Why I Switched To X-Plane 11

Why I Switched To X-Plane 11

I was asked that question today in the YouTube comments, and I thought it was a good one. Why DID I switch to X-Plane 11?

I use a Mac at home, and have had X-Plane on my system for at least 10 years. I flew FSX before that, but with Mac X-Plane was the only option and I liked it. But when it came time to build the Basement Sim I knew that I’d be looking at the most powerful possible rig I could afford, and that rig would almost certainly be running Windows. And so it was, and with that being the case, I was left to choose between FSX and P3D. I picked P3d because it’s a platform under ongoing development.

And I love P3d. Let’s be clear about that. It’s an awesome package, and with ActiveSky and ORBX and REX it’s astonishingly good. But I kept hearing about X-Plane from simmers I respect, and more so, I noticed that many of the real pilots I follow online who also sim were X-Plane advocates. So maybe six months back I downloaded X-Plane 10, and it lasted on my system for about 10 minutes. As soon as I figured out that I could not easily run with multiple screens it was clear X-Plane 10 was a non-starter for the sim. So I happily stayed with P3D.

But when the X-Plane 11 beta was released I learned that it had native multi-monitor support, so I decided to give it a go. I was very taken with several aspects of the X-Plane 11 experience. The fast loading time and modern and easy-to-use user interface were great. The default scenery had come a very long way and looked great. And it never crashed. But initially, what really got my attention were the graphics. Without even full sliders the visuals in X-Plane 11 – the night lighting, the reflections, the way light moves about the scenery – were stunning. And thanks to X-Plane being 64 bit, there was no scenery popping, or scenery resolving into a less-blurry resolution, to break the immersion.

I loved what I saw, and it was enough to get me to spend some time with it, and in that process I was very taken with the X-Plane flight models. X-Plane models flight in a fundamentally different way than FSX or P3D, and at least to me, the way the airplane moves both on the ground and in the air feels much more realistic than in P3D. That means something to me as a student pilot, but it means a lot as a simmer, too – I want the sim to be as immersive as possible, and with X-Plane 11 it was as immersive as I’d seen it. That was enough for me to figure out a solution to the nettlesome (and frankly disappointing) fact that X-Plane does not allow separate eyepoints for each monitor. And once I had that nut cracked I was sold.

I never intended to switch to X-Plane 11. I was just checking it out based on the passion demonstrated by other simmers and pilots I follow online. But once I used it, I stayed with it. And with about a month of time under the belt, I continue to stay with it for the UI, stability, and flight models as noted above. But I’ve also come to love several other aspects of the X-Plane ecosystem:

  • Great default aircraft with excellent flight models
  • Tons and tons and tons of excellent freeware aircraft, airports, scenery, and plugins
  • Free HD mesh
  • The simplicity of installing (and uninstalling) add-ons and managing the file system
  • No configuration tweaking
  • Did I mention no configuration tweaking?
  • Thanks to xEnviro, great real-world weather
  • The ability to easily create and share my own airport scenery
  • The ability to create photorealistic scenery
  • The ability to have autogen appear on-top of said photorealistic scenery

And finally, the ability to access the full breadth of the PCs RAM can’t be overstated.

I still have P3D on my system. I do miss its great AI aircraft from time to time, and I do love ORBX. But I booted it up a few weeks ago with a friend, and in comparison to using X-Plane it felt archaic. I even got an OOM to boot. I will keep following P3D, will fly it from time to time, and eagerly await the 64 bit version that will certainly come this year. But unless that version includes a significant re-write of the now ancient Microsoft code, I’m not certain that 64 bits in P3D will counter and exceed the things I enjoy so much about X-Plane. In fact, I’m nearly certain they won’t. I will hope to have Lockheed Martin prove me wrong, because if they do, it will mean only spectacular things for our community and our hobby. But in the meantime you will probably find me in X-Plane, cruising over some stunning photorealistic scenery, enjoying the flight model, and probably, talking to the controllers on PilotEdge.

11 thoughts on “Why I Switched To X-Plane 11

  1. I have been a long time flight simmer all the way back in Flight Simulator 2004 era. In fact I was in the Navy when a friend of mine introduced me to Flight Sim and I have been hooked ever since. I used Flight Simulator 2004 for a few years and then I had to transfer. I didn’t have a reasonable space to put my sim up at the new duty location so I didn’t sim for many many years, but I told myself that when I retire from the military I am going to purchase a sim. Well I have since retired back in 2012 and bought a used simulator off Ebay 3 monitors, saitek panels, computer with FSX, and used that for a couple of years. Then I switched it over to P3D and used that for about a year and a half until X-Plane 11. I knew of X-Plane for awhile, in fact I tried X-Plane 9 on a home computer when that came out but it was horrible. I am glad that I switched over to X-Plane 11 also.

  2. Hi. I can’t remember which video/blog post you had this in but I was able to get a solution to the dual avionics switch on/off via Spad.next. (and you may have already found an answer) I think you had said that when you set the avionics switch on you saitek panel, only the left side/bus 1 comes on. I had the same problem and after a couple days testing, I was able to get an answer from connex over at spad.next. When programming the avionics button on, also add the sim event “Cross Tie On” event. It will turn on both bus’s. (same for off, “Cross Tie Off”) Hope this helps if you didn’t have the answer yet.

