Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Debuts August 18 (Pre-Order Now)

Filed Under: Misc.

About a year ago it was formally announced that a new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator would be introduced in 2020, which is the first new version since 2006. I can’t even begin to say how much of my childhood was spent playing this game, so it would be an extreme understatement to say that I’m excited

Well, the game is now available for pre-order.

Pre-order Microsoft Flight Simulator now

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will be available as of August 18, and is now available for pre-order. There will be three versions available:

  • The Microsoft Flight Simulator Standard Edition ($59.99 USD) includes 20 highly detailed planes with unique flight models and 30 hand-crafted airports. The Standard Edition will be available on day one with Xbox Game Pass for PC (Beta).
  • The Deluxe Edition ($89.99 USD) includes everything from Microsoft Flight Simulator’s standard edition plus 5 additional highly accurate planes with unique flight models and 5 additional handcrafted international airports.
  • The Premium Deluxe Edition ($119.99 USD) includes everything from Microsoft Flight Simulator Standard Edition plus 10 additional highly accurate planes with unique flight models and 10 additional handcrafted international airports.

Here’s a chart showing which airports are featured in highly realistic detail for each of the versions:

Here’s a chart showing which airplanes are featured in highly realistic detail for each of the versions:

Here’s a chart showing the spec requirements:

Then here’s a new trailer for the new Microsoft Flight Simulator:

What’s the best strategy for an Apple user here?!

I’m so incredibly excited about Flight Simulator 2020, though as someone who uses a MacBook Air, I’m not sure what strategy I should be taking. I’m terrible with anything tech related, so I’d love some tips.

You can only run Flight Simulator on Windows, so what’s the best approach to take?

  • Can you run it as a parallel system on your Mac, or does that diminish the performance?
  • Or should I be buying a PC specifically for this? If so, any tips?

I want Microsoft Flight Simulator to be epic, though am also not thrilled at the prospect of having a huge PC desktop in my apartment solely for this game, though that may be inevitable.

Bottom line

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will be debuting in just over a month, and I’m so excited. I was obsessed with this as a kid, and the 2020 version looks like an incredible upgrade. Heck, I’m not sure if I should be excited or worried about my lack of productivity that may result from this.

But first I might need to figure out what approach I’m going to take in terms of getting a system that can actually run the game…

Anyone else excited about Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020? What kind of a system are you going to be running it on?

Comments
  1. Even if it was made for the Mac, a Macbook Air wouldn’t handle the program that well, IMO. You’d really need to buy a PC to have it run properly or buy a super-expensive Mac Pro desktop and run Windows on it.

    As a Mac user, I’m pretty dissapointed it’s not available for Macs.

    You could also buy an XBox as the program is coming to that platform soon.

  2. You can run Windows as a parallel system on your Mac, but I don’t think you have the GPU for it on MacBook Air.

  3. You definitely won’t be able to play it on your Apple (no matter what the specs are). You need a PC for it.

  4. @ Ben,

    I’m in the same boat using a core i9 MacBook Pro. I use parallels to run Windows but even doing mundane stuff on Outlook and Project- it draws a lot of processing power (the machine gets really hot)- I’ve even downgraded to Windows 8.1 Pro from 10- because it’s an older OS and doesn’t require as much machine power, and it’s still using a considerable number of the Macs resources.

    I’m going to buy a dedicated machine just for this. Dell always has a deal, we can use the dell credit on the business platinum for another $200 off, stack that with Rakuten (yesterday they were going 8x per dollar).

    Probably anything with a core i7 or higher and 32 gigs of ram would be ideal. I’ll let you know what I end up buying. The Ram add on can get pricy so it might be best to buy something with just 16 gigs and purchasing the ram upgrade outside of dell.

  5. I used FS to fly a 737 under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was very entertaining back in the day.

