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Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: SKYLANE
Date: September 26, 2020 05:48PM
In earlier thread, I mentioned that I was looking into building a Flight Simulator. Some of you asked me to post back after I build my setup. After much research, I finally built my PC system primarily for X-Plane 11.5 (I plan to take Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 for a test run at some point in the future). After I determined what I wanted my system to do, I set out to research system specs to do the job. The hardware listed below is what I selected for my setup. Picked up components from Best Buy, NewEgg, OWC, eBay, CompUSA*, and Circuit City*.

I have lots of details about my flight simulator, plus pictures to share. I will add on to this thread as the weekend progresses with pertinent details, pics and some great resources. I will include my thoughts on how I approached this Flight Simulator including what things I may have done different or may be doing in the future.

While staying primarily at home during virus resolution, this Flight Simulator has been quite the project. Gave me something fun to do - not like I don't have anything else to do, been riding bike tons this year plus lots of other things. I really enjoyed putting this computer together! Surprisingly, went together without a hitch - I did a lot of research on the project before starting build that minimized surprises. Now that the sim is operational, flying on long trips feels like I get out of the house for hours at a time.

I owned a Beechcraft Baron (BE95-C55) from 2001 thru 2006, so for now have been flying primarily the Baron 58 in X-Plane Simulator. I have flown a good several simulator hours now in the Baron around the Hawaiian Islands, getting familiar with the simulator settings, cockpit and controls. Also, in simulator, have done a fair amount of airport hopping in the Southern California, starting from Hawthorne HHR and Long Beach LGB (my home airports for most my flying years).

* NOTE: Years ago, when CompUSA went out of business, I bought my USB Rudder Pedals from them on Clearance. When Circuit City went out of business, I bought my USB Yoke from them on Clearance. Those components have been boxed new for well over a decade, never had the time to explore a Flight Simulator until recently.

My PC Flight Simulator

Best Buy
Logic Board: MSI - MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon WiFi, ATX, LGA 1200
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master - Hyper 212, Black Edition
RAM: Corsair - 32GB (2x16GB) Vengeance Pro RGB, DDR4 PC4-25600 3200MHz
Power Supply: Corsair - RM850x (fully modular)

CPU: INTEL - 10th Gen i7-10700 2.9/4.8GHz LGA 1200
Case: Phanteks - Case P400A Digital (Love this case!)
Case Accessory: Phanteks - GPU Vertical Mount

OWC - I wanted our friends in the build too!
SSD: Aura - P12 M.2 NVMe 1TB 2280

GPU: MSI - GeForce RTX 2070 Gaming Z, 8 GB Factory Refurb
Monitors: Dell - 27" HD 1080P IPS P2719H (4 total, 3 in my simulator) Open Box, New Condition

Rudder Pedals: Saitek - Pro Flight

Circuit City
Yoke: Flight Sim - FSY211U

Laminar Research - X-Plane 11.5
Microsoft - Windows 10 Pro
Microsoft - Flight Simulator 2020 (not yet decided to purchase)

My Phase 2 Build: PC has the Dedicated GPU installed and playing with X-Plane on single 23" Monitor to get a feel for the simulator.

My Phase 3 Build: Same as Phase 2 above except 23" Monitor has been replaced with three 27" monitors. Each monitor has a 60º Field-of-Field (adjustable in X-Plane settings), the two side monitors have each been angled forward 60º. When having the speakers on and seeing the Baron come up around you with the props turning is awesome! After playing with this simulator with three monitors in a "wrap around", I can't go back to single monitor!

An external view of the Baron flying over HNL in Oahu! Weather for now is set to clear until I get hang of the simulator. So, VFR for now!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/26/2020 10:37PM by SKYLANE.
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Re: Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: September 26, 2020 10:55PM
Nice! MS Flight Simulator 2020 is unfortunately not well optimized and you are likely to have very low frame rates with an RTX 2070 and 3x 1080p monitors. Enjoy X-Plane for now and put off MS FS 20 for as long as you can. There are technical reasons why those performance bottlenecks may be eased in the future if MS can move MS FS 20 from DX11 to DX12.
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Re: Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: mikebw
Date: September 27, 2020 07:42AM
Bankrupt retailer PC parts leader!
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Re: Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: jims
Date: September 27, 2020 08:54AM
Looks like you are having a lot of fun. Thank you for posting your journey through this project. I look forward to seeing more of your impressions of the whole setup.

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Re: Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: Markintosh
Date: September 27, 2020 10:28AM
Very cool!

“Live your life, love your life, don’t regret…live, learn and move forward positively.” – CR Johnson
Loving life in Lake Tahoe, CA
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Re: Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: MikeF
Date: September 27, 2020 11:10AM
So, is Phase 4 just to buy an airplane?
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From out of the clear blue of the western sky comes SkyLane
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: September 28, 2020 03:55PM

OK, so they're not Beech Barons, but the Songbird II is one of the sweetest twins I've ever seen.

I love the straight tail and the perpendicular wing tanks.

Sky, does your sim have the approximate speed in handling like an actual aircraft?

I had a few video flight games for Intellivison and Mac, but never enough hardware to make them playable as far as flying the planes were concerned.

Make an input for a turn, clime, dive, and wait... wait... wait...

Oops... too much... correct... wait... wait...

You get the idea.

With your rig, are response 'jet fast'?

Your boos mean nothing to me, I've seen what you cheer for.

Insisting on your rights without acknowledging your responsibilities isn’t freedom, it’s adolescence.

We are a government of laws, not men.

Everybody matters or nobody matters.

