MSFS: Hardware etc

This page contains notes on hardware and software that is one step further from the sim and windows settings.

This article is a subsection of
How to Optimise MSFS for VR

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…these individual hardware related articles:

Oculus Meta Login Fail Workaround

If you upgrade your Oculus account to a Meta account as requested by the Oculus VR App, you will no longer be able to use VR. This is because the upgraded account will not accept the Oculus software even though it is the latest and only version you can download. The forums show one user has been stuck without VR since the 18th of August. This is the message you will see:

If you see this message, log your case with Meta support and ask them to alert you by email when they have fixed the problem.

These are the Meta Oculus Support instructions I received today:

  • Log into the oculus account that is currently broken
  • Press “login with an email address”
  • It will open up a website
  • Log into the website with your Meta Oculus account details
  • Once logged into the web site, the app will allow you to log in (mine logged in automatically)

If the official support instructions fail, you can get access to your headset by creating a fresh account in Oculus/Meta to log into the VR app.

Prevent ISP’s from Throttling MSFS Traffic

Sharpwave has reported that his ISP is throttling MSFS traffic, and suggests the use of Cloudfare WARP to circumvent this. Its a VPN service with an emphasis on speed, so you could try other VPN providers.

Cloudflare WARP has a free and paid version which offers its own fast DNS and VPN service. It was originally intended to improve mobile speeds via an App called 1.1.1.1, but there is now a desktop WARP client.

WARP Tests:

  • I tested the WARP app on my phone connected by WIFI to my desktop and saw a speed drop from 51Mbps to 47Mbps which isn’t a bad hit for switching to a free VPN. The desktop app had the same result as anticipated, since the route is 99% the same.
  • The desktop version ran at 48Mbps, 1Mbps faster than the WIFI connected phone
  • When switching to mobile-only on my phone, the WARP app did do a much better job delivering 5.3Mbps rather than 1.1Mbps nearly x5 better. Although that’s not a lot of use for MSFS, but does say something positive for its infrastructure.

WARP also has the option to switch to DNS only (no VPN) which it offers when you hit the ‘disable’ button. WARP+ offers a faster speed in theory, but unless the data is compressed your throughput will still be controlled by the speed or your ISP line.

Create a RAM Drive to Avoid Read/Write Conflicts

DensestSnail693 essentially pointed out that it is a good idea to move the rolling cache off of the drive that contains all the MSFS packages. If you do this then reads and writes to the cache file will not be competing with reads from the MSFS packages. He also suggests a using a RAM drive for the rolling cache which would be significantly faster than a disk based solution and not something I had considered before.

If you are interested in this idea, I suggest you make a permanent RAM drive for free using IMDisk. In other words, once you create the drive with the correct settings it will auto load at Windows start and can be optionally saved when your PC shuts down. The RAM drive is always present and it doesn’t get in the way. To keep things simple, I did use it to store the windows Temp files.

Notes:

  • The rolling cache file is constantly being updated as you fly. If you leave it on a solid state drive the write operations will be nibbling into the lifespan of the drive. This is another good reason to move the rolling cache. You can use an empty rolling cache as the source file for the RAM Drive and opt not update it on exit.
  • In 2021 I noted that that once RAM use rises to 24GB and heads towards 30GB a progressively intense stutter is induced, which you can control with memory list cleaning apps mentioned elsewhere. In practical terms it has the effect of extending the frame times. I assume that the same memory management technique is being applied to the rolling and manual caches, in which case as a safety measure you might want to limit your rolling cache on a RAM disk to 20GB.

How Much VRAM Do You Need?

MSFS in VR needs a lot of VRAM. One of the most persistent stutters you will be faced with will be due to the lack of VRAM on your GPU. Each stutter will be caused by data being replaced in the VRAM as you fly over a region. This stutter may also persist if you have an active RAM drive for a rolling cache.

In VR, MSFS can fill up 24GB of VRAM over cities with photogrammetry. The faster you are travelling the more acute the VRAM data swapping stutter will be. You can help the VRAM use by modifying the se sliders:

  • Texture resolution
  • Render resolution
  • Terrain Pre-caching

The Task Manager shows the GPU VRAM use as ‘Dedicated GPU Memory Usage’. You cannot assume that if its less than 100% filled it wouldn’t use more if it could. Some storage space may be used as a holding pen to manage the changing data and the list is made of irregularly sized chunks that won’t fit perfectly into what’s available.