  6. Hey Ben – you should be able to put together a PC to play this for pretty cheap without it being huge and ugly. You could also get a more powerful Mac and run windows on that, but you’d pay significantly more for the hardware. If you want a more tailored experience, I recommend a brand called Puget Systems. They’ve got a great team of consultants who can help you put together a system that has everything that you need and nothing you don’t – obviously at a price premium but it’s a great customer experience. I used them for a pro live streaming rig for my business and it’s been rock solid for years.

  7. Probably the best strategy for you is to wait for the new Xbox next Christmas and play it there. It’s easier, you can connect it to your TV and it will be already optimize to run it with the best performance. I don’t think you would like to buy a 1500$ desktop PC (that will need its own desk in your house), just for playing FS. And of course it will never run on a virtual machine on a Macbook Air (not even a Pro…).

  8. I think I will build a PC with good specs for this. I used to run FSX and the short-lived Microsoft Flight on a Mac Pro (huge tower) with good performance, though eventually I needed to upgrade with a better graphics card. Using a Mac you have to do Boot Camp as any of the emulators like Parallels (running Windows as an application within OSX) will not give good enough performance. But on any Mac laptop I don’t think you will get very good performance for this even with Boot Camp.

  9. Does anyone have more details about the airports available? I remember with Flight Simulator X, you could choose to fly into hundreds of airports, not just 30.

  10. It’s possible to use your Mac if you run Windows through Boot Camp. You’ll have too have the right hardware, and a MacBook Air won’t run it optimally unless you bought an updated CPU, it’s a late model system, and you add an extension eGPU (dedicated graphics processor). Some MacBook Pros have the latter, particularly 15″. You’ll have to check your system specs against their recommendations. All of this will require some technical knowledge, or the ability to follow directions to install and troubleshoot, but it’ll work. Using virtualization like Parallels almost definitely won’t get the job done for to it being underpowered.

  11. @Sam –

    “ALL of the circa 37,000 airports from around the world will be included. The ones listed are just going to be hand tweaked to increase realism. Other airports will use Bing maps and the program engine to simulate the airport. Alpha footage has shown that even the ‘default’ airports will be great.”

  12. For flight sims, graphics cards are the most important thing. You can probably get by with a previous gen GTX 1080 ti or 1080. On RTX, a 2080 Super will do the trick, or a 2080ti if you want really high settings. Nvidia will probably launch their new graphics cards in a few months, so you could wait for that. A Ryzen 7 any generation can do the trick, because Intel is recycling 14nm chips at higher prices and less cores than Ryzen. I’d guess 8gb of RAM are specified minimum but 16 is a good all round amount, or 32 if you want that PC to be better in the future. Make sure to get a respectable power supply, like Corsair, Be Quiet, Fractal Design or EVGA, as a low quality one can malfunction and potentially break other components. For 3rd gen Ryzen, you need a X570 or B550 chipset motherboard. Building a PC yourself can often save you quite a bit, but a prebuilt can make sure if it breaks, you only have to contact the builder and not individual parts manafacturers. Pcpartpicker.com can give you a price estimate for building it yourself, and the less the builder charges extra for the parts, the better they are most likely. Macs really are not designed for any intense graphics task, so even with the 5k Mac Pro, you’d probably get much better performance from a Windows PC of the same price.

  13. Will the airports be realistic or similar to that of FS 2004 where it’ll just be structures? Will it be possible to add realistic flight schedules and AI traffic?

  14. Personally, I’d recommend just buying a gaming laptop, preferably with an RTX 2080 graphics card or similar if you can afford it! At least a laptop would be way more discreet in your apartment and easy to tidy away when not in use. And most important, portable for traveling! I also have the X-56 HOTAS, highly recommend also! If you need some tips or advice just HMU!

  15. Just a tip on the non-hardware side. The standard edition is available on Microsoft Game Pass. Game Pass is only $5 per month and there is really a tremendous selection. So if you have just a passing interest in playing this and enjoy other types of games I would highly recommend checking this out. It is available now for pre-install for free.

