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Flight simulators have been providing PC gaming enthusiasts with realistic flight experiences for decades now. In these games, airports, control schemes, aircraft, and world locations are faithfully represented. Today, many enthusiasts like myself and professional review sites like Lifewire agree that the best flight simulator on the market today is Laminar Research's X-Plane. They've released X-Plane 12, which is a very powerful, very realistic version of the game, but what kind of system can run it? Let's take a look at the best laptops for X-Plane.

What Makes the X-Plane Series so Good for Laptops?

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One of the best features of X-Plane is its ability to run "Network Flight." This mode allows you to connect to other instances of the simulator through UDP/IP or TCP/IP connections. This is very useful and immersive because multiple pilots can play within the same in-simulator world and fly maneuvers or simply cruise through the virtual world. Here's a good example of a multiplayer test flight.

In addition to this, X-Plane can also be used for instruction. The IOS or the Instructor Operator Station is a great training tool for an X-Plane flight instructor. The IOS can be set up through your laptop for helping a friend learn to fly and cope with operational mishaps/bad weather, or you can use a secondary monitor with your machine to do the same. Having this local connectivity makes having a laptop with X-Plane very rewarding.

X-Plane's System Requirements

X-Plane 11 requirements

Base Recommended
Processor Intel CPU with two or more cores with a clock speed of 3.0 GHz Intel i5 or better CPU with four cores and a clock speed of 3.5 GHz
RAM 8 GB of RAM 16 GB of RAM
Graphics A video card with 1 GB of video RAM A high-performance video card with DirectX 12 and 4 GB of video RAM (preferably a Pascal-equivalent card)

X-Plane 12 requirements

Base Recommended
Processor Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9. Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better
RAM 8 GB RAM 16 GB of RAM
Graphics A Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM A DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM

As you can see, even with X-Plane 11, for the best possible settings, you'll need a fairly performance-oriented computer. All of the devices that I will cover in our review section can handle either version of the simulator on reasonably high settings.

Processor

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The CPU is an important part of any gaming laptop, but the type of processor is not as crucial for X-Plane 12 as it is for other types of gaming. If you're looking for a laptop to run X-Plane, you'll need a minimum of Intel Core i5-1240P or AMD Ryzen 5 6600U. These are the most affordable processors on the market that can handle X-Plane without any problems.

For better performance and more reliable gaming, however, we recommend investing in either an Intel Core i7-12650H or an AMD Ryzen 7 6800H processor. These processors are more powerful and have faster clock speeds, meaning they will be able to handle more intensive tasks and have better overall gaming performance.

At the highest-end of the spectrum, Intel Core i7-12700H and i9-12900H processors, as well as the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor, offer exceptional performance and can handle anything X-Plane can throw at them. Of course, these processors come at a premium price tag, so if you're looking for the absolute best performance and don't mind spending extra, then these are the best options for you.

To help you make an informed decision, I've compiled a table of recommended processors for X-Plane 12, grouped by price bracket. This should give you an idea of what to expect from each processor in terms of performance and battery life.

Recommended Processors for X-Plane 12
Processor Price Bracket Performance Battery Life
Intel Core i5-1240P Budget Good Good
AMD Ryzen 5 6600U Budget Good Good
AMD Ryzen 7 6800H Mid-range Very Good Fair
Intel Core i7-12650H Mid-range Very Good Fair
Intel Core i7-12700H High-end Excellent Poor
Intel Core i9-12900H High-end Exceptional Poor
AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX High-end Exceptional Poor

Graphics

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It's no secret that Nvidia continues to dominate the laptop GPU market, with the recent RTX 40 series cards not yet available on laptops (expected in 2023). As of now, Nvidia's latest notebook cards are in the RTX 30 series, such as the RTX 3070 Ti.

