Note: Article updated after MSFS Patch 7 release.
Here is a quick guide to set-up the best graphics without losing too much performance of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator. My kinda solid frames-per-second value increased noticeable and still maintained very good looking graphics visuals and terrain detail, almost no difference compared all set to Ultra. Of course, the benefit is tied to what kind of system you are running MSFS in, and the effect might change after future MSFS patches and optimizations by Asobo Studio. I do recommend reading the official How to improve the performance guide before continuing reading this.
At first, make sure you have the latest video card drivers installed. Because the latest video card drivers have specific optimizations for MSFS, the driver update for Nvidia in the mid of November 2020 gave me +5 FPS more. The best situation would be to uninstall the old drivers and do a clean install of the new drivers. The next one is for the Nvidia users, go to Nvidia Control Panel, open 3D Settings, and make sure your Nvidia video card is selected (not the integrated). Then, from Program Settings, choose Microsoft Flight Simulator, and tweak these settings (and leave all the others as default) to get the most of your video card:
Power Management: Optimal Power
Texture Filtering – Quality: Quality
Next, let’s tweak some Windows settings to force the operating system (Windows 10 version 2004 or Build 19041 or newer) to work as much as possible without stutters. Go to Game Mode and turn it On, so all priority is given to running games such as MSFS. From the right-hand side of the Game Mode menu select Graphics settings and open up Hardware-accelerated GPU Scheduling to be set On to reduce latency. Back in the Game Mode menu select Captures and for Background recording ensure it’s Off.
Now before you launch MSFS, restart your PC and continue reading then. After your PC has booted, it’s time to tweak MSFS graphics settings behind MSFS Options and General. Several settings have a high impact on performance but by setting them right you gain a smoother flight simulator and still maintain very good-looking visuals and the best terrain details. At first, select Global Rendering Quality to be Ultra and then set the options as described below.
Render Scaling: 100
Terrain Level of Detail: 200, if too much FPS drop then set 125
Object Level of Detail: 200
Volumetric Clouds: High
Anisotropic Filtering: 8x
Texture Supersampling: 4×4
Water Waves: Medium
Shadow Maps: 1536
Terrain Shadows: 512
Ambient Occlusion: High
Motion Blur: Off
Finally, this is optional based on your needs, but turning off the Live Real-World Air Traffic will give more extra FPS’s. To remove all the static aircraft from the gates, go to Traffic options and set Ground Aircraft Density to zero. For air traffic and ATC service seekers, there are proper online flying networks, such as VATSIM, IVAO, and PilotEdge available.
Hardware used for MSFS when writing this article: i7-9750, RTX 2060 6GB, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD. If your Internet connection is mobile, such as 4G, I recommend disabling Photogrammetry, because you’ll see only ugly melted buildings. With graphics settings explained here, Rolling Cache: Off, and using Full HD 1080p resolution, my FPS is normally 45-50. When flying in a highly-populated autogen area such as Greater London, it’s 30-35.