  3. I have been summing on and off since 2003 started with Sierra Pro Pilot 99. Used all the Microsoft flightsim series Up til September of 2011. Had a falling out with my last VA. Had used xp9, hated it, hated the community, xp10 again…was not impressed. Then just last month reinstalled fsx se, seen xp11 was out and tried the demo….loved it! Bought it did a few flights and thought okay I’m done with fsx and fsw. Not even pmdg can keep me locked in anymore…note a2a..not when the beautiful aircraft support xp has now. I was amazed. I never thought being a xp hater the last 6yrs I would ever convert, but I did. Yes the community still sucks but don’t bother using the forum on xplane.org x-pilot.com is a much friendlier place and steam forum too.

  4. its a myth that xplane has tons of ecxellent freeware. Most of it is woefully out of date and looks, and flies, like crap.
    If xplane was so great, pmdg, a2a and the other big boys would be all over it. But they are not and there are reasons.
    xplane is great for sight-seeing with free ortho scenery, and great for night flying. But for systems level commercial flying it is far behind prepar3d and even fsx.
    Also, the use of opengl means your pc runs it with both hands tied. opengl is simply rubbish at utilising cpu & gpu. Ive never seen my cpu or gpu at 100% usage in xplane and yet its framerates are poor compared to p3d,
    Also, xplanes ATC is a joke that laminar research have been promising to improve since at least 2011. And the ridiculously unrealistic wind modelling is still a cause of argument on many forums.
    Of course, no sim is perfect, nor will they ever be.
    As long as you are happy with your choice, thats all that matters.
    Clear skies to you!

    As I was writing this, while in the MD80 in xplane, I saw a windfarm in the English Channel. Theres realism for you!

    1. Sounds like you and I have had radically different experiences, Mike. Point for point …

      “its a myth that xplane has tons of ecxellent freeware. Most of it is woefully out of date and looks, and flies, like crap.”

      >> Not for me. I’ve enjoyed every airport I’ve downloaded and find the Mr. X stuff in particular to be extraordinarily good. The default C 172 in my experience flies much more like the real bird than even the A2A, which I enjoyed very much. Same, too, for the PA 21-181 I use in XP. Much more lively like the one I fly in real life, and it flies nearly dead on the numbers. I can’t speak to volumes of other aircraft as I only fly a number of GA birds in the sim.

      If xplane was so great, pmdg, a2a and the other big boys would be all over it. But they are not and there are reasons.

      >> Indeed. But I suspect this has more to do with installed user base, and perhaps ownership, than technical matters.

      xplane is great for sight-seeing with free ortho scenery, and great for night flying. But for systems level commercial flying it is far behind prepar3d and even fsx.

      >> Can’t speak to that as I don’t fly study-level commercial aircraft in the sim.

      Also, the use of opengl means your pc runs it with both hands tied. opengl is simply rubbish at utilising cpu & gpu. Ive never seen my cpu or gpu at 100% usage in xplane and yet its framerates are poor compared to p3d,

      >> Project Lasso shows nearly full utilization across all cores in the most recent XP 11 RC build on my system. Comparing equal levels of autogen and HD lighting (which has just now – barely – come to P4D) my frame rates in XP are better than I had in P3D. I can’t speak to P4D as I’ve not installed it, but I’m sure it’s an improvement. I also have few to 0 stutters in XP.

      Also, xplanes ATC is a joke that laminar research have been promising to improve since at least 2011.

      >> I agree. I don’t use it. But I don’t use automated ATC at all. When I want ATC I use PilotEdge and fly under professional-level control.

      And the ridiculously unrealistic wind modelling is still a cause of argument on many forums.

      >> I find upper-level winds very realistic. My issue has been more with the traction modeling of the tires and weathervaning than the wind modeling. Crosswind approaches, in my experience, are extremely realistic to real-world conditions.

      Of course, no sim is perfect, nor will they ever be.
      As long as you are happy with your choice, thats all that matters.

      Clear skies to you!

      As I was writing this, while in the MD80 in xplane, I saw a windfarm in the English Channel. Theres realism for you!

      >> And I can similarly point to many conditions where default P3D / FSX mesh is unrealistic. Which is why I used ORBX in P3D, and why I use HD Mesh in XP11. Both are excellent. One was free.

      >> Final thoughts: As a pilot about to take his GA check ride, I choose XP to sim with because it’s a much more authentic flying experience, for me, than P3D was. I loved P3D and left it highly suspicious of XP, for what that’s worth. But I’ve not been back since.

  5. Like most here, I’ve been a sim flyer since the SubLogic and earliest MSFT Flight Simulator series. I’ve literally bought every release of MSFT FS. FS9 WAS my mainstay and although I didn’t build out FSX like FS9, I’m glad I made the move.

    I tried XP back from version 8, no go. Version 9, still no. 10 getting closer and 11. Bingo. Lately, I’ve been flying XP 11 more than FSX. it’s hard to explain, but X-plane 11 has “soul”. The planes and environment have a much better feel than FSX. Night flying? Hands down better in XP out of the box default.

    The only challenge I see with XP11 as stated before is limited commercial deep-study aircraft. And that is why I still have FSX.

    Having said all that, I did just buy P3D v4. I see this as my future “other” sim for flying the big iron. Namely, the awesome FlightSim Labs A320. The prospect of this on a 64Bit platform cannot be ignored. So…

    I will keep FSX to run all the titles that I still like that are not P3D compatible.
    I will keep XP11 on the same drive as my GA sim and for all out immersion swimming. I will use P3D as the future of my heavy commercial platform until more starts to appear, if at all, for XP11. If you’ve got the dough and the storage I see a value in owning XP and P3D if you were starting over.

    Aaron

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