Home > Flight Simulation, Flightsim, FSX > FSX settings – early thoughts

FSX settings – early thoughts

Saturday, October 7th, 2006

Here’s what I’ve found produces the best tradeoff between performance and visuals in FSX.  This is quite subjective, and likely very system-dependent. FSX is relatively insensitive to some settings, and hypersensitive to others.

EDIT: See updated suggestions.


  • Target frame rate: seemingly even more so than FS9, FSX will effectively use cycles not absorbed by refreshing the display.  So set this as low as you can tolerate it to reduce blurries and have scenery elements display properly. Some folks are claiming better performance with frame rate set to unlimited though, so experiment for yourself.
  • Filtering: if your video card has anisotropic filtering, select this and check anti-aliasing.
  • Global texture resolution: I didn’t find this made a huge difference to performance.  Set to Very High
  • Lens flare: minor impact but every bit helps so I turn it off
  • Light bloom: high impact, it’s off
  • Advanced animations: unsure of the effect


  • Aircraft shadows on the ground: off
  • Aircraft cast shadows on itself: off
  • Aircraft landing lights illuminate ground: on


  • Level of detail radius: I have this set to Large as it seems to make very little difference.  But experiment on your system
  • Mesh complexity: 92
  • Mesh resolution: for most purposes 38m is plenty, 19m only if you have addons that need it.
  • Texture resolution: surprisingly this doesn’t have as much effect on frame rates as I would have thought.  If you want to experience higher-res textures, go to 2m.  5m is equivalent to FS9.  Likely the impact is mostly on the blurries, as the sim has to load more data.
  • Water effects: this setting does affect my performance much until I hit Mid 2.x, which is where water reflections kick in.  Then frame rates drop dramatically.  So generally I have mine at Low 2.x.
  • Land detail textures: on
  • Scenery complexity: I have mine set between Normal and Extremely Dense.  It is indeed a sparse world in some areas at Normal!  The effect this has will vary drastically with how many custom buildings are placed in the area, and what complexity they’ve been assigned by the designer.  Near CYVR, I get a 30% increase in frame rates dropping to Normal.
  • Autogen density: certainly anything above Normal is asking for trouble.  I’ve been trying autogen off in an attempt to get flyable performance.  With the higher resolution ground textures, this looks much better than in FS9 with autogen off, but is not much good at very low altitudes.
  • Ground scenery cast shadows: no
  • Special Effects Detail: high, doesn’t have a large effect.  I imagine this would vary with the number of effects active


A pleasing aspect of FSX is that the weather doesn’t have as much of an effect on performance as it did in FS9.

  • Cloud draw distance: 96 km
  • Thermal visulization: none
  • Detailed clouds


  • Airline traffic density: varies drastically with the amount of traffic you have in your area.  You’ll have to play with this one.
  • GA traffic: ditto
  • Airport vehicle density: minimum
  • Road vehicles: this has a very high impact if you have a lot of freeways, so I set it to 4%, just to get a taste of activity, or turn it off
  • Ships and ferries: there are few of these, and it doesn’t seem to have a high impact so I have set this to 100%
  • Leisure boats: again, I give myself a taste at 4%, the impact is quite high if you push this slider up, assuming there’s lots of water around!

My system: AMD X2 4200+, BFU 7900GT 256 Mb, 2 Gb RAM, 800 GB RAID-0 SATA-II HD

  1. gthou
    Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 at 6:37 am

    I have a dell xps gen 4 with 1gb of ram & nvidia 6800. I bought the game yesterday and was very disappointed. Not with the game, but with the speed of my pc. I even left everything on “default”, and it still ran very slow. I did a PC restore, wiped out my entire system, reinstalled, and it is still too slow to even enjoy. What is (if anyone can answer) the best graphics card out there. I also read somewhere that I should have a minimum of 2gb of ram. I’m confused. I don’t have problems with any other sim or game until this sim came out.

  2. OZRhino
    Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 at 8:40 am

    Gthou mate, don’t bother upgrading just yet. Wait for the next gen graphics cards, ie. DX10.

    And of course *shudder* vista.

    Though I do wonder. . . if Microsoft made this laggy and slow as hell just so they could boost profits for Vista and DX10 ?

    Just my two cents.

  3. Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 at 9:04 am

    @ gthou: the key on the graphics card seems to be to have as much video RAM as possible, so 512Mb is a minimum. For specific cards you might want to peruse the AVSIM forum and see what is working for folks. This software is much more demanding than most games. There also seems to be a mysterious variation from one system to another.

