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How smooth is smooth?

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I am a passionate simmer. I think I do nothing else but searching for the holy grail of smoothness in flight simulator. Every day, I try to test different settings searching for it but until now I have not found it. I feel a little sad that after so many money spent in flight simulator, I still have not what I want.  


What drives me to write this post, is users expressions of ''smooth'' or ''butter smooth'' flight. And I would like to ask you hardcore flight simmers. I do not plan to start an endless topic but rather do a poll like thread when you can simply reply if you agree with me or not.


I am not satisfied yet with smoothness. Its really a question for me what you guys mean when you say ''stutter free'', ''smooth" or ''smooth like butter''. Do you get perfectly smooth movement when you roll your aircraft? When you see from the side window during takeoff or landing? We have to be precise. If someone thinks that he has a butter smooth sim using complex airports, PMDG, weather, mesh and scenery addons, I think he should be careful because others (like me) get confused. I don't say that it is impossible, but I think I run a pretty powerful setup and haven't been able yet to have 100% smooth flights. There will be moments when I steer the aircraft on the ground or do a rolls during turns that stutters will appear. There will be moments when TIR is very smooth and moments when TIR is not smooth. I maybe chasing the impossible, but I am not satisfied. When you taxi your NGX and follow the yellow center line of the taxiway, how smoothly it moves below windshield?..my eye can always see very small stutters there..and that's why I am not satisfied...and if you don't get 100% smooth sailing all the times, you can't say that you have a butter smooth result...can you? 

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Good topic, I'm in the same boat as you... I get very confused when I see people here reporting "very smooth" and "butter smooth" experience.


I've tried every possible settings with no "butter smooth" experience, only bad micro stutters!!!

Regards, Albert Miu
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Hi nice thread


i feel the flight beeing smooth when the FPS are at least around 30 stable and the plane movement / scenery "scrolling" is fluid + no noticeable stutters (I admit, however, not to be a so picky observer)


Also when i pan around i must not get lag


I get this everywhere with Rob's settings + orbx sceneries + REX + ASN excluding big cities and payware airports (usually 15-25FPS) certainly even in wild areas during a long flight there are temporary exceptions where it seems not as fluid like those that you said, but i'm still satisfied with the performance of the sim - for the moment.


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For the most part I have stutter free flight but there are times where certain cloud formations (overcast as an example) will give me some stuttering as I'm climbing/descending through them. As much as I respect the dedicated group of P3D contributors here, I take all claims of ''stutter free'', ''smooth" or ''smooth like butter'' with a grain of salt because no two hardware platforms are the same, not all our settings are perfectly matched up in SIM and not all our video card settings are perfectly synced up so there are just too many variables to contend with for ''stutter free'', ''smooth" or ''smooth like butter'' flight across the board. I don't disagree with someone who makes those claims for their particular test flight but I'm apprehensive to believe their specific settings would apply to the masses and "cure" stutters, pauses, hiccups that the vast majority of us are experiencing flying a typical flight between add-on airports flying over add-on terrain textures and add-on mesh all the while using add-on weather programs calling add-on environmental textures (clouds, sky, etc...)


I approach things pretty simplistic. I manage my expectations and accept that at times, given everything I choose to add on to P3D, I will experience some form of stuttering, pauses or slowdowns and if in the end it greatly impacts my overall enjoyment, I start pruning things down and the first place I start are with the sliders in P3D. It's all about compromises I guess.



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I am totally with you on this one. I too have noticed the same things. I've got P3D tuned to about the best it can be and it works pretty well, but every now and then I do notice a slight stuttering, even when the counter is showing over 30 fps. I think it is the software programming and the way autogen and scenery is displayed or "scrolled by". I can't put my finger on it. My FSX-DX10 with the fixer does not do that, but then it is not as rich looking as P3D 2.5



Lee Holdridge

i7 8700K 4.8 OC 32GB Ram 11GB GTX 1080ti


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I agree too


Sometimes FPS displayed seems simply wrong: the FPS are above 30 but the plane seems to go in spurts in the air


Also, besides the fact that no system is the same, it should be added that no human eye is the same, so what seems smooth to me (that I'm not a picky observer) may look not smooth to someone else.