The current GPU VRAM use is shown as
‘Dedicated GPU Memory Usage’

I’ve come to the conclusion that MSFS is bigger than my GPU can handle, so when buying a new graphics card, the amount of VRAM it carries will be an important factor. Unfortunately, only the most expensive cards carry 24GB+ of VRAM.

Reduce Overheating on the Main Menu

The Power Saving option in MSFS replaces the animated background with a static image, but this isn’t as effective as switching that option off and going to the Content Manager menu in 2D mode as shown in the chart below.

A GPU & CPU Heat Chart.
The top line is GPU temperature, the others are CPU core temperatures

The order of the operations makes a difference, so follow each step in the listed order.

  1. A VR flight is in progress, exit to main menu
  2. The GPU temperature rises to maximum
  3. Switch to 2D mode
  4. Go to the Content Manager menu
  5. The GPU temperature should now be falling. If it doesn’t, return to the main menu then back to the content manager once more
  6. You may be able to reduce the temperature of the cores by closing your VR drivers
Use the Content Manager Menu in 2D
to prevent stressing the GPU when you take a break

Enable the Resizable BAR: a Free GPU Upgrade

BAR stands for Base Address Register. The Resizable BAR is a PCI technology that allows the CPU direct access to the frame buffer of the GPU. Nvidia and AMD claim a 12% increase whilst independent measurements are more like 8% probably due to the selected game, resolution and hardware. In some cases it can decrease performance.

I’m pleased to say I saw a significant quality increase when I enabled the Resizable Bar for MSFS (MSI motherboard + RTX380). The steps involved were:

  1. Check to see if your motherboard supports the Resizable Bar
    Update firmware as necessary
  2. Check to see if your graphics card supports the Resizable Bar
    Update firmware(s) as necessary
  3. Ensure you have the latest Nvidia graphics driver installed
  4. This video by 2020fsers will explain the steps clearly and there are others if you prefer.
  5. You will need to use nvidiaProfileInspector as explained in the video to manually add MSFS to Nvidia’s list of supported games. There are three hidden addresses (0x000F00BA, 0x000F00BB and 0x000F00FF) that need to be enabled for the MSFS.
  6. When you have completed everything remember to restart your computer

You can find Nvidia’s web page about the resizable BAR here or get an overview of what’s involved from this AMD biased video:

MSI Resizable Bar for AMD

Test the High Performance Event Timer (HPET)

As always: if in doubt, do nothing!

The location of HPET in the Device Manager

You can test if HPET leads to FPS loss with LatencyMon. This video by Troublechute explains all you need to know, including what HPET its used for and use of a test program.

How to test and set HPET correctly for your PC

With regards to LatencyMon, the report on the front page is misleading. It states a ‘conclusion’ when in fact it is always monitoring and the test is ongoing. Any detected latency a any time will change the statement to a negative one. I would predict that you will always get a negative conclusion if you left it running through a sim flight, with HPET on or off.

LatencyMon in action

I think the best way to use the monitor is to check the use of HPET in a moderately loaded system to see if it has a preference for HPET to switched on on off. If it doesn’t have a preference, then leave the setting alone.

Most Effective PC Components

Focus on the components that make most difference.

BuildPicker.com have made a study of how PC parts are utilised by the sim and suggest parts lists for low to high end computers. The sim is likely to remain controlled by a single thread for the foreseeable future, therefore CPU with 6 or more cores, a high single core clock speed and 25 MB or more of level 3 cache will provide the best results.

VR Headset Rough Guide Comparisons

Please bear in mind the following with respect to the comparison list:

  1. Treat this information as a rough guide only. Always check multiple product reviews. Do not base purchasing decisions on this information alone.
  2. Thanks goes to Sebastian of MRTV for his FOV measurements. His measurements replace the published measurements where they differ and are marked’ (MRTV)’. Note that the FOV measurements will affect the PPD values given.
  3. I have calculated horizontal or vertical values for FOV or PPD, which is simple enough to do but since the figures diverge from what the manufacturers want you to think by a fair margin, I’m a little hesitant to say my figures are 100% correct.
  4. Please let me know if you find any errors.

