With its mega-realistic scenery and controls, Microsoft Flight Simulator took the gaming world by storm upon its initial release in 2020. Since then, the rage has refused to die down. While awe-inspiring realism shoulders the majority of the blame for that one, the pandemic has helped too. With people being restricted to their homes, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 presents a rare opportunity to travel across the globe.
So, what makes MSFS 2020 the global phenomenon that it is today? In the most concise way possible, the answer is realism. With its uncannily naturalistic graphics, real-time weather and traffic systems, and life-like controls, Microsoft Flight Simulator paints a replica of the globe like none other.
This realism, however, can be really taxing for your PC. An average PC won’t just cut it and in most cases, you will need to beef up your Desktop or laptop for a seamless flight experience.
The first step in buying a PC usually consists of deciding whether you want a prebuilt PC or a custom PC. While prebuilt PCs offer convenience, custom PCs are:
- Fully Customizable
- Relatively Cheaper (Prebuilt PCs are often sold at a markup)
A few years ago, opting for a custom PC was anything but convenient. You needed a lot of technical knowledge and research time to select PC components and put them together. Over time, this has changed. Now there are shops that not only help you select individual PC components but also assemble them for you.
But, there’s a Catch!
For over a year, there has been severe shortage of certain PC components, such as the GPU. Owing to the constrained supply and overwhelming demand, buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to secure GPUs of their choice. All in all, buying a custom PC has always been and will always be a job for enthusiasts only. So, if you are a casual user or illiterate in computer components, it is in your best interests to opt for a prebuilt PC for MSFS 2020.
On the other hand, if you have the expertise and persistence for building a PC for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, custom PCs should, almost always, be the way forward. Building a PC, however, is a tedious process. You have to research a wide array of components and configurations with due diligence because even a teeny-weeny error could prove catastrophic in the long run. In order to help you do that, this guide features the best PC builds for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 for 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolution. Before we do so, however, it is only fitting that we get to know what we are getting our hands into by looking at minimum system requirements for the AAA title.
System Requirements for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 permalink
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most taxing AAA titles out there, but you don’t need a $3000 rig to play it, though you won’t meet a single soul on this planet who won’t fancy having one. With a $3000 rig, you may be able to squeeze in that extra bit of performance owing to higher processing power, but you would do just fine on a cheaper PC especially on 1080p and 1440p.
Apart from the following computer components, you also need a high-speed internet connection. For the unversed, you need an internet connection because the backdrop of the game is managed by cloud storage. The game loads mapping data in real-time. Given that mapping data accounts for 2 petabytes of memory, it is practically impossible to load it at the game set up time, and loading it at run time is our only viable option. The minimum bandwidth requirement is 5 Mbps, but for a seamless experience, you should have an internet connection with a download speed between 20 and 50 Mbps.
|Minimum Spec||Recommended Spec||Ideal Spec|
|CPU||Intel i5-4460 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200||Intel i5-8400 or Ryzen 5 1500X||Intel i7-9800X or AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 2700X|
|GPU||Radeon RX 570 or Nvidia GTX 700||Radeon RX 590 or Nvidia GTX 970||Radeon VII or Nvidia RTX 2080|
|RAM||8 GB||16 GB||32 GB|
|VRAM||2 GB||4 GB||8 GB|
|Storage||150 GB||150 GB||150 GB(SSD)|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Nov 2019 update (1909)||Windows 10 Nov 2019 update (1909)||Windows 10 Nov 2019 update (1909)|
Buying Guide for PC Build for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 permalink
As of now, we have weighed the pros and cons of pre-built and Custom Desktops and discussed the minimum and ideal specifications for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. It is about time we shift our focus to custom PCs, but before we do so, it is only fitting that we look into the metrics that set these builds apart from literally a thousand other combinations.
Here is a list of things that you should consider before building a PC:
Central Processing Unit permalink
CPU is the single most important component of a computer. It is directly or indirectly responsible for all the processes and functions that are performed on the computer. This utility is responsible for the corniest definition of them all: “CPU is the brain of the computer” (although a solid case could be made for “Mitochondria is the powerhouse of a cell”).
With the advent of multi-core systems, the number of cores and threads are significant metrics for desktops and laptops. For the unversed, multiple cores and threads enable parallel execution of instructions and consequently lead to enhanced performance. Given Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is one of the most demanding AAA titles (uses 4 threads and can max out 8 CPUs at a time), you should be extra careful with your selection of the CPU. In this regard, quad-core or dual-core processors won’t just cut it.
