited set of titles, though, FS2020 isn’t ray traced. So, that shouldn’t be used as a metric to judge a Card’s performance.

Note: When you buy a Graphics Card, you won’t be buying from either Nvidia or AMD. You will be buying from companies like MSI, ASUS, and GIGABYTE. These companies build cards that contain the relevant chip. Think of it as a plane- the body can be designed by any manufacturer, but the Engine is made by Nvidia or AMD. The model of the GPU (for example RTX 2080 TI) gives you a clear idea of the card’s performance.

Buying Guide for Graphic Card for Microsoft Flight Simulator in 2021 permalink

By now I have discussed the significance of a GPU, compared two GPU market stalwarts, and given you a sneak peek into the Best Graphics Cards for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. But that doesn’t satisfy you, does it?

Or do you just need to know what to look for in a GPU?

In that case, I have compiled a succinct list of things that you shall help you choose the right Graphic Card.

Minimum Video Card Requirements for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 permalink

In order to run the AAA title, you need at least 2 GB of dedicated VRAM. So anything less than Radeon RX 570 or Nvidia GTX 700 won’t just do. For smooth sailing, you might want to boast it up to 4 GB. So, we are looking at Radeon RX 590 or Nvidia GTX 970. Ideally, you’d want a turbulence-free flight, and so if you can afford it, you should consider buying either the Nvidia RTX 2080 or Radeon VII.

MinimumRecommendedIdeal
Video Memory2 GB4 GB8 GB
GPURadeon RX 570 or Nvidia GTX 700Radeon RX 590 or Nvidia GTX 970Nvidia RTX 2080 or Radeon VII

Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards permalink

Microsoft Flight Simulator is no Fortnite. You don’t need a Frame rate in excess of 160 for optimal performance. In fact, you can enjoy a turbulence-free flight at 40 frames per second. So, don’t go out looking for triple-digit frame rates. If you go down that lane, you will regret it.

Complement Your Display permalink

While almost everyone will prefer a high-end GPU, most people don’t need one. If your Monitor tops out at 1080p and 60 Hz, there is no point in getting a high-end GPU that your monitor can’t keep up with. There is a thin line between being passionate and being stupid.

Cost permalink

This goes without saying. Graphics Cards can cost a butt load of money. Some can go well beyond the 1000 buck mark. In your best interests, you should leave out some money for the CPU. If you slash out all your money on a GPU, your Computer will perform miserably in real-time gameplay. Synthetic supremacy alongside stuttering game play-definitely not Stonks 📉

Not Stonks

Even if you have the money, do you have Space and Power? permalink

Make sure that your case has space for a Graphics Card of your choosing. Also, ensure that your PC has sufficient power to spare and the right type of connectors.

Overclocking doesn’t help permalink

Graphic Cards don’t have much headroom for overclocking. Hence, you can’t boast its performance more than 5-10 percent. Don’t rely on overclocking! If you want better performance, buy a beefier Graphic Card.

Dual Cards aren’t worth the trouble permalink

In most cases, dual cards don’t help. They just pile on the misery. So your best bet is to buy the most powerful card that you can buy. Powerful cards may come at a hefty premium, but they do have a huge non-performance advantage- future-proofing.

Note: For now we have left out AMD 6000 series due to limited availability. The article will be updated in due course of time, pertaining to availability.

The 6 Best GPUs for Microsoft Flight Simulator in 2021 permalink

Pertaining to machine limitations, we will be dealing with Nvidia and AMD cards separately. Our motive is to select the best Nvidia and AMD GPUs for Microsoft Flight Simulator in 3 distinct gaming resolutions, namely:

  1. 1080p
  2. 1440p
  3. 4K

All of these have been systematically analyzed against the metrics mentioned above.

Note: In our rankings below we have mentioned the Graphic Cards using the relevant GPU. It is worth noting, though, that reviews are entirely concerned with GPUs. You can use any other product using the same chip and expect roughly the same performance.

#1. Best AMD for 4K: XFX AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra permalink

XFX AMD Radeon RX 5700 Graphic Card for Flight Sim

SpecificationValue
Stream Processors2560
Texture Mapping Units160
ROP Units64
Tensor CoresN/A
RT CoresN/A
Core Clock1,605 MHz (1,755 MHz boost)
Memory8 GB
Memory TypeGDDR6
Memory Clock/Memory Speed14 Gbps
Power Connecters1 X 6-pin and 1 X 8-pin
Outputs1 X Display Port 1.4 with Digital Stream Compression support and 1 X HDMI with 4K60 support

MFS 2020 Benchmarks for AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT

QualityAverage Frame Rate per second
1080p (Medium Quality)62
1080p (Ultra Quality)41
1440p (Medium Quality)56
1440p (Ultra Quality)32
4K (Medium Quality)33
4K (Ultra Quality)19

AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is one of very few AMD products that can stand up to Nvidia’s top-tier GPUs. It has the potential, raw gaming power, and favorable price to performance ratio to be the best GPU for MS2020, but loses out due to cooling issues. During the testing phase, the card seemed to be running hot. The integral components- VRM and Video Memory were both hotter than they usually are. The product advertises ‘exceptional cooling due to 2.9 mm fans and 100 mm fans’ but that claim doesn’t seem to substantiate. A solution (albeit temporary) to this is undervolting.

AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is an absolute beast at 1440p. Yes! I realize that I have categorized it as the best AMD for 4k gaming, but that’s just because it is the best AMD have. Its 33 fps on 4K medium quality eclipses any other AMD GPU. Also, it is not impossible to get a turbulence-free flight at 33fps.

Well, one thing is for certain-this is bound to change once we get our hands on AMD 6000 series.

ProsCons
Exceptional PerformanceCooling Issues
Unmatchable Price to Performance Ratio
Numerous Software Features
Future-proofing
Quiet

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#2. Best Nvidia for 4K: ASUS TUF Gaming NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 OC Edition permalink

ASUS TUF Gaming NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090

SpecificationValue
Stream Processors10496
Texture Mapping Units328
ROP Units112
Tensor Cores328
RT Cores82
Core Clock1.4 GHz (1.7 GHz boost)
Memory24 GB
Memory TypeGDDR6
Memory Clock/Memory Speed19.5 Gbps
Power Connecters2 X PCIe 8-pin
Outputs3 X Display Port 1.4a and 1 X HDMI 2.1

MFS 2020 Benchmarks for Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

QualityAverage Frame Rate per second
1080p (Medium Quality)70
1080p (Ultra Quality)51
1440p (Medium Quality)67
1440p (Ultra Quality)49
4K (Medium Quality)63
4K (Ultra Quality)45

Remember that scene from Avengers Infinity War when Thanos went berserk and beat the sh*t out of Tony Stark and co? Well, in or case Nvidia RTX 3090 is the Mad Titan! Performance-wise, it is literally unmatchable. Isn’t it expected though? Packing 24 GB of GDDR6 memory, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is an absolute powerhouse.

As I mentioned earlier, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is the best GPU in the market today. The size is an issue, but that’s manageable. If you can buy this GPU, you can buy any case in the World. My only concern is the astronomic price tag. It is higher than the cost of an average mid-tier rig. For this amount, you could just take flying lessons!

ProsCons
Best GPU by a long shotVery (Infinite times very) Expensive
Exceptional Cooling PerformanceVery Large
4K Gaming? No problem whatsoever

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#3. Best AMD for 1440p: XFX AMD Radeon VII permalink

xfx amd radeon vii gpu for flight simulator

SpecificationValue
Stream Processors3840
Texture Mapping Units240
ROP Units64
Tensor CoresN/A
RT CoresN/A
Core Clock1400 MHZ (Boost up to 1800 MHz)
Memory16 GB
Memory TypeHBM2
Memory Clock/Memory Speed2 Gbps
Power Connecters2 X 8-pin
Outputs1 X Display Port 1.4 HDR and 1 X HDMI with 4K support

MFS 2020 Benchmarks for AMD Radeon VII

QualityAverage Frame Rate per second
1080p (Medium Quality)62
1080p (Ultra Quality)39
1440p (Medium Quality)54
1440p (Ultra Quality)31
4K (Medium Quality)33
4K (Ultra Quality)22

AMD Radeon VII is one of the very first GPU to be underpinned by 7nm. This alongside 16 GB VRAM, and 1800 MHz high boast clock makes it one of the most powerful Graphic Cards available in the market today. The GPU marked Team Red’s reply to Nvidia’s RTX 2080, but is it as good as the latter? Not really! It competes toe to toe with RTX 2080 in 4K gaming but lags behind in 1080p and 1440p. It is a powerful answer, nonetheless. Powerful, power-hungrier, and a loud answer to be very specific.