Notes Regarding the Measurements

I assume manufacturers are using the diagonal FOV and PPD measurements as a way of hiding the lowest values present in either axis. It has plausible deniability but not much in the way of integrity. Whatever the average PPD on the diagonal is, you will be highly likely be buying a lower FOV or PPD in one of the axis and that will be the one that you will be most acutely aware of and be disappointed with. For this reason I have calculated the X & Y axis values in each case that it hasn’t been given, and used the worst case as the measure of the headset.

The measurements for PPD and FOV are given as horizontal : vertical

References

Human Eye – PPD 60:60, FOV 120°:120°

  • Field of view: 120°
  • Pixels per degree: 60
  • Equivalent pixels: 7200 x 7200

The quite conservative 60 PPD figure originates from Apple’s concepts for ‘retina’ displays (i.e. Steve Jobs), which in turn are derived from high resolution printing rules of thumb using pixels per inch (PPI). According to AnandTech.com, the true capability of the human eye could take into account image features that are discernible by specialised functions of the eye in which case 120+ PPD would be more appropriate and could go as high as 1800 PPD. However, the retina display derived PPD is a good-enough target from a commercial VR point of view for now.

Varjo Aero – PPD 35:35, FOV 115°:69°

The 35 PPD is due to eye tracking directing the positioning of a high res image on top of the background image. It represents the best you can get currently although the FOV is most likely to become wider in the next few years and the main reason to look for an upgrade (note: supposition on my part).

  • Number of panels: 2
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 115° (manufacturer)
    • Pixels per degree: 25.04
  • Vertical:
    • Pixels: 2720
    • FOV: 68.78° (calculated)
    • PPD: 39.54
  • Pixels per degree: always 35 due to eye tracking
  • Pixels per degree: 25 via background image panel
  • PC connection: cable
  • Tracking: not supplied
  • Controllers: not supplied
  • Audio: not supplied
  • Pros: superb headset
  • Cons: expensive, no controllers, no base stations, no audio, some image distortion

Pimax Crystal QLED – PPD 24:40, FOV 120°:72° (wide mode)

Coming in Q3 of 2022, details to be confirmed.

Their promo video suggests a PPD of 42 for the ‘normal’ view and is probably derived from diagonal measurements. If you average the vertical and horizontal PPD derived below it comes to 43.15.

However, the calculations below assume the pixels are arranged into rows an columns that have a specific PPD in each direction. The lowest figure is used to illustrate the worst-case scenario.

  • Number of panels: 1
  • PC connection: supplied cable or wireless
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: supplied
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros:
  • Cons:

Normal Mode – PPD 26:60, FOV 110°:48°

The FOV is calculated, please let me know if you think they are incorrect.

  • Diagonal FOV: 120°
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 110°
    • PPD: 26.2
  • Vertical:
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 48° (calculated)
    • PPD: 60.1

Wide Mode – PPD 24:40, FOV 120°:72°

The FOV is calculated, please let me know if you think they are incorrect.

  • Diagonal FOV: 140°
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 120°
    • PPD: 24.04
  • Vertical:
    • Pixels: 2880
    • FOV: 72° (calculated)
    • PPD: 40

HP Reverb G2 – PPD 22:18.9, FOV 98°:114°

  • Number of panels: 2
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • X-axis pixels: 2160
    • FOV: 98° (MRTV)
    • Pixels per degree: 22.04
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 2160
    • FOV: 114°
    • Pixels per degree: 18.9
  • PC connection: cable
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes, 7 hour battery life :0(
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: good value for money
  • Cons: 7 hour battery life in controllers

Pico Neo 3 Link – PPD 18.7:??, FOV 98°:??°

Basically a Quest 2 with the cable thrown in for free.

