Flight Simulator X guide

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Flight Simulator X guide

Post by brimlad » 15 Nov 2015, 11:25

copying v4moose's FSX guide over from gon. It's missing a lot of detail atm but I'll add to it over the next few days

Hopefully, you are reading this thread for one of two reasons. A) It popped up in your list of new threads and you thought ‘What the hell is this?’ or you B) you have a passion for simming dove into the Simulation subsection of the forum to see what’s up.

Either way, you’re here now so keep reading. :D

The fact is, right now Microsoft Flight is great for a laugh and burn around with your mates, but once the novelty passes it’s a shallow attempt at simulation. (Which is why you’re here right?) Fortunately, Microsoft’s predecessor, FSX is still kicking along strong. Even with its flaws - I challenge you to find a better simulator out there which mixes hardcore simulation aspects with just the right levels of accessibility.
Admittedly - out of the box, one may fail to see its strengths straight away, and thus FSX could suffer the same fate as Flight. I hope to remedy that and therefore hope this guide stimulates your sense of curiosity enough to pick it up and give it a real whirl.

Winning at FSX - a Guide


This guide will be set out in 4 sections.

+Initial Setup and Graphics Tweaking
+Extending FSX for enthusiasts
+Going hardcore
+General hints and tips

Initial Setup

FSX is 6 years old. Thus to get the best out of the game on modern hardware a number of tips and tweaks are recommended. Below is a step by step guide on how to get the best performance out of the vanilla sim.

FSX comes in a number of ‘editions’, but IMO the best one to purchase Gold Edition. It includes the base game plus the Acceleration expansion pack.
Because it will end up being a fairly large install I recommend finding a hard copy. Ebay is good for this. A good deal I found was here

1)Go ahead and install the base game. I recommended you don’t install it to the default program files directory as sometimes Windows has a sad when you start installing add-ons to Program Files Subfolders. Something like C:/FSX is fine. Even better, if you have a hard drive which doesn’t have the windows install on it, put it on that.

2)Obtain SP1 from here and install it next (You will not need SP2, as you are installing Acceleration instead)

3)Now go ahead and install Acceleration. Once it’s installed, go to the base folder right click, and untick any read-onlyness to files in subfolders. This is important

4)I’m going to assume you have some type of joystick or controller, plug it in and make sure the drivers are all up to date and the device is calibrated.

5)Now that the base game is installed, run the game for the first time. Just to make sure everything is working and any config files get written. Once it’s booted, choose free flight, select any general aviation plane you like, and an airport surrounded by a capital city. Click FLY NOW! and wait for it to load.

6)Unless you’re unlucky, FSX will have detected your controller and assigned the throttle correctly. Tap the trigger to release the parking brakes and slam it into 100% throttle. The plane will inevitable take off and you’ll be in the sky. Now that you’re in the air, look around (usually mapped to the hat switch if you have one)

7)Now take note of two things. A) Press SHIFT +Z until your FPS comes up in red top right. What do you get on average? B) How does it look? Underwhelming? Don’t worry we’ll go through graphics in a little while.
If you experience any issues with black boxes on distant textures, click here to apply the scenery patch.

Graphics Tweaking

As I said earlier, FSX is aging and doesn’t use modern hardware as efficiently as it could. Setting it up correctly can be a bit of a balancing act between candeh and performance. I’ll take you through now how to go about doing this.

Unlike a lot of games, you don’t require extraordinarily high FPS to enjoy the sim. As long as it stays above 15-20, when you’re in the most densely populated areas, I’d call that a win. If you’re hitting these numbers in cities at low altitude, you’ll easily get 40-60 when higher.

Customizing your FSX.cfg file: You will want to do a fair bit of tweaking here.

1)Most of it will be done automatically. Go here

2)Upload your CFG file to them and answer the questions about our system (If your using WIN7 your FSX.cfg will be in C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\FSX)

3)You don’t want V-sync, and select the normal option.

4)They will then process your CFG and spit you out a new one. Overwrite your existing one with the new one you just downloaded.

5)Now go to your new file, and open it up with notepad, you will need to make a few other tweaks. Change the following lines under their respective headings to these values. If you don’t see the line – add it. As this point it’s probably wise to make backup of this file incase any of these tweaks have a negative impact for you

AffinityMask=14 (if you have a quadcore processor like an i5 or i7, otherwise leave this)
WideViewAspect=True (if you have a widescreen monitor, or 2, or 3)

6)Save the file and exit.