  16. @Lucky the game will also be released on Xbox One, so if your laptop can’t run it and you don’t fancy spending big bucks on a PC that you’ll barely use/ will be too bulky, that’s a fairly viable option, since the former is considerably smaller. FYI you should be able to connect a joystick/yoke/add-ons to the XB1 too.

    You could be even look at spending a bit more on an Xbox One X since FS2020 will be optimized to run at 4K, which the X variant is able to do. Not sure what the prices are over in the US, but you shouldn’t be spending more than $400 on an Xbox.

  17. Check out cloud gaming options. If you go this route, keep in mind that there are different technical hurdles to consider.

  18. Oh, I will be buying this 100%. Probably the $120 version too LMAO. Gonna have to buy a PC too. But this looks too good. Looks like I will have no life going forward. 🙂

  19. Wait for the Xbox X release at the end of the year. It will probably run smoothly and look gorgeous and will cost you around $400-500, much cheaper than what a computer would cost to show the same graphics and performance.
    I’m missing the A380 on the planes list, there is a 747-8, but it’s not the same thing.

  20. @Tom I is absolutely correct, with the Game Pass you’ll be able to get the standard version for free for as long as you have the Game Pass. Additionally, if you want to play online you’ll need Xbox Live Gold.

    If you’re interested in multiplayer, you may want to look at getting yourself 2 or 3 years (tops) worth of Xbox Live Gold and for $1 you can upgrade it to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (which is essentially Game Pass + Live Gold). See this site on how to do it: https://www.pcworld.com/article/3404524/get-3-years-xbox-game-pass-ultimate-tip.html#:~:text=Any%20prepaid%20time%20up%20to,from%20the%20trial%20tacked%20on.

    Although the post is ≈1 year old, I tried this less than 3 months ago (EU) and it still worked.

    OMAAT meetups in FS2020 would be pretty cool too btw

  21. @Santastico: No, Chromebooks don’t even run Windows, they use Chrome OS and have cheap hardware.

  22. Bummed no iPad Pro version … I suppose there would be no way to really restrict people from trying to put it on an underpowered iPad Air or Mini or something, but iPad Pro definitely has the graphics chops ability of at least the recommended machine above. Regardless of how MS feels about opening up the program to the Apple ecosystem, Apple moves units — they can’t argue with that.

  23. I’ve been thinking about what to do when this comes out for months and I think I’ve landed on making my own simple but small gaming PC and hooking it up to my TV and using bluetooth accessories. My old PC laptop ran FSX respectably but would get very hot (not a gaming laptop).

  24. @ADP

    Re: cloud gaming, basically the concept is that you are renting a machine in a data center and it is streaming the video of that screen to yourself. Your mouse/keyboard movements are uploaded to the machine at the same time, so it’s almost like you have a real PC. If you have a good internet connection (>50MBps), it’s pretty decent. USB peripherals like a microphone also work but the quality is not that great. I think joysticks should work okay, though.

    You can set it up yourself (requires some technical knowledge) or use a service like https://shadow.tech/. I’ve been using it for the past month far too much, it’s decently reliable most of the time and saves me from having to have a large desktop. However there is a quite long waitlist. Most of these services you pay by the hour, Shadow is unique in that you pay a low monthly fee.

  25. Could also find an Alienware that is on sale via Dell then stack with the Biz Plat $200 credit, 10% email coupon code for signing up, cash back website, and possibly a Dell AMEX Offer that is tied to the Biz Plat. However, the AMEX Offer might not work as Dell charges the card once they ship the computer and this could be after the expiry date for the AMEX Offer.

    Cheapest option is to go the game console route.

  26. I’ll second the suggestion to look at an Xbox, ideally projected 135″ or larger onto a fixed screen at 4k resolution, if this game becomes available for that platform. Xbox is useful for a great many things: we only rarely use it for gaming.

