Joint review by Doug Horton and Marlon Carter. From the very moment we installed FSX on our PCs, it may have been quite clear that something was amiss. After spending years and hundreds if not thousands of dollars to achieve the best performance on FS9, the performance of FSX brought many “new” PCs to their knees due it’s its heavy use of PC resources.
In a nutshell, we had all moved back to square one and the cycle of constantly upgrading our PCs continued.
While Microsoft was helpful in releasing 2 service packs for FSX that greatly improved the performance, FSX was still plagued with performance issues that went unattended for quite a long time. It wasn’t until a few years ago that a few knowledgeable contributors and members of the FS community began posting “tweaks” and other tips to improving the performance of FSX on even the most average of computers.
Applying many of these tweaks required a somewhat intimate knowledge of FSX and computers in general, but once instructions were followed, the task of applying these tweaks became easier over time. Does this mean that everyone can tweak their own FSX to achieve the best performance? To answer this question there are a number of things we all have to keep in mind.
First of all, many tips and tweaks that are out there were tailored to the contributor’s PC and you or I may not exactly achieve the same results when they are applied to our own computers. Therefore, while many tweaks are available, they may require some adjustments to suit our needs.
To some in the FS community, making these adjustments may be quite easy but if you are an average PC user and you are not familiar with the inner workings of FSX, adjusting your FSX configuration files may pose a challenge to you.
This is where FSX Booster 2013 comes into the picture. FSX Booster is a utility that automates many of the adjustments needed to achieve the best performance for FSX on YOUR computer. Here is a list of features as provided by the developers.
• Extra Frames from 30% up to 200%
• Ultimate smoothness.
• Blurries Elimination
• Stutters Elimination
• Fibers speed increase
• Terrain textures speed control
• Extra Lod Radius
• Control of High Definition Textures
• FSX messages control
• Hyper Threads CPU’s control
• FSX Process Priority control
• FSX Process turbo control
• Windows Aero Fix
• Backup of original fsx.cfg file
• Free updates
Windows: XP SP3 / Vista / Win 7 / Win 8 – 32 or 64 bit
Flight Simulator X – Service pack 2 or Acceleration pack
Mircosoft's NET Framework 3.5 and above
Latest Version of FSUIPC by Peter Dowson. (Registered or unregistered)
Direct X 9 or later installed
Up and running internet connection for activation of the product.
PDF viewer application for reading the manual.
In addition, here are a few screenshots of what this product looks like and what is has to offer.
| || |
| || |
Given the fact that the topic of FSX performance is of a sensitive nature with each holding fact to various viewpoints as to what works and what doesn’t, I thought it would be a good idea to interview the lead developer of this product to find out more about its claims and promises.
The following is a brief interview with Babis Delagrammatikas who is the lead developer at Flight Simulator Platform Solutions (FSPS).
1. What lead you to develop FSX Booster?
FSX Booster 2013 is a direct descendant of FSX Booster (now at version 4.x) which started development in September 2008. Since then, PC hardware changed so much that FSX Booster 2013 had to be re-written from scratch in order to be compatible with all current hardware configurations. FSX Booster's (old) main development reason was to finally give an automated FSX tweaking solution to all FSX users.
2. Who is this product targeted at?
It is targeted to all FSX users that don't want to mess with fsx.cfg and spent precious flying time with tweaking, testing, re-tweaking, re-testing and so on. Time is too precious for those who want to really enjoy their Simulator hobby to the max.
3. Given the fact that there are mean helpful tips and free services to optimize your FSX.cfg available, what makes FSX Booster the best choice for FSX users?
There are many forums that mention tweaks for the fsx.cfg file. Fact is that none propose the same values with the other and the reason is obvious: For every user the optimal tweak value is different due to the different hardware. Time consumed in tweaking - as already mentioned - is priceless. Another advantage is that the privacy a locally installed application offers, as there is no reason to report here and there the exact hardware you have.
4. The manuals made mention that FSX booster does many other functions behind the scenes when started before started FSX. Can you tell us more about what these functions are?
Main thing is that the software analyzes the computer's hardware; computes the optimal tweak values, and what their values will be. Running at the same time with FSX also set the threads run correctly, plus some FSX memory hooking we apply in the system. There is also more happening 'back there' but we don't like to comment on these, at this time.
5. What would you say is the cause of persons using this program and not seeing any improvement in their FSX performance? are there other factors to a person’s computer that influences the performance of FSX?
There are only two possibilities:
1) User had already applied the correct tweaks with their correct values after many days - even weeks or months - of trial and error procedures and continuing search at forums and sites. So... FSX Booster 2013 cannot do, naturally, something really noticeable...
