DCS World Performance and Settings Guide (2024)

DCS World Performance and Settings Guide (1)Photo by Generic (@generic_dcs)

This page contains contributions from my friend Lynx.

Storage

You MUST install DCS on an SSD (solid state) instead of an HDD (spinning disk). The base game is 160GB and a large install is 700GB+. A dedicated 1TB or larger high performance SSD is recommended.

Tom’s Hardware: Best SSDs

An SSD is absolutely essential. When installed on a spinning disk, DCS can take over 20 minutes to load into a mission and may crash during loading or during gameplay.

CPU

The best CPUs for DCS World are the AMD 7800X3D, AMD 5800X3D and AMD 5700X3D. But any fast gaming-oriented CPU is fine.

Gamer’s Nexus: Best CPUs of 2023

DCS primarily uses two CPU cores and makes heavy use of the CPU’s cache. Some higher-end CPUs designed for heavily multithreaded applications, such as the AMD 7950X3D, AMD’s Threadripper series, and Intel’s Core i7 and i9 series, don’t offer much, if any, performance benefit to DCS. If you’re building a computer specifically for DCS, you’re better off getting a great gaming CPU rather than a top-end productivity-oriented CPU. Spend the money saved on a better GPU, a nice HOTAS or a head tracker!

Ideally, use an upgraded CPU cooler.

Gamers Nexus: CPU Cooler Benchmarks

RAM

DCS World requires 16GB+ RAM minimum. 32GB-128GB RAM is recommended for large multiplayer servers and the Syria map.

You should ideally use two sticks of RAM and not four sticks. Most systems have lower performance with four sticks due to motherboard and CPU bandwidth limits. If you use overclocked RAM, you are more likely to have stability issues with 4 sticks than with 2.

When purchasing RAM, match the frequency and timings of the RAM to the CPU manufacturer’s recommendation. The recommendation may vary by specifc CPU and motherboard. AMD provides a table of their test results with overclocked memory here. On Intel systems, you are generally limited by the motherboard. Check with the manufacturer of the RAM, as some provide tables on their websites for selecting an appropriate kit.

For new builds, I strongly recommend 32GB of RAM as a bare minimum.

GPU

The best GPUs for DCS World are high-end Nvidia and AMD GPUs. Intel GPUs are accepted for 1080p at lower settings.

Since DCS uses an older graphics engine, high amounts of VRAM is more important than ray tracing performance. 12-16GB+ of VRAM is ideal.

Gamers Nexus: Best & Worst GPUs of 2023

Tom’s Hardware: Best Graphics Cards for Gaming

PSU

You should have a sufficient power supply for your CPU and GPU. PSU wattage alone is not a good indicator of reliability under load. 80PLUS ratings are also not useful for determining overall power delivery and efficiency performance. You need to select a PSU based on results from bench testing by knowledgeable people with the appropriate equipment.

For now, we recommend anything Tier B or better on the Cultist Tier List. We’re also keeping an eye on LTT Labs’ PSU testing with interest.

USB

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Some USB devices such as HOTASes may exhibit jitter or other issues when connected directly to a computer’s USB power. This is especially a problem with the Saitek/Logitech X52, X55 and X56. In many cases, this can be resolved using a powered USB hub. I’ve personally found powered USB hubs from SABRENT to be good quality for the price. Some of these hubs also have individual switches for each port, which is handy for quickly disconnecting your flight sim devices to play other games where those devices cause problems (looking at you, Elden Ring).

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Your motherboard has a limited number of USB devices and limited amount of USB bandwidth it can support. Each USB controller chip can support 127 USB devices- but note that a single physical device often consumes multiple virtual device slots!

Flight simulator devices can push past these device and bandwidth limits, especially when using some of the more advanced head trackers/webcams, VR headsets, and USB displays. If you notice these devices having issues, you may need additional USB controller chips.

Some motherboards have a separate USB controller for the front and rear I/O, which may extend this limit. Other motherboards may have multiple controllers for the rear I/O. Consult your motherboard manual to determine which physical ports correspond to which controllers.

You can add a USB PCIe expansion card to your system and move some devices to the expansion card. We have tested a few of the cheaper and lower end PCIe cards and found them lacking. The very cheapest cards do not actually contain a dedicated controller chip and are simply internal hubs. With other cheap cards we encountered issues such as:

  • Cards failing after a few weeks of driving a VR headset
  • Driver incompatibilies
  • System stability issues such as BSOD crashes and boot loops

In the worst case, a malfunctioning USB card can damage your motherboard through the PCIe port.