Blessed are those who are content with little :-)

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What I see now, is much smoother, than any of my past flight simulation experiences. I always considered X-Plane as generally being smoother than FSX, and FS9 was too.  Smooth to me, is the absense of micro-stutter. As things start to slow down some, I'll first notice the micro-stutter at the bottom sides of the screen.  These days, I'm seeing some really smooth perceptions of flight in both FSX and X-Plane. I'm even using Orbx scenery and well made payware GA airplanes. Frame rates are usually in the upper 40's to upper 60's with Orbx. I've seen highs in the 200's for for both X-Plane and FSX. There IS a difference, that the eye catches over 30 fps.


Everything isn't perfect though. I can still pull down the frame rates with both sims. Due to complicated airports, and scenery.  Down into the 30's, and sometimes below. And sometimes, the smoothness just isn't there. Happily, it's there much more than not. I7 3960X, GTX 980, 2560*1440 monitor.

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I define smooth as no perceivable transition between frames, and no stutters. Much like flowing water down a babbling brook. This can be achieved on any PC, if you fly over the Pacific in clear skies. 


When that fluidity is achieved in at least 90% of sim scenarios, I will be happy, but will have also passed on to my next life.



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When I refer to butter smooth it is directly comparing FSX to P3D, I never knew what this felt like or looked like.  FSX always had micro stutters, yes I pushed the system but thought I could with my current system.  I tried P3D V2.5 and I saw the fluid smoothness right from the get go, even when FPS get to low 20's.  When accelerating down the runway it just seems so much smoother.  I have more car traffic (I like this eye candy) and no hiccups in the system.


For me FSX to P3D is night and day in regards to the add ons I can put on along with the higher settings when comparing the two.  For some reason P3D FPS can be lower and you still get smooth flights.


Again, maybe I messed up FSX always trying different tweaks, never tried one with P3D and it works flawless for me.  I will probably never use FSX again.


This is how it works for me, others have the same system and have complained about the system, its really hard to say.

Anthony Neumann

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Smooth is in the eye of the beholder. I say my sim is smooth as butter at 20fps or 30fps because either *I* don't see or don't notice stutters. Doesn't mean they are not there, just that they are not there to me.

So, my sim is stutter free.


Could I MAKE it stutter? You bet! Slam all sliders to the max and fly in heavy Tstorms at night.


If your sim stutters with all sliders at minimum - you have a problem.


Other than that, no one can define smooth EXCEPT for their own observation.




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Smoothness is in the eye of the beholder and VERY subjective.


I do have micro stutters every now and then but overall the sim feels smooth. It even feels smooth when I do get stutters when looking around with TrackIR of while landing in a busy airport.


If someone says he or she is getting butter smooth performance and you could have a look at his PC, you migh disagree completely. Smoothness simply can't be judged by reading words on a forum: you have to see if for yourself.



LOL Vic posted my post while I was typing. Spot on, Vic! ^_^

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Totally depends on whether or not you use track ir.  With TIR you can really detect the stutters as you pan around the cockpit.  True stutters from the sim do happen.  But for me they occur more in FSX than P3D.

|Ryan Butterworth|

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A 60hz LCD display will never show more than 60 frames per second. Ever.


A 120hz LCD display will never show more than 120 frames per second. Ever.

Ed Wilson

Mindstar Aviation
My Playland - I69

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All I can say is that for me so far, v2.5 has achieved a level of simming that I've not had to date. Perhaps it has something to do with my current set-up but even on my system it's all about compromise. I've spent hours adjusting my settings for my system so that I can achieve a relatively smooth flight (my interpretation of smooth) with as much eye candy as I can get away with.


This of course means that everything is running at the edge. Occasionally thigs get too much and their might be a slight pause or stutter as some describe. I let this wash over me as I know that I'm running at the limit.


If we were to judge smooth or butter smooth (both the same description to me, the later is simply more emotional) the only conclusion I can come to is this. Smoothness based on a certain number of unlimited variables is in the eye of the beholder. So even my interpretation of what I'm seeing and what I'm prepared to overlook is only based on what works for me.


I'm running a 5960x OC'd and I cannot max out my sliders and I cannot say unequivocally that it's always smooth. Am I always locked at 30FPS? Erm, no. Am I happy? For the majority of the time yes, because it doesn't interfere with the immersion too often for me. Do I wish for an Xbox type smoothness? Of course, but I feel software and hardware technology have a way to go for that to become a firm reality.


With each jump In the technology we throw at our sim, coupled with the advances in the software we use, our expectations also jump and stay ahead of what's possible. In other words, as humans were never going to be happy. That's why we invent new ways of doing things so we only have ourselves to blame and thank both at the same time.

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