Geometric distortion in a triple-monitor setup for MSFS 2020, compared to XPlane 11

Update 2022-07-24: Sim Update 10 Beta now supports multiple monitors, with most geometric distortions documented in this article removed. Consult the following video for an update.

— I will continue to preserve this long article for its historical documentation —

Microsoft released its new flight sim 2 days ago, on August 18th, 2020. This long-awaited launch got simmers really excited. I moved my flight sim equipment last month to a dedicated room in the basement, now with a triple-monitor setup, in anticipation of this launch. I set up XPlane 11 with these triple monitors, to make sure I got the hang of triple monitors. But all I wanted was the new Microsoft flight sim. I even took this week off from work, so I would not need to choose between work and enjoying the new simulator.

MSFS 2020 Loading screen, shown on a triple-monitor setup

Boy, do I love the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS from now on). It is clearly the next generation of flight sim, as folks have hyped since its announcement in June 2019. I say this, as a person invested in XPlane 11 (XP11), the previous greatest flight sim on Earth. I’ve made YouTube videos about using TrackIR with XP11, using Ortho4XP tiles with XP11, and adding Photoscenery Autogen and simHeaven Forests on top of Ortho4XP.

On launch day, version 1 of MSFS is, however, missing quite a few features that long-time simmers have come to cherish from established flight sims. For instance, MSFS can’t replay the adventure you just finished, or let you rewind and resume flying prior to a fatal mistake. Yet another example: MSFS supports TrackIR on day one (kudos to Asobo), but omits a command that pauses TrackIR, for when you want to lock down your current view. Clever simmers will try to compensate by setting up a button binding in TrackIR for pause. But MSFS resets cockpit view to the default view after 10 seconds of TrackIR inaction.

That said, everyone knows that these are minor issues. And they surely will be addressed in future updates. More importantly, there are workarounds that savvy simmers can resort to, for the time being.

There is, however, one fatal issue, for someone who has gone through the trouble of setting up three 43″ monitors, for the express purpose of re-creating a 180° surround view around the pilot.

MSFS 2020 does not yet support triple-monitor setups. That’s a bummer. Many have attempted to make it (sort of) work. Some even brag about it on Reddit, YouTube, and on AVSIM. But no one will admit that the geometric distortion is so severe that it distracts from rather than helps with flying. And this triple-monitor setup comes at the cost of lowered CPU and GPU settings. Quality settings need to be lowered, to accommodate 3 times the number of rendered objects and screen pixels on triple monitors.

Distorted side views in MSFS 2020 (top), compared to correct surround views in XPlane 11

At this time, it is not worth sacrificing visual effects and frame rates for two extra side monitors that show greatly distorted views of world objects. Triple-monitor setups are not common. And it’s not clear to me when Asobo will care to fix this problem for a niche market. Until then, the public remains confused as to whether MSFS can be said to “work as is” for triple-monitor setups. There isn’t a source online that compares distorted views in MSFS 2020 against expected, clean views in, say, XP11. Thus the YouTube video shown below, and thus this article.

Updated 2020-09-28: I am having too much fun. I made a second Federation of Triple Monitors episode.

The confusion on Reddit

People have been posting pictures of MSFS 2020 running on triple monitors on Reddit since Tuesday, when the sim was finally launched, and NDAs for alpha and beta testers were lifted. The sim doesn’t natively provide any multi-monitor support. So simmers have been using Nvidia Surround and the like to present multiple monitors to the sim as one single, super duper ultra wide screen.

Many Reddit posts showed Asobo’s splash screen images which were truly amazing. Folks were rightfully wowed by these pictures. The following picture shows a single virtual 5760 x 1080 screen presented by Nvidia Surround to MSFS. The loading splash screen is rendered on the three monitors.

Splash screen shown on a single virtual 5760 x 1080 screen presented by Nvidia Surround

This splash screen looks right. It’s awesome. But that is not how the world will look in-game. If you try to recreate this very same shot in the External View, with this triple-monitor setup, the screenshot you get will be geometrically-distorted. More on that later.

This splash screen isn’t distorted, because it is a simple 2D cropping of an original, taller picture. The app takes the image shown below (usually rendered for most users on a single, 16:9 monitor), and crops out the top and the bottom. So all parts of the super wide image shown on triple monitors look correct.