If you would like an explanation of what any of the tweaks do, let me know and I can go through it with you

7)Go to the FSX.exe in your main install directory. Right click, properties, Compatibility, check run this program as an administrator.

8)The last tweak we need to do outside of the game itself is to download the FPS limiter. Get it here

The theory – to overcome any lack of V-sync issues, we need to limit the FPS. The one in FSX is dodgey so we use an external one to boost performance. Unzip this file and run FPS_Limiter_GUI. Load your fsx.exe and select 60fps. It should look something like this.


9)Click create bat, and you will get a batch file output named ‘fsx.exe.limited’ – This will be the exe we will start FSX with from now on.


In game graphics options

Here is where we play the balancing game. I’ll post up what I use, and what sliders have big/small impacts. Have a play around for yourself and come up with something you like. Note I’m using add-on high res textures, so my rig has slightly lower settings to obtain good performance.

1)Start FSX using the batch file. Click settings, Customize Display.


+Pick the resolution you wish to run at, make sure its 32bit
+Target frame rate – unlimited (we are using the external one)
+Filtering – always Anisotrpoic
+Anti-aliasing - up to you, FSX uses AAX8 by default.
+Crank global texture res – it has only minimal impact on performance for its visual gain
+Make sure DirectX10 is off. It was only a preview, the implementation sucks, and can cause glitches galore
+Always leave advanced animations on
+I personally think lens flare sucks, but if you like it go ahead
+Light bloom is nice, but a bit of a fps killer. See how you go.

2)Flip to the Aircraft tab - Put global settings to ultra high. The only option you may want to think about changing is ‘Aircraft casts shadows on the ground’

3) Scenery

+Terrain and Water don’t have much of an impact, max out LOD and much complexity. Don’t crank water effect past High 2.X because you can’t tell the difference (IMO)
+Scenery complexity can be set to Dense or Extremely dense, see how your rig goes.
+Autogen density is where it’s at, and will impact your FPS big time. The ORBX guys recommend different settings depending on where you fly.

Large cities – Normal to Dense (Dense if you have a faster PC, Very Dense if it’s an uber one)
Rural areas – Dense to Very Dense. (Extremely Dense if you have a faster PC)
Wilderness or heavily forested areas – Dense to Very Dense

+Make sure ground scenery shadows is off, your computer will grind with it on, and many scenery add on packs employ their own shadowing.

4) Traffic

+If you plan to play multi player, I’d leave aviation traffic off. Otherwise you may well confuse AI aircraft with real players. If not, I wouldn’t go past about 30%.

+Set land and sea traffic how you like, but cranking these sliders can impact performance.

5) Weather

+Weather settings are really up to your preference. I like clouds so I keep the draw distance up and the density to maximum. Bear in mind that when your up in the air, frame rates are generally better so its safe to crank a bit.

+70-80 mi draw distance is generally about as high as you would notice, higher would be silly.

+I like maximum cloud density, but anything from medium up would be acceptable.

+Lastly, and this is another personal preference - I keep turbulence and thermal effects on the aircraft off. The reason being is that turbulence is poorly simulated and can actually have weird results when combining it with add-on aircraft. For instance the Cessna 152 I bought from Carenado would randomly laterally rotate 30 degrees left then right when hitting turbulence. For ages I thought my joystick was giving up but then read about the poor quality turbulence when installing my 737 from PMDG. Many add-on planes come with their own turbulence coding. Therefor I would only keep this option on if you do not wish to go down that route.

6)Once you've made all the tweaks go for a fly and have some fun. Keep an eye on your fps with SHIFT+Z and have a play around with the sliders if somethings not right.


The goal of this tutorial is to kickstart your interest in the SIM and eventually come and fly with me. :D If you have any questions or wanna fly/ contact me, please do, details in the sig.

Extending FSX for Enthusiasts

Ok so you’ve had a mess around with the default planes, checked out a few cities, maybe even tried to find your place on the sim. Good fun eh? Now let’s make it even more exciting. But let’s do it without spending a cent.

You could say that FSX is only as good as YOU determine it to be, with add-ons. I’ll list and explain a few below which I highly recommend and hopefully take some of the confusion out of the installation and configuration process.

General Tweaks

1) Shader 3 Mod for FSX


This mod emulates what the DX10 preview did, but does it a whole lot better. Properly installed it allows newer hardware to run shader version 3 instead of version 2. This leads to good fps gains, especially on ATI hardware.

