The latest iteration of Microsoft flight 2020 releases on the 18th August 2020 and it looks like it’ll be huge. The developers Asobo Studios have pulled out all the stops to make this the definitive flight simulator. Technologies include live terrain mapping using over 3 Petabytes of global imagery, the most advanced flight modelling currently available, real-time weather and of course flight sim requirements like accurately modelled aircraft and cockpits. If you don’t quite ‘get it’ then we strongly recommend that you have a look at the feature discovery series on YouTube to whet your appetite for this landmark sim. And lest you think Microsoft is feeding us their highlights reel, an army of private alpha and beta testers have been producing eye-watering gorgeous screenshots of aircraft and locations all over the world. Flight 2020 is going to be fantastic!
But will you need a monstrous PC to run it?
Well, yes and no. There is no doubt that experiencing this game at its best will require heavyweight hardware but Microsoft and Asosbo have clearly kept their eye on the specifications to make this game inclusive for all. A mid-range gaming PC at around $1000 will allow you to enjoy this huge flight simulator experience. Delving into the recommended system specs however, indicates that this is a game that will utilise the latest hardware to its fullest and scale well with more powerful CPUs and GPUs. There’s also the streamed global data to consider; it’s recommended that you have a 50Mbs internet connection an unlimited data cap so that should be one of your considerations to enhance your experience of this game.
In this article, we’ll recommend 3 PC builds that will make the most of your budget to deliver the best possible experience in Microsoft Flight 2020. They aren’t just one-trick ponies though: A PC that runs Flight 2020 well will excel with a wide catalogue of games. We’ll also recommend pairings with monitors and flight sticks appropriate to the budget that will extract the full potential of these powerful PC builds.
Entry-level Flight Simulator PC Build – The Parts List:
Get flying without spending like you’ve bought an actual aircraft
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 3600|
|Motherboard||ASUS Prime B550M-A (WiFi)|
|Memory||G.Skill TridentZ 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3200 CL16|
|Storage||Crucial P1 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD|
|Graphics Card||MSI RTX 2060 Ventus XS OC|
|PC Case||Cooler Master MasterBox NR400|
|Power Supply||Be Quiet! Pure Power 11 600W 80+ Gold|
|Approx Build Cost||$1000|
This system is aimed at getting you the core Flight 2020 experience without breaking the bank. It meets or exceeds recommended specifications in all areas and includes some quality of life features such as Wifi and Bluetooth and a 1Tb of SSD storage.
AMD’s most recent Zen 2 CPU the Ryzen 5 3600 is an excellent value 6-core CPU with great gaming performance. Multithreading and high single-core speeds helps ensure it can keep pace with complex physics modelling. It is supplied with a cooler and thermal paste which keeps costs down.
The motherboard is from ASUS with their Prime B550M-A WiFi and is a B550 chipset board meaning it is fully Ryzen 3000 compatible. It has inbuilt Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth and six USB ports at the rear, important for connecting peripherals like flight sticks. Dual M.2 drive slots make future upgrades simple.
32GB of G.Skill Trident Z memory satisfies Flight 2020’s RAM demands and is approved on the Motherboard compatibility list. 2x16GB sticks at 3200Mhz means excellent memory transfer speeds thanks to dual-channel operation. Whilst 3600mhz ram is optimal for Ryzen 2 CPUs the cost of QVL certified ram in 32GB capacity becomes prohibitive at this price point, and the performance impact is minimal.
Storage is courtesy of a 1Tb NVME SSD with the Crucial P1. This drive uses denser ‘QLC’ NAND for data storage so it’s not as fast as more expensive thoroughbred SSDs but it’s plenty fast enough for gaming and means your storage is entirely on SSD. This has significant performance benefits across the system as a whole.
To enhance the spectacular visuals of MS flight we’ve opted for the Nvidia RTX 2060 and we’d suggest that this is the sensible entry point to running this game well. With lifelike cockpits, landscapes and weather to render all at once you want a top tier graphics card in your system. The RTX 2060 has consistently impressed at 1080p even in demanding AAA titles.
Case & Power Supply
Wrapping this build up there’s a good quality compact micro-ATX case from CoolerMaster with the NR400, and a quiet, high-efficiency, 600W power supply in the form of the Be quiet! Pure Power 80+ Gold.
We’d suggest pairing this budget MS2020 build with the LG 29UM69G-B for a wrap around 29” gaming experience in ultrawide. This 75hz monitor uses FreeSync to smooth out frame rates and will deliver rich vibrant colour thanks to its IPS panel, and is well matched to the RTX 2060 graphics card.
The Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X is a $65 throttle and stick with all the features you need to get flying. You can separate the two components to find your most comfortable positioning and with a multitude of customisable buttons as well as Z axis rotation on the stick and a simple 8 way thumb hat it gives you full control as you embark on your journey to flight.
Mid-Range Flight Simulator PC Build – The Parts List:
Getting the best from Flight 2020 without a phone call to the bank manager
|CPU||Intel Core i7-10700K|
|CPU Cooler||Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z490 AORUS PRO AX|
|Memory||G.Skill Trident Z RGB 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3000 CL16|
|Storage||Western Digital Blue SN550 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD|
|Graphics Card||EVGA RTX 2070 Super XC Gaming|
|PC Case||Phanteks Eclipse P400A|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master MWE Gold 650W 80+|
|Approx Build Cost||$1800|
This PC strikes the balance between performance and price. It comfortably exceeds the ‘ideal’ specifications and can be relied upon to give excellent performance. It comes in at under $2000 with a high quality flight stick included. This system will impress in Microsoft Flight 2020 and any other games you care to try.
The ideal specs for Flight 2020 strongly hint that an 8 core CPU is optimal, and with complex physics simulations being performed it’s easy to understand why. The Core i7-10700K is Intel’s high performance ‘Comet Lake’ 10th gen CPU and excels in high frame rate gaming. The i7-10700K uses hyperthreading to provide 16 logical cores meaning it can process complex tasks in parallel at great speed. It is overclockable allowing you to squeeze even more performance from it although we’re confident it will perform excellently right out of the box.
The Intel Core i7-10700K is a power-hungry processor and that means there’s heat to be dissipated. The Dark Rock Pro 4 is a high quality cooler from Be Quiet! Has a 200W cooling capacity and blends discreet looks with a very low volume operation thanks to a single 135mm fan. A tower cooler provides excellent reliability and lower noise than a comparable liquid cooler.
Gigabyte made their reputation in the last generation with very solid motherboards well suited to getting the most out of Intel CPU’s. The Gigabyte Z490 Aorus PRO AX continues this legacy with a 12+1 phase voltage delivery circuitry with 55Amp MOSFETS and VRM heatsinks ensuring the i7 CPU can run at full capacity. It also has inbuilt Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth, a high quality ALC1220 audio codec chip, and a good range of input/output options on the backplate.
We have again opted for 32GB of DRR4 3000Mhz RAM to meet the recommended specification. The Trident Z kit from G.Skill – which we opted for – includes RGB heat spreaders for a touch of visual flare.
The 1Tb Western Digital SN550 is an NVME drive that utilises TLC NAND memory and a high-performance controller chip to deliver full NVME speeds. The attractive price belies the speeds on offer here, whilst TLC memory eliminates any concerns over performance and longevity. This drive ensures the game will run sweetly without constraints from slow storage.
To experience the gorgeous visuals offered by MS2020 you’ll need a top-flight graphics card. The RTX 2070 Super has earned its place as the preferred 1440p gaming GPU. Utilising Nvidias current ‘Turing’ core and 8Gb VRAM the RTX 2070 Super packs a few tricks under its sleeve with real-time ray tracing cores and ‘tensor’ cores aimed at optimising AI workloads. This EVGA version carries their strong reputation for customer support as well as three DisplayPort outputs for controlling multi-screen setups.
Case & Power Supply
To ensure good cooling we’ve opted for the mesh fronted Phanteks P400A case. This mid-tower case has good build quality and comes with a pair of case fans for cooling. On the power supply side, the Cooler Master MWE 650W Gold is a high-efficiency PSU with modular cables to reduce clutter and a 5-year warranty gives peace of mind.
This PC is aimed at 1440p resolution so this 1440p monitor, the ASUS TUF Gaming VG27AQ, is a perfect fit. It offers excellent picture quality and very high refresh rate along with adaptive sync to remove tearing and improve fluidity.
The Thrustmaster T.1600M FCS HOTAS is a flight stick and throttle combination that doesn’t cost the earth provides full 4-axis functionality including a sliding throttle and 16 action buttons with an 8-way hat on the stick itself. The stick twists to give rudder control although there is a model with included rudder pedals if you prefer the full set up.