On the other hand, desktop GPUs have become a lot more power-hungry in the past few years; thus, the gap between power-limited notebook graphics and desktop graphics cards has widened. Additionally, Nvidia has discontinued the Max-Q label for its RTX graphics cards. That results in a wide variance in graphics performance even in laptops with the same GPU chipset, as the exact GPU wattage is determined by the laptop manufacturer (OEM).

Integrated graphics cards are not sufficient for X-Plane, so a dedicated graphics card is necessary. However, you don't need to go all out on the most expensive option – X-Plane can still be run on an entry-level graphics card, with better cards offering more dedicated memory.

Both Nvidia and AMD offer multiple lines of GPUs with varying performance levels. Comparing X-Plane benchmarks and 3DMark scores is the best way to determine which graphics card fits your needs and budget. To further ensure a laptop meets your expectations, look for one with a MUX-switch and possibly Nvidia Advanced Optimus which allows to switch the GPU without a reboot if battery life is of concern.

To help you decide on the right GPU for X-Plane 12, here's a table of recommended GPUs for various price ranges:

Price Range Recommended GPUs
Minimum RTX 3050
Recommended RTX 3060; RTX 3070 Ti; RX 6800M
High-end RTX 3080; RTX 3080 Ti

Memory

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X-Plane 12 is a powerful and realistic flight simulator that requires a lot of resources to run smoothly. While it is possible to get by with a mid-range laptop, it's important to make sure you have the right amount of RAM to take full advantage of the experience.

Let's take a look at what kind of RAM is suitable for X-Plane, and how much memory is needed for optimal performance.

Why X-Plane needs so much RAM?

X-Plane 12 simulates a vast environment to achieve an incredibly realistic experience. The more realistic the environment, the more resources it needs. As a result, X-Plane 12 needs more RAM than most other applications, and it's important to get the right amount.

Most mid-range laptops come with 16 GB of RAM and high-end – 32 GB or more. Latest-gen Intel and AMD CPUs support DDR4 and DDR5, though DDR5 is still quite expensive and needs time to mature as a technology.

How much memory is required for X-Plane?

As a general guideline, 8 GB of RAM should be enough to get started with X-Plane. However, 16 GB is the minimum recommended for optimal performance, and 24 to 32 GB of RAM is necessary for high-end experiences.

Does DDR5 make a difference?

DDR5 RAM does offer slightly better performance and lower power consumption than DDR4 RAM. However, the difference is only noticeable in certain scenarios and doesn't justify the extra cost for most users.

Other considerations (latency, frequency).

Aside from the amount of RAM, latency and frequency are important too. Lower latency means faster access to data, while higher frequency means faster transfer speeds. For the best performance, look for a combination of low latency and high frequency.

What to expect depending on your budget.

At the lower end of the budget, you should expect 8 GB of RAM and DDR4 speed. Mid-range laptops typically offer 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, while high-end laptops usually come with 24 to 32 GB of DDR4 or DDR5 RAM. If your budget allows it, go for the highest possible memory and frequency combination.

Storage

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X-Plane 12 isn't particularly demanding in terms of storage – you don't need a ton of storage space for it. An SSD is still the best choice for any gaming laptop, and that means you'll want to opt for an M.2 PCIe model.

Budget laptops (< $900) come with 500 GB of storage, while mid-range models have 1 TB, and high-end ones (~$2k+) come with 2 TB. 500 GB should be enough for your X-Plane installation and a few add-ons, but if you plan on downloading more, opt for a bigger capacity drive.

It's worth noting that read/write speeds aren't nearly as relevant as they used to be when it comes to gaming performance. Your money is better spent on other components than trying to get the absolute fastest drive.

For a laptop, the two best options are to either go with multiple drives (an SSD for X-Plane and an HDD for backup and archiving files) or a single drive large enough to handle both your game installation and any add-ons you'd want to install. External drives aren't needed for X-Plane.

