Microsoft Flight Simulator Optimal VR Settings Guide (2022)

MSFS is rather demanding flight simulator, especially in VR. In fact, it is more demanding than any other VR flight sim in my experience. But you wont hear me complaining about any of that as the graphical quality is unmatched as well. Where else can you fly anywhere in the world and crash your plane on a continent of your choosing? If you need help picking out the right hardware, follow any of these guides:

With that out of the way, lets get cracking on those settings.

1. In-game Graphic Settings

Graphical SettingRecommendationComments
Render Scaling100%This adjusts the resolution  at which the game is rendered. 100% is native. Reduce this to 80% if you are having performance issues
Anti-AliasingTAAThis remove jaggies. TAA is Temporal AA and its a medium tier AA tech.
Terrain LoD100%The Level of Detail of the Terrain. Higher is better but it eats up performance.
Terrain Vector DataLowAffects tessellation for edges of certain terrain features.
BuildingsHighMinor performance impact unless you are close to the ground
TreesHighMedium performance impact but only closer to ground.
Grass And BushesHighSame as above.
Objects LoD100% – 150%This is the Level of Detail of objects in the game. I am happy with 100% but if you have some headroom left you can go a bit higher. Medium performance impact.
Volumetric CloudsHighThis can have some performance impact but its not as bad as I expected based on other sims.
Texture ResolutionHighPerformance intensive but important for a good visual experience
Anistrophic Filtering16xThis has minimal performance impact so crank it up to 16x. It makes some things look better.
Texture Supersampling4×4Some performance impact. Definitely go over this.
Texture SynthesisHighHigh should be fine. If affects how the scenery looks at a distance and you want it to look nice.
Water WavesHighMakes the water look good. Minor performance impact.
Shadow Maps768Affects shadow quality. Performance intensive.
Terrain Shadows512Shadows are important. This usually has a high performance impact but 512 seems ok. I go much higher in other sims like DCS.
Contact ShadowsOffNice to have but performance heavy. Not worth it.
Windshield EffectsHighMinor performance impact. Does what it says.
Ambient OcclusionOffHigh performance impart even on 2D monitors. Best to leave it off. Maybe in 5 years!
ReflectionsHighReflections are performance heavy but really add to the visual experience.
Light ShaftsOffI personally dislike all these fake camera effects in my games (even 2D). Turn them off unless you really like it. The performance impact is minimal.
BloomOffSame as above.
Depth of FieldOffSame as above.
Lens CorrectionOffSame as above.
Lens FlareOffSame as above.
Glass Cockpit Refresh RateLowSome performance impact. Affects how quickly the reflections update on the cockpit glass.

1.1 Traffic Settings

A lot of people ignore traffic settings but it is very important you spend some time here. Every car, every horse, every boat, every other plane in the game has a performance cost and you need to minimize it. Personally, I reduce it as much as possible since I find it unnecessary. However, I know some people like the hustle and bustle of AI vehicles zooming around. In any case, make sure the use generic models settings is turned on as this will reduce the load along with low traffic variety. For individual density, pick a value form 0 to 50% depending on how much you really need (I usually go all the way to zero).

2. NVIDIA Control Panel Settings

Assuming you have an Nvidia graphics card, there are a few settings you can tweak here. Or rather that other guides tell you to tweak without knowing what they even mean.

DCS-VR-Optimization

Virtual Reality pre-rendered frames – The one setting that often gets talked about is  “Virtual Reality pre-rendered frames” and setting that to 3. Note that there is a trade off here between frames and latency with this setting. Increasing it to 3 means the CPU will buffer some additional frames ready but it may cause higher latency/ lag/ input delay and even mess up re-projection. So don’t just blindly put it to 3 and call it a day – it might make things worse. Try 1 or 3 and see which one your brain prefers.

Anti-aliasing – Some guides also tell you to set anti-aliasing to 2x MSAA from here instead from the in-game setting as it is faster. That is also not true. You can’t set MSAA at the driver level for DirectX11 games. You can switch MFAA on from here though and that does work.