MSFS 2020 splash screen on a single monitor. The part shown on triple monitors is highlighted.

Geometric distortions seen from the cockpit

When actual cockpit views are shown, geometric distortions can be clearly observed on the two side monitors. Most of the times, however, users are dazzled by super visuals presented by MSFS 2020. Users are rightfully infatuated with the degree of realism in modeling and rendering of world objects. And these real world sceneries and buildings are available out of the box with this new sim, covering the entire world. In the past, folks had been buying aftermarket add-ons totaling hundreds of dollars to recreate looks like this, on XPlane 11, and for just some bespoke areas. I know this euphoria first hand. Below is your cheerful correspondent himself blissfully buzzing the JFK control tower at night in MSFS 2020.

JFK at night in a Cessna 152 – distorted side views can be observed on the two side monitors

A careful observer will notice anomalies in this image. First, have you ever seen pitot tubes this long, as depicted on the left monitor? And what is with the disproportional widths of those windshield pillars? The terminal building on the right is drastically stretched, but that is hard to appreciate without an expected view as baseline for comparison. More on these later.

Stretched pitot tube (left), windshield pillar (right) and building (right) are highlighted

Most simmers that install triple monitors expect to gain peripheral vision while staring at the front screen. Simmers also expect to be able to turn their heads to look out of a window on either side of the plane, and study, for instance, a runway at a 45° angle rearward, before making a banking turn into the base leg. Most bedazzled simmers on Reddit appear to believe that even with a severely distorted view as shown above, they can achieve these goals. Well, they can’t.

The two side monitors show very little real information horizontal-wise, due to the severe horizontal stretching of objects. For the same reason, objects fly by at increasing speed as they get closer to the left edge, and to the right edge. The two side monitors are not useful for VFR (visual flight rules). One can’t track a runway on these two monitors without inducing severe headache. The orientation and the distance of the runway as observed on these side monitors will be incorrect, leading to misjudgments in pilotage.

Geometric distortions seen in the external view

This distortion is not limited to the Cockpit View. Following images illustrate the same geometric distortion in the External View. Here the pilot flies in a tight circle above Governors Island, rotating skyscrapers in Manhattan into view, from top to bottom.

External view showing skyscrapers being severely distorted as they rotate into and out of the view

The Brooklyn Bridge is highlighted in purple. It can be seen shrinking drastically in size, as it rotates from the far left of the view to the center of the view. The same shrinking effect is observed with the Manhattan skyscrapers (green) which come into view on the left as gigantic, fat and squashed buildings. But they turn out to be tall and skinny skyscrapers far in the distance, when centered on the front monitor. The opposite expanding effect is seen with the piers (yellow) on the Brooklyn side. They are tiny when positioned in the front monitor, but turn into gigantic blocks when shown on the right monitor. For heading reference, use the Battery Tunnel Ventilation Building (orange). The ventilation building is found in all three images.

A proper triple-monitor setup for flight simulation

Many simmers, old and new alike, do not know what a proper triple-monitor setup looks like. Until one has experienced a proper immersion view with surround monitors, one has no baseline based on which to compare pseudo surround experiences from MSFS.

XPlane 11 triple monitor setup, with three 60-degree cameras, plus TrackIR

Shown above is a functional triple-monitor setup. The three 43″ monitors are placed at an angle to provide a sense of surround view. Each monitor is showing a 60° field of view (FOV), as configured in XPlane 11. The pilot sits at the focal point of this curvature created by the three monitors, so that the viewing angle for every monitor is zero degrees, when the pilot turns his attention to the center of said monitor. A TrackIR head tracking set is used, so that the pilot can sit up to get a better view at landing, bring his head closer to a dial to better read it, or turn his head 60° to see the tail of the plane.

XPlane 11 configurations for these three monitors are shown below. All three monitors are configured with a 60° FOV. The two side monitors are laterally rotated with an offset of 60° and -60° degrees, respectively. I was too lazy to fine-tune the lateral offset to account for the small bezel space between monitors. If you look at pictures shown in this article of XP11 screens, you will notice small visual issues. I chose not to hide virtual objects behind bezels, at the expense of small visual discords.