    You asked about the possibility of getting a PC gaming rig just for this purpose. If you go that route, keep an eye on slickdeals for one of the periodic deals on “Cyberpower” machines sold on Amazon. About a year ago I got a machine with a liquid-cooled AMD 2700X Ryzen processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD, and an NVidia 2080RTX GPU for about $1400 IIRC. Even a year old, this machine would run the new Flight Simulator with ease. The machine just flies and I was actually quite impressed with the fit and finish of the case, etc: it felt Apple-ish in its quality and attention to detail.

  27. Ben, why not take actual flight lessons then? It’s a lot of fun. Surely OMAAT makes enough money to splurge on a Cirrus.

  28. I’ll hit the preorder button for the premium in a hot minute.
    It’s the 2K+ I’d be spending on a new rig that I’m reluctant about.

    Still got my Logitech X52 collecting dust on a shelf.

  29. Sorry If this has been asked before,, just wondering if anyone knows for certain, my question is… If I buy Microsoft Flight 2020 on my PC, will it be free on my Xbox one (or Xbox series x), or will I have to purchase another copy for console as well?

  30. @John G/Ben…most of the new Dell have RAM soldered on so confirm with Dell sales before you buy one.

  31. I am pricing out the PC rig to play this. Any suggestions on PCpartpicker? Private flying lessons may be cheaper : )

  32. Couldn’t wait so I got FSX during the $6 steam sale. Currently going through the flight basics and private pilot lessons of that. It’s a world of difference from flying the Blackshark and Su-25 in DCS.

  33. @those asking for joystick recs

    The Logitech 3D pro is a very inexpensive stick and great if you’re interested but not sure how long you’ll stay interested. At a slightly higher price point, the Thrustmaster T16000M is about the cheapest throttle and stick combo you can get. Both are pretty good for the price, and I absolutely recommend starting out with one of those instead of immediately throwing $150+ on an X52/X56 or pedals. I started out with the Logitech 3D pro back when FS2000 came out, and used one until I started playing DCS back in 2014.

  34. Oh boy. Another Microsoft product for Windows only. It’s like Nadella’s whole “we’re a services company” pitch was for naught. It’s the same situation everywhere you look: I want OneDrive or office for Linux (doesn’t exist), I want Visio for Mac (doesn’t exist).

    The only hope is MS Teams. They seem to make that for every platform under the sun. So if they build flight sim into Teams, we should be set.

  35. To summarize the key points:
    – You can run Windows on a Mac. There are several ways to do this, only one of which is viable for not compromising performance: using BootCamp.
    – However, BootCamp requires you to restart and boot into Windows; it’s far from seamless.
    – All that being said, a Macbook Air is nowhere near up to the task, let alone for running FS decently. Upgrade avenues are very limited on a Mac.
    – You could get a gaming PC—even a gaming laptop—that make FS look epic and would also look nice, but if you’re only ever going to use to for FS, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
    – The game will be coming to Xbox, so it’s probably best to wait for the Xbox Series X and enjoy FS in all its glory on a 4K TV.

  36. Can you ingame upgrade to a higher version? If you buy standard and then want additional airports, do you have to buy the full game again? Or can you just pay the difference online in the game and get the higher version?

  37. I’ve been looking at getting updating my MBP to the latest 16” as it will be the last of the intel laptops and the transition to Apple silicon will be more painful than the transition from PowerPC to Intel which was bloody painful and mostly because of MS Flight Simulator which I have been playing every version since 1987. I also have a lot of 36MP DSLR files which need serious horsepower when traveling.

    I’ll probably go with the 9th gen i9 version and add a eGPU rather upgrade to the 4K version with best graphics card and bootcamp in rather spec up given Apples upgrade costs and future graphics card potential.

    I’m still skeptical of any potential Xbox X version given MS past history of trying to port MSFS to Xbox

  38. If you are just using the PC for flight sim, no need to set up an additional desk and monitor, just get a wireless keyboard/mouse and connect a PC to your TV (assuming you have a decent one).