To make it easier for you, here's a list of recommended SSD configurations depending on your budget:

Minimum (under $1,000): 500 GB SSD
Recommended (under $1,500): 1 TB SSD
High-end ($1,500+): 2 TB SSD

Display

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When choosing a laptop for X-Plane 12, it's important to look at the display. The current standard is an IPS or IPS-level screen, whereas TN is only found in the cheapest laptops. Full HD is still the most common display resolution. QHD is most frequent in premium gaming/business laptops, while 4K is most common in professional notebooks for creators. High refresh rate screens are found in the majority of gaming laptops. While not yet widespread, OLED is becoming increasingly prevalent. Mini LED laptop backlighting may also be seen on professional laptops on occasion, notably after Apple incorporated it in their 2021 MacBook Pro range (14" and 16" models). HDR (VESA-certified) displays are somewhat niche but not exceedingly difficult to find.

While a good display will not improve your framerate, it would be a shame to spend a good chunk of money on a high-end CPU+GPU combo only to end up staring at a washed-out skyline. The display is important in a gaming laptop, especially if you're looking for a high refresh rate panel. The size of your screen depends on your needs and budget. If you're looking for a long-haul flight simulator, look for a large display (15"+). If you're looking for something more portable, 13" or 14" should be enough. When comparing displays, I use various tests such as color accuracy, contrast ratio, brightness (nits), and refresh rate tests. If you're looking for the best possible experience in X-Plane, consider getting a high refresh rate display with G-Sync or FreeSync support (if you're not going Nvidia).

What should you aim for in each price range?

  • Minimum (under $1,000): A decent TN panel; 280 nits; 80%+ sRGB coverage
  • Recommended (under $2,000): IPS; 300 nits; 90% sRGB coverage; 120Hz refresh rate
  • High-end ($2,000+): IPS/OLED/mini-LED; 350 nits; 100% sRGB; 240 Hz refresh rate

8 Best Laptops for X-Plane 12

$870
i5-12450H | GTX 1650 | 32 GB RAM | 2000 GB SSD | 15.6″ IPS WA; 1920x1080 |

1.HP Victus 15t

A Thrifty, Solid Flight Companion
Pros
  • Great value for money
  • Multiple configuration options
  • Port selection
  • 144Hz refresh rate
Cons
  • Weak GPU
  • Plastic body
  • No RGB lighting
  • Poor battery life
Reviews
TechRadar
4/5
HP Victus 15
$950
Ryzen 5 5600H | RTX 3060 | 16 GB RAM | 512 GB SSD | 15.6″ IPS; 1920x1080 |

2.GIGABYTE A5 K1

Great performance for the price, but underwhelming build quality
Pros
  • Affordable and great value for money
  • Multiple storage options with accessible battery
  • High refresh rate for smooth and immersive gaming experience
  • Good WLAN speed for quick updates and downloads
Cons
  • Bad sound quality through speakers
  • Poor cooling performance for thinner form-factor
  • No card reader for extra convenience
  • Cheap plastic surface
$1,320
Ryzen 9 5900HS | RTX 3060 | 40 GB RAM | 2000 GB SSD | 14″; 2560x1440 |

3.ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

Fly High with the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
Pros
  • Compact, lightweight design perfect for on-the-go gaming with X-Plane 12
  • Impressive CPU and GPU performance for smooth, lag-free gaming experience
  • Color-accurate 120 Hz QHD display for vivid in-game visuals
  • Good sound for immersive gaming
Cons
  • Soldered RAM limits expandability
  • Variable performance in performance mode
  • 8 GB VRAM may not be enough for certain high-end gaming scenarios
$1,350
Ryzen 7 6800H | RTX 3060 | 32 GB RAM | 2000 GB SSD | 16″ IPS HDR G-Sync; 2560x1600 |