If you are looking for a CPU for your PC build, Intel i5-8400 or Ryzen 5 1500X are great choices. So are almost all latest Intel’s i5, i7, and i9 offerings. In case you have no regard for price, you should check out the monstrous, octa-core i9-11900K or AMD’s 16-core behemoth Ryzen 9 5950X.
Also, when you are buying a CPU, do check out for Thermal Paste. In case your processor doesn’t include one, buy one of the best thermal pastes available in the market. It doesn’t cost a lot and comes in handy, especially when you are playing a game as hardware-intensive as MSFS 2020.
A motherboard is basically a circuit board that connects all other computer components and enables communication between different hardware. Like all other components, you get to choose from a wide array of options in various price ranges.
It is worth noting, though, that not all motherboards work with all CPUs. So, you will have to lock down a CPU before going hunting for a motherboard. In order to achieve a suitable CPU motherboard pairing for MSFS 2020, look out for the Motherboard’s:
- CPU Overclocking capabilities
- Connectivity options
Motherboards come in all shapes and sizes. The most common of these is “ATX” or “full size”, which I generally recommend. Also, do look out for PC case compatibility. A PC case supports motherboards up to certain sizes, so just ensure your due diligence.
Graphics Processing Unit permalink
Building a PC for Microsoft Flight Simulator, GPU is, most probably, the single most expensive component that you will buy. Boasting arguably the most awe-inspiringly realistic graphics ever, the AAA title is a card burner. Only a few months ago, no GPU available on the market could breach the 60-fps barrier on Ultra 4K resolution. None came close either, with Nvidia RTX 2080 TI maxing out at 40. With the launch of Nvidia Ampere GPUs and the AMD 6000 series, we now have GPUs on the market that offer better performance. But do we really have these GPUs on the market?
While it has never been easier to build a PC, it has never been tougher to find desired PC components-most notably GPU. Owing to scalpers, pandemic, and crypto-boom, it is almost impossible to get hands on your desired Graphics Cards at a reasonable price.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is a device for storing information for short-term use to enable quick access to data. Given how swiftly gaming PCs execute instructions, you can’t realistically have too much RAM. Definitely, the more, the merrier!
The minimum RAM requirement for MSFS 2020 is 8 GB, but you should steer clear of that if you intend to enjoy a seamless flight experience. While your PC may do well with 16 GB, I recommend you opt for 32 GB.
Storage is … well exactly what the name tells you. It refers to devices that store data. Owing to cloud managing the backdrop of the AAA title, Microsoft Flight Simulator is heavy but it isn’t the heaviest game on the market. It requires 150 GB of free space, so as far as you are able to manage that, the game will work seamlessly.
Most gaming PCs use SSDs instead of HDDs given their superior performance, durability, and silent working. Given you can match their relatively heftier price tag, there is no reason you should look out for HDDs. In case you can’t, go hybrid.
Best PC Builds for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 permalink
Now that we are done with the metrics, it is time we move on to the PC builds. As mentioned already, we will be selecting the best custom PC build for each of the 3 gaming resolutions.
Best PC Build for MSFS at 1080p permalink
This PC build is tailored to meet the needs of entry-level flight simmers. It comfortably meets the minimum requirements of the AAA title and doesn’t burn holes in user’s pockets.
AMD Ryzen 3600
Offering 6 cores and 12 threads, AMD Ryzen 3600 stays true to AMD’s value proposition, i.e., more for less. It may not be AMD’s flagship product, but bearing 32 MB of L3 cache and access to 24 lanes of PCIe 4.0, it is quite capable of handling Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 at 1080p. Indeed, the processor offers almost the same performance as its pricier X-series model, clocking 3.6 GHz (base frequency) to Ryzen 3600X’s 3.8 GHz. This difference of 200 MHz doesn’t seem as striking when you factor in the 50-dollar discount that Ryzen 360 offers on the value of its more expensive counterpart. All of this, alongside the fact that Ryzen 3600 comes with a cooler and thermal paste makes it an indisputable value champ in its price range.
ASUS Prime B550M-A WIFI
ASUS’s Prime B550M is a B550 chipset board meaning that it is compatible with 3rd generation AMD processors. Thanks to PCIe 4.0, WIFI 6.0, and 1 GB LAN, the board is able to provide breakneck speeds. While it is at it, a robust design and a comprehensive cooling solution keep the temperatures in check and prevent chips from frying.
