Never one to disappoint... I turned all the basic detail sliders down to "minimal" and took the default Cessna out for a spin over Port Columbus International Airport, Ohio.
|Welcome back to 1995, population: you.|
|Flying over the main terminal buildings.... er... I think.|
So basic sliders to the left turns off pretty much everything - no traffic, no buildings, low res textures and mesh. Oh it also dropped my screen resolution down a few notches too. The default minimal settings locked the frame rate at 10FPS, but when I went back into the settings and pushed it back to unlimited I was still only getting 30FPS. (though I have to wonder if something else was limiting the FSX framerate)
So here's FS9, all sliders to the right, with various freeware add-ons and the ENBSeries shader. Framerates locked at a steady 50FPS throughout.
|Ready for takeoff|
|Stuff. Loads and loads of Stuff.|
|Aha! Terminal buildings, there you are. |
Shame about the slightly iffy ground texture.
There's not much traffic on the apron here. That's because I've been building up my World of AI traffic environment on an airport-by-airport basis. I don't normally fly to or from Port Columbus, so I haven't installed any of the airlines that use it, so all you've got are the airlines that also fly to one of the airports I have installed (Boston and Philadelphia, I think)
Now this clearly isn't a fair comparison between FS9 and FSX. Turning up the sliders even partway on FSX will yield vast improvements, and once you start enhancing it with payware, or even freeware add-ons it's capable of some serious eye-candy. FS9 has some limitations that just can't be enhanced around.
Lots of people online say that to optimise performance in FSX, you have to be prepared to dial the sliders down. "Turn off road traffic... turn off autogen... bloom is a frame killer so ditch that." They're right up to a point. But when turning off the details and eye candy, at what point do you defeat the object of having a more modern flight sim?
Of course it also depends on what you're flying and how you're flying it. A tubeliner pilot flying ILS focussing on accurate procedures isn't going to be as concerned with having pretty scenery as a low-and-slow General Aviation pilot peering out the side window at the countryside. But I guess it's all about finding the right balance between performance and eye candy that suits you.