The only reliable brand we’ve found is StarTech. While they are expensive, they are the gold standard for commercial systems. We particularly recommend this 4 port card.

A head tracker is ideal for anyone who is not using VR. It is almost essential equipment for dogfighting- possibly more important than a HOTAS. Some great options:

  • TrackHat Sensor V2: Infrared camera based sensor. Author’s personal favorite - better tracking than IRLED trackers in their experience.
  • DelanClip, GrassMonkey, TrackNP: Infrared LED based sensors. Good precision and relatively affordable.
  • JBC Head Tracker, SmoothTrack: Smartphone apps. Basic, but very affordable if you already have a phone with face unlock. JBC has a free trial and is $2 to unlock the full version. SmoothTrack is $10 and has more features specific to Apple devices, such as using AirPods for tracking. Both the Apple and Android app stores have refund policies.
  • OpenTrack Neuralnet: Standard webcam based sensor. Basic, but very affordable if you already have a webcam or can purchase one inexpensively.

I do not recommend:

  • NaturalPoint TrackIR: Too expensive compared to competition. Fragile infrared light clip. Lower refresh rates than competition. Official software has not been updated in a long time, compared to OpenTrack receiving new quality of life features. No compelling reason to buy one when equivalent hardware can be had for less than half the price.

I have heard mixed experiences about:

  • Tobii Eye Tracker 5. Initially I heard from users complaining coarse and oversmoothed tracking. A real-life friend who tried to use one for flight simulation described it as feeling drunk. More recently, I have heard this improved with software updates, but I haven’t been able to verify this personally.

⚠️ Don’t bother with DCS VR unless:

  1. You have a very high end PC
  2. You are willing and able to troubleshoot all manner of obscure technical issues
  3. You are comfortable installing software from GitHub and very carefully reading technical instructions written by software engineers
  4. You have a head tracker to fall back on when updates break VR support from time to time

There are no perfect VR headsets, but there are a few worth consideration for DCS. Based on our testing, we currently recommend the Pimax Crystal Light as our primary recommendation and the Meta Quest 3 as a budget option.

We also recommend using IEMs for audio instead of the mediocre speakers included with most headsets. For budget IEMs, I like the 7HZ x Crinacle Zero:2 and Moondrop CHU II.

Pimax Crystal Light

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Pros
Good field of view (104°x104°)
Excellent display with great pixel density (35 PPD)
Available with or without controllers
Offers both external lighthouse and inside-out tracking options, allowing flexible choice between convenience or tracking fidelity
Cons
Expensive when bundled with controllers or if including the cost of lighthouses
Heavy and bulky, though lighter than the standard Pimax Crytsal
Some users report issues with inside-out tracking
No eye tracking
Mixed experiences with customer support
Mediocre microphone, no speakers

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Pros
Decent field of view (110°x96°)
Relatively affordable
Easy to configure for PCVR use
Good warranty with easy returns/exchanges
Also good for roomscale
Standalone capbilities
Includes controllers
Cons
Requires a quality wifi5/wifi6 dedicated router or wireless access point or a third party charging+link cable for long sessions
Significantly pixel density than our other recommendation (25 PPD)
Significant compression artifacts including image noise and color banding
Forced Oculus/Meta software updates contain breaking changes and sometimes unfixable issues
No eye tracking
Medicore microphone and speaker quality

Pimax Crystal

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Pros
Same Pros as Crystal Light
Excellent eye tracking
Cons
Expensive
Requires a separate battery, even when connected to power source
Heavy and bulky
Mediocre microphone and speaker quality
Similar cons to Crystal Light: Inside-out tracking issues, mixed customer support experiences

Bigscreen Beyond

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Pros
Excellent OLED display with good pixel density (32 PPD)
Lightweight with a small form factor
Custom fitted for maximum comfort
High quality customer support
High quality microphone
Cons
Slightly lower field of view (102°x99°)
Requires external lighthouses for tracking
Expensive, especially when including the price of the recommended number of lighthouses
IPD is not user adjustable - cannot share headset with someone who has a different IPD
Each user needs a separate custom fitted gasket cushion
High restocking fee after shipping
No controllers available - roomscale requires controllers from another brand
Not compatible with eyeglasses - users with vision deficiency will need prescription inserts
Due to the combination of panel and lens, some users find the image to have low luminance and high image persitence, similar to the ghosting on an LCD monitor with a VA panel
Glare in high contrast scenes
No eye tracking
No integrated audio

Why not…?