    @ OZRhino: If possible, I think waiting to upgrade is wise, with DX10 around the corner, as you say. However, I’m not sure that we can necessarily expect DX10/Vista to be a breakthrough in performance for FSX. And I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories: I imagine MS is balancing complexity with time-to-market with features.

    Thanks folks, for your comments…

  4. Bill Tyler
    Thursday, October 19th, 2006 at 5:59 am

    I have MS FS X enroute to me. My system is a Dell w/Pentium 4, 2.66GHz CPU, 512MB Ram,and a 64MB DDR NVDIA GeForce 4 Ti 4200 card. Any idea what I might expect? To improve performance, what should I upgrade? I will appreciate any comments.

  5. Thursday, October 19th, 2006 at 6:30 am

    Hi Bill, I think that machine might struggle a bit with FS9, let alone FSX depending on your settings. As a beta tester I did try a similar machine to that, BUT I had 768Mb RAM (which makes a huge diff in FS9 over 512Mb) and a 128Mb Ti4200. Performance outside of urban areas with autogen off, traffic off, etc., was ok as long as I wasn’t too fussy about frame rates. But your machine is a big notch down from that system, with half the video RAM, and 2/3 the RAM. So, download the demo, give it a shot, and see what you think. You’ll very likely have to upgrade, I believe.

    Let us know how it goes…


  6. Michael
    Thursday, October 19th, 2006 at 9:51 am

    hey guys,
    anybody got any suggestions on my settings for my anti anylising, i really want it on but i cant because it hurts fps. Is there anything which is non essntial which might allow for anti anylising thats minor


  7. Bob
    Friday, October 20th, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    Hi Bill

    I have the same, only a Gateway and my card is a 128 meg card. I run dual monitors on this card.

    It’s a P4 2.66GHz
    512Meg RAMBUS
    GeForce Ti4200/128

    FS9 runs great with sliders set toward the right. The FSX Demo 2 cannot be similar to the retail game, in my opinion, because I fly with most sliders to the right and am getting hight frame rates (see pictures below). The 1st Demo ran poorly on my machine but the second demo ran fine.

    Pictures tell it best.

    FSX Demo 2
    Much better frame rates on high sliders

    Flying an Imported aircraft at lower settings


    FSX 1st Demo – Very Low FPS on my machine


    FS9 Flights – A sample flight. FS9 Sliders are far right.


    Hope it helps. If you fly the 2nd demo I’d like to hear your comments.

    Take Care,


  8. OZRhino
    Sunday, October 22nd, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    Whoops I forgot to thankyou.
    Cheers Mate for this information.

    I tried with these settings, all I can say is wow. It looks great, except for the ground textures when you’re high up (But I’m not that picky), aside from that everything else looks just great. When DX10 is out, jeeze this game is going to look drop dead gorgeous.

    I was stuck looking at other planes take off, land and fly onroute to their destination. Just the amount of detail is amazing.

    The sound is fantastic, this simulation would rank side by side with GT Legends, GTR and GTR2 in overall sound quality.

    I was coming into land (my first landing in a simulation) with the Beechcraft Baron 58, I decreased the engine to 45%, flaps at 50%. And immediately my subwoofers in my speakers started growling.

    It felt so immersive. The 15min Updated Live wind blew me sideways, I couldn’t use the trim as I haven’t had the time to check out what it’s key assignment is and ended up having a wonky landing. I bounced then corrected.

    This is my first true flight simulator, and I’m loving every moment of it.

    I recommend it.

  9. Benja
    Monday, October 23rd, 2006 at 9:17 am

    Thanks for the time you’ve taken to explain things. I especially found the description of each setting very helpful.

    I am amazed that different people are gettings such different results with the sim, even with high end systems.

    I am using a stock HP P4 2.8 Ghz system with 1GB of ram and a 512 MB BFG Geforce 7600GS OC AGP graphics card and getting reasonable results. Certainly nothing to be upset about. My system is running 3 19″ flat panels via a Triple Head 2 Go at 3840×1024 displaying the virtual cockpit and a 17″ flat panel at 1280×1024 as well that i display the 2d panel on.

    Considering my graphics card is pushing 3 times the number of pixels at this resolution compared to a single screen for the virtual cockpit, i have to say i am very satisfied.