ProsCons
Useful additional VRAMPower-hungry
Exceptional CoolingHas a few incompatibilities with DirectX 12
Competes toe to toe with Nvidia RTX 2080 in 4K gamingDoesn’t support Cross-firing
Loud

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#4. Best Nvidia for 1440p: EVGA 08G-P4-3182-KR GeForce RTX 2080 Super permalink

evga geforce rtx 2080 super gpu for flight sim 2020

SpecificationValue
Stream Processors2944
Texture Mapping Units184
ROP Units64
Tensor Cores368
RT Cores46
Core Clock1515 MHz (1700 MHz boost)
Memory8 GB
Memory TypeGDDR6
Memory Clock/Memory Speed14 Gbps
Power Connecters1 X 8-pin and 1 X 6-pin
Outputs1 X Display Port 1.4 and 1 X HDMI 2.0b

MFS 2020 Benchmarks for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080

QualityAverage Frame Rate per second
1080p (Medium Quality)62
1080p (Ultra Quality)66
1440p (Medium Quality)64
1440p (Ultra Quality)37
4K (Medium Quality)40
4K (Ultra Quality)23

It may no longer be Nvidia’s flagship product, but GeForce RTX 2080 is still one of the best-performing GPUs available in the market today. Its cutting-edge Turing architecture coupled with 8 GB of GDDR 6 VRAM ensures exceptional performance and seems to justify its astronomic price tag. Such is the power that the graphic card can run almost any AAA title at an unprecedented frame rate. Microsoft Flight Simulator, though, is an exception. The revolutionary Flight Simulator crushes RTX 2080 under the weight of its 4K graphics. And yet the card performs admirably. Surely, RTX 2080 is one of the best Video Cards that you can buy for MS2020.

ProsCons
Best GPU for 1440p gamingPricey Option
Exceptional Performance (one of the best)Power Hungry
Simple Over-clockingNot suited to 4K gaming
Future-Proof

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#5. Best AMD for 1080p: PowerColor Red Dragon AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT permalink

powercolor red dragon amd radeon rx 5600 xt

SpecificationValue
Stream Processors2304
Texture Mapping Units144
ROP Units64
Tensor CoresN/A
RT CoresN/A
Core Clock1375 MHz (Boost up to 1560 MHz)
Memory6 GB
Memory TypeGDDR6
Memory Clock/Memory Speed14 Gbps
Power Connecters1 X 8-pin
Outputs3 X Display Port and 1 X HDMI

MFS 2020 Benchmarks for AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

QualityAverage Frame Rate per second
1080p (Medium Quality)62
1080p (Ultra Quality)32
1440p (Medium Quality)49
1440p (Ultra Quality)25
4K (Medium Quality)Never mind 😳 😳 😳
4K (Ultra Quality)This GPU isn’t made for 4K Gaming 😳

As evident from the frame rates above, AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT isn’t made for 4K gaming. This, however, should take nothing away from its generation-defining 1080p performance. It beats Nvidia RTX 2060 and 4 other Nvidia GPUs in the 1080p category. So if you are planning on flying at 1080p, there is no reason why you should opt for another Graphics Processing Unit.

ProsCons
Power EfficientMessy launch with VBIOS
Great Performance per DollarLimited VRAM (only 6 GB)
Relatively Cheap

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#6. Best Nvidia for 1080p: MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 Super permalink

msi geforce rtx 2060 super gaming x

SpecificationValue
Stream Processors2176
Texture Mapping Units136
ROP Units64
Tensor Cores272
RT Cores34
Core Clock1470 MHz (1650 MHz boost)
Memory8 GB
Memory TypeGDDR6
Memory Clock/Memory Speed14 Gbps
Power Connecters1 X 8-pin
Outputs3 X Display Port 1.4a and 1 X HDMI 2.0B

MFS 2020 Benchmarks for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super

QualityAverage Frame Rate per second
1080p (Medium Quality)66
1080p (Ultra Quality)40
1440p (Medium Quality)57
1440p (Ultra Quality)31
4K (Medium Quality)33
4K (Ultra Quality)19

GeForce RTX 2060 Super matches the performance of AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT (AMD’s best) and this speaks volumes about GPU market imbalance prior to the release of the AMD 6000 series. Featuring cutting-edge Turing Architecture and 8 GB VRAM, this one delivers a power-packed performance at 1080p and 1440p. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best GPUs for MS 2020.

ProsCons
Affordable- and you won’t hear that about many Nvidia productsCan’t manage gaming at 4K
Excellent performance up to 1440p
Shiny card design
Future-Proof

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Which of these Graphic Cards should you buy for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020? permalink

Well, one thing is for certain: all of these Graphics Cards are freakishly good! Some may be more capable, while others are economically friendlier. That having been said, it is up to you to decide the gaming resolution that you are comfortable with. If you are an entry-level simmer, there is no point in breaking the bank to achieve a 4K resolution. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you have been flight simming for the better part of the decade, you won’t be satisfied with anything less than 4K ultra-resolution.

For all 3 gaming resolutions, if we were to forsake finances for once, we’d have a clear winner: Nvidia! That’s unsurprising given that Nvidia has traditionally had a major hold on the GPU market. AMD Graphics Cards are likened for their exceptional value and efficiency.

Beware! All of this may change as soon as we get our hands on to AMD 6000 series.


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