Meta Quest Pro

  • The Quest 3 is both cheaper and higher resolution.
  • On Meta headsets, eye tracking with OpenXR is only available in debug mode. This requires a developer account, which must be verified by Meta. The author had to send their driver’s license to Meta to pass verification. Your experience may vary.
  • The eye tracking on the Quest Pro is not as good as the Pimax Crystal when used with PC VR. It lags behind your gaze by a few frames. The author finds this noticeable but tolerable. Your experience may vary.
  • Some users report eye & face tracking hardware failure due to sweat/moisture.
  • The slightly better controllers on the Quest Pro compared to the Quest 3 are of limited use for stationary simulations.
  • There are some advantages - good comfort, ability to see your HOTAS and keyboard through the gap between the headset and your face, and the included controllers are great for roomscale games. But the advantages aren’t worth the tradeoffs for most people, given this price point.
  • Awkward middle child between the Meta Quest 3 and Pimax Crystal.

HP Reverb G2

  • Microsoft is killing off Windows Mixed Reality, and the G2 relies on WMR to function.
  • There is some hope that Monado will provide support after WMR is removed, but this is not guaranteed.
  • Very common hardware failures due to internal damage to the proprietary video cable.

Valve Index

  • The Index is severely outdated hardware, overpriced and underperforming compared to the Meta Quest 3 and other current options.

Apple Vision Pro

  • Not officially compatible with OpenXR, which is required for DCS/BMS.
  • A workaround is available using ALVR streaming, but it has no guarantees of continuing to work.

General Tweaks

If you are running an Intel Alder Lake CPU or AMD Ryzen 7000 Series CPU or newer, upgrade to Windows 11 to use the new Thread Director. Alternatively, you may be able to disable your efficiency cores (E-Cores) in your motherboard settings, but this may impact performance and power consumption in other applications.

Install any available Windows updates.

If your system supports Resizable BAR and/or Smart Access Memory, enable it.

Close any unnecessary programs and browser tabs when playing DCS.

Uninstall all bloatware packaged by the manufacturer of your computer.

Disable any VPN software when playing DCS multiplayer.

Third party antivirus such as Kaspersky, BitDefender, McAfee, Norton, MalwareBytes, etc. is not recommended. These cause problems with DCS in particular because they flag the Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption of the game files as a possible threat and quarantine or delete game files randomly. Third party antivirus also tends to cause general performance issues. We recommend using the default Microsoft Defender antivirus, and optionally adding an exception for DCS.

Intel CPU Tweaks

Be sure to enable XMP in your motherboard settings as it’s often disabled by default.

Nvidia GPU Tweaks

Update your graphics drivers to the latest available version from nvidia.com/drivers or through GeForce Experience. If you are running an outdated driver version, some options like DLSS and SSS may be grayed out in the in-game options.

Disable Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling in Windows settings. It increases input latency and stutter, especially on mid to high end systems when using VR.

Disable ShadowPlay if you aren’t using it to record gameplay footage.

AMD CPU Tweaks

If you have the 7900X3D/7950X3D, or a Ryzen X3D CPU with dual CCDs, install the Xbox Game Bar and run it while playing games. AMD’s software uses it to detect when a game is running and change CPU scheduling behavior to allow maximum performance.

Be sure to enable DOCP/EXPO in your motherboard settings as it’s often disabled by default. I measured a 13% CPU performance gain in 3DMark toggling it on and off on my AMD system.

Adjusting Precision Boost Overdrive 2 (PBO2) optimizes power consumption and thermals. Depending on your CPU cooling setup, this may also slightly improve performance.

AMD GPU Tweaks

In the AMD Software, navigate to Preferences, and next to AMD User Experience Program, click Learn More and then Leave. If left enabled, this setting runs a telemetry service on your computer. I found this service was consuming a lot of system resources and making my system generally sluggish on boot. Leaving the program made my computer substantially snappier and my applications started much faster.

Exclude DCS from Microsoft Defender Antivirus

Real-time antivirus scans can reduce performance for programs that need to read many files from disk during runtime. You can disable real-time scans of files that DCS accesses while DCS is open. The files will still be scanned by regular scheduled scans when DCS is not running.

