GEKtheReaper

My FSX:SE tweak experience

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Ok guys, here are some of mine findings regarding FSX:SE tweaks.

-FOREWORD-
Now and then comes the time when your SIM gets realy laggy and you can't seem to figure it out what's exactly causing the issue. Is it your drivers, your SIM settings, a particular addon or is just because you overloaded your SIM?

-HOUSEKEEPING STEPS-
This just happened to me and I decided to start again from 0. For housekeeping stuff I went ahead and uninstalled all my Addons in an order that I thought would make the best sense:

1. External services like: weather (AS16), GSX services, traffic;

2. Internal "stand alone" addons like liveries, ACFTS;

3. ARPT sceneries;

4. Enhancements (that modify STD FSX files like textures...): REX, GEX, UTX,...

You get the point right?


Finaly I uninstalled FSX:SE, restarted my PC, cleaned up the registry and tried to delete everything FSX related from all known locations (Program Files, AppData...). I basically opened all locations where I knew FSX or addons are installing stuff and deleted those. Final step was to defragment the drive where all of the main files were installed.
Not to forget: I reverted all nVidia inspector settings to default!

-FRESH INSTALL-
I then installed FSX:SE fresh and the first thing I did was to start FSX and move all scenery setting sliders to the max (even the water reflections). Further I turned Anisotropic ON, AA ON, Lens flare and advanced animations ON, frames to unlimited, all traffic OFF, all shadows OFF...and then closed FSX:SE. This step was necessary to get the first fsx.cfg created.

The next step was to open fsx.cfg and change only the Wide aspect from false to true. Saved fsx.cfg and copied it as "vanilla_FSX.cfg" for later comparison (pretty smart ).

*PART I in DX9*
-TESTING PREREQUISITES-
Testing begins here with the same prerequisites always: default blue A321, EDDM Gate 104, daytime summer, fair weather, FRAPS to show my FPS and Task manager to see CPU loading.

A sidenote to CPU cores: I talk in CORE numbers. 4 CORES are referred by me as CORE 1, 2, 3 and 4 (not CORE 0, 1, 2 and 3).

-FIRST RESULTS-
FPS: In the VC the FPS quite stable between 72...76, outside even greater.
CPU: CORE 1 no load, CORE 2 100% (all the time), now and then CORE 3 and 4 get 100% load (for short periods of time).


-FINDING 1-
Switching from VC to outside and back (Key "S" 1 time -> look around -> Key "F9") leads to:
CORE 1 getting 100% load instantly and a framedrop to 30FPS
CORE 3 and 4 kicking in after ~5s with 100% load
FPS raise again to ~70
CORE 1, 3, 4 revert to almost 0% load -> SIM stable above 73FPS

I thought to myself: FSX:SE runs "out of the box" on all 4 physical cores with the main load on core 2 (I have never seen CORE 1 getting 100% of the load before).

Time for the first tweak: remove CORE 1 loading with AFFINITYMASK=84 -> FSX should now use only CORES 2, 3 and 4 (NO HT).

I did expect a change in Core loading but got the same results again! I will spare you from explaining each other test I made and get to the result: FRAPS was causing the CORE 1 "overload".

Closing FRAPS and activating the FPS counter within GeForce Experience did fix CORE 1 beeing loaded and the massive FPS drop.
CORE 3 and 4 still kick in after ~5s with 100% load and revert to normal after a short period of time.

-AFFINITYMASK TWEAK-
Having dealed with the unusual CPU load and the FPS drop it was time to test different AFF MSK values.

1. 252 (CORE 1 and it's HT OFF, all other CORES with theyre HT ON)
FSX loads a lot quicker
FPS seems improved a bit but negligible
CPU load clearly shows that the new setting has an effect. You can see this with the switch from VC to outside and back as usual (I WILL CALL THIS PROCEDURE AS "THE VIEW SWITCH").

FINDING: While FSX loads quicker, performing "the view switch", I observed a higher FPS variation (65..72) and the SIM stuttered a bit.

2. I then played around with AFF MSK 84 (CORE 2,3,4 active / no HT) and even AFF MSK 20 (CORE 2 and 3 active / no HT).

FINDING 1: It turned out that more cores with ht enabled will deffinately LOAD FSX quicker but "the view switch" performes worse (FPS variation and stutter).
FINDING 2: My personal best setting was AFF MSK 20. While FSX did take longer to load, doing "the view switch" lead to constant high FPS ~77 even though CORE 2 and 3 were 100% loaded (short time after doing "the view switch").

FINDING 3 (probably the most important finding ever): If you set a tweak (here was AFF MSK) and comment it out afterwards in your fsx.cfg, IT WILL STAY THE WAY YOU TWEAKED IT BEFORE! To be clearer: lets say you set "AFFINITYMASK=252" and afterwards comment it out "//AFFINITYMASK=252". Your FSX will NOT return to the default settings but remain in AFF MSK 252 setting. I'm not a programmer but this is how my system performed.

There are so many known "tweaks" and I tried all of them and always thought that if a "so called tweak" does not work, I'll comment it out and have my genuine FSX setting back so I could try another tweak. This beeing the case you have a plethora of tweak combinations and might be the reason some of you can't get the system "finetuned" or some tweaks work more or less better on a end-user machine.

-BUFFERPOOLS-
1. Having settled for AFFINITYMASK=20 (remember it's a vanilla FSX:SE install so far and I didn't move the ACFT from EDDM Gate 104), I went for the USEPOOLS=0 tweak. This supposedly moves some of the CPU load to the GPU.

-FINDING (or behavior in this case)-
FPS improved and steady at ~82FPS (79..84FPS)
CPU CORE 1 shows a constant load at about 30% with a 10-15% increase after performing "the view switch".

