I’ve reserved this page for directly answering the questions I see from search terms people use to find my blog. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’ll move them here if they seem broadly applicable to other users.
1. What specs do I need to run flight simulator (FS9 or FSX)?
I suggest a computer with a graphics card with a minimum of 1GB dedicated video memory, a dual core cpu with a minimum speed of 2GHz; 4GB of memory; and a speedy disk drive with a speed of 7200 rpm or better. If you can load FSX on an SSD disk drive, that’s even better. For more info, check out FSSetup.com. The sweet spot on the CPU is something comparable to an Intel CPU at 3 GHz or faster.
2. Do I need rudder pedals?
The short answer is yes. I find it very difficult to control the airplane without rudder pedals, especially with the realism sliders set high. Plus, you can’t practice cross-wind landings and other such maneuvers without them. So then, the next question is which pedals? Don’t bother with joysticks that twist. For real rudder pedals, I’ve been very happy with the CH PRoducts Pro Pedals. Make sure to get the “Pro” version so you get the braking action when you rotate the pedals forward. Also, make sure to get the USB connection, computers don’t come with game ports anymore. I’m sure the Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals work well, too, but I haven’t used them. You shouldn’t have to pay more than $100 for either sets of pedals.
For an even cheaper solution, I have found that the rudder pedal acuators work great on my – don’t laugh – Xbox 360 Controller, which is actually one of my favorite ways to control FSX these days. It’s very portable, and only requires plugging in to a USB port and you’re ready to go, so I can play FSX on my laptop anywhere. Check out FSSetup.com for instructions on how I map the buttons for the XBox controller.
3. What operating system does FSX run on?
Microsoft Flight Simulator is, well, a Microsoft program, and runs on Microsoft operating systems. It’s works well on all Windows systems from XP on up. If you’re building a new computer, then I would go with Windows 7, but it works fine on XP, too. It’s a 32 bit program, but runs fine on 64 bit systems, too. I tend to get the Professional version of the operating systems, but FSX works well on the Home editions, too. If you’re running a Mac, I’ve seen FSX run fine on Bootcamp.
4. What’s the best CPU?
Hmm, not an easy question to answer, and my answer will be wrong tomorrow anyway. Overall, get the fastest CPU you can afford. Sometimes, if you’re looking to save some money, it’s a better idea to get the previous generation and overclock the cpu to a reasonable speed. You’ll want a CPU comparable to an Intel CPU of at least 2GHz. The sweet spot is 3GHz or faster. For the last few years, I’ve been sticking with Intel, but I’m sure there are some good AMD processors out there. My latest desktop has an Intl i7-950, which cost me $200 in Februrary, 2011. It works great out of the box, but I do plan on overclocking it eventually.
5. Do I need a gaming PC to run flight simulator?
Short answer, yes. Technically, no, it’ll run ok on just about any PC you can purchase nowadays; but unless you get a gaming class PC, you’ll have to set your sliders relatively low to get decent performance. Really, it all comes down to your own preferences. If you want to see lots of detail, and it will annoy you to no end if the scenery starts getting blurry on you, or you hate seeing stuttering, then yes, nothing but a gaming PC will do. You do NOT, however, have to invest in a multiple graphics card SLI setup. A single fast graphics card with 1GB memory, the fastest CPU you can afford, minimum 2 GHz, 3GHz is best, and 4GB of memory is about the minimum machine you will need.
6. Can FSX Deluxe and Standard share airplanes?
Again, Short Answer Yes, sort of. I saw this question today, and, since the person didn’t leave any comments, I’ll have to guess at what they were asking. I’m assuming they are wondering if a person with FSX Standard can share aircraft with a person using FSX deluxe in multiplayer. One of the awesome features of FSX is that two people can share a cockpit over the internet in multiplayer. Depending on the airplane, one person controls the yoke and pedals, and both players have access to the rest of the controls, such as the radios, flaps, throttle, etc.. The issue is, both players have to have the same plane loaded on their respective machines. Hence the sort of. FSX Standard and FSX Deluxe can share the planes that they both have, but not the planes that you can only fly in FSX Deluxe. But I’ll say it again, there’s no reason to purchase FSX Standard. The Gold edition can be purchased at Amazon for less than $30, and it’s definitely worth it.
7. Where can I get the latest aeronautical charts and other information?
In response to popular demand, the FAA has released all Sectionals, TAF’s, A/FD information, Terminal Procedures, IFR Enroute Charts, Airport Diagrams, and World Charts, and more for free in digital format. Just go to aeronav.faa.gov and click on the “Free Digital Products” link in the left column. Another source I like to go to is airnav.com.
8. Where can I find some pictures of airliners and other information about airplanes?
When I’m looking for information about a model of an airplane or some pictures of even a particular N-number airplane, one of my favorite sites is www.Airliners.net.