Installation is a breeze, simply run the installer and follow the prompts.

2) ENB Series for FSX


This mod adds a bit of bloom to your game. It’s actually the same DLL which they use to get GTA San Andreas and Richard Burns Rally Looking Nice
Simply extract the DLL and INI file to your main FSX directory. You can toggle the effect off and on using SHIFT+12. It will default to on.


Note: I’m only listing Australian content as I personally don’t have much interest in flying overseas.

1) OZx Aus


There is an amazing amount of free scenery by the OZx dudes. This should be your first port of call for some scenery. The current package includes nearly 350 sceneries and airfields.

The current version is 3.3. Install in this order

OZx Libraries 1.0

OZx Libraries 1.1

OZx Scenery 3.0

OZx Scenery 3.1 (Not currently on the GON mirror, I’ve submitted a request)

OZx Scenery 3.2

OZx Scenery 3.3

The installs can be a little daunting, but if it’s the first scenery you install just click through and it should all work out fine.

2) FTX Scenery by ORBX

ORBX specialize in payware scenery, but make a large proportion of their stuff freeware, hoping you’ll love it enough to buy. Having met a couple of the photographer pilots, they are extremely generous guys with both their time and money. Their work is outstanding

Tasmania Demo


Includes the whole state of Tasmania in payware quality. This is some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen to date.

They also have 7 freeware airports on their website which I suggest you check out. Especially YBLN.


3) Ants Freeware Airports


33 Airports, airfields and heliports located around Australia.


Finding freeware aircraft is a lot about personal choice, but here are a trio of examples I think are good. Generally these aircraft will look and sound better than stock, have more interaction, and will also fly more true to life. They also usually include things like full checklists and manuals.

1) Just Flight Cessna 152


Nicely Modelled – especially the Virtual CockPit

2) De Havilland Tiger Moth


Winner of the Avsim Reader's Choice for freeware aircraft

3) Mirage 2000

I havn't flown this one personally but looks cool from this vid.

Cool Tools

1) BOB – a 'first person’ FSX


This is essentially an invisible plane, which lets you move around in 1st person view, if you would like to admire your scenery first hand.

2) Plan-G


Provides a Google Earth like moving map and VFR flight planner. Compared to planning flights in FSX, this is a lot easier to use and the map has way more detail and shows you real time moving map on Google Earth.

3) FS-Recorder


Allows recording and playback of flights, similar as the instant replay and video recorder built into FS, but with a lot more features. The recorded flights can be played back either using the user's aircraft or as AI traffic, which allows you to fly formations with yourself. Cool huh? :D

4) Free Flying Lessons!


These guys specialise in training for PMDG aircraft which are the beezeneez of payware aircraft IMO. I just found this free 90 lesson thingo, from a reccomendation on another forum, which looks kinda cool. I might sign up and see how it is.

As I said - Browse the net if there is something specific you're looking for. There is literally hundreds of freeware add-ons out there.

Going Hardcore

So you wanna go hardcore? My man :D

This part of the tutorial will be broken up into 2 sections. Multiplayer and Payware addons.


There are two good methods to ensuring you have good multiplayer fun, those being FSHost and VATSIM.

FSHost is your typical server browser style multiplayer and the level of hardcoreness depends on the indivual servers you connect to. VATSIM on the other hand is the harcore of the hardcore. Kinda like the Charlie Sheen of FSX.


Unlike MS Flight - FSX requires a little tinkering of your router settings if you sit behind one to access the servers.

If you are connecting to VATSIM opening these ports to your machine is highly advisable.
If you are connecting to FSHost servers, opening these ports is MANDATORY.

Ports required are

23456 UDP (if the FSHOST server uses a non standard port eg 23457 you will need to forward that also)
6073 UDP
2300-2400 UDP (the entire range)

For help with forwarding ports and your router go to http://www.portforward.com

The check your ports are forwarded correctly use this tool or this tool

If you find any ports are timing out and your sure they are forwarded correctly go to your command prompt and type in

netstat -ano -p udp

This will give you a list of all UDP ports being used and the process associated with them. If a process is already using the port it can't be checked. Take the PID and go to processes in task manager (you may have to add the column for PID through view) and match the PID to the process. It'll probably be directplay8 or something. End the task, re-run the checker and you should be fine.

+I can't stress this enough: if you don't have your ports forwarded properly you will not being able to join.
+You will also most likely boot everyone else from the server as it's a P2P connection.
+95% of threads of the FSforums with people whining about connection problems turn out to be a port issue.

