Microsoft Flight Simulator is getting its biggest update ever on PC today, thanks to a new patch that delivers significant performance improvements. The game has been notoriously demanding since its launch last year, but the team behind the simulator has been focusing heavily on improving its CPU and memory usage. PC players can now go ahead and download the latest update, and it should improve frame rates across a variety of hardware.
I’ve been testing the update for the past couple of weeks on my own PC, equipped with an Intel Core i9-11900K and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, and the improvements are staggering even on top hardware. I use Microsoft Flight Simulator for benchmarks during our GPU reviews, and in the same section flying across Seattle, my frame rate has gone from an average of 45fps all the way up to 68fps. That’s more than a 50 percent leap with ultra settings enabled at 1440p.
Even flying across areas like New York City sees some impressive improvements, with my machine now managing to hit 80fps average in what’s typically a very demanding part of Microsoft Flight Simulator. The improvements are so surprising that I’ve had to double and triple check my settings to make sure I was actually running at ultra on everything.
Overall, the game now feels a lot smoother with less random fps drops than before. It should also be a lot more playable on a wider range of hardware as a result. Asobo, the developer of Microsoft Flight Simulator, demonstrated the game running on an older system with an Intel Core i7-9700K and an RTX 2060 Super earlier this month. Microsoft Flight Simulator jumped from around 30fps to nearly a solid 60fps on this PC with the patch, and CPU and memory utilization also dropped significantly.
“We have rewritten a lot of the parts of the engine … in order to get the maximum performance out of the sim,” explained Asobo CEO Sebastian Wloch earlier this month. The team has been mainly working on CPU optimizations, and it’s clearly worked out well.
This has all been achieved without a move to DirectX 12, too. While a DirectX 12 version of Microsoft Flight Simulator launches on Xbox Series X / S today, the PC version will remain on DirectX 11. That leaves the door open for even more potential improvements in the future.
The upcoming move to DirectX 12 will also allow Asobo to introduce ray tracing in the game. Effects should include better water, improved shadows, and the usual reflections that are found in ray-traced games. Asobo has not yet confirmed when Microsoft Flight Simulator will move to DirectX 12 on PC.
“All the performance improvements come from just improving the simulator,” confirmed Wloch earlier this month. “PC has not yet moved to DirectX 12, the team is still working on it. It may bring improvements further, or not.”