In 1986, Bruce Artwick began work on a new personal project. This time, the purpose was to build a 3D graphic aircraft flight simulator as a hobby to share with friends. Before long, it grew beyond his own interest and Bruce’s passion led him to share the program with the world. Flight Simulator has been a best-seller since its inception and is now part of a large community of flight simulators both for Windows and Mac OS.
With a large community comes a variety of modifications that help you to tailor your flying experience to your preferences. The same goes for flight simulators, which has been around for over three decades. They go far beyond the average flight simulators out there. In fact, I could dedicate an entire article to everything Flight Simulator series has given us over the years. But today I’m going to be more modest. If you’re looking for a high-quality product with an incredible selection of customization options and solid, reliable simulation mechanics – you’re in luck! You won’t have any trouble finding what you need at any price point – here are my recommendations on some of the best gaming laptops for Flight Simulator.
Requirements for a Microsoft Flight Simulator laptop
Major The right graphics card
Choosing the best graphics card for playing Microsoft Flight Simulator is an easy task. That’s because all you need is a decent integrated graphics chip, or better yet, a dedicated GPU in the form of GTX 1660 Ti. It doesn’t matter what the price bracket is.
Minimum graphics (under $1000)
I can’t think of any sensible scenario in which integrated graphics would be good enough for playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. Maybe that’s just me? If you’re working with $1000 or less, I advise you to go for a GTX 1650 and pray for the best.
Recommended graphics ($1600 – $2500)
If you’re in this price range, my suggestion is to go for GTX 1660 Ti or RX 5600M. Both cards should be able to provide enough horsepower to handle Microsoft Flight Simulator on high settings without breaking a sweat. Just keep in mind that if your budget goes over $2000, there are better alternatives out there like RTX 2070 Super.
Best graphics ($2500 and up)
To get the best possible experience with Microsoft Flight Simulator, I recommend RTX 2070 Super or one of its slightly more expensive brothers – RTX 3070 and RTX 3080. You’ll have no problem reaching 50 FPS on high settings.
- integrated graphics are not good enough for playing Microsoft Flight Simulator
- GTX 1650 is the minimum for $1000 or less
- GTX 1660 Ti or RX 5600M are the recommended GPUs for $1600 – $2500
- RTX 2070 Super or one of its slightly more expensive brothers are the best GPUs for $2500 and up
Major Choosing the right memory for Microsoft Flight Simulator
For Flight Simulator, there are two specific scenarios in which the minimum amount of RAM will suffice. One is if you are using it as a supplement to an offline simulator and have no intention of connecting to the Internet. The other is if you want to use Flight Simulator solely for its photo-realistic scenery, since the game itself is not demanding on the system.
Minimum (8 GB)
If you are just looking for an offline simulator, then 8GB should be enough. There are two situations in which this will be enough. One is if you only plan on using it for its scenery, which doesn’t demand much of your system. The other is if you plan on using it as a supplement to another offline simulator and don’t intend to connect to the Internet. If you plan on doing anything else with it, or plan on playing online multiplayer, then 16GB should be your bare minimum.
Recommended (16 GB)
I would recommend 16GB RAM for all games that require more than just scenery, like Microsoft Flight Simulator. These games will not only demand more from your system, but also use more RAM for their own purposes. You can also play these games online with other people, so they’ll need even more RAM than single player games do. I would recommend at least 16GB so that you don’t have any issues with getting stuttering or other lagging during gameplay sessions or multiplayer sessions with friends.
Best (32 GB)
You might also want to consider 32GB RAM for your computer if you’re looking for something that will last through multiple generations of Flight Simulator updates and will still be able to handle modern demands for graphics cards and CPUs by 2020 or 2030. The more memory your computer has available now, the less likely it will need upgrades in the future.
- Flight Simulator is not demanding on system resources
- you can play it offline with 8 GB RAM
- you can play it online with 16 GB RAM
- you can play it online with 32 GB RAM
Major Choosing the right processor for Microsoft Flight Simulator
We’re talking about the second most important component in your gaming rig. Second only to your graphics card, but often overlooked by gamers looking for an excellent performance. To put it bluntly, if you want to take full advantage of your computer’s capabilities, the processor is what you need to pay attention to.
