Top 10 Tips to Improve Performance on FSX:Steam Edition

Top 10 Tips to Improve Performance on FSX:Steam Edition
Top 10 Tips to Improve Performance on FSX:Steam Edition

6 November, 2016


Does your computer, or gaming rig struggle to achieve more than 25 – 30 frames/sec (fps), or would you like to improve your performance of FSX:Steam without spending any money? Well you’ve come to the right place. I will be guiding you through a list of TESTED performance cheats/hacks that you can actively use on your flight simulator to achieve the best possible realism during your virtual flying career.

Lets get started!

1. Disable Steam Overlay

You might or might not be aware already, but whenever you run a game that is installed via steam, by default the steam overlay will always run on top of your game to bring you additional features such as the ability to directly take screenshots and upload them to your Steam profile, and other bits and pieces that allows you to access parts of Steam whilst playing the game.

For me, this overlay is not of much use and if anything it only adds extra annoyance with mini popups.

And believe it or not, disabling this feature can improve your gaming performance, not just in FSX but also in other games. The reason is simple! You are essentially removing another application that is running in parallel with your game, and as such can have a relatively big impact in its in-game experience.

Instructions for removal of overlay:

Step 1: Open Steam
Step 2: On the top menu LEFT hand corner, click on "Steam" and navigate to "Settings"
Step 3: Click on the "In-Game" tab
Step 4: Uncheck the tickbox (option) that says "Enable the steam overlay while in-game"


2. Disable Light Bloom & Lens Flare

You can find these options under the “Display” section in your FSX Settings. Light bloom has always been a source of massive resource hogging from the early days of FSX, and a lot of people are not particularly keen on the exaggerated effect that it produces anyway. Lens flare on the other hand does not impose that much of a performance hit, but again every little bit adds up, and i highly recommend that you keep this feature turned off.

3. Set FPS to Unlimited In-Game, Use External Service to Limit

It is not wise to limit your FPS in the main settings page, but use an external software such as nVidia inspector to handle this for you. NOTE: This will only work for those who have nvidia graphics cards. AMD users are out of luck unfortunately.

Instructions to setup nVidia Inspector

Step 1: Go to your FSX Settings > Display and turn your FPS slider to "Unlimited"
Step 2: Download nvidia inspector from
Step 3: Follow the installation process and open the application.
Step 4: You will see your computer specs in a list. Next to the "Driver Version", there is a small icon with a "spanner/screwdriver" symbol. CLICK on it.
Step 5: On the top, you will see a search bar. Search for "Microsoft Flight Simulator 10"
Step 6: You will see an option called "Frame Rate Limiter". Set that to a limit of your choice. My recommendation is 30 for an i5 processor (or lower) and 60 for an i7 processor.
Step 7: Save


4. Kill AI Traffic

AI vehicles such as boats, cars, trucks, and planes can trigger unnecessary cut in performance simply due to the fact that the system will need to render more “object” models within the environment engine. Of course, if you are looking for ultimate realism, then switching these settings off may not be ideal, however if you are running on a non-top-end PC, then i highly recommend you keep this off (or turned down at least).

If you are flying on a network such as Vatsim, Fscloud or Steam multiplayer, then having AI traffic may not be desirable anyway, so its always a good practice to keep this turned off.

5. Turn off Ground Scenery Shadows

Ground shadows illuminate shadows on various ground objects such as buildings and scenery objects. Although it may be more appealing to the eye, this feature can dramatically reduce your performance.

Instructions to remove Ground Shadows:

Step 1: Go to settings > customize > scenery
Step 2: Uncheck the tick box that is labelled "Ground scenery shadows"


6. Turn off Aircraft Shadows

Aircraft “induced” shadows that cast shadows on the ground and on the aircraft itself can also be a major threat to the handling of the flight simulator.

Instructions to remove Aircraft Shadows:

Step 1: Go to settings > customize > aircraft
Step 2: Uncheck the 2 tick boxes that is labelled "Aircraft casts shadows on the ground" and "Aircraft casts shadows on itself".


7. Turn down Autogen Density

Auto generated terrain even at its lowest settings can be a bit over-rated and unnecessary in most aspects when compared to previous Microsoft produced simulators such as FS9.


Step 1: Go to settings > customize > scenery
Step 2: Turn down the slider labelled "Autogen density"


8. Cloud Levels

The default weather engine is not entirely perfect and not very well optimized, and therefore having too many clouds up in the sky with a high cloud density is not really going to help you achieve a relatively moderate level of smoothness. The lowest cloud draw distance settable via the settings panel is 60mi (96KM) is already a relatively high value.

If on the other hand you are using an external service to inject weather, then play around with the settings to make sure that too many cloud objects are not being generated.


Step 1: Go to settings > customize > weather
Step 2: Turn the "Cloud draw distance" all the way down to 60mi.
Step 3: Turn the "Cloud coverage distance" to Medium, or consider setting is even lower.

9.  Close down other running programs

As much as this may sound a little obvious, closing down other programs such as browsers (for example chrome eats up a lot of memory) can take up a lot of your resources. If you are running antivirus programs such as Norton, then i highly recommend you experiment to see if you can save running resources by turning it off. For example, if i need to look at charts and other data, i use my ipad or laptop to view them as necessary.

If you are doing long haul flights, then you may need to run other programs in the background to do some of your other work, but be sure to close them down when you are approaching decent or landing.

10. Get better hardware

At the end of the day, FSX is a 10 year old piece of software and runs on old functions and possibly optimized systems. This is the reason why most of your other games may run perfectly on your system unlike FSX. Therefore, in order to compensate for this, it is necessary to upgrade your hardware to pull out as many more frames as possible.


I hope you found some of these tips useful to improve your overall flight simulation experience. Please leave suggestions or any comments below.


  • Some of the tips I knew but most I did not, so many thanks. I love long haul but lately have not been able to due to oom, so I will try these tips and see if I can make it across the pond. Thanks again!

    • Thank you for your comment. If you are having OOM issues, i recommend you try to tweak your FSX config also. I believe there is a HIGHMEMFIX attribute you can set 🙂

  • THANKS A LOT MATE! Managed to get around an extra 10 fps on my low end machine. I definitely did not know about the steam overlay stuff.


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