UPDATE (12/21/14): All of this applies to Windows 8 and 8.1 also. This article also applies to FSX Steam Edition. If you are running a modern (post 2010) PC, you can get a huge performance boost by using the free CFG modification tool from Bojote here.
Lately there has been a lot of talk about how Windows 7 will run faster than Vista, and how this should be great for gamers (apparently it runs a little faster than XP did). With FSX however, often the standard ‘gamer tweaks’ do not actually affect performance, because it has a fairly odd architecture compared to most games – so I was wondering if Win7 would actually mean anything for FSX performance. I installed Win7 (RTM) on my desktop PC to give it a try.
I started by setting all the FSX sliders to the same I had under Vista (DX10, most things in the ‘very high’ range). There did not seem to be much difference – in fact it seemed to run a little slower if anything. I thought, well that was a bummer. For some reason I thought let’s try it on DX9 mode – and wow, what a huge difference that made. While with Vista FSX ran considerably faster under DX10 than DX9 (with a few caveats), with Win7 it seems to run faster than DX10/Vista when in DX9 mode! Even with the water reflection factor set to 2.High (reflections of the terrain mesh on the water), there seems to be only a small impact on frame rates.
Flying around Seattle used to give me around 10/11 FPS, but now I can stay around 18 with very good visuals.
Even Madrid (which previously game me single figure FPS), I can now get around 14 FPS while it still looks pretty nice.
The ultimate frame rate killer, Tokyo, even hits about 9 FPS now, which is slow, but definitely flyable.
Also, textures seem to load faster in general – for instance, texture loading delay when switching between outside view/VC and vice-versa is minimal now.
I did make a couple of sacrifices to the visuals though – Here are the settings I am using:
And then the next big question – what about the tools? FSDS v3.5.1 runs completely fine; no graphical glitches, slightly faster updates than Vista. And of course, the FSDSxTweak suite of tools runs perfectly! (mostly that is the .NET framework’s victory, but I take credit for choosing to use it ;-) )