Microsoft Flight Simulator can be quite CPU-intensive – so I recommend at least a Intel i3-1005G1 or an Intel Core i5-10300H. The game will not work well on low-end processors. I’d also suggest upgrading to Intel i5-10500H for smoother gameplay and higher FPS in multiplayer mode.
That’s not enough information! I hear you, reader. Let me list my suggestions for choosing the best laptop processors for playing Microsoft Flight Simulator:
- Intel i3-1005G1 – minimum required CPU
- i5-10300H – perfect mid-range CPU for gaming; reasonably priced; no additional considerations needed;
- Intel i5-10500H – high-end CPU
Optional requirements for a Microsoft Flight Simulator laptop
Optional The best storage for Microsoft Flight Simulator in 2021
Playing Microsoft Flight Simulator? It’s not like we’re playing, like, anything else. But you know, this ain’t easy and we can’t be messing around with storage space – we need plenty of it. We don’t want to make the wrong decision and regret it later. I’m here to help.
Is HDD an option?
I’ll be frank with you – HDDs are out of the question. You might want to consider buying a laptop with an HDD if you’re on a tight budget, but that’s just about it. We can do without HDDs in our high-end gaming laptops – SSDs are a lot more expensive but a much better choice in terms of performance and longevity. That’s why I recommend you to stay away from them if you have a higher budget, and only buy one as a backup measure for less pricey laptops where other specs are crucial.
Picking an SSD
I’ll get straight to the point – get yourself a laptop with an NVMe PCI-e SSD over one with SATA connection. If you’ve got some cash left after that, get one with a lot of RAM for smoother gameplay and less stuttering when loading larger textures. That’s pretty much it for choosing your laptop storage capacity for playing Microsoft Flight Simulator!
- get an NVMe PCI-e SSD over a SATA connection
- get a laptop with a lot of RAM for smoother gameplay and less stuttering when loading larger textures
Optional What’s the best display for playing Microsoft Flight Simulator?
A gamer’s display needs are as diverse as their interests. A few parameters that need to be addressed: resolution, refresh rate, and panel type. It’s best to ask yourself what is most important to you.
If you’re not an avid player – 1080p should suffice. I would go with 1440p if you’re looking for a richer color palette. And 4k if you want an immersive, gorgeous experience. For competitive gamers – 1080p or 1440p should do nicely, but for casual players or flight simmers – 4k is overkill.
For flight simmers, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. But I’ll say this: IPS displays typically offer higher refresh rates than TN panels. And, of course, they come with many other benefits too. If you want the best experience in Microsoft Flight Simulator – IPS is your best bet for a display type.
Panel and image quality
As always, there are three panel types in modern laptops: TN, IPS, and OLED/AMOLED. TN panels are the cheapest option, but have lower quality displays with slower response times and poorer color accuracy than IPS panels. TN screens are primarily used in budget laptops because they cost less to manufacture – so while it might be tempting to go for a cheaper laptop – I’d recommend against it if your intention is to play flight sims on the highest setting possible without compromising the graphics’ fidelity at all costs (e.g., low framerate). TN panels will do just fine if that’s not your goal though; it’s more about preference than performance in this case (TN panels provide lower input latency).
- go with 1080p if you’re not an avid gamer or flight simmer
- 1440p is ideal for color fidelity and richness in flight sims
- 4k is only necessary for competitive players and people who are really into flight sims
- TN panels are fine for casual players and people who are not into flight sims
5 Best Laptops for Microsoft Flight Simulator
Pros and cons
- Very good display (15.6 IPS HDR Touch)
- Up to scratch memory amount (16GB)
- Unremarkable processor (i7-9850H)
- Middle-of-the-road graphics card (Quadro T2000)
Table of Best Laptops for Microsoft Flight Simulator
|Lenovo ThinkPad P53 20QN001VUS||$740|
|Lenovo Legion 5||$960|
|Dell XPS 9710||$1140|
|Acer Predator Helios 300||$1840|
|Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen||$3650|