    It has taken me several days playing with settings to get to this point, but it’s been worth it as learning to fly with the Cessna 172 in FSX is much easier than it was in FS2004. I notice that the trim is much better and there are none of the wild pitch occilations i remember from FS2004.

    I am not sure how my setup will handle the big iron once i start with that, but right now i am totally impressed. I don’t use the autogen though, as i find autogen at sparse level to look really weird from altitude. It only seems to make things look better on the ground to me. I am sure that once i buy my new gaming rig, i will probably push the settings a little more, but i really want a fluid flying experience, so am willing to give up a little of the visuals for that.

    I started with the default settings FSX came up with for my system and get about 16 fps without autogen. Moving a few of the settings up a little according to your advice has given me better visuals and i have only dropped to 13 fps. Amazingly 13fps in FSX feels more fluid to me than 20fps in FS2004 did on my system. Maybe that’s why it feels more flyable.

    Anyway, thanks for all the advice again.

  10. Benja
    Monday, October 23rd, 2006 at 9:20 am

    Oh, i forgot to say that i haven’t done any of the tweaks i found on the net yet.

    The only thing i have done is to use nHancer to adjust my graphic card and played with settings in FSX so far.

    I am planning on making some of the adjustments/tweaks now to see if i can squeeze a little more performance, as i do love AI traffic and the world seems a little barren without it.

  11. Will
    Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    hi, ive just bought fsx, and i need help with my performance settings. Now, i have absolutly no clue about what “Frame Rates” i should be getting, but the whole thing is taking ages to load as i move the spot around the plane!! Please HELP! My specs are er… bout 3.00ghz proc, 2gb ram, 256mb graphics, so technically it should be fine! Could you email DrummerboyA1@aol.com with answers plz! Thanks

  12. Thursday, October 26th, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback, I appreciate it. Will, I suggest you post on the avsim.com forums about your specific issues.

  13. C.S.Kranendonk
    Tuesday, November 7th, 2006 at 9:50 am

    FSX is a complete disater. Have not found a way to alter zoom for cockpit/virtual cockpit and for one reason or another cycling to virtual cockpit, tower and spot one gets right wing as passengers would see it.They fantastic virtual cockpits shown in the promos I couldn’t find! FSX may work on a future 10 or 15 GHz 4 core processor and 4 Gb ram but on a Pentium 4 3.066 GHz with 512 Mb ram it is so slow that I have removed it from my comp. Who is flying at 35000ft anyway interested in the scenery?
    Add Traffic 2005 to FS9 and you are on a real airport with lots of planes and you can keep the lousy Lego Land ground traffic of FSX anytime. FSX is in my opinion the worst FS ever !!!

  14. Tuesday, November 7th, 2006 at 11:30 am

    C.S., I get your frustration with the sim. With a program of this complexity and the degree of change since FS9, there’s a bit of an investment needed in understanding how to access features and how to optimize for your machine. The view system, for example, is quite different. And I understand if it you feel it’s unreasonable to put this time in, and want to stick with FS9.

  15. Jim
    Tuesday, November 7th, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    I would really like to know what graphics card was used in the demos

    Jim A

  16. Tuesday, November 7th, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Jim,

    I’ve heard what they used, but forgotten. Their systems were not that spectacular, as I recall.


  17. John
    Sunday, November 12th, 2006 at 6:28 am

    I own a dell XPS 1710 dual core, 2 gb ram, 256 nvidia gts 7900, 120 gb hdd.

    Just after installing FSX i was TOO DISAPPOINTED.

    Scenery was nothing (worse than FS2004).

    After manually improving the graphix it went up by a little.

    But even now it is impossible to fly the way it is supposed to be.

    It takes about 4 minutes to load a mission mentioned to take 5 minutes to complete…….


  18. Mike
    Friday, November 17th, 2006 at 12:24 am

    Here’s a place some of you may want to go to and get some really good info on tweaks,or at least from the links that are on the site,,I’ve got
    intel P4 3.2ghz with 1 gig ram,an kinda clunky nvidia 6600 PCIe with 256 and out of the box in a city scene I was lucky to get 15 fps with moderate setting,,ie normal or less than dense,,in desert or country settings a few clicks higher,but with some of these tweaks like the new autogen descriptions or just simply changing the default.xml to default.bak,which I didn’t like to much as I did the improved default.xml someone has posted there,plus there are some reduced cloud and tree files and terrains settings,,and a of course some fs.config settings,I actually hit from 25 to 30 fps,with some dense and very dense settings,,mind you I had to kill the antialias,and the bloom and shadows,but I was able to run the water on 2med or whatever its called and the reflections were very good,plus the fs.config settings,made the hatswitch view smooth and fast. Its still not what I’d like but I’m having to save pennies to get rid of the 6600 too.
    Good luck.