⚠️ If you use mods or play multiplayer, this tweak increases your risk. Use your best judgement about whether to use this tweak. I personally wouldn’t use this with any mod for which I haven’t read the source code. If you use the 3D Editor for DCS Web Editor, this also increases your vulnerability to malicious scripts in mission files.

For the default Microsoft Defender antivirus:

  1. Open the Windows Security application
  2. Select Virus & Threat Protection in the sidebar
  3. Under Virus & Threat Protection settings, click Manage Settings
  4. Under Exclusions, click Add or Remove Exclusions
  5. Add a File Exclusion for the full path to DCS.exe, e.g. on my system it is D:\games\dcs\DCS World OpenBeta\bin-mt\DCS.exe
  6. Add a Process Exclusion for the full path to DCS.exe, e.g. on my system it is D:\games\dcs\DCS World OpenBeta\bin-mt\DCS.exe

Here is what mine looked like after this. Yours will look differently.

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Set Page File Size

The page file is used by Windows for infrequently accessed data that would otherwise consume RAM. For most users, the default setting is fine. However, some users have found that manually setting the page file size improves performance. This is especially useful if your PC contains multiple types of storage with different speeds, such as both SSDs and HDDs. It’s also useful if you don’t have a lot of free space on your page file’s drive, to help Windows plan better with the limited space.

💡 Reboot your PC after changing page file settings.

Disable USB Selective Suspend

USB selective suspend is a feature intended to reduce electricity usage by powering down idle devices. This can cause problems for flight simulators, such as disconnecting your peripherals during a long cruise, or in some cases, causing devices like head trackers to stop working after a few minutes of use.

Disable this setting:

  1. Press the ⊞ Win key to open the start menu, and type “edit power plan”. Click the result that leads to the Control Panel.
  2. In the Edit Plan Settings page that appears, click “Change advanced power settings”
  3. In the Power Options window that appears, navigate to “USB selective suspend setting” and choose “Disabled” from the dropdown

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Enable Multithreading

Use the multithreading build of the game for significantly improved performance.

For the Steam version, right click on DCS World Steam Edition and select play. Select “Play MT Preview” and then press Play.

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The Standalone version should automatically use multithreading by default.

Enable the Frame Rate Counter

While playing the game, press RCtrl + Pause to open a frame rate counter widget. You can use this to check your current framerate and whether you are currently CPU bound or GPU bound. You can use this to measure the performance impact of settings and tweaks.

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💡 There is a 180FPS limit by default.

💡 The CPU BOUND/GPU BOUND indicator is not accurate in all cases. To find out if you are CPU limited you must compare frame render time to framerate to determine if your GPU is rendering frames faster than the framerate.

💡 Frame times will be inaccurate in VR if Turbo Mode is enabled in OpenXR Toolkit/Quad Views.

Recompile Shaders

Every time that DCS World is updated, your graphics driver is updated, or you change your graphics card, you should delete the following directories in your Saved Games folder:

<Saved Games folder>\fxo

<Saved Games folder>\metashaders2

These folders contain shaders, which need to be rebuilt whenever either the game or graphics card driver is updated. DCS does not seem to consistently automatically rebuild these, resulting in performance issues. Deleting the folders will force DCS to rebuild them; this may cause a one-time increase in load times or some stutter during gameplay, but these will only happen once for each shader and the game may run smoother afterwards.

Learn more about shader compilation:

Disable Data Exports

If you use data exports such as TacView, Winwing’s SimAppPro, DCS-BIOS etc. You should disable these when playing large missions. These export a large amount of data from DCS on every frame, contributing to slowdown.

One way to disable data exports is to edit the Export.lua script within your Saved Games folder. Open <Saved Games folder>\Scripts\Export.lua in a text editor. Add two hyphens (--) in front of a line to disable that line. For example, my Export.lua contains lines for TacView, DCS-BIOS and SRS:

local Tacviewlfs=require('lfs');dofile(Tacviewlfs.writedir()..'Scripts/TacviewGameExport.lua')dofile(lfs.writedir()..[[Scripts\DCS-BIOS\BIOS.lua]])pcall(function() local dcsSr=require('lfs');dofile(dcsSr.writedir()..[[Mods\Services\DCS-SRS\Scripts\DCS-SimpleRadioStandalone.lua]]); end,nil)

I can disable TacView and DCS-BIOS as such:

--local Tacviewlfs=require('lfs');dofile(Tacviewlfs.writedir()..'Scripts/TacviewGameExport.lua')--dofile(lfs.writedir()..[[Scripts\DCS-BIOS\BIOS.lua]])pcall(function() local dcsSr=require('lfs');dofile(dcsSr.writedir()..[[Mods\Services\DCS-SRS\Scripts\DCS-SimpleRadioStandalone.lua]]); end,nil)

To reverse this change, remove the hyphens you added.

