MSFS: Suggested Settings

In this article we summarise the most important steps to immediately improve your VR experience of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

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

A Quick Guide

The Aim

The goal for all this tinkering is to make the sim run stutter-free and look great. If you don’t want to go through the pros and cons of all the possible settings available listed on the other pages, you could try those shown below, which I feel will make the most difference.

The suggested settings will achieve a reasonable baseline from which you can make incremental improvements. If you haven’t made any changes before then you should see an immediate improvement.

Be aware that there are multiple ways to maximise your results and the ones you prefer will depend on your system and your preferences.

How to Improve the VR Headset Image

The best free improvement you can make for a lower resolution VR headset is to feed it higher resolution frames than it natively supports. It doesn’t sound likely but it works very well. The increase in quality is due in part to the way images are processed, but counter-intuitively, you will also be able to see the increased resolution through the available pixels. Each headset pixel display will access minutely different parts of the source image over time and although the image is averaged within each pixel you will see the image quality increase as a whole.

How to Improve Image Quality & Performance

The best performance boost is currently provided by the NIS/FSR Scaling Tool in the OpenXR Toolkit. This tool is capable of reducing the size of the image that MSFS has to provide. It then upscales the image to full size using algorithmic tricks that preserve details. Upscaling like this saves time.

You can combine this with increasing the render scale for an increase in image quality. Microsoft’s own DLSS implementation will be a built in option you can try out very soon which was stated to be “surprisingly good”.

Be Specific with the Image Render Scales

Managing the sim settings will be less confusing if you nominate a single render scale to be the master (excluding the OpenXR Toolkit upscaler because it doesn’t change the output image size, it changes the input size). I use the VR headset driver’s render scale directly but some headsets may rely on the OpenXR scale instead.

This is how mine are set for a Rift-S:

  • MSFS graphics settings = 100%
  • The OpenXR Toolkit upscaler = 85% input upscaled to 100% output
  • The OpenXR = 100%
  • The headset driver = 135% (my nominated master scale)

How the above scenario works:
The headset driver requests images at native resolution * 135%. The upscaler creates a buffer at 85% of that and the sim creates the image in the buffer. The upscaler expands the 85% image up to 100% of the requested headset size (135%) and feeds it back to the headset driver.

Preparation

  • Check and install any pending Windows Updates.
  • Check and install any pending Microsoft Store Library Updates (OpenXR & Xbox)
  • Update graphics drivers as necessary.
  • Halt auto-starting programs that may be using CPU in the background by using Autoruns and Startup Delayer to control them. Look at the Task Manager process list to find programs that are using the CPU.
  • Benchmark your PC so you can see how things are progressing.
  • Record your CPU & GPU usage using the Task Manager etc.
  • If you are on a shared network, take this into account when checking how the sim is running.
  • Restart you PC to ensure you are beginning in a normal state.

Suggested Settings

These can be used as a baseline to get you going.

  • Check and adjust your PC’s Page File if you have less than 32 Gb of RAM by referring to the relevant section. Note: you need a page file to help Windows even if you don’t need it for the sim.
  • Turn off your anti-virus’s real-time protection for the duration of your flights to reduce stutter. I suggest you make the state of the ant-virus visible on your task bar so you don’t forget to turn it back on again later. If in doubt, leave this out – its important to keep your machine protected.
  • PC Settings
    • Search for ‘Graphics Settings’
      • Set Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling (HAGS) = off
      • Set Variable Refresh Rate = off
      • Add ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ to the Graphics performance preference and set its option to High Performance. This negates the need to set the whole PC to ‘performance’ mode all of the time.
    • Search for ‘Game Mode’ and set Game Mode = off
    • Search for ‘Performance Options’ and in the ‘Advanced’ tab set ‘Performance Allocation’ = background services.
  • Use the OpenXR Toolkit, it will make a substantial difference to the load on your computer.
    • Enable NIS or FSR upscaling (eg: 85% meaning rendered at this fraction of the required size).
    • Use Foveated Rendering if it doesn’t detract from your experience.
    • While you are there, consider adjusting the saturation so it’s more realistic (eg: 45%)
  • If you are using an Nvidia driver open the NVidia Control Panel from the desktop right-click menu and in ‘3D Settings > Manage 3D Settings> Program Settings > Microsoft Flight Simulator’
    include these values as a minimum:
    • DSR – Factors = all factors enabled (global settings tab)
    • Texture Filtering – Negative LOD bias = Clamp
    • Texture Filtering – Anisotropic sample optimization = Application Controlled (x16)
    • Texture Filtering – Quality = performance
    • Texture Filtering – Trilinear optimisation= on
    • Virtual Reality pre-rendered frames = Application Setting
  • Launch Microsoft Flight Simulator and alter these settings:
    • In the MSFS VR Graphics settings, set everything to ’high’ then adjust the settings you care about least step by step until you get a stable output.
    • Use the DLSS anti-aliasing rather than TAA (for now this mans the cockpit may be blurred but this will be fixed in time).
    • Set the size of the MSFS rolling cache to no more than 20Gb as a stutter prevention precaution.
    • Exit MSFS using the provided in-sim ‘exit’ menu option to save your settings.
  • Experiment with oversampling the VR render scale between 120% & 140% using either the VR Headset driver render scale or the OpenXR render scale. Ensure the MSFS render scale is at 100%.
  • Restart your PC and check that the PC settings are still set correctly
  • Launch MSFS and check that the MSFS settings are still set correctly
  • Ensure your ASW / Reprojection set to 30 FPS for your VR headset

That completes the initial pass, and you should be closer to optimal performance.

If you go on to adjust the individual settings in depth it will take a few hours to get everything working together really well. Be aware that some settings require a sim restart before they become active and failing to do this will lead into a quagmire of incorrect observations regarding the settings. You may be surprised to find that the sim operates differently when you come back to it the next day.

Note:
Although the individual settings might also indicate a preference, this is just a guide for those who aren’t sure what to do. Whichever way you go, you will need to experiment to optimise your own preferences.

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

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