This is a set-up guide for the best graphics without losing too much performance of the Microsoft Flight Simulator. My kinda solid frames-per-second value increased noticeably, and I still maintained very good-looking 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 by future MSFS patches and optimizations by Asobo Studio. Hardware used for this article is i7-9750, RTX 2060 6GB, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD.
Make sure your system is up-to-date, meaning Windows 10 is version 20H2 or higher. Open Start menu, select Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates. Also, ensure that all the apps are up-to-date in Microsoft Store. In the top right-hand side corner of the Microsoft Store, click on the three-dot menu > Downloads and updates, then click Get updates > Update all. I do recommend turning automatic updates OFF for both Windows 10 and Microsoft Store. Updates rolling on the background can interfere with the performance of MSFS.
Ensure your Graphics Processing Unit has the latest drivers installed. Outdated or corrupted graphics drivers can impact the performance of MSFS. I recommend you completely remove your old graphics drivers before installing the latest drivers. Go get the latest graphics card drivers for your GeForce or Radeon graphics card. It’s recommended to download the right graphics drivers manually and avoid using automatic update software. At least, the GeForce Experience app can sometimes change MSFS graphic settings without user notice.
Next, let’s tweak a couple of settings on Windows 10 before launching the MSFS. With the Game Mode enabled, which should usually prioritize games and minimize background tasks to improve performance, many games encounter poorer frame rates, stutters, and freezes. Therefore, open the Start menu, select Settings, for Find a setting field type Game Mode, and under its settings turn Game Mode OFF. On the same page under the Related settings title, click on Graphics settings and make sure Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling is ON. Also, under Captures settings (found by Find a setting field), make sure Background recording is OFF.
Increasing the Virtual Memory can end unknown crash-to-desktop issues. In the Windows Search bar, type and open View advanced system settings. Under the Advanced tab, click the Settings (Performance). On the Performance Options, go to the Advanced tab, and click Change (Virtual memory). Uncheck the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives. Click to select the drive on which Windows 10 is installed (by default C:). Select the Custom size and for both fields below, type the Pagefile in megabytes according to your physical memory present in your computer. Finally, click Set, then click OK, and restart your computer.
Finally, it’s time to tweak the Microsoft Flight Simulator graphics settings in-game under 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 HIGH-END and then set the options as described below.
Global Rendering Quality: HIGH-END
Render Scaling: 100
Terrain Level of Detail: 125 (value 200 takes -5 FPS)
Trees: ULTRA (use free Trees Draw Distance Fix)
Object Level of Detail: 200
Anisotropic Filtering: 16X
Texture Supersampling: 8X8
Motion Blur: OFF
Glass Cockpit Refresh Rate: MEDIUM (value LOW gives +10 FPS for CJ4)
If you are flying online as I do, on networks such as VATSIM, IVAO, and PilotEdge, note that under the TRAFFIC page, the Ground Aircraft Density controls the amount of static aircraft at the gates, this should be set to zero. The other values should not be more than 50 either. If your Internet connection is slower than 50 Mbps, I recommend disabling Photogrammetry under the DATA page. Also, disabling Rolling Cache makes the performance more stutter-free by not wasting CPU power for overall useless cache operations. With graphics settings explained in this guide, my FPS is normally 45-55. When flying in a highly-populated autogen area such as west of Chicago, it’s 35-45.