This is odd. Why do I use more CPU power (but also get higher FPS) when Usepools=0 should have moved the load to the GPU???

2. Usepools=1 (no size or rejected treshhold).
-FINDING-
Same as Usepools=0 but with CORE 1 beeing loaded ~10% more then with Usepools=0 (instead of constant 30% it's now ~40% with 50..55% after performing "the switch").

For consistency check I tried to comment the Usepools=1 out to have CORE 1 without any load. I failed at the beginning and then tried to play again with AFFINITYMASK to try to get FSX to "reset" itself.

I think I got it solved switching AFF MSK to 252 - start FSX - reboot PC - set AFF MSK back to 20 (I realy can't recall how it got fixed but it did) and got my wellknown 77FPS back. So again: I think the tweak sequence does make a difference...

After this part it seemed that restarting the PC after each FSX.cfg change would be whise (but realy timeconsuming so I didn't do it).
I also did not try the combo Usepools=1 with Poolsize and Rejected...since it seemed I will not be able to get more and steadyer FPS above ~77. I even let the FIBER FRAME TIME FRACTION.... out and finaly decided to fly.

I took the Sitka Approach mission for further testing. It was perfect with 75+FPS (outside views even >100FPS).

So let's load some stuff up :). If you recall my upper uninstall procedure, but inverted.

1. GEX install + configure
2. UTX + UT lights install + configure

Flew Sitka with almost the same high FPS (maybe but just maybe 3-4 FPS less). Time for nVidia inspector...
My profile is tweaked for performace PC mainly following the AVSIM guide.

Sitka: Nice graphics (now that AA and the other good stuff get's applied) with again mostly the same FPS.

*PART II the switch to DX10*
I recently purchased the FIXER and the cloud shadows. This is also the reason why I started all this since I thought I have lost FPS after applying DX10 + Fixer + clouds.

1. Reverted inspector to default (since it had the DX9 profile loaded).
2. fsx.cfg backup (just a precaution and a quick switch back if possible).
3. DX10 Preview + ACFT casts shadow on itself ticked (all other settings remained maxed out).

At EDDM Gate 104 a 10 to 12 gain in FPS (from ~76 to +87) wow.
Sitka: same +10FPS but no ACFT lights (Fixer not applied yet) and no (or no noticeable) shadows in the cockpit (you fly towards the sun).

4. Installed DX10 fixer using Steve's profile with HD shadows. I changed nothing (AA listed as 4x).
Interesting thing here: if you go to the FSX.CFG from the fixer GUI, it reads out some of the settings from the file (you can apply tweaks from the GUI itself). If you remember further up, I commented the Usepools tweak out and got CORE 1 unloaded. The fixer yet still displayed Usepools=1 entry (blank poolsize and treshhold). Checking fsx.cfg I found no active Usepools entry (mine was commented out and no new one has been created). Maybe a slight bug with the Fixer GUI.

Shadows work, lights work but unfortunately I lost the gained FPS and I'm back to ~76 but have shadows now :).

4.1. Installed new DX10 inspector profile with no change in FPS. I can't tell if the graphics looked better since I forgot to take screenshots for comparison (it looked good, trust me).

5. Installed Steves Cloud Shadows. I encountered a problem while updating the libraries, something related to DLL.XML. Since I didn't install any Addons that needed to be triggered with FSX, the file was simply missing. I didn't want to create one by myself and decided to (see point 6).

6. Installed FSUIPC (latest version, unregistered). DLL.XML created, cloud libraries installed.

Slight decrease in FPS (now at ~73) at EDDM, almost the same but some variations with Sitka, some increased CPU CORE 3 usage.

7. Aerosoft Mega ARPT Munich + service pack installed (it comes with VISTAMARE which does not work with FSX:SE, also the static ACFT installed).

~36FPS at EDDM Gate104 (~30FPS frame loss).
*****************************

Here ends my first testing sequence (~6hours).
 
In my further steps I will install REX Ess w/OD, precipitFX,..so all my visual enhancements, followed by Traffic, GSX, AS16...and follow how the system behaves.

I think that at some point I will get my CORE 3 fully loaded and will have to either try BUFFERPOOLS again (CORE 1 load) or AFFINITYMASK=84 to load CORE 4.

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I tried a heavily edited fsx.cfg and it ran at half the frame rate of the config that was generated by the game.

 

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Yes. This can realy happen if you don't test what the internet has to offer.

I've written my experience since I had to do a clean install I wanted to check all options one by one. The internet is full of tweaks and guides. Unfortunately the tweak guides are mostly outdated and dont take into consideration if you have FSX or FSX:SE. And exactly here is where the problem lies: Dovetail took already some of the advice and tweaked FSX:SE. Therefore if you reapply the tweaks (or other) you might brake it.

The above tests show clearly that non of the tweaks work. I actually have a tweak-free .cfg file and the sim performes pretty well. You always have to save a copy of it so you can compare a newly changed one (due to a new AddOn installation) with your copy.

The above problem (.cfg file) applies also to other fixes e.g. the Terrain.cfg fix: https://flyawaysimulation.com/downloads/files/1373/fsx-modified-terrain-textures-config-file/. I'm actually struggling to find out if the fix needs to be applied on FSX:SE.....

 

Always three greens

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-BUFFERPOOLS-
1. Having settled for AFFINITYMASK=20 (remember it's a vanilla FSX:SE install so far and I didn't move the ACFT from EDDM Gate 104), I went for the USEPOOLS=0 tweak. This supposedly moves some of the CPU load to the GPU.

BufferPools explanation

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