Flight Simulators for PC by Vito Caresimo
A popular question which comes up time after time is What's the best flight simulator for PC or what is the most realistic flight simulator for PC? I have been flying simulators since the early 1980s starting with PSION flight simulator on the ZX Spectrum right through to modern day Flight Simulators like P3Dv4 .
above Psion Flight Simulator for the ZX Spectrum
There are many types of flight simulators. All have their good point and bad points.
FSX Steam Edition
Publisher : Dovetail Games
Current Price : £19.99
First Released October 2006 by Microsoft Studios
FSX Steam edition was developed many years ago and is 32bit, This means that it doesn't always take advantage of modern day graphics cards and memory as 32Bit applications only use up to a certain amount. FSX can use up to 4MB so is you have more then it doesn't get used. Also FSX doesn't take advantage of modern day graphics cards and a lot of the work is done by the CPU which can cause slow down on slower systems especially when you are approaching cities and major airports. However FSX is very well supported being around for many years it has many Addon scenery and aircraft available for it. Also you can sometimes get FSX in Steam sales for as little as £4.99. Modern day flight simulators use the power of the latest graphics cards and make more efficient use of memory and hardware of modern day PC’S. Helicopters are included in FSX but the flight model is quite poor for the default helicopters included in FSX. You can purchase the Dodosim Bell 206 helicopter which is one of the best helicopters available across all simulators and has extra code in to simulate the helicopter flight model.
Publisher : Lockheed Martin
Current Price : $9.95 a month - Developer, $59.95 - Academic Version, $199 Professional Version, $2300 Professional Plus $2300
First Released November 2010
P3DV4 64 bit, earlier versions 32bit
P3D or Prepar3d developed by Lockheed Martin and is an evolution of FSX now supports 64bit. Price varies on these products depending on the license type you purchase. P3D was born out of FSX, its now moved over to 64bit. Plenty of addons are available for it. One of the most prasied aircraft of all simulators, PMDG 737 is no also available for P3Dv4. Great options to record flights in P3D and play them back. It's known that FSX movie recorder can be a bit buggy at time but the one in P3D works great. One of the top 3 Flight Simulators in our opinion. Pricing can be steep for the professional version which retails at around $199 but the academic version is a good buy at around $50. If you like helicopters however, P3D helicopter flight model is not great. If you want to fly helicopters then look at X-Plane or DCS.
below a video showcasing the best Flight SImulators for PC
Publisher : Laminar Research
Current Price : £54.99
X-plane has always had a huge following. It's been 64bit for a while now so can access large amounts of memory and not restricted like FSX. There are always debates on forums of which is better FSX or X-Plane. However the truth is that X-Plane is constantly updated, Flight Sim World by the same publishers of FSX are working on a newer 64bit flight simulator called Flight Sim World so its unlikely that FSX will be updated to 64bit. X-Plane has a large user base and plenty of free aircraft and scenery available. You don't have to shell out lots of money to get different aircraft. Of course payware aircraft and scenery are still widely available. Aerosoft make some excellent airports and aircraft. OrbX is also starting to develop for X-Plane so lots of positives. As far as the flight model goes, it is very comprehensive. Pilots are know to use X-plane and the helicopter flight model is probably the best of all the civilian flight simulators available here. The only real competitor to the helicopter flight model is DCS but that is a combat simulator.
Publisher : IPACS
First Released : December 2017 (was in early access prior to this)
Current Price : £44.99
Aerofly FS2 has just come out of early access and this is arguably the most photo realistic flight simulator on the market. The graphics are stunning and the flying experience is very good. There is still a lot of development work to do, when we tested it we did not notice much of a clickable cockpit. Scenery is stunning, the New York pack is just amazing, great detail and flying over the city of New York we didn't notice much slowdown at all. A lot of aircraft is included even at this early stage from civilian jets to old war war 1 aircraft. More work still to be done but it is shaping up extremely well. Downsides at the moment for Aerofly is the lack of rotary aircraft, hopefully they will add this in due course.
Publisher : Flightgear
First Released : 2008
Current Price : Free
For those looking for Free flight Simulation you can not go wrong with Flightgear. Again this is 64Bit, lots of aircraft available for Flightgear and most of it is Free! We found the user interface for Flightgear not as user friendly as the other simulators. Helicopters are well supported too and offers a good rotary aircraft flight model. Plenty of free aircraft are available, some better than others. Scenery is ok but not as photorealistic as the other simulators here. Flight model is good and the developers are always very helpful if you need any help. The best Free flight simulator available and if you are on a low budget then you can't go wrong with this.
Flight Sim World
Publisher : Dovetail Games
First Released : Currently in Early Access
Current Price : £19.99
Flight Sim World is another flight simulator in early access at the moment,its made by Dovetail games who also publish FSX and Train Simulator. Only a few aircraft available at this stage but this simulator also includes Missions and a Flying School. Limited aircraft at the moment and no jets or helicopters yet but hopefully these will come soon.
Publisher : GEOFS
First Released : October 2010
Current Price : FREE
Geofs is a free online flight simulator. It contains 20 available aircraft including propeller planes, jets and helicopters. For scenery it uses ariel images of the world. It can run on a variety of operating systems including Windows, Mac , Linux, IOS and Android! The technology use for the 3D globe is Celsium, it is this that provides deatailed photo-realistic landscapes. It also contains 30000 clickable runways to take off from. You are also able to fly anywhere on the earth. With regards to the flight dynamics, the flight model uses Thin Air foil Theory. It simulates lift, drag and stall on aircraft surfaces in real time. Real time weather is also included and multiplayer comes as standard. Examples of the aircraft you can fly in Geofs include the Airbus A380, Boeing 737-700, Cessna 172, Hughes 269a Helicopter and even a hot air balloon and a paraglider!
There are many flight simulators for PC, it's a hard choice , basically it will come down to budget, your PC Specifications and personal preference. Each simulator has it advantages and disadvantages. We have tried all the commerical simulators and found very little difference between them. To help you decide we've compiled some videos showcasing PC flight simulators and another video for the best heliocpter simulators we feel are available for the PC.
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