Reduce Disk Usage

Certain SSDs have reduced write performance when close to full because the size of dynamic SLC cache decreases on a full drive. Depending on the model of SSD, you should keep free space at around 25%. This number may change depending on if the SSD is overprovisioned or has DRAM cache.

Periodically Delete Tracks

Every so often, delete Track files from your Saved Games folder to free up disk space. You can find .trk files in <Saved Games folder>Tracks\Multiplayer.

If you use Tacview, also delete old .acmi files in %userprofile%\Documents\Tacview.

Compress Game Files

This tweak doesn’t improve in-game performance, but can save disk space and doesn’t hurt performance. Download Compactor and use it to compress the DCS World game directory and the Saved Games folder. The compression algorithm it uses is built into Windows and has virtually zero performance impact on CPUs made after 2010. On my computer, this shrunk DCS World’s disk usage by over 110GB with no in-game performance impact.

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Shrink Kneeboard Pages

Very large kneeboard pages can cause a performance impact. Use image editing software to scale your kneeboard pages down to the resolution of your display. OpenKneeboard’s guide to sizing has useful tips for both VR and 2D.

If you use a Virtual Reality headset, there are some additional tweaks and considerations.

Drivers

In most cases, you should install the latest drivers for your GPU. In some cases a new driver may have a performance issue for VR and you may need to install an older version.

Prefer Standalone Over Steam

Launching DCS through SteamVR runs the game use the older OpenVR API rather than directly using the OpenXR API. This causes a performance hit.

For the best performance, run the Standalone version of DCS directly with VR mode enabled in DCS settings.

If you must use Steam, launch the game normally through the desktop client with VR enabled in DCS settings, rather than through SteamVR.

To convert an existing Steam installation to Standalone:

  1. Download and run the standalone installer
  2. Untick “download” at the end of the setup wizard
  3. Manually copy or move your files from the Steam installation to the Standalone installation
  4. Delete <DCS standalone installation folder>\Config\retail.cfg
  5. Run the “Repair DCS World” application in your Start Menu

OpenXR Toolkit provides tweaks for VR applications. Some notable settings:

  • Turbo Mode, which makes VR feel smoother by forcing frames to render more quickly rather than wait for consistent frame timing. Note that this seems to cause weird, unexplained problems when combined with SteamVR.
  • The supersampling in OpenXR toolkit works better than the supersampling built into DCS.

After it’s installed, you can open the toolkit menu while playing and tweak settings. See the usage instructions and feature list for more info.

Quad Views Rendering

Quad Views Rendering is a technique that renders the focus area within your headset at a higher resolution than the rest of the headset. If your headset has eye-tracking, the high-resolution render area will follow your gaze; otherwise, it will be centered within your headset.

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This can hugely reduce the number of pixels needed to render, improving performance. However, in a combat flight simulator it can also cause problems tracking small, fast moving objects outside of the focus area, such as a dogfight opponent, tracer fire, or the lights on the carrier during a night trap. It may require some tuning and user preference. Results may vary depending on the specific headset and the user’s vision and preferences. If your system is CPU bottlenecked, this might decrease your performance overall.

To try this, use both Quad Views Foveated and Quad Views Companion. The former implements the feature, and the latter provides a GUI for changing the settings in %localappdata%\Quad-Views-Foveated\settings.cfg.

Note that if you choose to use both Quad Views Rendering and OpenXR Toolkit together, you should set settings like Turbo Mode and foveated rendering/render scale in QuadViewsCompanion and leave them at the default setting in OpenXR Toolkit.

RedKite has a good video demoing eye-tracked Foveated Rendering:

Note: If you are using a Meta Quest Pro, you’ll need to install OpenXR Eye Trackers to enable eye tracking on PC. You will probably need a verified Developer account.