XPlane 11 triple-monitor setup showing 60-degree FOV configurations

Expected cockpit view of a triple-monitor setup

In a proper triple-monitor setup, you will expect to be able to see out of the left side window by looking at the left monitor. You achieve this by simply turning your head to the left. Similarly, you can look out the right window by turning your head that way. The interior of the cockpit should look normal, no matter where an object appears. Examine the two windshield pillars in the picture shown below. The two pillars are of the right width, and appear where they should be, in 3D space.

Expected cockpit view of a triple monitor setup

Look at the two wing struts on this Cessna 172 in the picture above. From the view point of the person who took this picture on a mobile phone, they don’t appear to be at opposite ends from the pilot seat. But when a pilot sits on that chair, and turn his head left and right to look at them, they look correct, and they look to be properly positioned at opposite ends, with respect to the pilot himself.

Following pictures show the three monitors, from the pilot’s point of view. Click on the image to see a full-size version. From the pilot chair, the left view looks like the view seen out of the left window. The left strut is exactly where the pilots expects to find it. Similarly, the right strut is found at 180° from the left struct, as far as the pilot is concerned.

Pilot’s view of the three monitors

Litmus test for a correct triple monitor setup

Here is my simple litmus test for a proper triple-monitor setup. You can do this right on the tarmac. Just hop into your favorite plane with an unobstructed view on the right side of your pilot seat. If you are not sure, try the Cessna 172. In this plane you can turn your head to the right, and see the outside world almost to the tail of the plane. See the following picture.

Litmus test for a proper triple-monitor setup – turn your head to look at the tail of the plane

Turn your head with TrackIR, or with manual panning of the cockpit view. Now, freeze that view right there. Get up, and walk away a few paces. Look at the three monitors, and assess whether they give you a 180° panoramic view of the interior of the plane, from the point of view of the pilot at the pilot seat. If you have the right setup, you should be looking at something like the picture shown above.

Now. Get back to your pilot seat. And take a look at all three monitors, one at a time. Look at the left monitor, and check that all mechanical instruments look circular, if you have those dials. Look at the front monitor. You should be staring at the right wing, and the right wing strut. Look at the right monitor, and confirm the interior looks undistorted.

Litmus test for triple monitors – expected cockpit views on the three monitors

The frozen view of the instrument panel on the left monitor (above) should look identical to the default view of the same panel on the front monitor from before you froze the view (below). The right wing view on the front monitor (above) should be identical to the default view on the right monitor from before you froze the view (below).

Default interior view before turning pilot’s head, for comparison

Distorted views with an incorrect triple-monitor setup

Now that we know the expected baseline for a triple-monitor setup, we can look at the launch-day version of MSFS 2020 again. I am of course eagerly waiting an update to come out eventually, to address this issue for simmers with three monitors. But the reality today is that you get a distorted cockpit view as shown below.

Geometric distortions in the default view on triple monitors in MSFS 2020

This is the same Cessna 172 that we’ve been showing, in the “expected cockpit view” section earlier. But the two side monitors present puzzling and distorted objects. First, this view is showing a 110° field of view, rather than the 180° we need. There isn’t a setting that one can tweak in the simulator to change the default field of view. And even if such setting existed, tweaking said setting to 180° would result in a view that is even more distorted and unusable, due to the same 3D-to-2D projection that causes the geometric distortion we’ve been discussing.

You can get a taste of this even more useless 180° view, if you use the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom out. The max zoom (out) appears to add another 10 to 15 degrees to the FOV, resulting in objects within about 125° field of view to show up. Now the pilot appears to be sitting in the back row, but is still unable to see much out of either side window. The right windshield pillar alone takes up 80% of the right monitor, making the right view pretty useless. The left window appears to let much outside scenery in. But that is just an illusion. That whole visible window pane is only showing about 20° of real world view.

Zoomed-out view with great distortions showing about 125° FOV in MSFS 2020

Compare the above distorted view to the baseline view in a proper setup, repeated again below.

Baseline, expected view in XPlane 11

Failed litmus test with FSMS 2020

When put to the litmus test, the current wide screen view in FSMS 2020 fails quite obviously. The following comparison between MSFS (top) and XP11 (bottom) illustrates the failure. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy MSFS, or that it is doomed. It only means that those of us with triple monitors need to gang up, and put pressure on Asobo to prioritize support for super duper ultra wide screen views. I mean, just look at the following gorgeous, albeit distorted, view of Manhattan cityscape in MSFS 2020. We all can’t wait for proper support of triple monitors from Asobo!

