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Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020: Can my PC run it?

Microsoft Flight Simulator: Header

The impending resurrection of Microsoft Flight Simulator has sent simmers dashing to find their flying goggles, but the upcoming version of the classic requires some expensive hardware for the best experience.

In this article, we’ll run through the different specifications Microsoft recommends – and explain how you can get hold of it for £3.99 per month.

Flight Simulator 2020: Flight Deck

It’s been a long time.

Microsoft released the last Flight Simulator in 2006 when it required less computational power than most modern phones. The gaming industry has matured during those 14 years and Microsoft’s update promises a living world of real-time atmospheric simulation and live weather in stunning 4K and HDR loveliness.

The game’s website lists the minimum requirements as:

  • OS Windows 10 (Nov 2019 Update 1909)
  • Memory 8 GB
  • Video Memory 2 GB
  • Processor Intel Core i5-4460 | AMD Ryzen 3 1300
  • Graphics Nvidia GTX 770 | AMD Radeon RX 570
  • Storage 150GB SSD
  • Bandwidth 5Mbits/sec

These are rather modest and achievable, but gamers know that minimum requirements usually equate to square clouds and flickering seas. The recommended requirements are:

  • OS Windows 10 (Nov 2019 Update 1909)
  • Memory 16 GB
  • Video Memory 4 GB
  • Processor Intel Core i5-8400 | AMD Ryzen 5 1500
  • Graphics Nvidia GTX 970 | AMD Radeon RX 590
  • Storage 150GB SSD
  • Bandwidth 20Mbits/sec

I’d expect a gaming PC build within the last three years to hit this target and hopefully deliver a satisfactory gaming experience. Just note that the 20Mbits/sec bandwidth requirement could cause households with slower broadband connections a problem.

While that adds up to a demanding specification, even it won’t unleash Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 in all its glory. For that, we have the ‘Ideal Spec’.

  • OS Windows 10 (Nov 2019 Update 1909)
  • Memory 32 GB
  • Video Memory 8 GB
  • Processor Intel Core i7-9800X | AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
  • Graphics Nvidia RTX 2080 | AMD Radeon VII
  • Storage 150GB SSD
  • Bandwidth 50Mbits/sec

We usually find this specification on a Triple-A first-person shooter, so Flight Simulator 2020 has the potential to utilise the latest hardware and deliver something stunning.

One notable omission, however, is virtual reality requirements – and that’s because Microsoft doesn’t offer a VR version of the game. Despite VR technology being a natural fit for this genre, the game won’t launch with the capability. Microsoft developers have acknowledged that VR is now on the priority list.

The game is compatible with a range of flight hardware from Logitech, Thrustmaster and Virtual Fly but will also utilise an Xbox controller.

Flight Simulator’s ‘ideal spec’ will require some investment for the casual gamer, but hopefully Microsoft will find a balance between this and the ‘recommended’ level so people without £1,500 gaming rigs can join in the fun.

How much?

Microsoft has also modernised its pricing structures with the standard game launching at £59.99, the Deluxe version at £79.99 and Premium Edition at £109.99. The difference relates to the amount of aircraft and airports included, but there will be options to upgrade as the game offers in-app purchases.

Before you reach for the credit card, though, note that this game is from Microsoft Studios. As such, it will be part of the Play Anywhere initiative:

The Play Anywhere is a new initiative by Microsoft to combine platforms of gaming, letting Xbox gamers play on PC with any first-party Microsoft Studios published game that is digitally purchased, and vice versa. Microsoft Simulator is an XPA title.

If you purchase an Xbox Game Pass for PC (£3.99 per month), it includes the standard version of the game. For that genuine retro touch, a retail DVD will eventually make it onto the shelves.

When can I play Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020?

The current release date is the 18th August 2020 but if you can’t wait to grab the throttle and fancy trying beta releases of the game simply sign up as a member of the Xbox Insider Program.

READ MORE What is Xbox Smart Delivery?

About the author

Lee Grant

I can normally be found attacking things with screwdrivers in my small computer repair business or writing a column for PC Pro magazine.

I am also trying to solve a mystery involving David Bowie.

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