If you have a Meta Quest headset, a link cable will provide the best video quality. Meta sells an official link cable if you don’t have one, and more affordable third-party cables are also available.

A tradeoff is that you may not be able to charge your headset and use the link cable at the same time, which may limit how long you can fly at a time. This third party cable allows connecting both a charger and link at once, which extends battery life sufficiently for very long flights.

DLSS/FSR

DLSS doesn’t work great in VR headsets, causing noticeable ghosting. The main use case of DLSS with VR is to supersample in OpenXR, then use DLSS to scale back down to the native resolution. This can soften some types of distracting visual artifacts, but requires a very beastly rig.

FSR also causes visual artifacts, such as ghosting/blurring on moving options and when switching MFD pages. Personally, I find the performance gain to be worth the tradeoff, but your mileage may vary based on your headset and vision.

XRNeckSafer

If you find it uncomfortable or painful to twist your torso and neck to look behind you/over your wing, you can use XRNeckSafer to provide an assist.

Separate Profiles for 2D and VR

If you play in both 2D and VR, you can set up some tweaks to make switching between them easier.

Create two separate shortcuts for DCS, one for 2D and one for VR. For 2D:

"D:\games\dcs\DCS World OpenBeta\bin-mt\DCS.exe" --force_disable_VR

For VR:

"D:\games\dcs\DCS World OpenBeta\bin-mt\DCS.exe" --force_enable_VR

Additionally, you can save custom graphical settings into three different slots in the Options > System tab, using the presets buttons in the bottom right. You can use one for your 2D settings and another for your VR settings.

You can then manually switch between these presets, or use SkateZilla’s launcher to automatically launch using one or the other.

Asynchronous Space Warp (ASW) is a technology that improves perceived smoothness in VR, at the tradeoff of locking the framerate to an integer divisor of the headset’s refresh rate. This feature is great if you can maintain your headset’s refresh rate. However, if your framerate dips below the refresh rate even slightly, it will immediately drop to 1/2 the refresh rate. It can also cause judder when using helmet-mounted displays.

On Meta Quest headsets using Link/AirLink, you can toggle ASW while playing with these keys:

KeybindASWFramerate
Ctrl+Num1DisabledUnlocked
Ctrl+Num2DisabledLocked
Ctrl+Num3EnabledLocked
Ctrl+Num4AutoUnlocked

ℹ️ My personal preference is ASW disabled and framerate unlocked (Ctrl+Num1)

These settings are a good starting baseline; you may need to tweak and test further, especially for VR setups.

Audio

Music0% (Only effects main menu, not in-game scripted music)
Hear like in HelmetEnabled

System

Res of co*ckpit Displays1024 Every Frame
Anti-AliasingOff or MSAA 2x/MSAA 4x
Do not use TAA - it causes ghosting
Do not use DLAA - it causes blurring
MSAA may reduce shimmer in VR
UpscalingOff has best fidelity (no blurring/ghosting), especially on 1080p monitors
Try DLSS Quality and sharpening 0.5 on newer Nvidia graphics
Try FSR with scaling 0.9 and sharpening 0.8 on AMD graphics or older Nvidia graphics
Tune sharpening to user preference
If this is grayed out, verify you are using the multi-threaded build, turn off anti-aliasing and verify drivers are fully updated
TexturesHigh
Terrain texturesHigh
Heat BlurHigh (2D) or Off (VR)
In VR, the blur renders incorrectly, causing it to blur objects in front of the heat.
ShadowsOff or High
Flat Shadows BlurOff
Secondary ShadowsUser preference
Particularly impactful on carriers and at large airbases
SSS (Screen Space Shadows)User preference
Visib RangeMedium or High
Civ TrafficOff
CloudsHigh or Ultra
Depth of FieldOff
Causes artifacting in VR when using Quad Views Rendering
WaterMedium
SSAOOff
Causes artifacting in VR when using Quad Views Rendering
SSLROff
Causes artifacting in VR when using Quad Views Rendering
Lens EffectsOff
Causes artifacting in VR when using Quad Views Rendering
Motion BlurOff
Causes artifacting in both 2D and VR
Clutter/Grass0
Forest Visibility100%
Forest Details Factor1
Scenery Details factor1
Preload RadiusStart at 2000 for every GB of RAM in your system. If the game runs fine, double it and test again. Tune upwards if you experience moderate stutter when flying. Tune downwards if you have excessive RAM usage or periods of freezing/heavy stutter.
Chimney Smoke Density0
LOD Switch FactorNo lower than 1.0. Increase on higher end systems to reduce “pop-in” of low detail models. Particularly noticeable on larger objects like ships, less noticeable on smaller objects like cars.
Anisotropic Filtering16x
Terrain Objects ShadowsFlat or Default (Default matches Shadows setting)
co*ckpit Global IlluminationOn
Rain dropletsEnabled