3. SteamVR Settings

Motion Smoothing – Your headset will most likely have a refresh rate of 90Hz, 80Hz or 120Hz etc. Sometimes your GPU will not be able to keep up. So what happens is that SteamVR, Oculus or WMR will look at the previous few frames and use predictive algorithms to extrapolate or guess the next frame. This means that if the GPU can’t keep up with the refresh rate, you will see some guesstimated frames.

Motion Smoothing is Valve’s name for this tech. I think it is best to keep this on even if you hit 90 FPS normally. It does have some downsides, but it is better than not having it on. If you ever do go below 90 FPS (which you will), it will prevent frame drops.

Note that WMR’s motion reprojection is also turned on by this same setting for now. Read the next section on WMR to know more.

Resolution – This is where you set your super sampling level. You have two choices here. Push it up and then aim for 45 FPS with reprojection/ motion smoothing to make up for the rest. Keep it low and aim for 90 FPS or whatever is the native FPS for your headset.

I generally use 150% SS for other games but its simply not possible with MSFS so I have to use 100%. You wont get anywhere close to 90 FPS even with a 3090 in MSFS. Just tinker with it based on your graphics card and VR headset.

4. Windows Mixed Reality Settings

Note: Only needed if you have a WMR headset like the Reverb!

4.1. Motion Reprojection Setting Changes

This beta makes changes to how motion reprojection settings can be managed. Like before, the default.vrsettings file can be modified to specify the reprojection mode to use for all titles. As a reminder, the possible values are:

  • disabled – motion reprojection is never applied.
  • auto – motion reprojection is applied if the running title cannot maintain native framerate.
  • motionvector – motion reprojection is always applied.

Alternatively, if you’re using Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR in conjunction with the latest SteamVR release, you can now use SteamVR to manage motion reprojection settings on a per-application basis. To enable this functionality:

  1. Ensure you’re running a supported version of SteamVR (1.10.28 or greater).
  2. Remove the “motionReprojectionMode” line from default.vrsettings.
  3. In the SteamVR settings, select Video > Per Application Video Settings.
  4. Select the title you’re interested in, and change the motion smoothing option.

4.2. Motion Smoothing Setting

  • Use Global Setting – no application specific override. The global default mode is auto.
  • Enabled – motion reprojection runs in auto mode, applying reprojection if the application cannot maintain native framerate.
  • Disabled – motion reprojection is never applied for the application.
  • Force Always-on – application runs at half-framerate with reprojection.

4.3 OpenXR

If you are using a WMR headset like the Reverb G2, you dont need to use SteamVR! You can just use OpenXR. To enable this, go to your SteamVR developer settings and simply change the OpenXR runtime to WMR. Here is a screenshot to help you find the setting:

Once you do this, SteamVR wont be used at all for MS Flight Simulator. Instead you will simply use WMR. Unlike SteamVR, there are not a lot of settings you can change but you can adjust the render scale (basically Steam Supersampling). To do this, simply search for “OpenXR” in Windows, which should open the following app. 100% is the default resolution. I usually set it higher for other sims like DCS, IL2 or Dirt Rally 2 etc. But MS Flight Sim is such a resource hog that I leave this at 100%.

Some users suggest moving it up to say, 200% and then reducing the in-game render resolution to 50% instead. The net result would be the exact same resolution, but since the OpenXR is allegedly more efficient than the game, it should give you more performance. I say allegedly because this is all based on anecdotal evidence. Best option, like always, is try it out and see if it works for you. There are so many different PC configurations that it is impossible to generalize for everyone.

5. Windows Settings

Windows Game Mode – Turn this off along with Windows Xbox Game Bar.

Also, go to your graphics setting and turn off Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling (HAGS). These settings cause issues. In fact, the latter was preventing my system from achieving motion reprojection when in auto mode.

About the Author

Gary (Flanker)

Gary has been "hard landing" into runways and driving his Mitsubishi Evo off of cliffs since the early 2000s. These days, he spends most of his precious hobby time with his favorite flight, racing and space simulations in VR.He also has an Engineering Degree in Computer Science which helps a lot with his obsession with optimizing PC hardware like CPUs, Graphics Cards, VR Headsets, HOTAS, Racing Wheels etc. for high end sims.