What are the main differences between the PC and Xbox versions?

Peter Lambert Guest

I am interested to know what are the main differences between the Xbox and PC versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

I have both an Xbox and a mid-range PC and was wondering if the Xbox version provides any better performance and whether it was worth using that over my PC.

However, I wouldn't want to lose any functionality by using the Xbox version - I want the simulation to be realistic and as true to life as possible.  Does the Xbox version take anything away from the simulator?

Thank you for your response in advance!


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Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Hi Peter,

Great question! It's understandable that you'd like to get the best experience possible with Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) on your available hardware. I'll break down the main differences between the PC and Xbox versions to help you make an informed decision.

  1. Performance: The Xbox Series X|S versions of MSFS are optimized for their respective hardware, ensuring a smooth and stable experience. The Xbox Series X, in particular, delivers impressive visuals and performance, thanks to its powerful hardware. A mid-range PC might not achieve the same level of performance without tweaking settings. However, the PC version allows for more granular control over graphics and performance settings, which can help you optimize the experience for your hardware.
  2. Controls: The Xbox version is designed to be played using an Xbox controller, while the PC version offers a wide range of input options, including joysticks, yokes, throttles, rudder pedals, and more. While you can connect some peripherals to the Xbox, the support might be limited compared to the PC version. If you already have a flight sim setup on your PC, you might find the controls more versatile and accurate than using an Xbox controller.
  3. Updates & Add-ons: Both versions receive the same core updates, such as World Updates and Sim Updates. However, the PC version has access to a broader range of third-party add-ons and community mods, which can significantly enhance your experience with additional aircraft, airports, and scenery. While the Xbox version does offer some third-party content through the in-game marketplace, it's generally more limited than what's available for PC.
  4. Online Multiplayer: Both versions support online multiplayer, but it's important to note that the Xbox version requires an Xbox Game Pass subscription or Xbox Live Gold to access online features, while the PC version does not have such requirements.

In summary, the Xbox version offers a more streamlined, plug-and-play experience with consistent performance on the Xbox Series X|S hardware. However, the PC version provides more versatility in terms of controls, add-ons, and customization options, which can lead to a more in-depth and realistic simulation experience.

If you prioritize realism and already have a flight sim setup on your PC, you might prefer sticking with the PC version. On the other hand, if you're looking for a more casual, easy-to-access experience and your mid-range PC struggles with performance, the Xbox version could be a better choice.

I hope this helps you make a decision that best suits your preferences and setup. Happy flying!

Michael Tobin Guest

I have owned every version of MSFS which I have run on various PCs. I like to keep my PCs up to date. Before the 2020 version, I ran the sim with Saitex 15, all worked pretty well. When MSFS 2020 came out I upgraded a dedicated PC's video card. It already was running an i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, and an SSD. I bought the disc version to save download time. It took over a week to download the updates. The program was brilliant but long constant updates. Frequent CTDTs were driving me nuts. After some research I decided to try it with an XBox S. I bought a Turtle Beach Velocity One. The results are lightening downloads, no crashes, and a very enjoyable experience. It takes a little while to program the Turtle Beach for the various aircraft types, but it's well worth the effort. The graphics are brilliant (Samsung 27-inch curved monitor) and having had numerous flight lessons on an actual Cessena 172 I find it very realistic. 
The XBox may not go quite to things a PC will do but for mine, the little loss is more than compensated by being able to spend more time flying and enjoying the sim, instead of waiting for lengthy downloads and frequent crashes. So I am an XBox convert for MSFS and also recommend the Turtle Beach Velocity One. 

Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.


Appreciating Your Journey: It's great to hear about your positive experience with MSFS on the Xbox, especially with the Turtle Beach Velocity One. Your journey from PC to Xbox highlights a key point: the importance of user experience. While PCs offer extensive customization, the streamlined, crash-free experience on Xbox can't be understated.

Finding Balance: Your shift to Xbox, driven by a desire for a more stable and enjoyable experience, is a testament to the fact that sometimes, the simplicity and reliability of a console can outweigh the advanced capabilities of a PC. This is especially true for users who want to spend more time in the air than dealing with updates and technical issues.

Realism and Enjoyment: Your point about the realism provided by the Xbox version, complemented by the Turtle Beach Velocity One, is an important one for enthusiasts considering a platform switch. It underscores that realism and enjoyment in flight simulators can be achieved on various platforms, each with its unique strengths.

Thank you for sharing your experience! It's insights like yours that enrich our community and help others in making informed decisions about their flight sim setups.

Safe skies and happy flying!

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