Since FSX was released in October 2006, users of it have been in a constant battle to try and tame it so that it would give a reasonable performance on the many affordable Computers that were available at that time. However, unless users had top end, very expensive Computers, FSX proved to be disappointing and hence, it got bad press throughout the Flight Sim community. Accordingly, Microsoft’s previous version, FS9 (FS2004), became even more popular despite the wonderful enhancements and better default scenery available within FSX.
Things have moved on since 2006 and much better performing Computers at reasonable prices have become available and many dedicated users of FS9 have now decided to try out FSX and are surprised with its performance and enhancements. As you will be aware, I embraced FSX and all that it had to offer from the outset, and had been quite willing to accept its faults by being prepared to compromise, experiment and try out the various tweaks that became available from time to time from “experts” who reported their findings on the Internet. Over the years, I have endeavoured to encourage others to try out FSX for themselves and have reported on the many tweaks that I came across from time to time and the better performance that became available as a result of installing FSX’s SP1 and especially, its SP2.
Recently, a new tweaking application, FSX Booster, became available from FSPS (Flight Simulator Platform Solutions) and when I saw it mentioned in the last issue, I asked Terry if I could review it. Accordingly, I wondered if it would prove to be useful on my very modest costing Aldi Medion Intel Quad Core 2.4GHz, originally a Vista, but now a Windows 7, Desktop. This is the Computer that I have been using for the past 2Â½ years on which I have extracted quite acceptable performance from FSX and which I have used as a base on which to test and try out the many sceneries and other items that I have reviewed for our magazine from time to time.
FSX Booster claims
FSPS – FSX Booster has been designed keeping in mind the thousands of hardware configurations available. It analyses your computer’s hardware in depth (CPU, GPU, Memory, Hard Disc speed, etc) and sets all the important documented and undocumented tweaks with the correct values that our PC needs to have with those tweaks. No knowledge is needed. Just execute FSX Booster, then run FSX and enjoy it with the maximum frame rates and smoothness you can get from your particular PC.
InstallationI duly received the quite small 11MB file, FSX_Booster_setup.exe and double-clicked on it. It installed quickly to a destination of my choice. As it is a standalone application, it can be installed to its default destination of C:\Program Files or wherever one likes. When installation was complete, I noticed a bright colourful round dial-like FSX Booster Icon on my Desktop. When I double-clicked on it, I was presented with a welcome dialog box in which I had to enter the special code with which I was provided. I had to be connected to the Internet to proceed further and I saw a small messages in the middle of my screen which asked me to “Please wait” followed by “Validating”, “Getting Hardware PC data”, “Checking FSX cfg file” and finally, “Setting FSX”. After a few moments when all the foregoing was completed, I was presented with an FSX Booster opening screen wherein I instantly observed that I was alerted to update to version 2.9.5 from the version 2.9.4 that I was provided with for my installation. In this screen, I observed that I could also check my PC Info, FSX Booster’s Manual, about FSX Booster, Settings and Fly now! by clicking on their respective buttons. When the upgrading was completed, I was presented with the all important FSPS-FSX Booster Settings Screen. If I wished to make any change to my FSX configuration and other items, this was the place to do it. I decided to make no change and accept its defaults. After all, as FSX Booster had examined my PC System, it must have decided on the best default settings for me. Subsequently, during my testing as detailed below, I was alerted to update to yet another newer version V2.9.6, which I downloaded, installed and used. Only a few minor bugs were fixed according to the installation notes.
The ManualIt was now time for me to read the manual to see what I should do next. I found that all I had to do was click on the “Fly now!” button within the FSX Booster Settings Screen and wait for FSX to boot up. The manual dealt with downloading, installing and understanding the basics of the application together with a short list of FAQs. One important note in the manual stated that .Net Framework 3.5 or higher is required or else the application will not launch properly and an error message will appear. Also, the application is compatible with WinXP, Vista and of course with Windows 7, 32/64-bit.
TestsI decided to do what I was always do when performing initial tests – load up to Eiresim’s Dublin Airport and note the Frame Rates while sitting on Runway 28 followed by taking off and flying back over the very busy airport with all its AI Traffic. The Frame Rates (FRs) were 19 and 12 respectively with all my Display sliders for Terrain, Water and Scenery at full on to the right and my Target Frame Rate slider at Unlimited. I exited FSX. Next, I started up FSX Booster while being connected to the Internet and then clicked on the “Fly now!” button and again, I choose Eiresim’s Dublin airport. I flew as before and noted my Frame Rates were 29 and 18 respectively. These figures translated into 52% and 50% increases respectively. “Wow, this looks exciting”, I thought to myself.
I did exactly the same tests for Princess Juliana and the FRs increased from 14 to 28 (+100%) sitting on the runway and from 13 to 26 (+100%) flying back over the busy airport. I visited London City in the UK and sat on its runway without using FSX Booster. My FRs were 11. I took off in my Cessna and toured over London at an average FR of only 8. I redid the flight using FSX Booster and my FRs jumped to 14 (+36%) on the runway to an average of 14 (+75%) flying over the city. My previous slide shows over London, unless I compromised by moving back most of my sliders, were now no more.
My test flights were done at 12 noon in my Cessna and I amended nothing to ensure that I was comparing like with like. I did a few other test flight at other airports and they again proved that using FSX Booster made a big difference to the performance of FSX and accordingly, added to my enjoyment of it. After taking off from any airport, the smoothness of my flying was superb and the FRs increased to quite high levels as I flew above land and water as one would when using a large jet.
During my tests, I had a look at my Display settings for Terrain, Water and Scenery to see if any of the sliders had been moved backwards from their top positions and the only one that was changed was my Water setting, which had moved from Highest of Max 2.x to Low 2.x. I was willing to accept this amendment. If necessary, I could change it back to High for a particular flight such as when using one of my amphibian aircraft when I may want to land on transparent and more realistic looking water as offered by the enhancements within FSX. I also noticed that my Traffic percentages had been moved back from 25% to 7%.
The FSPS-FSX Booster Settings Screen
This screen is where users can tweak FSX even further rather than accept its defaults as I did. The manual explains each item and having read each explanation, I decided that 2 items stood out as possible ones that could lead to even better performance depending on whether a user was a VFR or an IFR flyer. The items were “Calculate best settings for VFR flight” and “Calculate best settings for IFR flight”. As I am a more dedicated VFR flyer, I clicked on it and then clicked on the “Apply Settings” button. I again returned to Princess Juliana and redid my original test at that airport but I did not observe any performance increase in FRs but perhaps there were subtle increases in the way the scenery was displayed.
Testing FSX Booster on my LaptopI also decided to test this product on my trusty Acer Aspire 5920G Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz Laptop. Over the past couple of years, I was able to coax FSX to give me reasonable performance on this Laptop and I often used it to test out new sceneries and other FSX add-ons. But, after installing FSX Booster, I entered a new world of performance and enjoyment. I amended none of my FSX settings and did a few test flights. My Frame Rates jumped by no less than 50% and I hadn’t to do a thing except start up FSX Booster and then click on the “Fly now!” button, followed by choosing a particular flight from FSX’s “Load” button. Just Amazing!
If I had to find a small niggle with FSX Booster, it is the need to be connected to the Internet for validating purposes each time I required to use it. However, I found that once I had its opening screen on my desktop, I could minimise it, do other tasks on my Computer, and hours later, if necessary, come back to using it in conjunction with FSX. However, I could be forgiven for thinking that once the application had completed its optimisation process that the results could be preserved for future use without the necessity for the above procedures to have to be gone through every time I required to use it for FSX. I am sure there is a very good reason for the foregoing which may be to cover all eventualities. These could include amending one’s PC’s hardware or using new FSX add-ons which may amend FSX’s all important cfg file around which FSX Booster exercises great control as I observed that such a file is restored to its original status once FSX Booster automatically shuts down just after FSX has also been shut down. The FSX.cfg file can be found in C:\Users\Named User\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\FSX if one is using Vista or Windows 7.
Another small niggle that I came across was that I observed that the Manual was written for V2.3.0 and some of the illustrations contained in it were not up to date to match V2.9.5 or V2.9.6.
Judging by the number of updates this product has had since its inception, it appears to have emerged from a shaky start but has now bristled into an amazing standalone application which has proved to be one of the best items invented to give FSX users excellent Frame Rates and smoothness and therefore, enhanced enjoyment.
This extremely useful and exciting application is available for sale from www.simmarket.com. There’s a one day’s free trial before registration is required from http://fsps.737ng.gr. It is available for â‚¬11.90 from www.simmarket.com, which I thought to be very reasonable for this amazing product and I heartily recommend it. But, before you commit yourself, why not try it out first for free and confirm my findings. The following is what is said about it on simMarket: “Welcome to FSX heaven! Now the Booster makes it possible!”. A Desktop owner reported, “Brilliant, works straight out of the box. I used to spend more time trying to improve FPS than flying, not any more. Buy this if you want to have your FSX looking as it should on your machine”. A Laptop owner wrote, “I’m running FSX on my laptop (Acer 8940G). After installing FSX Booster, frame rates increased 30 till 50%. For the price, this is the best deal I’ve ever made to increase frame-rate.”
This review was first published on PC FLIGHT Â issue Vol 14 No.4 of March 2011, the official magazine of the PC Pilots Ireland. We thank PCPI for the kind permission.