FSHost Servers

I should mention obviously that FSX has its own multiplayer component in the menu - powered by gamespy. I personally don't like it however, its flakey to join servers, they usually are crappy high ping free flight servers, and hosting a server is near impossible (for me at least)

1)Download FSHostSpy - use this to get the list of servers.

2)Download FSHostClient - use this to connect to the servers.

Once you have these tools this is what you do.

3)Fire up FSHostSpy, it will give you a list of servers.
4)Pick the one you would like to connect to. Copy it's IP address to the clipboard.
5)Fire up FsHostClient & FSX.
6)In FsHostClient click Multiplayer-> Connect to session.
7)Input your desired username, the IP address of the server and it's port. Unless stated in the description for the server. Their port will be 23456.
8)Click connect and the multiplayer chat window will open. You are now connected
9)In FSX, click Fly now (not multiplayer) and choose your aircraft and starting position.

You're now flying multiplayer :D

10)If you wish to access the FSHostClient program while in FSX (or use the chat window) these can be accessed using the top menu. You will see an addon tab. FSX must be in window mode for you to see the FSHostClient while in game.

A few common commands that FS servers employ. Input these into the chat window.

?help - display help
?hop - start hop mode
?hophelp - help with hops
?fp - request info of flight plan
+fp - submit a flight plan
?planes - gives details of other planes server
?where - gives details on the location of other players in the server

Payware Addons

So I know this section has been a long time coming. But I was waiting for new releases for a couple of products to see how they have progressed.

Let me preface this section with this: There are quite literally 1000s of payware addons out there competing for your dollar, and picking the right ones is as much about selecting addons to your personal taste over anything else. Other than a few add-ons which I would call ‘essential’ (no pun intended) for the FSX enthusiast I will simply mention what I believe are a couple ‘cream of the crop addons’ for different categories. Being pay-ware, quality is ‘generally’ quite good across the board, as the companies that make these addons do so to make a living. You do have to watch out for scam apps out there, but if you do your research before you purchase you should generally be ok.

So where do you go to browse all these addons? There are many, but the main player is http://www.flightsimstore.com/ kind-of like the Steam for FSX addons. If you’re just having a browse be sure to check them out, as most developers have partnered with them to produce instant download software upon purchase.
Other places to find out about good add-ons include http://www.avsim.net, http://www.fsbreak.com, and trusty Google. Now on to the good stuff.

I am in no way affiliated with any of these products and they are simply here because they genuinely deserve a shout out. Several blurbs here have been copy pasta’d directly from their websites.

1)Rex Essential


If you only had the budget for one addon, this would be my pick for you. REX is two things, a complete texture overhaul for the sim (upgrading from 1024 to 4096 in some cases) and a brand new weather engine. Personally I think the results are outstanding.
Installation can seem a little daunting, but in fact is fairly simple. Simply install to anywhere on your hard drive (not your fsx directory) and then run the program. Use the built in facility to make a backup of your default textures, and then pick a set of new textures you like and click install. Make sure the REX weather engine is turned on, and click ‘fly now.’ Follow the prompts and your away.
For examples of what this addon can do for your sim checkout the customer screen shots section of their website.

Additional competitor mention: Active Sky 2012

2)EZ Dok


If you find the default FSX cameras restricting, EZdok Camera (EZCA) is a camera and effects system and manager that enhances the pilot experience in FSX. It offers view control in Flight Simulator for easy navigation throughout the virtual cockpit and cabin, around the aircraft, and around the Flight Simulator world
Configuration can be difficult, but I firmly recommend you read the manual and sit down with it for half an hour and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.



Designed to enhance the simulation of any aircraft in FSX, add-on or default. I personally love the feeling that this addon gives to aircraft. The addon “reads” the aircraft that is loaded, analyzes it, then automatically creates a custom physics and sound profile that is saved outside FSX.

4)Any thing ORBX


Remember the Tasmania demo from above? Well ORBX have payware sceneries and addon airports for the whole of Australia, the New Zealand South Island, parts of the USA and Canada, and most recently announced, Europe (coming soon)

Sceneries and aircraft are perhaps the most competitive section of FSX addon development and it really comes down to personal choice. In my opinion however nobody does it better than ORBX.
For me, standout sceneries include AU Blue (available in the Australia SP4 bundle,) YPJT, YMML & YBCS. If you havn’t already, check Imagefor my posts in the photo diary thread. Many of the posts there are using ORBX sceneries.