  19. Mike
    Friday, November 17th, 2006 at 12:27 am

    sorry for the brainfade, I guess you’d like the site address:
    sorry its 3 in the morning


  20. brewskey
    Friday, November 17th, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    I found with any joystick plugged into vid card screws it right up make sure you use a usb plug in

  21. Bill Tyler
    Monday, December 4th, 2006 at 7:52 am

    I have MS FS X enroute to me. My system is a Dell w/Pentium 4, 2.66GHz CPU, 512MB Ram,and a 64MB DDR NVDIA GeForce 4 Ti 4200 card. Any idea what I might expect? To improve performance, what should I upgrade?

    In follow up, I have FS X loaded. It works at a minimum level. Occasionally, it will lock up for a second or two. I’ve got everything set pretty low. I’m not a great whiz about the insides of a computer, so my questions are:
    1. Can I put in a new chip? My understanding is I’m stuck with what came with my computer.
    2. Between adding memory to the 512MB of RAM or buying new game card, which will possibly increase my computer’s capacity? Which one will do more toward that goal? Thanks for your previous and present responses.
    Bill Tyler

  22. Monday, December 4th, 2006 at 8:21 am

    Hi Bill,

    I don’t know about the chip upgrade, you’d have to contact a local computer shop. Both the 512Mb of RAM and the Ti4200 are quite limiting. If you can’t do both, I’d suggest the video card. However RAM is not expensive, so that may be best way to go.

    BUT (big BUT) with your older computer you probably can’t support the latest video cards and you may be surprised at how much little a new system costs compared to upgrading your CPU, RAM and video card. You will need 2Gb of RAM and a 512Mb video card.

  23. Bill Tyler
    Monday, December 4th, 2006 at 8:45 am

    Thanks, Jon. I’ll check out the cost comparisons.

  24. shiner
    Thursday, March 8th, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Like FSX. However the new view is very annoying!

  25. sam
    Wednesday, April 18th, 2007 at 7:53 am

    hi could you tell me what settings you recommend for fsx. My specs: intel pentiuum d 2.66ghz x 2 dual core, 1gb ram, 160gb hdd, 256mb ati radeon x600, xp sp2. thnx

  26. Dan
    Sunday, April 22nd, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Hello, i have a custom comp, and was wondering how fsx would run on it. Specs are: AMD Athlon X2 5200+ 2.6 GhZ, 2 GB RAM, nVidia 8600 GT DX10 256MB, 250 GB SATA Hard Drive

  27. Sunday, April 22nd, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Sam, try the settings recommended and some of the links on this blog. You’d do better with some more RAM, 2Gb recommended.

    Dan, performance is a matter of opinion and very dependent on the type of flying you do and settings you prefer, but you should get decent performance on that rig. Your primary limitation is video RAM. 512Mb would perform better.

  28. sam
    Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 at 8:09 am

    which improves performance the most in fsx: RAM or GRAPHICS CARD?

  29. Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Not an easy question to answer, sam, as it depends on what your limitation is now. If you have a 128Mb graphics card and 1Gb of RAM, I’d guess going to 512Mb of video RAM would be most helpful. But if you have a 256Mb video card and 1Gb of RAM, the extra 1 Gb of RAM (taking it to 2Gb) will likely be most helpful. Since increasing the system RAM is likely cheaper, that should be considered as well.

  30. sam
    Thursday, April 26th, 2007 at 7:23 am

    thnx mate

  31. Jose Gonzalez
    Saturday, August 4th, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Hello, I got a Intel Pentium IV CPU 2.80Ghz, 2GB of RAM, 256MB ATI Radeon 9250 Video Card with 500Mhz refresh rate.

    I want to know, what are the better settings to run Flight Simulator X Deluxe Edition, in my computer. I would like to se it the most realistic posible. Any help will be granted. Thank You.