Gameplay

Game Flight ModeDisabled (Breaks the entire game!)
Easy CommunicationDisabled (Breaks missions)
G-EffectsNone (User preference, but the effect is probably too aggressive while AI are not effected at all)
Birds0 (Causes random engine failures at low altitudes)

Misc

Force FeedbackDisabled (unless you have Force Feedback hardware)
Random System FailuresDisabled

VR

Pixel Density1.0 (If you want to enable supersampling, configure it in your headset’s software or Quad Views instead.)
Force IPD DistanceOff (This configures world scale, which should be set in OpenXR Toolkit instead: https://mbucchia.github.io/OpenXR-Toolkit/other-features.html#world-scale-override)
Bloom effectOff (causes artifacting when using foveated rendering)
Enable HMD MaskOn unless you are livestreaming or recording
MSAA Mask SizeIf set to a value below 1.0, MSAA will only be applied to the center of the display. Some users report that setting this to values other than 1.0 caused issues.
VR Mirror Use DCS System ResolutionOn. Turning this off decreases performance and interferes with Jester features in Heatblur modules. Use external software such as Oculus Mirror Utility for recording/livestreaming.

Logs

There is a log file located in the Saved Games folder at <Saved Games folder>\Logs\dcs.log. It can sometimes provide clues for why DCS has crashed, but can be difficult to interpret.

Sanity checks

These are some basic steps that have been known to fix crashes for some users in the past.

Recompile Shaders

Follow the steps in the Recompile Shaders section above to clear the shader cache.

Remove all mods

Mods in DCS can cause bizarre, seemingly unrelated issues. Reflected of Reflected Simulations has documented some of the utterly strange bugs that can be caused simply by having a mod installed.

As a troubleshooting step, remove all mods from your DCS installation. (Liveries and kneeboard pages are OK. Sound mods, modded aircraft and other assets should be removed.)

Repair DCS

Follow the instructions on how to cleanup and repair DCS. This will reset your game folder to default.

Rename Saved Games Folder

Occasionally, something in the Saved Games folder triggers problems in DCS. I personally had this problem with F-15E Strike Eagle crashing when it came out, and this fixed the issue for me.

Rename the Saved Games folder to %userprofile%/Saved Games/DCS.backup, then launch DCS. It will reset all of your settings including graphics settings, controls, player profiles, etc. to default. If this fixes your crash, you can then copy the files from the backup back into the Saved Games folder a piece at a time (or reconfigure the game from scratch).

Stability Testing

A potential cause of random crashes is hardware stability issues. The two most common problems we’ve seen are:

  1. Power supply not appropriate for the system. Wattage and 80PLUS ratings do not tell you if a power supply is reliable or correct for your system. Modern high-end graphics card are sensitive to voltage stability, and many power supplies - even expensive, high wattage ones from major brands - do not supply stable power under load, resulting in random crashes.
  2. Unstable configuration of RAM. All of the following are risk factors for RAM instability:
  • Using four sticks instead of two
  • Enabling an overclocking profile EXPO/XMP/DOCP/EOCP
  • AMD CPUs are generally more sensitive to RAM problems than Intel CPUs
  • Having a large amount of RAM, especially over 32GB

You can detect these stability problems by running stress tests on your hardware.

Use OCCT to test your system under high graphics load.

Use Memtest86+ to test your system’s memory overnight.

Some steps above reference the “Saved Games folder”, which is located in the following places:

  • If you play on Steam, it is %userprofile%\Saved Games\DCS
  • If you play on Standalone version, it is %userprofile%\Saved Games\DCS&mldr;
    • …unless you upgraded from an Open Beta version prior to patch 2.9.3.51704, in which case it is %userprofile%\Saved Games\DCS.Openbeta, even after the Open Beta and Stable versions were unified.
DCS World Performance and Settings Guide (2024)

References

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