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 permalink
Featuring 8 GB GDDR6 and a boost clock of 1665 MHz, MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 is capable of matching the performance of AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT-AMD’s flagship GPU before the launch of the 6000 series. Using the Graphics Card, you can achieve an average frame rate per second in the vicinity of 66 and 40 at medium and ultra quality respectively. Given you can enjoy a turbulence-free flight at 40-fps, that’s almost as good as it gets.
G.Skill Trident Z Neo Series 32 GB
As mentioned already, the ideal memory specification for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is 32 GB. By opting for two 16 GB G.Skill Trident Z Neo sticks, we are matching that byte for byte. The aforementioned ram sticks are not only compatible with the ASUS B550 chipset, but also offer excellent memory transfer speeds in the vicinity of 3200 MHz. While that falls marginally short of 3600 MHz memory transfer speeds optimal for Ryzen 2 CPUs, the difference in performance is minimal at best and certainly not worth the added cost.
Crucial P1 1 TB
By using Crucial P1 1 TB SSD, we are not only meeting the space requirements of the AAA title but also leaving sufficient headroom for other data. It is worth noting, however, that Crucial P1 isn’t as fast or as expensive as some of the more premium through-bred SSDs. This can be attributed to its use of denser ‘QLC’ NAND for data storage. That being said, the SSD has pretty decent data transfer speeds and is a good option for entry-level PC builds for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.
Cooler Master MasterBox NR400
All the above-mentioned components can be wrapped inside Cooler Master’s MasterBox NR400 which features an efficient cooling mechanism needed for such a build. It also has a tempered glass side panel which is easy on the eyes and adds to the aesthetic appeal of your gaming setup.
Pure Power 11 600W
The PC build can be powered by Pure Power 11 600W which is quiet, provides stable power, and has an 80 plus gold efficiency.
Best PC Build for MSFS at 1440p permalink
Intel Core i7-10700K
Intel's Comet Lake has finally arrived, bringing in an increased number of threads and cores and consequently massively improving upon the performance of its predecessors. The ''refined'' i7 features 8 cores and 16 threads and has a base/boost clock of 3.8/5.1 GHz. This gives it a 100 MHz advantage over the i9-9900K in boost frequency, which can be attributed to Intel's Turbo Boost Max 3.0 tech.
With its huge overclocking headroom, i7-10700K matches the performance of i9-10900K (after overclocking) for 100 dollars less, making it one of the best Processors for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.
GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Ultra
Featuring an LGA 1200 socket and a Z490 chipset, Z490 AORUS Ultra is compatible with Intel 10th and 11th generation processors. It offers four DDR4 DIMM slots, supporting up to 128 GB of RAM. In addition to it, there are 3 PCIe expansion slots, 6 SATA, and 3 M.2 for storage drives ensuring the availability of all the connections any average user could ever need.
One pleasant addition to the motherboard is Wi-Fi 6 support. Thanks to it, users won't be needing cables to hook up to a network.
EVGA 08G-P4-3182-KR GeForce RTX 2080 Super
With the launch of Nvidia’s Ampere GPUs, 2080 Super has lost its place as the company’s flagship GPU. That, however, works in its favor. Given its reduced price tag, GeForce RTX 2080 Super is one of the most desirable value GPU option available.
With its Turing Architecture and 8 GB of GDDR6 VRAM, GeForce RTX 2080 Super can run most AAA titles on 4K comfortably. Microsoft Flight Simulator, though, isn't like most AAA titles. The revolutionary flight simulator eats GPUs for breakfast, rendering RTX 2080 inadequate for a turbulence-free flight at Ultra 4K. That being said, the Graphic card is still a potent strike force for flights at 1440p, delivering 64/37-fps on Medium/Ultra quality.
Corsair Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 X 16 GB)
For PC build for playing Microsoft Flight Simulator at 1440p, we will again be opting 32 GB of RAM, in order to limit expenditure. Also, 64 GB RAM is an overkill at this stage. If you can afford it, though, go for it because it will future-proof your investment.
With a transfer speed of 3600 MHz, Corsair Vengeance LPX 32 GB offers unmatched performance in its price range, making it the go-to memory option for our PC build.
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1 TB
For storage drive, we will be opting for Samsung- a global, cult-inspiring, reliable brand. Its storage devices are few of the finest in the market. For this particular PC build, we will go with Samsung’s EVO Plus powered by fifth-generation NAND technology (uses 96-layer NAND Flash memory chips). Given its read and write speeds, value, and durability, the 970 EVO Plus stands out not only amongst other devices in Samsung’s 970 series but also amongst all other M.2 SSDs.
For the case, we will be opting for NZXT H510 which is a sleek, mid-range case that will keep your system cool. It is also quite visually appealing, offering a tapered glass side and striking color combinations.