  32. Mike Georgiou
    Saturday, June 21st, 2008 at 2:14 am


    I have purchased and installed FSX deluxe, plus acceleration pack, together with many addons. It looks really nice, however i have some problems concerning my fsx settings. One of them is that in some airports i can see ‘trees and buildings’ on the apron and on the rynway. Secondly are the frame rates: In some areas i can get up to 20fmps but in heavy areas, low as 5-7fmps. Another problem that i have is, that in some areas i get a lot of bluries. I will appreciate any help you can give me to solve the above problems. My system is: ‘intel core duo 6850 3ghz, gainword geforce 8800gt 512mb, 4gb ram ddr2 800 motherboard asus.

    Thank you very much,


  33. Saturday, June 21st, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Hi Mike, I assume you’ve tried the suggested settings at https://jonpatch.wordpress.com/2007/08/05/suggested-scenery-settings-for-fsx/.

    For help with blurries:

    Overall performance-wise, I have just upgraded to a quad-core Q6600, a 1Gb 8800GT, with 4Gb of DDR-2 800MHz RAM, and am finding performance quite disappointing. With autogen at dense, MyTrafficX (default traffic is very hard on fps) at 25%, simple weather, I’m getting less than 10 fps on takeoff at KSEA and major stutters. I’m still working on it.

  34. Mike Georgiou
    Sunday, June 22nd, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Thank you very much, i will try the suggested settings and i will keep you informed.


  35. Kevin
    Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Hello all, just purchased a new laptop AMD Turion 64X2 proc, 2GB memory and Geforce 7500 graphics…i had FSX running very smooth until I had to wipe my system clean due to a virus. I have played with the settings so much I am going nuts, and ideas on getting back my optimal performance?

  36. Matt
    Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    I have a AMD ATHLON 200+ 1.69 ghz and a NVIDIA Geforce 7600GT (512mb)
    2gb ram and i can run this game without lag on medium, i am getting a Intel Quad Core Q6600 and 2gb ram and an Geforce 9600GT i wonder how it will run. ( will overclock the CPU to 3.2 ghz tho

  37. PhilSmith
    Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I’m same rig as Jon Patch 4 posts above, and have exactly same results. Like him, I upgraded. Checked it against my 4 year old AMD XP3300 with GEforce 6600GT, and I’ve got a whopping 3 FPS increase. THat was £700 well spent.
    Irony is, all the other games that simply ground to a halt on my old comp now run like a dream, it’s only FSX that chugs. WHat gives?

  38. Daniel
    Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    i have a ‘Advent 3219’ with this:

    1024mb DDRRAM
    GEFORCE FX5200- 256mb

    The game runs smoothly becasue i close unneeded programs before i play, use Game Booster V.10 to close these programs and it can clear up to 200mb of used ram, please try it to boost your FSX smoothness.

    Thank You, Hope it helps.

  39. Friday, July 10th, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    well guys just to say that i dont have a good computer but here are my specs and i get pretty good frame rates while playing FSX (no lag)

    model: HP pavilion dv2500 notebook pc
    processor:Intel(R)Core(TM)2Duo CPU T5250 @1.50ghz 1.50GHz
    memory(RAM)1.00 GB
    OS:Windows Vista home premium 32-bit service pack 1
    Graphics card (i think): Intel 965 express chipset family.

    i was going to upgrade to service pack 2 but then it would cut of my sound so i downgraded back to service pack 1 =(

  40. Dmytri
    Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Hi have used your recommendations for FSX and it runs wonderfully. I don’t have a processor with your capability but I guess since mine is a dual core 1.8Ghz I guess it can run with the best desktops out there. 🙂 If you find anything else that boosts your system, if you could post it here that would be great! I’m very excited to find a setting that works for my computer!

    P.S. What slider will allow me to see the airport itself and not just the runway?

    Thanks again!

    • Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 at 8:04 am

      Glad it’s working out. The display of objects (like airport buildings) is controlled by the scenery complexity slider. Autogen objects are controlled with the autogen density slider. With the recommended settings, you should already be seeing these objects.

  41. Eduardo
    Friday, May 15th, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Bill, You will not believe the troubles I had with a computer with 64 mg graphics card. I mean sure your processor is pretty good and the ram as well. you might get pretty good frame rates with your processor like that. but make sure that you upgrade with your graphics card. the f12 view wouldnt work. (the whole world was blue except the airport wich was white) Whenever I passed a certain altitude everything would turn white. just throwing that out there. I don’t know if you’ll experience the same effects but its what I went through.

  1. Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 at 11:07 am
  2. Wednesday, November 8th, 2006 at 1:46 am
  3. Sunday, March 2nd, 2008 at 12:08 am
  4. Thursday, January 6th, 2011 at 10:29 am
Comments are closed.