2) fsx.cfg is so damaged or 'broken' by the continuing tweaking or by misuse , that the application cannot read it correctly in order to apply its own tweaks.
As for other factors that influences the (bad) performance of FSX... where to start? Silly AntiVirus suites that slow down your PC in each step, old hard disks with fragmented FSX data, heavy loaded registry that slows the whole PC down, custom FSX traffic applications with sometimes unreal traffic, ATI users that set anti-aliasing from inside FSX and not from ATI Control Panel... The list is endless...
As we can see, FSX booster is really tailored to a specific crowd of people who may not be very knowledgeable or confident in tampering with their FSX settings by themselves. While I do not profess to be an expert on all things hardware and software related, I am thankfully proficient enough to make changes to my fsx.cfg with a measure of confidence in order to test FSX Booster’s automated functions against manual alterations to the FSX settings.
In addition to my own testing, Doug Horton will also be sharing his comments on FSX Booster 2013. If you are not familiar with Doug Horton, he is well known among Avsim members as the “hardware guru.” Given his extensive knowledge of FSX and benchmark testing, Doug will be taking the lead on this subject and will highlight the various tests that were performed in order to determine the validity of FSX Booster’s claims.
At the end of Doug’s comments, I will also offer my own thoughts and experiences while using FSX Booster 2013 and whether or not this is really suited for you. Let’s get started shall we?
We will first of all have a look at Doug Horton’s benchmark test results using FSX Booster 2013.
Review by Doug Horton
To test possible frame rate performance improvement with FSX Booster 2013, I used the popular FSXMark07 frame rate benchmarking procedure. Learn more about this statistically accurate test method by reading my recently published article on AVSIM.
Here's a brief recap of my testing, with the Jetline computer.
- Generate default FSX.cfg, and modify slightly: Turn on AA and Anisotropic, Unlimited frames, trust two added dll's and change wide view aspect setting to True.
- Run five trials of FSXMark07. Average frame rate 36.6
- Start booster and follow instructions in its manual, choosing recommended settings, including almost all Yes's for scenery and traffic mods
- Run five trials of FSXMark07. Average frame rate: 67.7
So, it works, but at what "cost" in terms of display? Inspection of settings indicates:
- Aircraft not casting shadows on itself
- Possibly fewer trees
- Possibly fewer buildings
- Less traffic for ships and ferries, and leisure boats
- Lower water setting
- In booster, say no to scenery modifications, so FSX.cfg is back to default except for tweaks that don’t change display settings.
- Run five trials of FSXMark07. Average frame rate: 37.5 - nearly same as the default performance without the booster settings of 36.6.
Summary of Frame rate performance tests:
The booster offers a convenient interface with which users can make a variety of changes to their FSX.cfg file, including “tweaks” and modifying a few display settings. These changes nearly doubled the tested frame rate in our tests with the FSXMark07 benchmarking procedure.
Though the booster can facilitate an increase in frame rate performance, all of the increase can be attributed to the modified and reduced display settings.
None of the frame rate performance increase is attributable to the FSX.cfg tweaks (not to include changes in display settings). In testing FSX with the tweaks only, there was a slight increase in frame rate performance, but the difference was only 2.5%, which is not statistically significant.
The easiest means of increasing frame rate, in fact, nearly doubling it in this example, is to back off on display settings, such as disabling airplane shadows on itself, reducing the water setting, and reducing the density settings for AI ships and ferries, and leisure boats.
The fsx.cfg tweaks (not including the booster’s changing of display settings) inserted by the booster might have other benefits for some users, such as reducing stutters, but these are qualitative issues, which cannot be evaluated by quantitative measurements such as frame rate performance. For example, some users believe there is benefit in adding the “Memfix” tweak, which is accomplished by the booster. In my testing, there were no stutters or other occurrences that needed to be remedied, possibly because of using an SSD for Windows and FSX, the latter providing very fast loading of scenery elements.
"There's no free lunch" when it comes to increasing FSX frame rate performance. For a given set of computer components, particularly including a given processor speed, increased frame rate performance is achieved by selective reductions of display settings.
Listed below are the tweaks and display settings changes accomplished by the booster if the user follows recommendations in the FSX Booster 2013 manual.
Note that parameter settings denoted by an asterisk (*) are available in the display settings UI, and settings denoted by a double asterisk (**) can be adjusted in six increments in the Autogen density settings on the Scenery tab.
STALE_BUFFER_THRESHOLD=2147483647 - Added
HIGHMEMFIX=1 - Added
*AC_SELF_SHADOW=0 – default is 1
MAX_TEXTURE_DATA=1442 - Added
FIBER_FRAME_TIME_FRACTION=0.33 - Added
HideInfoText=0 - Added
ProcSpeed=10276 - Added
VIRTUAL_COCKPIT_TEXTURES_SCALE=1.0 - Added
DEFAULT_VIEW=0 - Added
AverageFrameRate=1,2 - Added
HeadMoveTimeConstant=0.000000 – default is 1.000000
*ShipsAndFerriesDensity=7 – default is 40
*LeisureBoatsDensity=5 – default is 40
**TERRAIN_MAX_AUTOGEN_BUILDINGS_PER_CELL=1233 - Added
**TERRAIN_MAX_AUTOGEN_TREES_PER_CELL=1541 - Added
LOD_RADIUS=5.000000 – default is 4.5
*WATER_EFFECTS=4 default is 7
RejectThreshold=126976 - Added
Poolsize=49000000 - Added
AffinityMask=84 – Added
Here are the changes that users could make in display settings, to have about the same impact of changes made by the booster:
Aircraft tab: uncheck aircraft casts shadows on itself
Scenery tab: change water effects from default of 2.0x Max to 2.0x Low, and reduce Autogen density as desired
Traffic tab: change Ships and Ferries setting from default of 40% to 7%, and change the density of Leisure Boats setting from default of 40% to 5%
Except for the graphics card, the computer system used for this testing is the same as described in the article “Anatomy of a Z77 Computer - Professionally Built for Flight Simulation”.
Previous testing indicated that there was no difference in FSX performance between using an EVGA GTX 680 4GB DDR5 graphics card and the EVGA GTX 660 Ti 3GB DDR5 card described in the article.
ASUS P8Z77-V Pro
Intel i7-3770K, overclocked to 4.5 GHz
Zalman LQ-310 liquid CPU cooler
Kingston Hyper Beast 2 x 4GB 1866 DDR3 memory
EVGA GTX 680 4GB DDR5 graphics card
Samsung 840 Series 250 GB SSD
PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk II 750 Watts PSU
Three Samsung 40" LCD TVs, in NVIDIA 2D Surround, with total resolution of 5760 x 1
Comments by Marlon Carter
The comments and observations made by Doug are pretty much in harmony with my own findings. For my own test run, I was able to test FSX booster using 3rd party products such as the PMDG 737 NGX, MJC Dash 8 Q400 and Aerosoft’s Diamond DA-20.
My approach was more from the view point of someone not familiar with making changes to their FSX.cfg or to their PC hardware. The conclusion was much the same as Doug’s in that when using all of the functions and features of FSX Booster, there is a very obvious increase in performance but it comes at a cost.
If you are imagining that FSX Booster will deliver killer graphics and performance simultaneously, then you may be in for a rude awakening. In order to give your seemingly slow PC new life, you will have to sacrifice a few display options. Will this sacrifice make the FSX experience unbearable? Not at all.
If you are not fussy on the amount of trees, buildings or traffic that is displayed and you just want FSX to run a bit smoother then FSX Booster may be the tool for you.
The interface provided with FSX Booster makes “tweaking” your settings a simple task that should appeal to those of us who are not confident in making the relevant fsx.cfg changes by ourselves.
While it’s clear that FSX Booster does work, I would like to address the issue where many have complained that they haven’t seen any performance increases. In my interview with the developer, he mentioned a few possible reasons.
One of the issues that was highlighted and I can indeed confirm, is that if you have already tweaked your FSX.cfg file using tweaking tips found on various forums or even using Bojote's automated FSX Tweaking & Tuning Service, there will hardly be any further increase in performance.
On another note, you may want to ensure that your PC is functioning at an optimum level prior to using this product by ensuring you have no viruses, spyware and that you defrag your PC every so often.
In the end, at a cost of $15.75 (13.24 w/o VAT) FSX booster is an affordable and convenient way of tweaking your FSX if you are not comfortable doing so yourself.
At the time of writing our final review, FSX Booster was updated with a few new features but neither Doug nor I had the opportunity to test any changes. FSX Booster may be a good product but it may not be targeted at everyone.
What I Like About the Review Title
- Convenient way of boosting FSX performance without having to tamper with FSX settings on your own
- Easy to use interface
- Well written manual
- Reasonably priced
What I Don’t Like About the Review Title
- While the product works, it comes at a cost due to the reduction in display options. The reduction doesn’t necessarily ruin the FSX experience, but one should not expect to gain the best performance and the best graphics simultaneously with this product.