  • Number of panels: 1
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 1832
    • FOV: 98°
    • PPD: 18.7
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 1920
    • FOV: unknown
  • PC connection: cable
  • PC connection: wireless degrades resolution
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: affordable quest 2 competitor includes link cable as standard
  • Cons: not a useful upgrade for flight sims

Project Cambria – PPD 23.5:18.6, FOV 92°:116°

Coming in 2022, details to be confirmed

  • Number of panels: 2
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • X-axis pixels: 2160
    • FOV: 92° (rumour)
    • Pixels per degree: 23.5
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 2160
    • FOV: 116° (rumour)
    • Pixels per degree: 18.6
  • PC connection: Wireless
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros:
  • Cons:

Pimax 8K X – PPD 27.4:17.4, FOV 140°:124°

  • Number of panels: 1
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 3840
    • Field of view: 140° (MRTV)
    • Pixels per degree: 27.4
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 2160
    • Field of view: 124°
    • Pixels per degree: 17.4
  • PC connection: cable
  • Tracking: not supplied
  • Controllers: not supplied
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: wide field of view
  • Cons: requires base stations

Oculus Quest 2 – PPD 19.9:16.5, FOV 92°:116°

  • Number of panels: 1
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • Pixels: 1832
    • FOV: 92° (MRTV)
    • Pixels per degree: 19.9
  • Vertical
    • Y-axis pixels: 1920
    • FOV: 116°
    • Pixels per degree: 16.5
  • PC connection: cable
  • PC connection: wireless degrades resolution
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: affordable
  • Cons: low resolution, worse on WiFi

Oculus Rift S – PPD 14.9:13.1, 86°:110° FOV

This is where I am until I can find a decent upgrade path.

  • Number of panels: 1
  • Horizontal (per eye)
    • X-axis pixels: 1280
    • FOV: 86° (MRTV)
    • PPD: 14.9
  • Vertical
    • Pixels: 1440
    • FOV: 110°
    • Pixels per degree: 13.1
  • PC connection: cable
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Controllers: yes
  • Audio: yes
  • Pros: an excellent first-time headset
  • Cons: not available

Other Headsets

  • Vive Cosmos 82°/112° (horizontal/vertical)
  • HTC Vive Pro 98°/126° (horizontal/vertical)
  • Valve Index Max 108°/130° (horizontal/vertical)
  • Valve Index Min 100°/112° (horizontal/vertical)
  • Odyssey+ 102°/130° (horizontal/vertical)
  • Pimax Artisan 128°/124° (horizontal/vertical)

Check Your Bios Settings

It may be worth checking your BIOS to ensure its set or still set the way you want and/or expect it to be. If you are not sure what to do, find out before you go into the BIOS and don’t change things you don’t fully understand or you may regret it (specifically don’t change voltage levels).

In my case I have two preconfigured options for the CPU and memory, so I just ensure that these are enabled and then exit.

Note 1: without the memory speed ‘boost’ it would not be running at the advertised speed.

Note 2: The CPU speed boost sets the clock speed to maximum

Note 3: Consider the USB power mode setting – this controls the power state of the USB ports when the rest of the computer has been switched off.

Here is a useful video that might help.

The MSI built-in CPU boost option
The MSI built-in memory speed support

How to Overclock an Nvidia Graphics Card

NOT FOR LAPTOPS
(EXTRA HEAT WILL BE GENERATED)

MSI Afterburner is a free utility for basic overclocking. The electrical limits on the UI are defined by the manufacturer and are adhered to by Afterburner.

I don’t think this is completely risk free so unless you have ready access to a replacement graphics card and/or motherboard should anything go wrong you would be better leaving it alone.

MSFS VR overclocking
The MSI Afterburner
  • The instructions for the MSI Afterburner are in a blog post on the MSI site and can be found here. The skin shown in the instructions is called MSI Cyborg Afterburner Skin White.
  • MSI Afterburner can be used to:
    • Create and maintain a fan speed profile
    • Create a one-click GPU overclocking profile
    • Overclock your graphics memory
  • The Apply button is shown as a tick icon and you must press that button to confirm that you are saving or using a profile each time you make a change.
  • The storage areas marked 1 to 5 are accompanied by a padlock icon. You must open the padlock in order to save a profile to one of the storage areas.
  • In order for MSI Afterburner to be able to do its job it must be configured to start with Windows and left running. You can hide it away in the taskbar system tray area by selecting the appropriate options.

You can find an entertaining explanation of the process here.

This article is a subsection of
How to Optimise MSFS for VR

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