DCS is a demanding game, especially if you intend to play in VR. However, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences on PC. DCS especially appeals to mature audiences who have the patience to to study complex systems to fly these highly capable combat aircraft like the way they are meant to.
In addition to time, you also need to invest in the necessary hardware. This can be quite confusing and frankly I too was baffled when I first started to build my DCS rig back in 2014. Since then, I have tried out dozens of hardware options including CPUs, GPUS, VR headsets, monitors, joysticks etc.
These are my top recommendations for a highly capable DCS rig based on my experiences over the years. This is the top-end for both VR and pancake (monitor) gaming.
- 8 Cores / 16 Threads
- 3.60 GHz up to 5.00 GHz / 16 MB Cache
The 9900K is the best CPU for DCS right now. This is because DCS still mostly relies on a single core and the 9900K has the highest single core performance amongst consumer grade CPUs. The Ryzens perform better for multi-core but you don’t need that here.
The 9900K can overclock to 5 GHz and that’s the best you can get right now. Just make sure to provide ample cooling using a 240mm or 360mm radiator.
The performance difference between a 9900K or a cheaper 9700K is not going to be staggering so you can get either. For cheaper CPU options, use this guide.
2. Graphics Card
- Powered by NVIDIA Turing with 1665 MHz Boost Clock (OC Mode), 4352 CUDA cores and overclocked 11GB...
- Supports up-to 4 monitors with DisplayPort 1. 4, HDMI 2. 0 and a VR headset via USB Type C ports
The 2080Ti is the only graphics card worthy of being paired with the 9900K. Nothing else comes close right now so this is a more straightforward choice. The only reason not to pick a 2080Ti is cost and in that case, there are some cheaper options that I have reviewed in this article.
- Hand-sorted memory chips ensure high performance with generous overclocking headroom.
- Vengeance LPX is optimized for wide compatibility with the latest Intel and AMD DDR4 motherboards.
DCS does benefit from having 32 GB of RAM if you can provide it. This will really help with the loading times. It works with 16 GB as well but then some of the assets have to be loaded form the page file or form the SSD which can affect performance especially during loading.
It is very important to pick high speed/ low latency RAM though. Not all RAM are created qual. The one I have recommended is the 3200 MHz DDR4 RAM which is the best available. There are 2133MHz and 2400 MHz options too so make sure you are selecting the right options before you buy!
- INNOVATIVE V NAND TECHNOLOGY: Powered by Samsung V NAND Technology, the 970 EVO SSD’s NVMe...
- BREAKTHROUGH READ WRITE SPEEDS: Sequential read and write performance levels of up to 3,500MB/s and...
- Innovative V-Nand Technology: Powered by Samsung V-Nand Technology, the 860 Evo SSD offers optimized...
- Continuity tester/Wire tracer
DCS easily uses upwards of 200 GB of space with all modules. Ideally, you want all your games on a separate SSD than your operating system because they both will try to access the disk simultaneously and this can affect gaming performance. Its not that big of a deal but it is best practice to put more demanding games on a secondary SSD.
As always, faster is better. The NVMe is a pretty good option but I personally have used over a half a dozen Samsung Pros/ Evos without issue. Some of them are 8 years old now and still kicking! Quality stuff.
5. Joysticks/ Controllers
The Virpils and VKBs are pretty good but they have an availability issue. Most DCS users eventually end up with a mix and match kind of situation where they might have a Joystick from one company and the throttle from another.
6. Rudder Pedals
- Self-centering pedals with adjustable damping / Foot rests adjust to fit all sizes and include...
- Precise rudder and braking control / Tension adjustment - choose resistance to suit the way you fly
I recommend the Logitech G PRO Flight Rudder Pedals. I feel it hits the sweet spot in terms of quality and price. There are other more expensive options available, but they are several times more expensive. You would honestly be better off putting that money towards a better CPU, graphics card or VR Headset really.
- The 34 inches curved monitor with 21: 9 ratio and 1900 radius maximizes your field of view. The new...
- Fast 120 hertz refresh rate (overclocked) combined with 4 millisecond response time delivers buttery...
- 34 inch UWQHD (3440x1440) 1900R curved IPS panel with an overclocked refresh rate up to 120 Hertz...
- Nvidia G SYNC technology features NVIDIA G SYNC Processor to ensure smooth game play by eliminating...
I have been using ultrawide monitors for a while now and the Alienware is my top recommendation followed by the Asus. They both have G-sync and an IPS panel which I consider essential for gaming. They also go up to 120 Hz which is the minimum I recommend.
They are both more or less the same on paper. In practice, the difference between them is so negligible that I was frankly unable to make a judgment. So pick the one which is cheaper or the brand you like better. I like both Asus and Alienware.
I have used triple monitors as well and I’d take a single ultrawide over a multimonitor setup any day.
TrackIR is essential if you are planning on using a monitor!
8. VR Headset
- Field of view: 114°
- Connectivity Technology: Wired
The HP Reverb is clearly the best consumer grade VR headset for DCS and all other sims right now. It has a much clearer screen not just on paper, but in practice as well. The Index is a distant second to the Reverb when it comes to screen clarity. I actually sold my Index to a friend after getting the Reverb.
|Headset||Resolution (per eye)||Pixels (both eyes)|
|Reverb||2160 x 2160||9,331,200|
|Index||1440 x 1600||4,608,000|
|Vive Pro||1440 x 1600||4,608,000|
|Cosmos Elite||1440 x 1700||4,896,000|
|Rift S||1280 x 1440||3,686,400|
|Vive||1080 x 1200||2,592,000|
A VR Headset is a significant investment so take some time to and read my in-depth review for DCS here.