When a good man is hurt,
all who would be called good
must suffer with him.

You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

There is no safety for honest men except
by believing all possible evil of evil men.

We don’t do focus groups. They just ensure that you don’t offend anyone, and produce bland inoffensive products. —Sir Jonathan Ive

An armed society is a polite society.
And hope is a lousy defense.

You make me pull, I'll put you down.

I *love* SIGs. It's Glocks I hate.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/28/2020 04:00PM by RAMd®d.
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Re: Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: SKYLANE
Date: October 06, 2020 01:08AM
Some resources, a few of several that I looked at...

These are three names of people I viewed often:

Austin Meyer - Creator of X-Plane and Laminar Research


Michael Brown - Owner Operator of XForcePC (and personal friend of Austin Meyer).  Specializes in configurations for running X-Plane Specifically.  I was heavily influenced by configurations from his website. You can buy a preconfigured PC from him at his website.


Russ Barlow - Retired airline, military, and general aviation background.  Years of experience with X-Plane configuration.  I will give you four key links to his setup advice.  I made sure that my current setup exceeded his PC specs that were from four years back. I was also heavily influenced by configurations from his setup especially regarding multiple monitors.





Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 10/13/2020 07:19PM by SKYLANE.
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Re: Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: space-time
Date: October 10, 2020 08:55PM
Thanks and please keep this thread updated. I will come back once in a while to check it out. I am going to try this simulator on my new PC
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Re: Flight Simulator PC Build Completed - Having Fun Flying it! (X-Plane 11.5)
Posted by: SKYLANE
Date: October 13, 2020 06:41PM
Once I decided to build a simulator, this is how I approached the project. After exploring and studying quite a bit of Russ Barlow & Michael Brown sites as noted in my last post above, I began selecting/pricing components - I knew that I would be spending a few bucks on this system. So, I approached the build in four phases - I share those phases here for those that may want to consider the same approach. (FYI, the cost of the parts listed above, less rudder pedals and yoke, was ~$2500. If anyone is curious how that cost breaks down across the components, let me know - I will make one post for it).

Phase 0 - Test Drive the Software

You can actually download X-Plane 11.5 Demo and play with it on a computer. The demo allows for numerous 15 minute (maximum) flights in the Seattle WA area. It gives you a feel for what you might see on a more capable computer. If you already have a capable computer, you are most of the way there.

Based on what I was seeing online and what I was experiencing on demo, I was sold on going to Phase 1. Operating the airplane on keyboard/mouse is not as slick as when using yoke/rudder pedals, but it gives you an idea.

Phase 1 - Build the PC (less dedicated graphics card)

I chose PC platform and knew I would need a powerful dedicated graphics card to drive a 3 monitor (1080P) setup. I decided to initially build PC without the graphics card, I figured once I got the computer setup that I could play around on the demo software using the integrated graphics card which did a decent job on a single 1080P monitor. In this setup I added the yoke and rudder pedals which I already had from many years ago, they work very well.

Based on this, I was ready to shell out the money on a dedicated graphics card.

Phase 2 - Add dedicated graphics card to PC

After much research on graphics cards, and knowing that 3000 series cards were around the corner, I found a RTX 2070 8GB refurb from MSI for $400 (3 Display Ports, 1 HDMI, 1 USB C). I wanted to make sure that it had a USB C port on the card since it sounded like the thing to have if I ever wanted to play around with a VR Headset.

Based on playing around with the new dedicated graphics card with the HDMI port from PC to existing 23" monitor along with yoke and rudder pedals in the setup, I found the experience enjoyable. Being limited to a forward Field of View (FOV) only was a little frustrating finding your way around flying "VFR" in familiar territory. Since I was having fun in Phase 2, I let myself go find three 1080P monitors for the "wrap around" experience.

Phase 3 - Install Three 1080P IPS Monitors

I found Open Box New Condition Dell 27" Monitors for $149 each on eBay (at Dell they were $255 on sale) with Display Port, HDMI, USB 3 HUB, no speakers, IPS & 1080P. 1080P was recommended by the two I mentioned above to maintain acceptable frame rates for X-Plane with multiple monitors. (Russ Barlow uses three 49" 1080P monitors.)

I chose 60º FOV for each monitor (adjusted slightly for bezel width), then pulled the two side monitors in 60º each side - this yielded a 180º FOV. When I launched the Baron in X-Plane the first time on the triple display setup with the speakers on, I was blown away "sitting" at end of runway in Baron with both my engines revving and ready to go on each side of me! (Eye position is way important, dependent on FOV and screen size - calculations in Russ Barlow links above.)

So, I bought X-Plane and been flying tons around my old stomping grounds of Los Angeles Basin, Inland Empire, up through Central California, Catalina, Santa Barbara, on east to Las Vegas, Laughlin and Phoenix area. Plus, have been all around the Hawaiian Islands and continue to explore them. (I have a dream of owning an airplane in Hawaii some day, will see about that.)

Phase 4 - Enjoy the Setup, explore the world of add-ons

I get lost in my spare time flying the Baron for a couple hours here and there. Listening to the engines purr on both sides of me brings back memories of the Baron that I once owned. There are all sorts of add-ons out there for scenery and aircraft, I am trying to zero in on the best sources so I do not have to spin my wheels looking at all the variations on quality that are out there.

Since some of you are coming back to view this thread to see what I am doing, I will make separate posts for each of the phases and show links that drove some of the decisions that I made. Will be fun to have some of you post your experiences as well.

Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 10/13/2020 07:17PM by SKYLANE.
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