MSFS 2020 (top) failed the litmus test, compared to the baseline from XPlane 11 (bottom)

Next we have visual comparisons for all three monitors, as seen from the pilot seat. The narrow field of view in MSFS has already been discussed earlier. The failed view stretches for only 110°, from the left edge of the instrument panel, to the middle of the passenger seat. The rear window is nowhere in sight.

Failed litmus test in MSFS2020 vs baseline expected triple monitor views in XPlane11

In addition, The passenger seat is visually brought too close to the pilot, as if the pilot were seating on it. The left edge of the instrument panel is horizontally distorted, and visually brought too close to the pilot as well.

But what about WideViewAspect in FSX?

It turned out that Microsoft Flight Simulator X released in 2006 had the same issue. People found that they could address this issue to some extent using the configuration variable WideViewAspect. When this is set to True, the sim would allow you to tweak zoom in the other direction. The end results are acceptable views on the two side monitors.

The WideViewAspect setting exists in the FlightSimulator.CFG file found in the installation directory of MSFS. But tweaking it doesn’t appear to do anything in the app, as of August 20th, 2020. Perhaps there are zoom levels and other settings I haven’t discovered which must be used in conjunction with this setting.

There is hope that in time the same FSX trick can be applied to MSFS 2020. This article will be updated when that happy day arrives.

Flying with undistorted surround view

Here is a fun intermission, with visual candies, before we go back to grill MSFS some more on its inability to show proper surround views.

Following is a picture of the Blackbird flying over Queens. Note the uniform street blocks shown on the left monitor in XPlane 11. Such non-distorted views make VFR possible. But you should know that XPlane 11 doesn’t come out of the box with such detailed satellite pictures of the ground. I had to install Ortho4XP, and had to painstakingly download tiles at ZL18 zoom level for Long Island, in order to get this view. Sadly there is no AI-assisted generation of 3D buildings from satellite pictures. So the view only looks good from a few thousand feet up.

Flying the Blackbird with triple monitors over Queens in XPlane 11 with Ortho4XP tiles

Here the Blackbird flies above Far Rockaway towards JFK. The two side monitors are great aids for VFR. The pilot retains full situation awareness from extended peripheral vision, during all sorts of crazy maneuvers.

Flying the Blackbird over Far Rockaway

Here we are approaching JFK at an ungodly steep angle. There is no hope in landing the blackbird this way. Or is there? The end result is left to reader’s own imagination.

Landing the Blackbird at JFK

Flying with distorted surround views

Alright. We’ve had our intermission. Let’s look at some more pictures of geometric distortions. This time we’ll feature an actual flight done twice, once with distorted views in MSFS 2020, and again with proper triple-monitor views on XPlane 11. We are flying out of Runway 32 at the Republic Airport.

We’ve already mentioned earlier those unnaturally fat windshield pillars. These pillars can be seen on both sides of the MSFS picture shown below. From this point on, the same flight will be shown with the MSFS view on top, and the XP11 view at the bottom. The XP11 view shows the true dimension of the pitot tube on the left wing. You may recall that in the JFK night scene, MSFS distorted that short tube to 3 times its actual length.

Ready to release the brake

We have lift-off. Note the stretched scenery and buildings in MSFS, circled in orange. These regions appear correctly in XP11, circled in green, even thought there isn’t much in XP11 ‘s bare terrain to highlight them. Keep looking at these regions in subsequent pictures to see the stark contrast between the visuals.

Lifting off the ground

I deployed max flaps, and then nosed down to look at the runway. Don’t try this in real life at takeoff, obviously.

Looking down at the runway

The ground scene in MSFS is also distorted in the next picture. That taxiway with yellow center line isn’t quite right. But the two shots were not taken at exactly the same location, so it’s hard to compare them.

Flying level now

The next picture really highlights how awesome the auto-building generation in MSFS is. These buildings almost match their real world counterparts. But sadly, they are misshapen and misaligned on the two side monitors, circled in orange, due to the lack of proper support for triple monitors. Now, look at the shape and the orientation of bare land plots in XP11 at the bottom for comparison. They are visually correct.

