MegaSceneryEarth Usage Tips
Revised: 1 November 2013. This
document is a "work in progress".)
You bought MegaSceneryEarth scenery because you wanted the
best visual scenery experience possible. If, when you first see your scenery,
it's not what you thought it would be then you may need to perform some tweaks
and/or follow the recommendations on this page for achieving the visual quality
similar to the screenshots we show you at this website.
MegaSceneryEarth visual quality is a function of RAM (memory),
hard drive performance, computer processing power, and some key FSX settings
.... so if you get all these squared away, you will enjoy the
best visual experience possible with MegaSceneryEarth and other visual aspects
of your Flight Simulator X.
So let's tackle each of these variables that you can control
to give you the best visual display possible.
1. FSX Settings
A. WideviewAspect or Add Some Zoom
The default FSX visual zoom setting is one (1). This is
unrealistic in that our actual human ocular visual field is not correctly
simulated by a default zoom level of one in FSX. When you view MegaScenery (or
any scenery) with a default zoom of one in FSX it tends to look very blurred and
There is a setting in FSX that is not actually
accessible within the program options but is key to making the world around you
look much more realistic in terms of peripheral vision and an appropriate zoom
factor/aspect with which we see in everyday life and that setting is
How do you access and change the WideViewAspect? Well, it's in
the FSX.cfg file. Under the [DISPLAY] section you will find a variable called
WideViewAspect. The default setting is "False". Change it to "True" so that the
line looks like this:
Then when you run FSX the next time you will experience a
whole new visual aspect that is somewhat zoomed out to give you a much wider
view of the world around you.
To learn how to access your FSX.cfg file, do a search on the
internet, you will find some tutorials on how to do so. In general with Windows
Vista, 7 and 8 you will find it in your C:\Users directory e.g. C:\Users\Main
User\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\. By default the AppData directory is hidden so
you will need to unhide it. In Windows XP it will be in your Documents and
You just need to use notepad to edit and save the file.
An alternate to changing the WideViewAspect setting is to fly
with a zoom setting in all your views. About 0.5 to 0.6 is a good setting for
widening your view aspect and making your textures look high resolution.
B. Settings To Maximize PhotoScenery Performance.
There are only a few settings that you need to worry about to
ensure best display performance for MegaSceneryEarth (or any photoscenery for
that matter). Here is a page that shows you what you need to set:
2. RAM (Random Access Memory) or Memory
RAM is important, not only to MegaScenery, but your entire FSX
and computer performance in general. Why? The more RAM your system has the more
hard drive data it can cache into memory. Your operating system remembers the
most recent data it read from your hard drive and stores it in memory so that if
the data needs to be accessed again, it can just read it from the memory instead
of having to read it from your hard drive again. The more RAM you have the more
data your system can cache and therefore the less it has to access your hard
drive (the main bottleneck of PC performance).
In the old days (5 years ago) - 2 Gb RAM was considered entry
level amount of RAM for reasonable system performance with 4 Gb being considered
a lot of RAM. (32 bit operating systems can only access 3 Gb RAM so in actual
fact the most your 32 bit OS could have used was 3 Gb anyway). These days 64 bit
operating systems are ubiquitous in the marketplace and can access and make use
of much more RAM.
See this document for memory limits on Windows versions. Entry level systems
ship with 8 Gb and more powerful systems 16 Gb.
Bottom line is expand your system to as much RAM as you can
afford or will fit into your system, or can be used by your system .e.g 32 bit
can only use 3 Gb. There is a point of diminishing returns however such that you
will see a pretty big overall performance difference going from 2 Gb to 4 Gb
or 4 Gb to 8 Gb, however beyond that the performance increase is not as
Here is the performance you can expect for each level of
1 Gb - POOR
2 Gb - SATISFACTORY
3 Gb - VERY GOOD (32 bit OS limit)
4 Gb - VERY GOOD (need 64 bit OS)
> 4 Gb - EXCELLENT
Not much needs to be said and explained here. The faster the
CPU of your computer and your graphics card, the faster the high resolution
imagery will render.
4. Windows Settings
Turn Off Superfetch
To improve Windows performance Windows (Vista, 7 & 8) has a
feature called Superfetch which is a service that Windows that prefetches/preloads
data into memory in anticipation that you might use it based upon previous file
usage patterns. It does a great job of improving system performance when you are
using your PC as a regular desktop PC but it can reduce system performance in
instances when you are using hard drive intensive applications as it may try to
preload data at the same time your application is loading data. This will reduce
the performance of your application and in instance of flying FSX, it may
compete with loading scenery from your hard drive.