4.Lenovo Legion 5 Pro

An Impressive Workhorse for Flying in X-Plane 12
Pros
  • Vibrant 165 Hz display for smooth visuals
  • Easy serviceability for repairs and upgrades
  • Integrated numpad for quick input
  • Rapid charging for a long flying session
Cons
  • Poor webcam quality
  • High temperatures when running intensive tasks
  • Unfavorable backlight bleeding
  • Average battery life
$2,310
Ryzen 9 5900HX | RTX 3080 | 64 GB RAM | 4000 GB SSD | 15.6″ IPS-level G-Sync; 1920x1080 |

5.ASUS ROG Strix Scar

An Aircraft-Ready Laptop with High Performance and Low Angle Limitations
Pros
  • High-Quality Construction for Enhanced Durability
  • Next-Gen Wi-Fi 6E for Quick Connections
  • Smooth Responses Without PWM
  • Wide Color Gamut and Dolby Vision Support
Cons
  • Limited Viewing Angles
  • No Biometric Login
  • High Heat and Noise Output Under Load
  • Reduced SSD Performance During Heavy Reads
$2,500
i9-12900H | RTX 3080 Ti | 32 GB RAM | 1000 GB SSD | 16″ IPS G-Sync; 2560x1600 |

6.Acer Predator Triton 500

High-Performance Flight Ready
Pros
  • Bright 240-Hz display for smooth visuals
  • Robust aluminum chassis for reliable flight
  • Fast WiFi 2.5 Gbit Ethernet for quick connections
  • Good touchpad for precise control
Cons
  • Soldered-in RAM for limited upgradability
  • Inaccessible SSD for added maintenance
  • Fan noise and warm palm rest during long sessions
  • Keyboard layout may take some getting used to
$3,800
i9-12950HX | RTX 3080 Ti | 32 GB RAM | 2000 GB SSD | 17.3″ IPS; 2560x1440 |

7.ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97

An Eye-Catching Powerhouse for X-Plane 12.
Pros
  • High refresh rate display for immersive gaming.
  • Fast data transfer with TB4 and Wi-Fi 6E.
  • Customizable case illumination.
  • Quiet fans during gaming.
Cons
  • Lower storage performance.
  • Overpriced due to top tier CPU.
  • No webcam.
  • Electronic noises.
Reviews
$4,000
i9-12900HX | RTX 3080 | 32 GB RAM | 1000 GB SSD | 17.3″; 3840x2160 |

8.MSI Titan GT77 12UHS-064

Power and Performance at an Exorbitant Price
Pros
  • Top-tier Performance with PCIe 4 SSD
  • Robust 4K Display with High Colour Coverage
  • Mechanical Keyboard with Mechanical Key Switches
  • Thunderbolt 4, Four RAM Slots, and Space for Three More SSDs
Cons
  • Bulk and Weight is Unavoidable
  • Power Delivery and Advanced Optimus Not Supported
  • Gets Loud and Hot Under Load
  • Low-quality Webcam

Table of the Best Laptops for X-Plane 12

LaptopPrice (approx)
HP Victus 15t
GIGABYTE A5 K1
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
ASUS ROG Strix Scar
Acer Predator Triton 500
ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97
MSI Titan GT77 12UHS-064

6 thoughts on “8 Best laptops for X Plane 12 Aces (+ Requirements Guide)

  1. What about Dell xps 15 9560? 4K monitor, i7 7700HQ, GTX 1050 with 4GB of VRAM, 16GB RAM,512GB SSD

    Would it be a good notebook to run X-Plane 11?

  2. I have a Inspiron 15 5000 gaming laptop. Processor Intel core i5-7300 HQ CPU at 2.5 GHz
    Installed RAM 8 GB.
    NVIDA GeForce GTX 4 GB vRAM.
    Do I need to upgrade to run X-plane?

  3. I am 77 years old and am looking for a refurbished laptop that will play X Plane 11.11. I plan to buy yoke, throttle and pedals. I first used the Microsoft flight sim with yoke, throttle and pedals in 2006. Had fun. Lost interest, but have found interest again now that I got an Optimus VR for Christmas. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you. I am old but not that old. :-)

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