Additional competitor mention – Looking to fly in Europe of areas of USA not covered by ORBX? Try a combination of GEX and UTX



Looking to extend your flying career rather than randomly flying from field to field? FSPassengers lets you take control of your own virtual airline, and build your way up from single engine props carrying 4 people to international airlines. This addon further increases realism with points for flying safely, over 30 randomised failers, and penalizes you for scarying your passengers.
Perhaps the only downside to this addon however is the fact that development has climaxed and no one’s heard from the developer for fair while. For what it is though, it definitely deserves a Guernsey.

Additional Competitor mention – running along similar lines but free, check out FSEconomy


Ok, chances are the planes I enjoy to fly are rather different to what you’re interested in. So rather than pick a few random aircraft I will give you the names few a few companies who I recommend and you can go exploring from there.



Makers of great general aviation products. In particular the new C90B is one of my favorites. Have a look through their listing and see if anything tickles your fancy

7)Real Air Simulations


Another great makers of GA aircraft. Particular mentions go to the Lancair Legacy and upcoming C172.

8)IRIS Simulations


Top developer of commercial and military aircraft. Notable mentions go to the F-15E and A-10A Warthog. They also have a nice selection of freeware aircraft too!



Sister company of Carenado(I believe,) check out their Extra 300. Or if crop dusting & bush flying is your thing how about the new C188B Agtruck?



Looking for jets and airliners? Look no further than PMDG. PMDG claim accuracy within 5% of RL operational parameters with their 737NGX (<- My personal favorite) . They truly stand out with accuracy and attention to detail. Unfortunately purchasing these planes will set you back a bit. But these planes are designed to give you 100s of hours of simulatory fun.

General Hints & Tips

I will keep this section continually updated when I think of things or come across interesting stuff

+It is highly recommended that you use a 64 bit operating system such as windows 7 x64 due to the ability for FSX to use more than 2GB of system memory. This becomes even more important if you plan to run high resolution add on textures

+If you're like me, running Win7 may present you with frequent crashes when using the menus inside the sim. I could tip toe around making sure I did everything slowly and the system was ok, but as soon as I rushed it I crash. There is a DLL fix here. Simply put this in your main FSX folder and it should resolve.

+Another windows 7 bug. If you use multiple screens, and suddenly notice your frame rate drops to under 10FPS, and your mouse starts to flicker. It's probably because you accidentally switched to 2D cockpit mode. Only use 3d virtual cockpit if you can help it.

+If you ever install a large scenery package make sure you defrag your hard drive after (if its not SSD.) A lot of the texture files can end up in random fragments on your HD resulting in stuttering in the sim.

+If you've ever wondered if a Crossfire or SLI setup improves performance in FSX, bad news it that it barely has any effect what so ever. FSX is a heavily CPU intensive game. Most often my crossfire setup only hovers around 25-30 percent usage.

+On the other hand if you want to monitor your CPU usage it's a better indication of 'efficiency'. While on a populated flight, window mode the sim and go to the performance tab of task manager. You will probably see usage of around 35-50 percent CPU. Don't be alarmed at the low usage, its about as good as you will get. Have a look at the core usage and you will probably see 2 or 3 cores maxed and the rest not doing much. Playing around with the AFFINITY_MASK value in the fsx.cfg can help you get more CPU efficiency by shuffling thread management.

+Even though I made several references to the importance of good FPS. As this is not a hardcore action first person shooter game which requires absolutely fluidity at 60fps, you will find much lower fps values acceptable. For instance I typically hover around 20fps through the detailed airports and cities, which will then climb to 30 (limited) out in the country or up high. Perhaps more important than raw FPS is the smoothness of the game IE minimising stutters. IMO the best way to minimise stutters is with appropriate affinity mask and buffer pools values and a clean fragmented HDD.
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Re: Flight Simulator X guide

Post by GamingKen » 15 Nov 2015, 22:29

Good work saving this before it is lost!

I'll add a little tip for those experiencing problems with the FSX under Windows 10. Enable DirectX 10 preview in the graphics options. Saved me from some game breaking issues.
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Re: Flight Simulator X guide

Post by brimlad » 16 Nov 2015, 07:27

It will take me a few days to get the images moved over and yes I didn't want to loose this info, v4moose put some effort into it and FSX is still a relevant sim especially now its on steam.
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