To turn off Superfetch, simply run services.msc from the RUN
dialog in your Start menu. It will bring up a list of services that Windows
runs. Scroll down to Superfetch, right click and select stop. To permanently
turn it off, right click on Superfetch and select properties. There you can turn
it off permanently by setting disabled or manual. You can always turn it on
You will find with Superfetch disabled that your photoscenery
will load better than ever before.
Note: Superfetch is a feature of Windows Vista, 7 and
8. Windows XP does not have Superfetch so you do not need to worry about this
feature with Windows XP.
5. Hard Drive Performance
The thing that can bog down MegaSceneryEarth scenery from
displaying crisp and clear textures is hard drive performance. To get the best
display performance, you want to minimize the hard drive bottleneck such that
files can be read from the hard drive as fast as practically possible.
If you are using an SSD (Solid State Drive), hard drive
performance won't be an issue at all since SSDs give you file read performance
approaching that of memory. i.e. very fast! So you won't experience the physical
hard drive bottleneck that you will with physical hard drives. That being said,
MegaSceneryEarth occupies a LOT of hard drive space and being able to afford to
own and/or fit the amount of SSD drives you need to to store all the scenery you
might own might not be possible and you might need to settle for traditional
hard drives which are much larger and affordable. You will be able to fit the
entire USA on a 2 Tb drive (About $120).
Here are some tips for what you can do to maximize hard drive
performance and minimize loading times for the tiles/textures into memory for
A. Where possible, put MegaSceneryEarth on a separate hard
The system bus on today’s modern PC has a much higher
throughput than hard drive data transfer rates. This means that you can read two
sets of different data from two hard drives simultaneously at maximum data
transfer rates compared to having to read those same sets off the same hard
drive. Reading from the same drive, file access needs to be queued and a lot
more file access delays are introduced whereas reading from 2 separate drives
can occur simultaneously.
When you are flying Flight Simulator, your hard drive is often
accessing files from the system drive while concurrently accessing
MegaSceneryEarth scenery files so often MegaSceneryEarth file access is delayed
waiting for other operations.
When your scenery data is on a separate drive, the
MegaSceneryEarth files that are accessed while you fly are not competing with
file access from your system drive.
The result is that you are giving your MegaSceneryEarth files
the best chance to load as quickly as possible in order to display the highest
A.1. External USB3 Hard Drives Are A Great
A great investment if you are running out of hard drive space
on your internal hard drives are external hard drives. The small portable ones
are fine too. Ensure they are USB3 and plugged in via a USB3 port on your PC.
You will get performance that rivals internal hard drives. A 2 Tb drive as of
November 2013 will set you back only around $100 and is a perfect and invaluable
companion for users building up a large collection of MegaSceneryEarth. The
entire Lower 48 USA states takes up around 1.4 Tb, so a 2 Tb drive should give
you plenty of space with plenty of space left over.
USB2 is a slower older technology and you will not get the
performance you need. So look for USB3 and connect via USB3 port. If you are
running a slightly older system that does only have USB2 ports, look for a USB3
interface card that you can add to a space slot on your mother board. Go for a 4
port one for future expansion and ensure that you have a slot in your PC to
suit. These usually require PCI Express slots. If you don't have any spare PCI
Express slots then ensure that you purchase the correct card that works with a
regular PCI slot.
B. Optimize MegaSceneryEarth file placement on your hard drive
and defrag them
Did you know that the speed at which files are accessed and
read from your hard drive is highly dependent upon where those files exist on
your hard drive and how scattered your data is across your hard drive? File
access speed can vary by up to 600%.
The owner of MegaScenery knew this was a problem many years
ago and back in 2005 created a product specifically to address this issue and
was originally conceived to help users of MegaScenery get the best display
The product born out of needing to solve this problem is
called UltimateDefrag. UltimateDefrag enables you to optimize placement of files
on your hard drive so that they are in the best place on your hard drive for
file data transfer performance (the outermost positions on the circular platters
of your hard drive) and to confine them close together for fastest seek times.
The end result is file access performance up to 600% that of a non-optimized
It also defragments fragmented files that are created as you
add and delete files to your hard drive.