High-end Flight Simulator PC Build – The Parts List:
Experience MS Flight Simulator 2020 at its very best.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-10900K|
|CPU Cooler||Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT|
|Motherboard||MSI MEG Z490 UNIFY|
|Memory||G.Skill Trident Z RGB 64GB (4 x 16GB) DDR4-3200 CL16|
|Storage||ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB M.2 NVMe SSD|
|Graphics Card||Gigabyte RTX 2080 Ti AORUS XTREME|
|PC Case||Corsair 500D|
|Power Supply||SeaSonic FOCUS Plus Gold 750W 80+ Gold|
|Approx Build Cost||$4100|
If you’re looking for a no-compromises build that delivers the absolute best performance from current leading edge technology, this is it:
Intel may be facing a strong challenge from AMD but they still hold the gaming crown. The 10th generation Core i9-10900K is a 10-core self-overclocking monster of a chip and there is no CPU with higher gaming performance on the market today. Rest assured it will provide astounding performance not just in Flight 2020 but in any game you care to test it with.
One side effect of the power of this CPU is the amount of heat it dissipates. We’ve covered that with a 360mm water loop from Corsair with their H150i Pro XT cooler. This all-in-one cooler integrates with our chosen case and delivers maximum cooling power to keep the CPU cool and fast running.
The MSI MEG Z490 Unify is a high-end Z490 motherboard with excellent voltage delivery circuitry to support the CPU. With 90 Amp power stages and 16 phase VRM the i9 will not want for power. It supports a wide variety of connectivity options with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, 2.5Gb Lan and high-speed USB, whilst 3 M.2 slots and 6 SATA ports cover storage options. It boasts high-quality sound output.
Whilst 32GB of RAM is adequate flight sims are ripe for modification. 64GB ensures that you can run the highest textures and most complex mods with ease, as well as guaranteeing a smooth multi-tasking experience. This G.Skill Trident Z kit is fast at 3200mhz with tight timings to lower memory access latency. The RGB helps set the case and motherboard off (but you can switch it off if you like). If you don’t want to bust the budget we’re confident you can drop this to 32Gb without adverse effect on core gameplay.
We’re nearing the end of the mechanical hard disc era and with NVMe SSD’s like the Adata SX8200 Pro on the market it’s easy to see why. This 2Tb drive performs amongst the very best SSD’s and has huge capacity. There’s no need to choose which games or software gets the fast drive here: they all can. The price at $240 is actually very reasonable considering the most basic 1Tb SSD’s cost around $100.
Right now there is still no GPU to challenge the RTX 2080 Ti. If you want the best possible visuals in a game as gorgeous as MS Flight 2020 you need a GPU of this calibre. With 11Gb of VRAM and an unrivalled 4352 CUDA cores rendering in parallel, this is the fastest gaming GPU on the planet. This GPU boasts the latest graphics processing technology Nvidia has to offer with hardware ray tracing and ‘tensor’ AI cores. It will excel at 1440p or 1440p ultrawide in even the most demanding AAA titles, Microsoft flight 2020 included.
Case & Power Supply
We’ve opted for the Corsair Obsidian 500D to house this build. This is a premium case with tempered glass hinged sides. It integrates with the Corsair CPU cooler perfectly and lends a high-quality monolithic look to this build. The power supply is a well-reviewed 750W unit from Seasonic with the FOCUS 750W Gold 80+. It’s fully modular to keep cable clutter to a minimum and ease install and has a 10-year warranty signalling Seasonics faith in their build quality.
A high-resolution ultra-wide monitor is ideal for flight sims: this 34” monitor from LG, the LG 34GN850-B, has wrap-around screen that gives a wide field of view and enhances immersion. It isn’t as demanding of desk space or GPU power as three 1440p screens and eliminates distracting bezels. There’s a vibrant IPS panel and 144hz refresh rate to really wow, whilst adaptive sync technology eliminates tearing and smooths out the gameplay. This monitor is an excellent pairing with the RTX 2080 Ti ensuring gorgeous visuals at high frame rates.
The Logitech GX56 HOTAS throttle and stick combination takes a step up from the entry-level Thrustmaster to offer better build quality and more functionality. Its festooned with mappable buttons and has 2 analogue control thumbsticks – ideal for looking around at the world laid out beneath you from the cockpit.
Conclusion: Get ready to take flight!
With two weeks until launch there’s still time to get your fantastic rig in order for Flight 2020. In this article I’ve demonstrated three builds that are sure to handle the rigors of this demanding game and reward you with unlimited flight possibilities, whether you’ve got $1000 or $4000 to spend. Happy flying!