    You should be able to build a decent gaming PC for about $2000 if you don’t go for a flashy case. Below that, you probably won’t have high enough specs to make the most of what looks to be the amazing graphics. You will want at least an 8GB video card. And don’t cheap out on RAM, go with 32GB.

  39. I am in the same boat, I don’t want a windows pc as I have my iMac (and no space for a second computer) but I also want to run accessories such as track ir/saitek radio panels, etc with the new sim, I am not convinced Microsoft will allow that to work with the Xbox version.

    I also know with the switch to Apple Silicon boot camp days are numbered, Intel support will probably be dropped quicker than we would like, so buying the last intel mac doesn’t make much sense either.

    At the end of the day, I will hope I am wrong about the accessory support with the Xbox, and wait and see how the ecosystem develops before I spend money on a new computer just for one app.

  40. Apple has software that allows you to install windows on mac computers called bootcamp. However, your Macbook Air would really struggle to run any game really. The specs tend to be lower end, but more problematic would be the extremely poor heat management that would lead to your CPU getting even slower

  41. Hi Lucky, I strongly recommend getting a Razer Blade, it performs and looks way better than the Macbook!

    Fan from Singapore

  42. I bought an Xbox specifically for this. A few hundred bucks gets you a compact console with the memory, power and – most importantly – the graphics processing needed to run this game. I thought about buying a PC (I’m a Mac guy) but would have to spend well over a grand to get a machine powerful enough to satisfy the intense needs of this sim.

    Anyway, I’m so excited for this! My friends think that I’ll turn my living room into a cockpit. They might be right.

  43. Will be interesting to see how the sim is. The current flight sims on the market have limitations but people have managed to get a ton out of them with third party software. If the base engine of this sim is good then it could be worth an investment in the long haul. You can buy planes that simulate almost all the features of real jets/planes, use flight planning software, get airports that are extremely polished, realistic real world weather, turbulence etc etc. The test for this sim in the long run isn’t going to be what its like right out of the box. Its going to be what people can do with it for years to come.

  44. Question for you aficionados:
    How does this compare with flightgear?
    Some of the aircraft on flightgear (esp 777, 787) are really pretty well developed.

  45. It actually would be possible to run a MacBook or iMac with the caveat that you need the appropriate CPU and RAM, and then you could use a Thundernp;t PCI graphics card chassis to have a good enough GPU (if you have a Thunderbolt capable Mac). That said, the GPU chassis are not cheap, and neither is a good GPU. I have a setup like that for my MacBook so when friends come over and want to do some multiplayer gaming, they can use it while I hog my gaming rig.

    That said, if you want to stay on a Mac, you could buy a new Mac Pro and dual boot to Windows (also not even close to cheap). However, the next generation of Mac Pros beyond the current one will use ARM processors, and at this time it is unlikely you will be able to run Windows on it due to licensing issues for how Microsoft liceneses ARM processors. Apple has already said its not happening.

  46. Well… for mac currently the best option is bootcamp + radeon based egpu (nvidia card drivers can be a problem for Mojave OS). If you have an i7 with a good egpu card you will get a very decent 1080p performance (probably not 4k) – thats only looking at the specs sheet, its hard to say anything else without first reviews. For example razer Core X egpu housing is around 300 usd (or less) and then it all depends on the gpu you will stick in (and budget of course).

    With Apple moving to its own processors and away from intel, this option will probably go away in the next two years.

  47. Why haven’t Microsoft include those of us who own an iMac? We like to participate in the purchase of this sim as well.

  48. @garfield because the game requires DirectX12 which is only available through Bootcamp on an iMac. Additionally the AMD graphics cards on recent iMacs are t going to be great for this Sim which has me planning on buying a gaming laptop

  49. Since we won’t be able to use Boot Camp Assistant to run Windows 10 on Apple Silicon Macs, this means it’ll be impossible to play it on certain Macs in the near future. I hope Microsoft releases a Mac port of the game – for Intel and ARM Macs.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *