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In Memory of Tom Allensworth

Founder of AVSIM
September 8, 1950 April 4, 2015

AVSIM

Prepar3D

Guide

For P3D Users


This intent of this guide is to help Lockheed Martin Prepar3D users get the most out of their
flight simulator and the vast array of 3rd party content available for Prepar3D.

Table of Contents
Forward ........................................................................................................................................................... 5
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................... 6
Administrative Information ............................................................................................................................ 7
Installation and purchase.............................................................................................................................. 10
Setup ......................................................................................................................................................... 10
Default Installation folders ....................................................................................................................... 11
Updating to a more recent version ............................................................................................................... 13
Client ......................................................................................................................................................... 13
Content ..................................................................................................................................................... 18
Scenery...................................................................................................................................................... 21
Configuring Graphics Settings ....................................................................................................................... 23
Adjusting Anti-Aliasing (AA) ...................................................................................................................... 44
Working with configuration files .................................................................................................................. 46
Prepar3D.cfg ............................................................................................................................................. 46
Scenery.cfg ................................................................................................................................................ 52
SimObjects.cfg .......................................................................................................................................... 54
Terrain.cfg ................................................................................................................................................. 57
Camera.cfg ................................................................................................................................................ 59
DLL.XML .................................................................................................................................................... 62
EXE.XML .................................................................................................................................................... 66
Configuring 3rd party Add-ons ....................................................................................................................... 70
HiFi Simulations AS16 and ASCA ............................................................................................................... 71
REX Texture Direct .................................................................................................................................. 105
Orbx......................................................................................................................................................... 111
In Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................... 118
SimConnect ................................................................................................................................................. 119
SimConnect.ini ........................................................................................................................................ 122
SimConnect.cfg ....................................................................................................................................... 124

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SimConnect.xml ...................................................................................................................................... 126


TroubleShooting.......................................................................................................................................... 128
Check AVSIM CTD Guide ......................................................................................................................... 128
Disable entries in DLL.XML and EXE.XML ................................................................................................ 128
Check conflicting AFCAD files.................................................................................................................. 129
Remove any CPU/GPU overclocking ....................................................................................................... 130
Delete the Shaders folder ....................................................................................................................... 130
Check SimConnect client is configured correctly .................................................................................... 132
Verify software started via EXE.XML are NOT still running .................................................................... 137
Out-of-Memory (OOM) ........................................................................................................................... 137
Hardware, Overclocking, Performance ....................................................................................................... 138
Hardware ................................................................................................................................................ 139
Overclocking............................................................................................................................................ 140
Performance ........................................................................................................................................... 146
Input Control Devices (TrackIR, Yokes, Throttles ) .................................................................................. 148
TrackIR..................................................................................................................................................... 148
Yokes, Throttle, Rudders ......................................................................................................................... 154
Programmable Modules ......................................................................................................................... 157
Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................... 159

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NOTICE: Throughout this guide, links to websites have been provided. Just
click on the underlined hyperlink. You will need an active Internet
connection when clicking on a link to the Internet. Please report any invalid
or broken links to AVSIM.

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AVSIM
PREPAR3D Guide
Version 1.0.0 Release Date: September 2016
This is a living document and will be updated from time to time. Please ensure that you are using the most
recent version of this document. You will always find the most updated version at AVSIM. This document is
copyrighted by AVSIM Online and it shall not be distributed or altered in any fashion without prior written
authorization from AVSIM.

Forward
I started this living document primarily on request from AVSIM, but the real motivation was
to consolidate the many questions, that are asked repeatedly and frequently, into a
document that user of Prepar3D can be referred to in the hope they will find answers to
their questions.
Its important to note answers and not necessarily solutions,
sometimes there simply is no solution and its the answer is a compromise and/or work
around.
So who am I? Im a software engineer that works for a small software company in Oakland
California. I started programming at age 16 and had a few games published in the early
1980s. Ive been coding at a professional level since 1990 (mostly business applications
with a few exceptions) using a variety of programming languages and technologies.
I have been using flight simulators for many decades starting with subLOGIC Flight
Simulator 1 for TRS-80. I got involved with Lockheed Martin in Nov 2013 with the release of
Prepar3D V2.0 and was provided with an opportunity to be on their Beta team. I was later
also provided with the duty of being one of Lockheeds Forum Global Moderators. I do NOT
work for Lockheed Martin nor do I receive any financial compensation from Lockheed
Martin. Im a paying Developer Pro Plus subscriber and feel its important to keep financial
autonomy so as to be objective.
I have some real world flight experience in single props. Im doing a start/stop approach
to getting my PPL at my local FBO KCCR not an ideal process, but finding time has been
difficult.
I hope this guide will help you get the most of Prepar3D.

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Introduction
This AVSIM Prepar3D Guide will cover the following topics to help users get the most of
Lockheed Martins Prepar3D platform. Some of the information in this guide is applicable
to prior versions of Prepar3D (V2.x and V1.x), however the primary focus of this guide will
be for Prepar3D V3.x onwards:

Installation and purchase

Updating to a more recent Version

Configuring Graphics Settings

Working with Configuration Files

Configuring 3rd Party Add-Ons

SimConnect

Troubleshooting

Hardware, Overclocking, Performance

Input Control Devices (TrackIR, Yokes, Throttles)

The basic flow of this guide will take you thru; basic purchase and installation process,
how to update your Prepar3D installation when new versions are released, configuring
your graphics settings, exposing what settings increase process loads, adjusting you 3 rd
party products configuration settings to improve performance, some Prepar3D
configuration settings (often called tweaks), setup of SimConnect (used by many 3rd
party products), working thru compatibility with older FSX products, a quick guide to basic
overclocking, and finally setting up input control devices (controllers).
This document will assume limited computer experience, but it will cover both easy and
advanced topics. Parts of this document will expect users to understand how to use a text
editor (like Notepad) to edit/modify content in text files.
Hopefully there is some information to be gain in this document for the new user and the
experienced user.

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Administrative Information
AA Anti-Aliasing. A process used to smooth out jagged edges that are produce by digital
images. Aliasing represents a lack of precision where a pixel is an approximation of light,
the more pixels the more accurate the approximation and hence less aliasing. Many antialiasing methods involve expanding the image to be render into a much larger image and
operated on with a mathematical algorithm and then reduce back down to original source
resolution. The human eye can distinguish up to about 170 pixels per inch at a view
distance of 20 inches.
P3D Abbreviation for Prepar3D.
LM Lockheed Martin.
GPU Graphics Processing Unit. This is the hardware in your PC that is responsible for
rendering Prepar3D virtual 3D world to your monitors 2D world (pixel grid).
SLI Scalable Link Interface is a name nVidia used to identify a system that is using
Multiple GPUs to process graphics. Lockheed Martin have worked with nVidia to get
official multi-GPU support at the driver level. SLI support was introduced in P3D V2.5.
CPU Central Processing Unit. This is a core hardware component of a computer
responsible for executing program code/instructions (and more).
VAS Virtual Address Space. This represents how much memory is being used by the
running process. In the case of Prepar3D, it is currently a 32bit executable/program and as
such is limited to using a maximum of 4GB of memory.
UI User Interface, this is visual buttons, checks, sliders that a user interacts with within
P3D for example the Settings screens where graphics options are selected is a UI.
Pixel Physical point in a raster image. For example, a 1080p monitor is 1920 x 1080
pixels arranged in a 2-dimensional grid there are 2,073,600 pixels in a 1080p monitor.
The more pixels in a raster image the more accurate the image.
Render The process from start to finish of generating pixel color so as to present an
image on a monitor. Its important to understand that what you see on a monitor is
nothing more than stationary pixels changing color information so as to build a recognizable
image.
FPS Frames Per Second. This is often used a reference to performance where lower FPS
is less desirable than higher FPS. Be sure NOT to confuse FPS with smoothness as you
can smooth visuals at 30 FPS and smooth visuals at 60 FPS. Its a measure of how fast you
PC can render frames over a period of 1 second.
Hz A unit of frequency, 30 Hz means 30 times per second. 60 Hz means 60 times per
second. Hz is often used when referencing a monitors updating frequency (usually 30, 60,
120, 240 Hz). There is a relationship between Hz and FPS in terms of smoothness of
emulated 3D motion in a 2D space (the monitor).
Long Frames Often referred to as stutters. A long frame is a result of the CPU/GPU
taking longer than average to produce a single visual frame during the render process.
Because the duration of time required to produce one frame is longer than the time to
produce other frames, the difference in time tends to draw attention to itself when viewed
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by the human eye/brain. When operating at 30 Hz that means each frame has 33.3
milliseconds to render, when operating at 60 Hz that means each frame has 16.6
milliseconds to render. Long frames can be defined as frame with longer than the normal
duration at a given monitor frequency. For example, a monitor operating at 30 Hz where a
frame that takes more than 33.3ms to render would be a long frame (the monitor updates
its display with the same image because a new image is not ready).
Colored Text Various colors will be used to quickly identify important references. The
color and type face used are:
Filenames.exe
Folder Path
Input Action

- a specific file reference


- i.e. C:\Users\Rob
- menu item selection, or click, or button press, or check

Hidden System Folders - Some actions below require opening/moving hidden files located in
hidden system folders. Not to worry, this is not all that complicated. To learn how to show
hidden files in your operating system, go to your Windows Search feature and type in Show
Hidden Files, then look up in the menu and click on Show Hidden Files and Folders (this
works with all Operating Systems) Once you have Folder Options open, click on the View
tab and you will see the following:

Figure 1

Simply click on Show hidden files, folders, and drives and click OK
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Installation and purchase


P3D license options and purchase information can be found here. Once you have purchased
a P3D license you will be emailed an ID and password, do NOT lose or share the ID and
password as they are required after installing P3D.

Note: there is no DVD option for P3D, it is download ONLY.

Setup
After purchase and download you will need to unzip the file (suggest using 7-Zip) and should
have a files structure below:

Figure 2

Its recommended you install P3D under Administrator account but is not required. Installing
under the Administrator account provides more compatibility to 3 rd party add-ons (especially
legacy FSX add-ons). Right click on Setup.exe and select Run as administrator:

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Figure 3

Default Installation folders

C:\Program Files (x86)\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3


%PROGRAMDATA%\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
%LOCALAPPDATA%\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
%APPDATA%\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
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%USERPROFILE%\Documents\Prepar3D v3 Files
The names between the %...% indicate operating system environment variables. For
most users these variables will be defined as such:
%PROGRAMDATA% = C:\ProgramData
%LOCALAPPDATA% = C:\Users\[YourAccountName]\AppData\Local
i.e. [YourAccountName] = Rob C:\Users\Rob\AppData\Local
%APPDATA% = C:\Users\[YourAccountName]\AppData\Roaming
i.e. [YourAccountName] = Rob C:\Users\Rob\AppData\Roaming
%USERPROFILE% = C:\Users\[YourAccountName]
i.e. [YourAccountName] = Rob C:\Users\Rob

Full path example below with [YourAccountName] (in my case Rob)


C:\Program Files (x86)\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
C:\ProgramData\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
C:\Users\Rob\AppData\Local\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
C:\Users\Rob\AppData\Roaming\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
C:\Users\Rob\Documents\Prepar3D v3 Files
: %APPDATA% and %LOCALAPPDATA% folders are visible ONLY if youve
performed the steps outlined in Figure 1.
Its recommend NOT using the default installation folder because of the following reasons:
1. SATA is serial and as such dedicate data path so having P3D on its own data path and
not a shared data path will be better for performance and less contention for resources.
2. Installing outside of the default Program Files (x86) folder has less security
restrictions, this can be an issue when working with 3 rd party products that have EXEs
running on separate threads and/or from different folders under a different security
context.

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Updating to a more recent version


As LM continues to update P3D, new releases are provided to customers. Starting with V3.0
onwards, LM have introduced multiple ways to update an existing installation. This new
optional process was driven by end user feedback as users did not want to re-install P3D and
all their add-ons after every minor version update.

Major version example being 3 and sub versions .1, .2, .3, etc.

As a result, LM provided three component updates:


Install_Client.msi
Install_Content.msi
Install_Scenery.msi
For each component you must UNINSTALL the existing component FIRST before proceeding to
run the new component install.
IMPORTANT: For the purpose of demonstration of file changes between Client, Content,
Scenery, a compare was made using a Prepar3D V3.2 base install with Orbx FTX Global install
and then ran the Prepar3D V3.3 Client, Content, and Scenery component installers to see
what files were impacted by these updates. This sample provides an idea of what might get
changed when doing P3D component updates.

Client
The Install_Client.msi is the primary component that updates the core P3D runtime files.
This is the least intrusive of the three component updates meaning it will have the least
amount of impact (i.e. no need to re-install add-ons) to 3rd party Add-Ons. The client update
is also the primary core update that moves P3D from one sub-version to another sub-version
(i.e. v3.2 to V3.3). At a minimum the client update must be executed in order to update your
P3D version.
This step should be performed FIRST before the Content or Scenery updates. In many cases
the Client update is all that is needed making the process quick and seamless.
First step is to uninstall the existing Client:

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Figure 4

Once this step is complete, proceed to installing the newer P3D client update.

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Figure 5

After completing the Client update:


1. Backup your Prepar3D.cfg, and then delete Prepar3D.cfg. This will force P3D to build
a new Prepar3D.cfg with any new settings/entries with default values. Use P3D Menu
- options | settings to configure your P3D options similar to your original Prepar3D.cfg.
2. Delete your shaders folder located here:
C:\Users\Rob\AppData\Local\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\Shaders

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Figure 6

P3D will recreate this folder on next startup, be patient as this process can
take several seconds or even a couple of minutes to re-build the Shaders on
startup. This process ONLY happens once when triggered by 3rd party or when
shaders folder is manually removed it should NOT be a regular process on
every startup.
File Changes/Updates
There are many files that will be updated/replaced with a Client update but the files updated
will vary in each released version. Some key files that are update in this example going from
v2.3 to v3.3:
C:\Users\Rob\AppData\Roaming
Prepar3D.cfg
New entries were added going from V3.2 to V3.3:
[WEATHER]
CLOUD_FACING_MODE=0
[MULTICHANNEL]
condAccountPassword=0
[MULTIPLAYER]
FrameSyncRate=0
WaterConstantsV3.xml
Minor changes to version info and adding 00 to values.
UISettings.xml
Change to position of window from top 583 old value to 563 new value
Displays.xml
Multichannel.xml
ViewGroups.xml
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\Scaleform
Menuwindow.swf (change in scaleform main menu in P3D)
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\ShadersHLSL\PostProcess
DistortionCorrectionCylinder.psh (NEW)
DistortionCorrectSpherical.psh (NEW)
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\ShadersHLSL
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Branches_vs.fx
Cloud.fx
ConstantBuffers.fxh
Fronds_and_caps_vs.fx
GPUTerrain.fx
GPUTerrain.fxh
Leaves_vs.fx
ShaderMacros.h
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
Most of the *.DLLs
Many of the *.lib
Many of the *.exp
And the main Prepar3D.exe
MDLReader.dll was removed
mplEashBlendSDKDX11.dll (NEW)
VERY IMPORTANT: Any 3rd party product that binds to P3D in a non-standard method (goes
outside the SDK) will likely have compatibility issues. These issues will need to be resolved by
the 3rd party add-on provided. Some examples of 3rd party add-ons that could be impacted by
a client update are:
Orbx ObjectFlow
HiFi ASN/AS16
GTN 650/750
FSDT/FB (Virtuali suite of products)
REX/Milviz WX Radar
SODE (Any 3rd party airport using SODE)
VA Interface (CDUs)
FSUIPC
And more

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Content
The Install_Content.msi is a component that updates effects (FX), default aircraft, default
sim objects (boats, cars, etc.), default sounds, and more it does have a higher potential to
overwrite files installed by various 3rd party add-ons.
First step is to uninstall existing Content:

Figure 7

Once this step is complete, proceed to install the newer content update:

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Figure 8

Files Changes/Updates
There are many files that will be updated/replaced with a Content update but the files updated
will vary in each released version. Some key files that are update in this example going from
v2.3 to v3.3:
C:\Users\Rob\AppData\Roaming\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\SimObjects
Fury_1500_launcher
Fury_1500_recovery_net
LCS-1 USS Freedom
LCS-3 USS Fort Worth
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\Autogen
AutogenDescriptions.spb
Default.xml
Extrusions.spb
RoofDescriptions.sbp
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\Effects
*.fx
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\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\Effects\textures


*.bmp
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\gauges\P3DRadar
Fury_1500.dll
Fury_1500.exp
Fury_1500.lib
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\Scenarios
*.*
\Preflight Walk Around Mooney Bravo
*.*
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3\SimObjects
*.*
\Fury_1500
*.*
\Avatars\Civilian_Male_WhiteShirt_BlueJeans
RecordAndPlayback.xml
\Boats
\LCS-1 USS Freedom
*.*
\LCS-3 USS Fort Worth
*.*
\GroundVehicles
Fury_1500_launcher
*.*
Fury_1500_recovery_net
*.*
Note: Red text indicates folders/files often updated/modified by 3rd party add-ons. Installing
the Content update will overwrite these files and cause problems with existing add-ons.
Contact the 3rd party Add-on provider to determine if these files are being modified by their
respective product(s).

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Scenery
The Install_Scenery.msi is a component that updates global scenery files it also has
potential to overwrite files installed by various 3rd party add-ons.
First step is uninstall existing Scenery:

Figure 9

Once this step is complete, proceed to install the newer scenery update:

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Figure 10

Files Changes/Updates
There are many files that will be updated/replaced with a scenery update but the files updated
will vary in each released version. Some key files that are update in this example going from
v2.3 to v3.3:
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D
Lclookup.bgl
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D
Roofs.bgl
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D
Veg_*.dds
\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D
*.bmp
*.agn

v3\Scenery\BASE\Scenery
v3\Scenery\Global\scenery
v3\Scenery\Global\texture
v3\Scenery\World\texture

Note: Red text indicates folders/files often updated/modified by 3rd party add-ons. Installing
the Content update will overwrite these files and cause problems with existing add-ons.
Contact the 3rd party Add-on provider to determine if these files are being modified by their
product(s).
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Configuring Graphics Settings


Configuring graphics settings helps optimize P3D performance and visual appearance. The
higher the graphics settings the more demands/loads will be place on your computer.
Graphics setting can be partitioned into two groups identified as CPU bound and GPU bound.
Although this term is not entirely accurate as rendering of visuals on your computer will
always require both a CPU and GPU, but some tasks are more reliant on either the CPU or
GPU.
: Your monitor is comprised of rows/columns of pixels where each pixel can be
configured to represent a color. For example, a 4K monitor (uHD) is 3840 x 2160 pixels vs.
standard HD monitor is 1920 x 1080 pixels. The physical size of the monitor has NO
relationship to the number of pixels. Every monitor will have a native resolution defined as
row/columns of pixels. A GPUs final output is simply the setting of a color value for each
pixel on your monitor such as to build a recognizable image (similar to a jigsaw puzzle only
organized in exacting rows/columns). The more pixels your monitor has the more clear the
image will seem. For example, a GPU connected to a 4K monitor has to set the color value of
8,294,400 pixels for every single frame rendered. So the more pixels that need to be set, the
more load is placed on the GPU.

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Below is an indication of what Graphics settings are more CPU bound vs. GPU bound vs. both
CPU and GPU.
GPU bound is red highlight
CPU bound is yellow highlight
GPU and CPU bound is green highlight

Figure 11

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Figure 12

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Figure 13

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Figure 14

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Figure 15

The setting that have the most impact on FPS are:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Airline and GA Traffic Density (especially if you have 3rd party Traffic Add-On)
Screen resolution
Terrain Shadow Cast Distance (location with mountains and time of day dusk/dawn)
SimObjects and Vegetation Shadows
Road, Ship, Ferries, Leisure boat traffic
Water Detail (relies on CUDA support)
Autogen Building density

The setting that have the most impact on VAS (available memory) are:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Airline and GA Traffic Density (especially if you have 3rd party Traffic Add-On)
Terrain Level of Detail Radius
Texture resolution (not screen resolution)
Scenery complexity
Autogen Building density

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Users should experiment with graphics settings as every PC and list of 3rd party add-ons is
unique (variance in OS, RAM speeds, CPU type/speeds, hard drives, etc.). Here are some
examples of graphics settings to use that range from low end computer system to an extreme
very high end system.

For a low end computer:

Figure 16

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Figure 17

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Figure 18

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Figure 19

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Figure 20

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For high density location such as Orbx SoCal or NorCal on a higher end computer:

Figure 21

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Figure 22

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Figure 23

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Figure 24

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Figure 25

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For high end computer in a less dense location:

Figure 26

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Figure 27

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Figure 28

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Figure 29

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Figure 30

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Adjusting Anti-Aliasing (AA)


Due to how DX11 graphics API (used by P3D) differs from DX9 graphics API (used by FSX), AA
quality is somewhat compromised in DX11 in order to allow for more flexibility in shader
processing. This compromise came about primarily because of DX11 new shader model 5.0
(DX9 is shader model 3.0) and use of deferred lighting/shading.
On higher resolution monitors (3840 x 2160) AA becomes less of an issue, but on lower
resolutions monitors (i.e. 1920 x 1080) AA and shimmering can present a visual problem. On
higher resolution monitors MSAA is usually good enough to provide sharp clear images.
However, on 1080p monitors MSAA alone may not be enough to provide a nice clear sharp
image. There is a solution but it has performance implications (lower FPS).
Such as solution is to use nVidia Inspector to use SGSS AA which is currently the best
available AA for 3D real time processing in games/simulations. To configure SGSS AA for use
with P3D requires:

Downloading and installing nVidia Inspector


Configure P3D graphics settings with NO FXAA and match the MSAA setting (i.e. 4X) to
the SGSS AA setting (i.e 4X)

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These are the settings to use with nVidia Inspector:

Figure 31

Be aware that using SGSS AA will reduce FPS overall and even more significant a FPS drop
when flying thru dense clouds. It is recommended to stick with MSAA and FXAA as a working
compromise, however, if your goals are the best AA possible, then using nVidia Inspector with
SGSS AA is the current best option.
Note: there are other ways to improve AA, such as DSR, and MFAA.

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Working with configuration files


P3D has several key configuration files that define how P3D runs and how add-ons are
incorporated. Some (not all) of those configuration files are:

Prepar3D.cfg
Scenery.cfg
SimObjects.cfg
Terrain.cfg
Camera.cfg
DLL.XML
EXE.XML
Note: there are many additional configuration files, but this document will cover (for
now) just those files listed above.

Prepar3D.cfg
This file is located in the folder:
%APPDATA%\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3
This configuration file contains many of the values set via the P3D menu Options |
Settings (below):

Figure 32

There are many articles covering changes to this file to increase performance and/or reduce
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VAS usage. LM provide a Performance Tuning section in their Learning Center.chm file that
is distributed with a P3D install. The Learning Center.chm covers 7 possible tweaks (see
red text below) that users might want to try. There are some addition tweaks (orange text)
that can be experimented with also:

TextureMaxLoad
SWAP_WAIT_TIMEOUT
UseGlobalTerrainView
SHADER_CACHE_VERSION
AffinityMask
PANEL_MAX_UPDATE_PER_FRAME
FIBER_FRAME_TIME_FRACTION
OPTIMIZE_PARTS (default 1)
MaxRegionsPurgePerFrame=16
AUTOGEN_TREE_MAX_DRAW_DISTANCE=9500.000000
AUTOGEN_TREE_MIN_DISTANCE_TO_LOD=2500.000000
TEXTURE_BANDWIDTH_MULT=30
GROUND_SHADOW_TEXTURE_SIZE=2048
CLOUD_SHADOW_TEXTURE_SIZE=512
ENABLE_MEMORY_OPTIMIZATION
MaintainSystemCopyOfDeviceTextures

TextureMaxLoad
Section [DISPLAY]
Source Prepar3D Tuning Guide
Default 6 (if no entry exists)
Requirements None
Description Primarily a benefit for Photorealistic scenery, set values too multiple of 3
(3,6,9,12, etc.).
Benefits Improve texture loading performance and reduces low quality textures
(blurriness)
Detriments Can induce long frames (stutters)
SWAP_WAIT_TIMEOUT
Section [TERRAIN]
Source Prepar3D Tuning Guide
Default 30 (if no entry exists)
Requirements None
Description Number of frame the terrain engine will wait for terrain only textures to
load into video memory before allowing a frame to be rendered.
Benefits Can improve FPS
Detriments Can increase frequency of low quality textures (blurriness)
UseGlobalTerrainView
Section [TERRAIN]
Source Prepar3D Tuning Guide
Default False
Requirements Tessellation must be enabled, multiple views and/or GPUs
Description When true, only the default 3d view camera will create the terrain view,
other cameras will share that view.
Benefits Less VAS and improvement to performance when multi-view present, also
helps reduce texture flashing and terrain spikes.
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Detriments

Not all view will load higher quality textures.

SHADER_CACHE_VERSION
Section [GRAPHICS]
Source Prepar3D Tuning Guide
Default 0 (if no entry exists)
Requirements None
Description Set = 1, forces a shader cache rebuild any time changes are made to the
Prepar3D.cfg
Benefits Sometimes shader cache is not syncd correctly and/or gets corrupted, this
will force the cache to get rebuilt
Detriments Delay in loading the 3D view (pending complexity of settings/add-ons that
can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes).
AffinityMask
Section
Source
Default
Requirements
Description

Benefits
Detriments

[JOBSCHEDULER]
Prepar3D Tuning Guide, Gatwick Flight Simulation Group, Steve
All cores (if no entry exists)
Multiple CPU cores
Set = 14. Defines what cores Prepar3d.exe will run on. An affinity mask
calculator can be found here: http://www.gatwickfsg.org.uk/affinitymask.aspx?SubMenuItem=hardware to help determine
what values to enter. There is also considerable information that can be
found here: http://www.avsim.com/topic/477057-a-frame-time-analysis-ofp3d-v3-effects-of-cpu-affinity-frame-lock-and-ht/
Less stutters, higher FPS, less VAS usage.
Requires some experimentation and various by computer.

PANEL_MAX_UPDATE_PER_FRAME
Section [PANELS]
Source Prepar3D Tuning Guide
Default 0 (if no entry exists)
Requirements None
Description If 1, panels update no more than once a frame even when FPS goes below
18. If 0, panels update will get called more than once when FPS goes below
18.
Benefits Less panel updates for slightly better performance but only when
performance is already very low.
Detriments
FIBER_FRAME_TIME_FRACTION
Section [MAIN]
Source Prepar3D Tuning Guide
Default 0.33 (if no entry exists)
Requirements None
Description Percentage of each frame that will be used for loading scenery. This is
impacted by disk speed (access and transfer speeds), high speed vs. low
speed flight, and scenery settings (more complex scenery requires higher
values). Range is 0.01 to 0.99.
Benefits Reducing the value can improve FPS.
Detriments Reducing the value too much might prevent higher resolution textures
(blurriness) from loading.
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OPTIMIZE_PARTS
Section [SIM]
Source LM Beau Hollis
Default 1
Requirements None
Description Optimize parts basically goes through the model looking for parts that use
the same material. It then creates bones for each part and combines the
mesh for each part into skinned mesh. A common example of this is a
numeric keypad. Because each button is animated separate, it has to draw
separately, which slows things down. The optimization step can combine the
entire keypad into one draw call and using a bone to animate the vertices of
each button.
Benefits Increased performance (improves FPS).
Detriments None, but not all 3D models will benefit from this optimization (3 rd party
dependent).
MaxRegionsPurgePerFrame
Section [SCENERY]
Source LM Beau Hollis
Default 16
Requirements None
Description To reduce stalls was to put a limit on the number of scenery regions purged
per frame. This was part of the big updates we made to optimize trees. As
you fly around, scenery regions get requested based on distance from the
camera. Scenery regions hold model placements, auto-gen, etc. The terrain
mesh/texture data is handled through a totally different system though
which relies on the LOD radius. The scenery database loads modes based on
your scenery complexity, and makes auto-gen requests based on auto-gen
settings, etc. The regions represent 64km, 16km, 4km, and 1km tiles with
16 children. These are loaded as needed and stay in memory until purged.
Because of parent/child dependencies, the system only purges by distance
at the 64km level. When a top level region is removed, it then recursively
removes its children. Autogen tree data is stored in 1k cells, so there could
be up to 4,096 tiles worth of three placement data to free up. This would
cause very noticeable hangs. So, rather than remove all the tiles, we que
them up for remove and remove a few every frame. Originally this was set
to something low like 4. We raised it during the last round of memory
optimizations to help speed up the process of clearing memory and avoid
potential edge cases where fly fast at a low framerate might allocate
memory faster than it gets freed.
Benefits Decrease value to reduce long frames (stutters), but VAS usage could
increase. Increase value to reduce VAS usage but will increase long frames
(stutters).
Detriments Can increase VAS and/or induce long frames (stutters)
AUTOGEN_TREE_MAX_DRAW_DISTANCE
Section [SCENERY]
Source LM Beau Hollis, Rob Newman, and Trial and Error testing
Default 9500.000000
Requirements None (this value is NOT tied to UI settings)
Description If Autogen trees are batched in such a way that they could be shown beyond
9.5Km, then increasing this value to 12000.000000 will show trees further
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Benefits
Detriments

out. Max 12000.000000 (12Km). Note, the LOD Radius still defines what is
loaded within any given radius/cone however sometimes tree batches will
exceed the LOD Radius, setting this value to 12000.000000 will allow those
trees in that specific Autogen batch to be visible.
Autogen trees are seen further away by 2.5Km
Reduces FPS and slight increase in VAS.

AUTOGEN_TREE_MIN_DISTANCE_TO_LOD
Section [SCENERY]
Source LM Beau Hollis, Rob Newman, and Trial and Error
Default 2500.000000
Requirements None
Description This value will adjust the tree density further away from view point. Max
value is 8000.000000 (8Km).
Benefits More autogen trees are seen further away from current view position.
Detriments Increase VAS usage and reduces FPS.
TEXTURE_BANDWIDTH_MULT
Section [TERRAIN]
Source LM Beau Hollis
Default 30
Requirements Target Frame Rate must be set to something other than Unlimited. Fixed
Frame rate (i.e. 30).
Description The texture bandwidth mult value is used but only takes effect when
framerate limiter is enabled. It is set up to define the underlying framerate
used to calculate texture load and allocation limits. If you lock to a lower
framerate than the value of the texture bandwidth mult, then the texture
load allowance will be increased to accommodate for the longer than
necessary GPU frames. The algorithm is basically this:
TextureMaxLoad = max(TextureMaxLoad,
TextureMaxLoad*TextureBandwidthMult/LimitedFramerate)
Benefits Can reduce low quality textures (blurriness).
Detriments Can induce long frames (stutters).
GROUND_SHADOW_TEXTURE_SIZE
Section [GRAPHICS]
Source Trial and Error
Default 2048
Requirements Object shadows enabled.
Description Defines the texture resolution of the shadow map used to render shadows in
aircraft and on the ground. Values can range from 256, 512, 1024, 2048,
and 4096. Increase the value to improve shadow quality (less jagged edges
and less flicker). Reduce the value to improve performance (FPS) at the
cost of shadow quality (more jagged edges, more flicker).
Benefits Increase the quality of shadows.
Detriments Increased VAS, lower FPS.
CLOUD_SHADOW_TEXTURE_SIZE
Section [GRAPHICS]
Source Trial and Error
Default 512
Requirements Cloud Shadows enabled.
Description Defines the texture resolution of the cloud map used to render cloud
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Benefits
Detriments

shadows in aircraft and on the ground. Values can range from 256, 512,
1024, 2048, and 4096. Increase the value to improve shadow quality (less
jagged edges and less flicker). Reduce the value to improve performance
(FPS) at the cost of shadow quality (more jagged edges, more flicker).
Increase edge definition of cloud shadows.
Increase VAS and lower FPS.

ENABLE_MEMORY_OPTIMIZATION
Section [GRAPHICS]
Source LM Beau Hollis
Default 1 (if no entry exists)
Requirements None
Description 1. Performs periodic cleanup of the geometric cache which stores buffers
used for batched buildings. If you have high autogen settings and move spin
the camera around, the geometric cache can get quite big. Looking strait up
at the sky for a few seconds may get you back 100+ MB of VAS. This change
doesn't really help with the worst case scenarios where 200+ MB of memory
is needed for the current scene, but it could help a great deal if you were to
start in london where autogen is very taxing and switch to FlyTampa Dubai,
where autogen is mostly disabled and replaced with pre-batched placed
models.
2. Clear textures out when changing airports. Going to a new airport would
trigger loading of new texture before the current area's textures had been
given their 10-seconds to page out. Clearing out textures on airport change,
helps prevent a spike in texture memory related to this. Note that with
MaintainSystemCopyOfDeviceTextures enabled, this is less important as the
bulk of the memory associated with these textures should already be freed
up before the switch.
Benefits Reduce VAS usage.
Detriments None.
MaintainSystemCopyOfDeviceTextures
Section [DISPLAY]
Source LM Beau Hollis
Default 0 (if no entry exists)
Requirements None
Description With this option disabled, the system memory copy of all textures loaded
from files are cleared out as soon as the memory has been copied to the
GPU. The only real downside to this is in certain multi-gpu use cases. If the
texture is later requested for another GPU, it must be reloaded off disk. The
clear happens after textures have been given a chance to copy to all GPUs
in-use, so the most likely time this would affect the end user is when
dragging the application window to a new monitor for the first time. In that
case, all textures are being reloaded off disk rather than simply copied to the
GPU.
Benefits Significant reduction in VAS usage (as much as 600MB or more)
Detriments Multi-monitor/GPU usage might see a delay in re-loading of textures.

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Scenery.cfg
This file is used by P3D to order and index default base scenery and/or any add-on scenery.

Figure 33

The scenery.cfg defines where scenery files are located.


represents a unique number for a scenery area entry.

Sections identified as [area.nnn]

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Figure 34

In the example above the Local= is a relative path meaning the scenery is located relative to
the install location of P3D. If P3D install location is D:\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3d v3 then
Local=Scenery\BASE would indicate the files for scenery area.004 are located in D:\Lockheed
Martin\Prepar3D v3\Scenery\BASE.
This file is often updated by 3rd party products including airports, common libraries, vector
data, photorealistic, AI traffic, and more.
This file typically should not be edited by users.

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SimObjects.cfg
This file defines the location of simulation objects (aircraft, vehicles, avatars, boats, etc.)
which are used in P3D. 3rd party add-ons can add entries to this configuration file so that P3D
knows where to get the object files needed to represent the add-on in the P3D world.

Figure 35

The SimObject.cfg is similar to Scenery.cfg in function with the exception that it is not
Layer based and the index order is not relevant.

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Figure 36

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As you can see in the example above, several 3 rd party entries (SODE, MyTraffic, RealAir,
Aerosoft) have been added to this file. The only requirement of this file is that [Entry.nnn]
MUST be contiguous meaning there can be NO gaps or duplicate [Entry.nnn] entries i.e.
[Entry.0], [Entry.1], [Entry.2] [Entry.nnn]. nnn is zero based (meaning first entry starts at
0).
The PATH value is used to identify where the SimObjects are located which can be an absolute
path or a relative path.
Example of absolute path:
PATH=D:\MyTraffic Professional\MyTraffic\Aircraft
Example of a relative path:
Path=Aerosoft\Mega Airport Prague\simobjects

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Terrain.cfg
This file is used to map texture information for vector data (linear data such as roads, rivers,
streams, railway lines, and so on) to polygon types and flattening information, and to control
the automatic placement of certain features such as telephone poles, light poles, fences and
power lines. This file provides reasonable defaults for most data types specified in vector data.
The terrain.cfg file can be found in %PROGRAMDATA%\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3 by
default.

Figure 37

This file can be modified to add new texture and autogen sections to support a new type or
style of vector data.

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Figure 38

As you can see from above (Figure 37), a 3rd party add-on (Orbx) has created new entries.
Similar to the SimObjects.cfg, the Terrain.cfg file must have contiguous entries i.e.
[Texture.0], [Texture.1], [Texture.n]. This texture count is zero based so will start with
[Texture.0]. At the beginning of this file there is a DefaultTextureCount= which must equal
the number on entries in the file, taking into account its zero based.
Example:
DefaultTextureCount=1014
The last entry will be:
[Texture.1013]
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Camera.cfg

The camera system can be used by 3rd party add-ons to add additional viewpoints to their
SimObjects (aircraft, avatars, boats, etc.). There are several camera.cfg files for P3D:

Global Cameras
Aircraft Cameras
Avatar Cameras
Scenario Cameras

This section will only cover the global camera configuration file located in
%APPDATA%\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3.

Figure 39

There are several 3rd party add-ons that will modify this file (EzDok, OpusFSI, and more). A
common end user modification is done to prevent unwanted Cyclic (S key) views from
appearing.
One such modification is to prevent the Tower view from being incorporated into the cyclic
(S key). To accomplish that, edit the camera,cfg and add CycleHidden=Yes in the Nearest
Tower camera definition section.
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Figure 40

If you want to extend this to prevent aircraft views from being included in the cyclic (S key),
then edit the camera.cfg specific to the aircraft you plan to use. These camera.cfg files are
found with the aircraft under the SimObjects folder:

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Figure 41

There are VAS benefits to hiding views you dont want or dont plan to use. Its important to
note that these views can still be selected via the P3D Menu and/or right click context menu.
The cameras/views still exist, they just arent part of the cyclic (S key) sequence. The
CycleHidden=Yes will only remove the view from view cycle sequence (S key).
Another reason to work with camera.cfg (or Sim.cfg) files is to reduce Z-fighting problems
(flickering). You can add or edit
NearClipOverride values
Per Kevin Cartrette of LM
The defaults currently have "NearClipOverride=0.075" you may want to try 0.25, 0.5,
1.0, 5.0, etc till you find a good value. For reference I believe the default near clip when inside
the aircraft on the runway is around 5.

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DLL.XML

The DLL.XML file is used by 3rd party add-ons to dynamically bind specific features of their
product to the P3D environment. DLL entries will be loaded as part of the main Prepar3d.exe
and run under P3D environment. Unfortunately, LM have two possible folder locations for this
file and there can be two versions that will be merged when loaded by P3D.
Two locations:

Figure 42

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Figure 43

When diagnosing problems, the entries in the DLL.XML can be temporarily disabled to see if
that would resolve any issue(s).
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And this is another location for the DLL.XML file:

Figure 44

If the DLL.XML file exists in both folder locations (ProgramData and AppData\Roaming),
P3D will merge the entries.

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Figure 45

Conflicts can occur when 3rd party add-ons use common tools to support their product. If an
add-on is using a common tool (like SODE, or APController.exe), and was installed prior to
these changes introduced by LM (in a later P3D version), and then a user installs a new addon that uses the new LM process, then its possible to have two different versions of a
common tool (i.e. SODE, APController) being referenced in the DLL.XML.
Note: this problem can also exist for the two locations of EXE.XML.
If these entries point to different locations for the same named add-on, then this can cause
CTDs and/or prevent P3D from running with a silent close (no errors) return the user to the
desktop.

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EXE.XML
These files are similar to the DLL.XML except that the entries being loaded run/execute in
their own address space (and use SimConnect to communicate with P3D environment).
Unfortunately, there can also be two folder locations for the EXE.XML file and P3D will merge
and load any entries found in both EXE.XML files.

Figure 46

Above image shows one location for the EXE.XML in the AppData\Roaming path.

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Figure 47

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And this is the another location for the EXE.XML file:

Figure 48

If EXE.XML files existing in both folder locations (ProgramData and AppData\Roaming),


P3D will merge the entries.

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Figure 49

The two EXE.XML files are also subject to the same potential for conflicts as the two
DLL.XML files. The same procedures as those used for the DLL.XML to disable the entire file
or just single add-ons can also be applied to the EXE.XML files.
: If you are experiencing problems/CTDs, then the DLL.XML files and EXE.XML
files (in both folder locations ProgramData and/or AppData\Roaming) is a good place to
start disabling add-ons one at a time to see if it resolves the issue. In addition, when P3D is
updated to a newer version (i.e. V3.2 to V3.3), there are several 3 rd party add-ons that bind
themselves to the Prepar3D.exe and/or associated DLLs in such a fashion (outside of normal
SDK supported procedures) that they must be updated also in order to work with the new P3D
version. To work around these special types of 3 rd party add-ons, you can temporarily
disable (using process outline earlier in this document) their associated entries in the
DLL.XML and/or EXE.XML until the 3rd party vendor releasing updates.

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Configuring 3rd party Add-ons

Much of P3D performance is consumed by 3 rd party add-ons. 3rd party add-ons mission
statement is to improve the flight simulation experience by bringing; high quality textures,
more details objects (aircraft, buildings, cars, boats, trains, etc.), enhanced effects (rain,
snow, smoke, jet wash, etc.), complex aircraft systems, and much more. As more add-ons
are introduced to the P3D environment, they consume more memory (increase VAS) and
often reduce rendering performance (decrease FPS).
In this section Ill cover the configuration of some Add-ons commonly usedy but by NO MEANS
all the available add-ons for P3D (many 1000s). Its impossible to cover all the add-ons and
this is just a very small sample, there are many other high quality add-ons that in most cases
will also be highly configurable to allow for performance and VAS compromises.
As an example of add-on configurations:

HiFi Simulations AS16 and ASCA


REX Texture Direct
Orbx

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HiFi Simulations AS16 and ASCA


HiFi Simulations provide a robust weather engine and cloud/sky texture system to enhance
flight using real world or archived (historic) weather data. Weather systems can impact
performance (FPS) and memory usage (VAS), and usually the worse the weather the more
likely performance will decrease as additional clouds/rain etc. are created to provide a realistic
weather environment.

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AS16 Settings
Below are the settings that I find to be a good compromise in performance and visual quality
of weather depiction:

Figure 50

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Figure 51

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Figure 52

Note: The number of cloud layers can impact performance significantly. A value of 3-5 works
well, values below 3 can result in no Cirrus clouds, so going too low will reduce realism.

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Figure 53

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Figure 54

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Figure 55

Note: If there are excessive thunderstorms/lightning in a flight, check this value to reduce the
frequency of thunderstorms (thunderstorms will still appear, just not as many).

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Figure 56

Note: If you like to see clouds all the way out to the Horizon 100-110 mi will accomplish this,
but the higher this value the lower FPS and more VAS used.

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Figure 57

Note: This value can induce a severe FPS reduction when settings exceed 110mi if the
weather is very cloudy or overcast.

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Figure 58

Note: Force BKN to 7/8ths can produce repetitive cloud patterns and can reduce FPS and
increase VAS.

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Figure 59

Note: Values 500-1000 work well for P3D and can avoid odd cloud/mountain/hill intersections.

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Figure 60

Note: This value should remain unchecked for P3D (per HiFi recommendation).

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Figure 61

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Figure 62

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Figure 63

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Figure 64

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Figure 65

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Figure 66

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Figure 67

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Figure 68

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Figure 69

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Figure 70

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Figure 71

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Figure 72

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Figure 73

Note: If checked, you might experience extreme up/down drafts (over 6000ft/min climb or
descent) for GA aircraft this results in uncontrolled flight.
Setting of the Max
updraft/downdraft (see Figure 72 and Figure 71 ) to 2000 ft/min will allow for controlled GA
flight.

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Figure 74

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Figure 75

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Figure 76

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Figure 77

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Figure 78

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Figure 79

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Figure 80

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Figure 81

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ASCA Settings
The following ASCA settings allow for the use of REX Texture Direct sky and/or cloud texture
sets. If you prefer to use alternate sky textures, then configure ASCA as follows:

Figure 82

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Figure 83

Note: Sky Colors are unchecked, this allows for the use of REX sky textures and/or other sky
textures. Same would apply for cloud textures if one is using alternate cloud textures,
uncheck the Cirrus, Cloud Textures option.

REX Texture Direct


Textures can make a significant difference in how P3D looks and enhances immersion. There
are several freeware and payware add-ons that provide textures to improve flight simulator
environments. REX Texture Direct is one such payware add-on. However, as with all addons, they should be configured and/or adjusted to meet your visual/performance goals
including VAS optimization.
Below is some setting used for Sky Textures only that work well in most weather conditions:

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Figure 84

Enable only sky textures.

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Figure 85

If using P3Ds HDR setting then, be sure to enable REX HDR texture support. The cloud sizing
options can increase the size of the clouds but in doing so could also impact performance and
VAS. As with most options, its a compromise of performance vs. memory usage vs. visuals
vs. capacity of computing hardware.
For best performance, leave the Cloud Sizing Algorithm to default value of 0.50. Higher cloud
sizes combined with high levels of AA can reduce FPS performance considerably (especially on
overcast and/or very cloudy days).
Since all textures are personal preference, there is no right or wrong, experiment and see
what works best. Specific sky texture sets that I find work well in most situations are:

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Figure 86

Dawn Textures Set 22 Chill

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Figure 87

Day textures Set 03 Precip

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Figure 88

Dusk textures Set 23 Chilly Frankfurt Dusk


Again its highly recommend users experimentation with textures. Be aware that if you have
HDR enabled and have adjusted the HDR settings in P3D, then how these texture will look will
vary as will the impact they have on ground terrain and overall lighting of the P3D
environment.

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Orbx
Orbx provide a host of different scenery add-ons from airports, to vector data (roads), openLC
(land class definitions), terrain mesh, enhanced trees, and detail regions. As with most addons that improve the visual experience of P3D environment, these add-ons might need some
adjustments to work out the best compromise of performance vs. memory usage vs. visuals.
Orbx Vector
This add-on provides a rich environment of which to fly in, adding accurate coastlines, rivers,
lakes, motorways, freeways, arterial roads, golf course, parks, forests, etc. However, adding
this much accuracy on a global scale comes with a performance and memory cost. With
everything enabled in Vector as much as 400MB additional VAS could be used (pending
location) and increase the processing load (CPU and GPU). As such, some compromise
provided below might help alleviate some of the VAS/FPS issues associated with this 3 rd party
add-on:

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Figure 89

Enable Highways and Primary Roads only.

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Figure 90

Disable all Water Features.


Note: Frozen Surface option can sometimes cause water square to appear making for an
unnatural look. However, when working correctly they do provide seasonal accurate surfaces.

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Figure 91

Disable all but Beaches.


Note: Version 1.4 of Orbx Vector introduced another tab for users that have Orbx Australia
region installed this option should be checked for those users.
Orbx also provide a means to resolve elevation conflicts between Orbx Vector and other 3rd
party add-ons. This tools in provided in the Airport Elevation Corrections tab. If a user is
experiencing strange elevation issues with some other 3 rd party products, then run the AutoConfiguration utility to correct airport elevations (AEC).
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Note: if the issue persists then contact Orbx and/or 3 rd party airport vendor to get a possible
solution (this is often a specific set of file(s)).

Figure 92

This process can take several minutes pending on how many add-on a user has installed. Be
sure to click the Apply button AFTER the auto-configuration process completes.
Note: some airports may still have problems, in these cases contact Orbx support and/or 3rd
party vendor for a possible solution (often Orbx/vendor will provide adjusted files to resolve
the problem).
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Orbx Airports/Scenery
Many 3rd party add-ons provide specific configuration tools for their products to enable/disable
features that allow end users to adjust for their computing hardware.
Below is an example of configuration options for Orbx Northern California:

Figure 93

Click on Configure to be provide with options to enable/disable features.

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Similar options are also available for airports:

Figure 94

Adjusting these options can have a significant impact on performance and VAS usage.

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In Conclusion

The above 3rd party specific configurations are just examples of some 3rd party product
add-ons that can be configured to provide the best performance to visual ratio. Almost all 3 rd
party add-ons provide a means to manage and adjust their products settings as to meet the
performance and VAS goals for end users.
Again, this is a very small sample simply used to demonstrate the need to configure 3 rd
party add-ons to find the best performance to visuals compromise for your computer. It
would be impractical for this document to contain every 3 rd party products configuration
options (this document would be well over 2000 pages long and impossible to
maintain/update).
Best practice is to experiment with configuration screens from your favorite 3rd party add-on
and come to your own working solutions.

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SimConnect

SimConnect is a core utility used by many 3 rd party add-on providers to enhance and enrich
their products interaction with P3D.
Unfortunately, there are several versions of SimConnect which require separate installation.
P3D also has its own built in SimConnect version that does not require a separate
installation, however, this requires to add-on to be created specifically for P3D and ONLY P3D.
Because of this, not many 3rd party vendor use this process for SimConnect and stick with the
most common SimConnect client which is FSX-SP2-XPACK version.
For compatibility reasons, many 3rd party vendors select a version of SimConnect that will
work in multiple versions of ESP based flight simulators (meaning FS2004, FSX, FSX-SE, P3D
V1, V2, V3).
The separate SimConnect client installs can be found under the root of your P3D install folder
\redist\Interface:

Figure 95

As you can see, there are several SimConnect clients that can be installed. Fortunately, all of
SimConnect clients can be installed without any conflicts and no detriment to the performance
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of P3D.
One of the most common versions of the SimConnect client used is FSX-SP2-XPACK.
Installation requires a user to execute the SimConnect.msi:

Figure 96

Once installed, there should be an entry in Programs and Features:

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Figure 97

Above are 4 different SimConnect client installs made from the various version of SimConnect.
Once SimConnect is installed, there are 3 optional files that can be used to configure
SimConnect:
SimConnect.ini
SimConnect.cfg
SimConnect.xml
Note: these 3 files are NOT required to use SimConnect on a stand alone computer (a
computer that is not remotely connected on a local network).

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SimConnect.ini

Figure 98

The SimConnect.ini file is used to define debug/logging processing.

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Figure 99

Setting of level value will filter out how much debug information is reported.
are:

The Values

Verbose
Normal
Warning
Error
Off/None
Note: ; character indicates the line is a comment and ignored
For detailed diagnostics use the Verbose value, but be aware this can generate considerable
information/data in a very short period of time so the file size will increase rapidly.
The File option is used to specify a filename and folder location that will used to save the
SimConnect stream of output data. In the example above, a SimConnect000.log file will be
created in the root of D:\ drive.
The Console option is 0 or 1 or Yes or No if 0/yes a debug console window (looks like an
old DOS window) will be opened and the output data is streamed to it.

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SimConnect.cfg

Figure 100

The SimConnect.cfg is only required in a Client/Server situation (Client is a networked


computer that does NOT have P3D installed on it, Server is the main computer that is running
P3D) where a remote computer needs to communicate with P3D.
Client: networked computer that is not running P3D
Server: main flight simulator computer that is running P3D
The SimConnect.cfg file is located in the Documents directory of the Client computer.
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Figure 101

The most important entry in the SimConnect.cfg is the value for Address. This is the local
private IP address of your computer that has P3D installed (Server).
You can determine the IP address of your computer(s) by running IPCONFIG from the CMD
prompt. Type CMD in you Search box. Now type IPCONFIG:

Figure 102

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SimConnect.xml
This file resides on your Server (computer with P3D installed) and is located in
%APPDATA%\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v3. This file is ONLY needed in a Client/Server
configuration (networked remote computer connecting with a main P3D computer).

Figure 103

The SimConnect.xml file contains similar configuration information as the SimConnect.cfg


that is on the client computer.
There will be two IP address entries in this file using XML format. One IP address will define
the Global scope (this will be the same IP address used in the SimConnect.cfg), and the
other IP address is a LocalHost (IP address 127.0.0.1) scope (this is essential a reference or
loopback to your server computer, the one running P3D).

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Figure 104

With these 3 files configured and in place, remote/networked Client/Server computers can
now leverage the benefits of SimConnect in a networked environment.

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TroubleShooting
When running into problems with P3D, there are some basic troubleshooting steps that can be
taken to try to diagnose or at least identify the source of the problem.

Check AVSIM CTD procedures


Disable entries in DLL.XML and EXE.XML and check for duplicate entries
Check conflicting AFCAD files
Remove any CPU/GPU overclocking
Delete the Shaders folder
Check SimConnect client is installed and/or configured
Verify software started via EXE.XML are NOT still running
Out-of-Memory (OOM)

Check AVSIM CTD Guide


An excellent source for resolving crash-to-desktop (CTD) is the AVSIM CTD Guide

Disable entries in DLL.XML and EXE.XML


Start by disabling each entry in both sets of the DLL.XML and EXE.XML files as shown earlier
in the document. See Figure 42 and Figure 43 in this document on how to locate the
DLL.XML and the EXE.XML and disable individual entries or all entries.
Another potential issue are duplicate entries in the two versions of DLL.XML And EXE.XML
that may exist on your computer (it is possible that you may have none or just one of these
files, depends on add-ons installed). See Figure 42 and Figure 44 in this document for the
possible locates to the DLL.XML and EXE.XML. Open these files with a text editor and verify
that you do NOT see same entry listed in each file pair.

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Check conflicting AFCAD files


Conflicting AFCAD files can sometimes cause excessive VAS usage and/or stutters and/or
strange visuals at 3rd party add-on airports where you may see duplicate control towers
and/or building that shouldnt be there.
A very useful tool to determine possible AFCAD conflicts
ScruffyDuckSoftware. This tool will identify duplicate AFCADs.

is

provided

by

Jon

at

: If using MyTraffic6 for P3D, you can manually disable MyTraffic6 AFCAD files by
locating the BR2_[ICAO].BGL file ([ICAO] replace this with the actual airport ICAO code)
and moving it to and other folder location (i.e. a Disable folder).

Figure 105

Above is a Disabled AFCAD folder (user will need to create this folder) used to hold AFCAD
conflicting files found in MyTraffic6. In the example, CYUL (Montreal) will conflict with the 3 rd
party add-on airport by FlyTampa. To resolve the conflict, move the files out of the MyTraffic6
folder (below) to the folder above.

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Figure 106

Once the BR3_CYUL*.* files are move out of the above folder then will no long conflict with
FlyTampas CYUL add-on.

Remove any CPU/GPU overclocking


Its good to remove all possible variables when diagnosing problems. One such variable is
overclocking a CPU and/or GPU. Return the CPU/GPU to default manufacturer specs/clocks as
this will ensure that no file corruption or thread corruption will happen.

Delete the Shaders folder


Sometimes the shaders folder can get corrupted, especially with overclocking and/or CTD. Its
a good idea to delete the shader folder under the following conditions:

Computer freezes or blue screens and reboots during a flight


You CTD during a flight
Update video drivers

The P3D shaders folder will get re-generated on initial start of P3D if not found. There is no
danger in deleting this folder, just be sure to delete from the correct location:

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Figure 107

Delete this folder when P3D is NOT running.

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Check SimConnect client is configured correctly


If you are using a Networked computer setup (two or more computers), and SimConnect no
longer seems to be working, verify that your main P3D computer is still using the same local
IP address that was used in the SimConnect.cfg and SimConnect.xml files (see Figure 100
to Figure 104 in this document).
When connected to a DHCP server such as a network/wireless router, your computer may
have been assigned a different IP address that does not match the IP address listed in the
SimConnect.cfg and/or SimConnect.xml files. This can happen if DHCP addresses are not
reserved for specific machine names.
There are ways to force your network/wireless router to assign a reserved addresses based on
your computers/device name. Here is an example of how to setup a DHCP reservation on a
Linksys wireless router:

Figure 108

Most home routers are accessed via 192.168.1.1 but could vary by manufacturer and your
physical global location.
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Figure 109

Select connectivity.

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Figure 110

Click DHCP Reservations button.

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Figure 111

To manually enter device name and IP information or

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Figure 112

Under Select column, check the associated device name (your P3D computer) and click the
Add DHCP Reservation button (note button is grayed out because nothing was selected).

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Verify software started via EXE.XML are NOT still running


If you have CTD during a flight, the software loaded from entries in the EXE.XML file(s) will
still be running. These programs need to be terminated using Task Manager or Process
Explorer.
An example of programs/add-ons that could still be running after P3D terminates are:
GFDev.exe
SimObjectDisplayEngine.exe
If you attempt to run P3D again while these programs are already running, it could cause
problems and/or prevent P3D from running correctly.
: After exiting P3D, it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes for
programs (add-ons) that were launched via the EXE.XML to properly terminate.
Its
important that P3D is NOT restarted before these programs/add-ons are terminated.

Out-of-Memory (OOM)
This is a commonly reported error that is a result of many add-ons and/or very high graphics
settings resulting in P3D attempting to use more than 4GB of memory (VAS). P3D is currently
a 32bit program and is limited to using no more than 4GB of memory (regardless of how
much physical RAM you might have installed in your computer).
The solutions to resolving this error are many, but almost always require the user to
compromise graphics details and/or reduce the number of concurrent add-ons being used.
Here are some tips to reduce frequency of OOMs:

P3D graphics settings reduce texture resolution to 1024 x 1024.


Disable airports not being used in your scenery library.
Reduce the number of add-ons being used at the same time.
Minimize view usage during flight (stick to just VC view and/or spot view only).
Avoid manually changing Time/Season before flight (especially switching from dawn to
day to dusk).
Configure your flight (select location, time, aircraft) then save the flight file, exit P3D,
wait 3 minutes, run P3D and load the saved flight file.
Disable options from 3rd party add-on (via their configuration screens, see Configuring
3rd party Add-ons ).
Avoid using 3rd party products NOT designed for P3D (i.e. FSX migrated).

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Hardware, Overclocking, Performance


Flight simulation will always require as much computer hardware as you can afford. Many
people try to compare 3D shooters to a flight simulator and say why cant a flight simulator
look like a 3D shooter. The answer is always view distance. 3D shooters operate at much
smaller view distances between few 100 feet to at most 3 miles before the back drop is just a
single static image. Flight simulators work at a visual distance of 100-200 miles or more and
its a continuously loading globe no waiting for the next level to load as with 3D Shooters.
The global size the planet along with extreme view distances puts a huge strain on memory,
memory subsystems, and of course both the CPU and GPU.
With that said, flight simulators can still look pretty stunning, especially when optimized to
make the best of ones computing hardware.

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Hardware
It doesnt make much sense to list hardware choices in this document because hardware
evolves and changes every few months, new video cards, new CPUs, new monitors, etc.
However, when selecting hardware for a new build or upgrade to existing computer, its good
to balance the system as best as possible. Pairing up a high end GPU with a low end CPU will
not provide a good overall system balance and will not realize the performance potential of
the GPU because its being held back by a low end CPU.
Its good to shop smart, top tier hardware rarely has a good price to performance ratio.
With that said, P3D does seem to respond well to the following:

Large L3 CPU Cache (shared cache across all cores)


Higher CPU clock frequency
Higher memory bandwidth with fast SSDs

Large L3 CPU Cache


The L3 cache is a shared cache so its used by all CPU cores. For some CPUs (usually those
with 8 or more real cores) disabling Hyper-threading frees up the L3 cache which improves
the probability of access hits for data and/or instructions this can help keep up the flow of
processing and improve overall performance (specifically FPS).
Examples of L3 Cache sizes:
6700K
3960X
5960X
6950X

8MB (4 core)
15MB (6 core)
20MB (8 core)
25MB (10 core)

Usage of hyper-threading in a CPU really depends on how many cores you have and the
frequency at which you operate those cores at. For example, if a 5960X with Hyper-threading
enabled can only reach 4.3Ghz overclocking, but when Hyper-threading is disabled the same
5960X can reach 4.6Ghz overclocking, there will be more benefit operate at the 4.6Ghz
frequency.
The does seem to be a point of diminishing returns when it comes to CPU core count 6-8
real CPUs seems to work best for P3D.
Higher CPU clock frequency
The higher you operate your CPU reliably, the better P3D will perform.
overclocking and managing CPU, Chipset (PCH), and VRM temperatures.

The key is reliable

To manage the heat that overclocking can produce, a good cooling solution is required. See
next section on Overclocking.
Higher memory bandwidth with fast SSDs
The faster a computer can load terrain data and textures (BGLs, AGN, BMPs, DDS, etc.) from
your hard drive (SSD) and into video memory (as textures), the less likely youll encounter
low quality textures (often referred to as blurriness or the blurries).

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Overclocking
P3D does benefit from overclock both CPU and GPU. The most cost effective and low
maintenance overclocking is obtained with dual loop water cooled system. Water cooling for
computers has evolved considerably over the last decade with many options available with
fully self-contained kits aimed at novice users/builders.
CPUs, chipset (PCH), power regulators (VRM), and GPUs all can get very hot when
overclocked. Fortunately, there are many water cooling solutions that will cover these 4 key
components.
This section will NOT go into details of the 200+ BIOS/EFI settings that can be modified in
order to achieve a stable overclocked profile. Every motherboard/CPU/RAM will operate
differently and it would be impractical to attempt to cover every possible overclocking
setting/combination.
At its very basic, overclocking is:

Higher frequency
More voltage
More cooling
Tuned RAM timings

Current memory modules (DDR3/DDR4) dont heat up enough to justify water cooling, if the
case is well ventilated with sufficient fans for well controlled Intake and Exhaust air flow, then
memory modules should not require any special cooling.
There is some danger with overclocking such as damaging components, but in most
cases a CPU will have thermal protection (assuming its not turned off via BIOS/EFI) which
should prevent permanent damage/failure, however, proceed at your own risk with no
guarantee. When overclocking always proceed with caution, if you cant afford to write-off
your CPU of choice, then dont risk overclocking. With that said, some users have been
overclocking computers for well over 16 years and have not had a single CPU failure.
Precision X by EVGA (http://www.evga.com/precision/), CPU/GPU monitors and GPU
overclocking tool. Note that EVGA monitor/overclocking tool will vary based on the installed
GPU:

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Figure 113

To monitor with a visual overlay of the selected items (i.e. FPS, Temps, etc.) make sure OSD
ON (white if gray, click on OSD OFF).
Setup monitoring of GPU/CPU frame rates, temperatures, bus loads, GPU loads, CPU loads,
and more:

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Figure 114

SLI dual GPU monitoring (above) to monitored values in P3D the Show in On-screen
Display must be enabled.

Figure 115

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Overclocking the CPU can be approached in many ways, booting to BIOS/EFI and making the
changes there, or via Manufacturer utilities that allow for adjustments directly from within the
Windows OS environment with options to save overclocking profiles.
One approach is to setup a safe boot clock in the BIOS/EFI and then define an overclocking
profile that you can manually load AFTER booting into the OS.
Below is an example of ASUS overclocking/monitoring tools (AI Suite) that can be used to
setup and save overclocking profiles from within Windows OS:

Figure 116

Make your overclocking adjustments, and the use Save Profile button to save the profile and
then hit the Apply button. Once you have a working stable profile, you can run this tool to
load that profile:

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Figure 117

Once a profile is saved, its time to start testing the profile in P3D.

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Monitoring CPU, VRM (voltage regulators), and PCH (chipset) temperatures using motherboard
monitor/overclocking tools should provide the most accurate readings as they tie indirectly to
the motherboard manufacturers components. Most motherboard manufacturers provide these
tools/utilities with motherboard purchase (also watch for updates via motherboard
manufacturers website):

Figure 118

Once an overclocking profile is defined, start testing the stability of the profile using P3D and
monitor CPU, VRM, PCH temperatures. In the example above, temperatures (shown in
degrees F) are very low for the given location. Note: the location and add-ons used in P3D
will also impact temperatures.
Temperature limits will vary by motherboard and CPU a 5960X for example is safe up to
about 160 F (71 C), beyond that and stability might become an issue, but some 5960X owners
claim 194 F (90 C) without issue.
Its also important to test overclocking stability by operating P3D in populated and complex
location as there will be a considerably different load when testing at Flagstaff (KFLG) vs.
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testing at KSEA.

Performance
How to get smooth motion in P3D is actually not that difficult, but it does require some
willingness to compromise on graphics settings and/or add-ons.
The easiest approach (but certainly NOT the only approach) to get smooth motion in P3D is to
find a monitor that can operate at 30Hz and still look as good as it does at 60Hz or higher with
NO mouse lag. Below is a table of the relationship between monitor frequency, limited vs.
unlimited, and FPS:

Figure 119

The basic idea above is to use Unlimited IF one can sustain FPS greater than your monitors
refresh rate and use Vsync On and Triple-buffer On. If one cant sustain FPS higher than the
monitor refresh rate, then use a limited and set that limiter value to 2 FPS below your
lowest/min FPS reading.
The chart below represents running the same flight test using different graphics settings,
different add-ons, different hardware, different overclocking, different drivers, different OS
version, different Affinity Masks and Hyper-threading settings. The base graphics settings
are based on setting listed earlier in this document (see Figure 26 thru Figure 30).
Shadows setting abbreviations:
S = SimObject (cast/receive)
IV = Internal Vehicle (cast/receive)
EV = External Vehicle (cast/receive)
B = Building (cast/receive)
Note: Other technologies like G-Sync (nVidia) and FreeSync (AMD) are also good at variable
refresh rates, but its important to note that human perception is will see motion as smooth
when time between frames is consistent. If you can hit every frame at exactly 16ms then that
will look smoother than hitting 80% frames at 10ms and 20% > 40ms. The goal is to achieve
the most consistency in frame time. For most normal GA/commercial flying, 30 FPS will
provide a smooth experience, however, for military combat flying and/or aerobatic flight, then
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60 FPS would be a more desirable goal.

Figure 120

The colored rows indicate some interesting performance compares where its clear how a
single setting, or hardware change, or driver change can affected FPS and long frame counts
(stutters).

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Input Control Devices (TrackIR, Yokes, Throttles )


To enhance the flight simulation experience there are many vendors that offer a variety of
controlling device. Devices can range from all in one flight stick with buttons and a throttle
axis to highly realistic detail cockpits that emulate the real world aircraft.
Some very common device used with P3D are:

TrackIR
Yokes, Throttles, Rudders
Programmable Modules

TrackIR
This USB device consists of a sensor that is mounted on top of a monitor and is used in
combination with a head mounted LED/reflection. The intended purpose is to track a users
head motion. This head motion is then used to move the view from within P3D.
TrackIR web site can be found here.
TrackIR requires the installation of SimConnect (see SimConnect )
It may also be required that TrackIR5 is set to Run as Administrator this varies based on
how your computer is setup/configured with user accounts.
When operating TrackIR5 with P3D:

Start TrackIR (Desktop icon)


Expand full screen
Position your head such that you are looking at the center of the monitor and NOT the
track center dot/axis
Hit F12 to re-center to your current head position
Hit F7 to enterprecision mode
Minimize TrackIR (do NOT shutdown)
Start P3D

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Figure 121

The quickest and easiest way to get slow controllable motion in P3D is to set the Motion
Control values for Speed and Smooth. In the (see Figure 121) above Smooth is set to
its max value of 50 and the motion speed is almost at its lowest value 0.4. Experiment with
these values to provide an acceptable head motion experience. For additional motion speed
changes, you can adjust individual axis curves using graph points to express how quickly
youd like motion to happen at different head positions.
Trap checkbox is used to control the passing of Hot Key assignments thru to P3D. If Trap is
checked and F12 is the key used to center trackIR, then you need to make sure that P3D does
NOT have any F12 key assignments as P3D would NOT receive the F12 event message.
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If you want P3D and TrackIR to respond to F12, then uncheck the Trap checkbox.
In most cases its better to have Trap checkbox checked, and just make sure P3D (and or
add-ons) have NO key assignments mapped to F12.
Once in P3D, you can then use the F12 key to re-center TrackIR. It can be very helpful to
also map another key to toggle TrackIR tracking. Again, you can use any key you like but
make sure that key sequence isnt used by P3D.
Its a good idea to also set the TrackIR to precision mode using F7 key. Precision mode is
only available for TrackIR5 units.

Figure 122

Precision mode status is shown in the lower right section (see red ellipse in figure above).
Precision mode helps smooth out head motion but does reduce the range of motion.

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There are several head devices that can be used with TrackIR:
TrackClip Pro
TrackIR Visor and Clip
TrackHat with LEDs
The TrackIR Visor and Clip works very well as is, however, with just a slight modification
(especially for those of users with silver hair and/or other reflective surfaces). Such a
modification is to use some reflective tape from a hardware store or online and apply slightly
larger reflective squares over the existing hat clip reflective squares. These larger reflective
squares make it easier for the TrackIR sensor to pick up accurate head position:

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Figure 123

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Yokes, Throttle, Rudders


These devices add another level of realism to flight and provide similar looking input devices
to those used in real aircraft.
This section will not cover the many thousands of controllers available on the market.
However, this section will cover how to calibrate the devices correctly for P3D.
To calibrate your controllers for P3D:

Figure 124

From P3D menu select Settings.

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Figure 125

Select Controls
Make sure all Sensitivity settings are at max value 127
Make sure all Null Zone settings are at min value 1
Click Calibrate Device

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Figure 126

Move your device handles/sticks/wheels thru the full set of motions (top to bottom, back to
front, etc.).
A short video tutorial is provided here that walks thru the controller calibration process in P3D.

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Programmable Modules
As with controllers, many companies provide modules that consist of buttons, dials, switches,
and more. These modules can often be programmed to work with specific aircraft or any
aircraft. Below is one (there are many vendors that can be found online) example of a vendor
that provides programmable modules.
GoFlight
One such company is GoFlight. These modules can be used to program events and/or
respond to events/data going to/from P3D to operate 2D panels and/or Virtual Cockpit dials,
buttons, switches, and more. GoFlight provide configuration software to assign simulator
events to buttons and dials and switches. The configuration panel GFConfig.exe is used to
make assignments.

Figure 127

Select your module (right side of Figure 127 ) and assign a switch function (left side of Figure
127).
For Windows 8.x or Windows 10 users, its important to run GFWindows8Fixer.exe in order
to be able to see the LED displays work correctly in some of the GoFlight modules that have
LEDs:

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Figure 128

There is an additional product call GoFlight Interface Tool (supports both P3D and Xplane)
that can be purchased from PollyPotSoftware that takes controller assignments beyond what
can be accomplished with the standard GoFlight Configuration panel. Here is an introduction
tutorial video to using GoFlight Interface Tool.

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Conclusion
I hope this document helps those flight simulator enthusiasts that use P3D. Its impossible to
include all vendors that support P3D in a single document. Vendors used in this document
are NOT preferred vendors, they are simply used as examples of a much larger world
of P3D vendor support. The 3rd party add-on vendor world is vast and should be explored to
its fullest where there will be a product or products to fit just about every user desire/goal in
their pursuit of flight simulation.

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