We recommend that you use UltimateDefrag to optimize your hard
drives for MegaSceneryEarth and Flight Simulator performance. The difference in
performance is clearly apparent as you see your Flight Simulator load faster and
your highest resolution scenery pop into place as you fly.
Contrary to popular belief, this does not improve framerates.
What is does do is minimize file access delays thereby making your scenery
display high resolution images faster. It cures a phenemonon known as “the
It is a good idea to do an UltimateDefrag optimization each
time you add a new scenery area or any other add on to your Flight Simulator.
You can purchase UltimateDefrag
Some Additional Tweaks You Can Apply
Here are some tweaks put together by Dean Bielanowski of PC
Getting the BEST out of MegaSceneryEarth Visuals
To ensure you are seeing the best photoreal texture quality with your new
MegaSceneryEarth 2.0 package, it may be necessary to make some adjustments to
your FSX display settings, as well as to your video card settings to ensure
these elements are not the cause of "degradation" of the MSE 2.0 textures.
use this information below as a GUIDE ONLY. We do not claim it will work for all
video cards, or for all users. But if you are not seeing the same level of
detail and clarity in MSE 2.0 states that you see with our screenshots, then you
will likely need to tinker with your settings to achieve best results.
It might be worth trying out several adjustments primarily to potentially make
the scenery render in full resolution. We found this REALLY helped produce the
1. In your FSX.cfg file, change LOD_RADIUS from 4.5 to at least 7.0 or 8.0.
(make a backup of your fsx.cfg file before adjusting of course in case you want
to revert later). This will result in slightly longer initial load times, but
the scenery will render much sharper further into the distance... It makes a big
difference. The radius number you use will depend on your PC and video card
specs somewhat, but try not to exceed 9.0 at the very maximum. 7.5 seems a good
option for those with GTX560+ or GTX660+ cards.
2. If you have an nVidia card, go into the nVidia control panel and set your
Anisotropic Filtering to 8x. We found at 16x or above that this setting tends to
smooth off the textures a little more, whereas 8x retains the full clarity.
Might differ for your card but just tinker and see what works best.
3. Naturally, the higher your FSX screen resolution is, the better. Ideally you
would run at 1920x1080x32 if you card supports it. If not, choose the highest
resolution available. Because MegaSceneryEarth doesn't use resource consuming
autogen, your video card should have no problems being set to its highest
resolution level and running MSE scenery smoothly in any of the MSE
4. The best zoom factor to use in the cockpit view is 0.40. Any higher tends to
cause slight blurring of the textures.. The higher the zoom, the worse the
blurring gets. 0.40 is the best compromise.
And lastly, here are our nVidia graphics cards settings, for your reference
only. We dont guarantee these will give you the best results, but feel listing
them might give you an option to see MegaSceneryEarth 2.0 sceneries how they are
made to be best seen.
Ambient Occlusion: Performance
Anisotropic Filtering: 8x
Antialiasing - FXAA: Off
Antialiasing - Gamma Correction: On
Antialiasing - Mode: Override any application setting
Antialiasing - Setting: 16x CSAA
Antialiasing - Transparency: Off
CUDA - GPUs: All
Maximum pre-rendered frames: 3
Multi-display/mixed-GPU acceleration: Compatibility performance mode
Power management mode: Adaptive
Texture filtering - Anisotropic sample optimization: Off
Texture filtering - Negative LOD bias: Clamp
Texture filtering - Quality: Quality
Texture filtering - Trilinear optimization: Off
Threaded optimization: Auto
Triple buffering: Off
Vertical sync: Use the 3D application setting
Other Items To Consider
MegaScenery doesn't do anything to upgrade visuals of 3D
objects or airports. The 3D objects and airports are default FSX airports. You
do not see any changes to your scenery until you start flying and look down at
the ground below.
MegaScenery is designed for low altitude and high altitude
cross country flying. The nature of bitmap photoscenery is that the lower you
are the blurrier the scenery becomes. Before the days of 50 cm source imagery
that meant that when you were below around 2000 feet the scenery was quite
blurred. We're happy to report however that with 50 cm source imagery, you can
get as low as 500 to 1000 feet and the scenery, although it is blurred, is still
quite good and enables you to clear identify ground objects. Still better than
artificial scenery in our opinion.
Generally though - flying above 2000 feet will give you better
clarity, so plan and do your flying at altitudes above this to enjoy high
quality, clear eye candy while you are flying.
We trust that you find this document informative and helpful.
We'll add to it as pertinent items come up.