Am I pleased with my MS Flight Simulator 2020 new PC build so far?

I couple of weeks back I did something I hadn’t done since around 2000. I built my own custom build PC specifically for playing the new MS Flight Simulator 2020. You can read about my musing on selecting my components here.

The final specs I went with are:

  • Fractal Meshify C case
  • ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) ATX Motherboard with PCIe 4.0, Dual M.2)
  • EVGA 650 B5, 80 Plus BRONZE 650W
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT
  • Corsair Force MP600 M.2 2280 500GB PCI-Express Gen 4.0 x4 NVMe
  • CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3600

The last component I couldn’t decide on was the graphics card, but I eventually went with an EVGA RTX 2060 KO.

So what have been my results so far? Has it worked out as I expected?

Yes. I’m pleased. I’m only running at 1080 resolution as I don’t have a 4k monitor. On high settings I’m getting around 50 to 60 fps in most areas, including most cities. If I dial it up to Ultra I’m still getting around 50fps, but over cities like Seattle it does drop to around 20 to 30fps, and that seems to vary a lot.

I’ve played most of the prior MS Flight Simulator versions over the years, and from prior experience I’m happy with getting 30fps. To get 50 to 60 fps over most areas at high I am very happy with. I had those moments of doubt that maybe it would turn out you really did need a monster of a PC, but even going with slightly better that recommended specs, I’m more than happy with the results so far.

Have there been other issues? Sure, there’s lots of weird and unusual glitches and bugs, I’ll write about those in a following post later.

MS Flight Simulator 2020: Release day 1 (8/17/2020) download issues

Seems like there’s been plenty of issues on release day 1 getting the new Flight Simulator 2020 downloaded and installed. For me, here’s a summary of some of the issues I ran into:

  • Installer crashing when using KVM to switch keyboard and mouse to second PC. It took me a while to realize the cause of this as it happens a short while after I made the switch. It seems the installer doesn’t like if you disconnect a wireless mouse or keyboard and the installer would crash without any error to the desktop. Restarting it would pick up from where it left off
  • App starting even though download had failed part way through. This happened a couple of times for me related to the above. I could get to the globe and select a start airport and destination airport, but the ‘Fly’ button wouldn’t do anything
  • Downloader/installer showing incorrect total file size download, total download size, and or percentage. This happened related to the above crashes. If the progress bar is not adding up, look in the download dir below and see where you are with the 001 to 031 files to give a rough idea how far along you are
  • Depending on whether you purchased on Steam or the Windows Store, and where you selected to install to, your location may vary but for me the location was C:\Users\my-userid\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft Flight Simulator\Packages\Official\Steam . To get an idea how far along you are with the download if the progress bar is not making sense, look for files named fs-base-cgl-0.1.21.fspackage.nnn where nnn ranges from 001 through 031 and each of these files is approx 2GB each. Once you get to 031 there’s a handful of much smaller patch files, then the installer starts decompressing each of the 001 through 031 files (which will vary depending on the speed of your CPU and disk – on my Ryzen 5 3600 with Gen 4 m.2 SSD it was taking about 10secs per file)
  • If you get stuck on one of the numbered files and it seems like the download is not progressing at all, posts online suggest to quit the app, delete the last/most recent file in the above dir on which it’s stuck then start the installer again and it will restart with the last file again

Interrelated personal side projects can be a goldmine of learning opportunities

Some people struggle to find ideas for working on side/personal software development projects for learning (and fun!). I’ve kept a running list of ideas in an online notebook and if I’m struggling for an idea for a new project I refer back to this list.

Over the past couple of years I stumbled across a series of inter-related projects that’s been a goldmine of learning opportunities, from frontend to backend to serverless.

This series of projects started with a question “Can you solve a problem without understanding the problem?”. tl;dr? No. The problem for this activity was solving Sudoku puzzles, and you can read more about this here:

This lead to the next step, researching more about exact cover problems, and how they can be solved with well established algorithms:

After building an implementation of Donald Knuth’s Algorithm X, I packaged it up as an AWS Lambda, and then built a React frontend for it:

I have one other project in progress for the frontend, replacing Flux with Redux. I’m still working on that one.

After building my solver and the frontend, I starting thinking about how to generate new puzzles. This is in progress here:

If you’re generating new puzzles you also need a way to grade the difficulty of puzzles. The unusual thing about this is there’s no established algorithm for grading the complexity of Sudoku puzzles, they’re typically graded by applying human solving techniques, so this led to this:

This string of related projects has kept me busy of the past couple of years. Not every idea will lead to a series of related projects like this, but if you can find an idea that does, it will keep you busy with plenty of problems to solve and many learning opportunities.

Corsair Force M.2 MP600 500GB Gen 4 SSD benchmarks

I’ve never seen any disk read and write throughput values measured in multiples of GB per second before, this is really quite astonishing. This is the performance benchmark in CrystalDiskMark of my new Corsair Force M.2 MP600 Gen 4 SSD in my new PC build. The motherboard is an Asus X570 Plus:

I’m used to seeing typical 500MB/s reads and writes on a SATA SSD, but these M.2 format SSDs are outstanding.