EVGA 500W Bronze
We will be powering this build by EVGA 500W Bronze which is quiet and reliable. It is 80+ Bronze certified and has an efficiency of 85% or higher under typical workloads.
Cooler Master Hyper 212
Unfortunately, i7-10700 doesn’t come with a cooler. Hence, we also need to arrange a cooler. Cooler Master Hyper 212, featuring 4 direct heat pipes and a 120mm Silencio Fan, is the right fit for this pc build. The cooler is durable and quiet, with a noise level of only 26 dB.
All in all, this mid-range PC build is tailored to meet the needs of intermediate-level flight simmers and shall do so distinctively.
Best PC Build for MSFS at 4K permalink
Intel Core i9-10900K
With 10 cores, 20 threads, and a base/boost clock of 3.7/5.3 GHz, Intel’s i9-10900K has unquestionably established itself as the fastest gaming processor on the market. A part of this can also be attributed to the fact that it comes pre-overclocked to an all-core 4.9 GHz.
The processor massively improves upon the performance of its predecessor(i9-9900K) owing to:
- Increased number of cores and threads
- Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology
- Thermal Velocity Boost
All of this power, though, comes at a cost. With a TDP of 125W, i9-10900K consumes more power than any other mainstream AMD or Intel chip. This, inevitably, culminates in increased heat production. So, if you buy the “monstrous” processor, you will have to come up with an equally “monstrous” cooler that can manage the chip’s heat output. That being said, provided an efficient cooler, Intel i9-10900K is one of the very few processors that can tame the monster that MSFS is.
MSI MEG Z490 Unify
Featuring a Z490 chipset and an LGA 1200 socket, MSI MEG Z490 is compatible with Intel 10th generation processors. It’s a high-end circuit board with excellent voltage delivery, high-quality sound output, and a wide array of connectivity options, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 6, high-speed USB, 2.5 Gb LAN, and 3 M.2 and 6 SATA ports. On the memory front, the motherboard has 4 slots and can support up to 128 GB of RAM.
ASUS TUF Gaming NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 OC Edition
How do you manage the “arguably best-looking game ever” with astronomic graphic requirements? Well, you bring in the most powerful GPU ever made. No prizes for guessing, that is Nvidia’s flagship RTX 3090. Packing 24 GB of GDDR6 VRAM, GeForce RTX 3090 is an absolute powerhouse.
Using RTX 3090, you will be able to achieve 63/45-fps at 4K resolution on Medium/Ultra quality. If you are a Fortnite user, that may underwhelm you, but it is as high as it gets. Don’t set unrealistic standards. MSFS is no Fortnite! You can easily enjoy a seamless flight experience at 40-60 frames per second.
Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4 X 16 GB)
For our PC build aimed at enthusiasts, we will stick to the same brand but will upgrade the memory size to 64 GB.
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2 TB
For our high-end build for MSFS 2020, we will stick to Samsung 970 EVO Plus, and there is literally no need to move to another storage device. The storage device comes from a reliable brand and is one of the best performing M.2 SSDs available in the market today. We did, however, increase the storage capacity to 2 TB because this build is aimed towards gaming enthusiasts who may end up needing every byte of the 2 TB capacity.
Similarly, I can’t think of a reason to look beyond NZXT H510. It is remarkably elegant and spacious, and perfect for our build.
Be Quiet! Dark Power 12 1000W
To manage the power requirements of 10-core Intel i9-10900K and Nvidia GeForce 3090 GPU, we have selected Be Quiet’s Dark Power 12 1000W PSU, which is modular, virtually inaudible, and 80 plus titanium certified.
Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT
Pairing Intel i9-10900K with Nvidia RTX 3090 without an efficient cooler is the perfect recipe for disaster. In the absence of a “monstrous” cooler, the heat output would burn the chips down. Fortunately, the 360mm water loop from Corsair iCUE H150i Pro XT combines with NZXT H510 to keep the PC cool and running.
Choosing the right PC Build for You permalink
All of these builds have been carefully tailored to meet the requirements of different gaming groups and are the best PC Builds for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 in their price range and screen resolution. Your selection is, consequently, dependent on your budget and flight simming experience. For example, if you are an entry-level simmer, you should opt for the first build because:
- You’d do well flying at 1080p
- It doesn’t make sense if you go about spending a fortune on a PC.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you are an enthusiast, or have been flight simming for eternity, nothing but the best will do. In that case, opt for the best PC build for MSFS at 4K resolution.