Note the shape and orientation of land plots

Finally we have identical objects to compare between MSFS and XP11. Here is a corner of the Pinelawn cemetery being ridiculously stretched in the left monitor in MSFS.

A corner of the Pinelawn cemetery gets stretched ridiculously large in MSFS

Continuing on to the intersection of the two runways.

Flying towards the intersection of two runways

Now the plane heads onto the end of the airfield to land on runway 1. Note the small rotunda structure (circled in orange) that MSFS created from arial maps. Why this rotunda is an item of interest becomes clear in the next picture.

Flying across the airport

You have come to expect what happens next. Yeah. The rotunda is no longer. Now it is an ovunda. Such is the joy of looking at distorted side views.

Note the rotunda being stretched in MSFS

An accidental YouTube video

User stekusteku at pointed out a YouTube video posted by Home Sim Pilot. It highlighted his experience running MSFS 2020 on his excellent triple-monitor setup. His setup is a few hundred times better than mine.

This is the first video I am aware of, with an almost full-length flight showing both a real-time video camera capture of his triple monitors, as well as an in-game video capture of a similar/equivalent flight. By comparing the triple-monitor capture to the single-monitor capture, one can observe geometric distortions in real-time.

Jump to time 2:55, and look at the taxiway-meets-runway sign 29R-C on the right monitor. As the plane inches forward, the sign moves backward, becoming more and more elongated as it gets closer and closer to the edge of the right monitor. Keep in mind that his side monitors are perpendicular to the front monitor, unlike my lightly inclined setup. His video camera captures these side monitors already at a deep angle. And the video camera already compresses optically what you see on the two side monitors. Yet, the sign still becomes unnaturally elongated in the captured video. In real life, a pilot seating on the pilot will see an even more elongated sign.

The pilot himself said at time 5:30 that the major issue he was having with the screen was that, “there’s no multi-monitor support unlike in XPlane where you are able to control both the visual offset and the field of view for each monitor”. In MSFS 2020, at this initial launch time, one is forced to use Nvidia Surround.

At 9:51, he comments on how only the front monitor looks right. The two side monitors show stretched and distorted projections, at this time. He thinks that once MSFS fixes this issue, it will be a game changer.

During landing, at 14:20, buildings can be seen greatly distorted on the triple monitors. Compare what you see on these monitors to the external view on the single-monitor. At 14:55, look at the brown patch of grass on the right. On the single monitor, it looks diamond-shaped. On the triple monitors, it got stretched into a thin line which at one point spanned the entire right monitor.

To see what properly-setup triple monitor with a correct surround view, watch another video from the same Tuber.

Further research

That’s enough monologue on geometric distortions. If you still want to know more, follow these pointers:

Here are some discussion forums where you may find additional information on the same issue:

If you care about this issue, go vote on this wishlist request at the official MSFS forum:

Also vote on this Q&A request:

My equipment

(added 2021-03-10)

People asks about my equipment here, in comments, or on the two YouTube videos I posted on this topic. Many wonder if they will be able to have a smooth and high-quality visual experience with their hardware, when running triple monitors. I think any decent graphics card in the last 5 years can handle triple monitors – you just need to tweak graphics settings in MSFS to lower expectations.

I wrote this article you just read only days after the launch of MSFS. I bought triple monitors ahead of the launch, but basically ran it on an ancient Alienware X51 Andromeda R3. I made one last major surgery on it in 2019 when I bought a GTX 1070 Ti card, and trimmed a few things in the case to fit that monster into the ancient shell. I did that so I could ran DCS with my Oculus Rift. That was the machine I used on the day MSFS launched. All pictures you see here are from that setup. As noted in the article, I ran a single virtual 5760 x 1080 screen presented by Nvidia Surround to MSFS.

The displays I used are cheap consumer TVs. They are not even computer monitors: SAMSUNG 43-inch Class Crystal UHD TU-8000 4K (UN43TU8000FXZA, 2020 Model). Yeah, I know, it doesn’t do 144Hz. But I could barely run MSFS on 3 x HD with that ancient Alienware (CPU-bound, not GPU-bound). So 144Hz is really a moot point. I think these TVs are more than fine for MSFS. They have OKayish viewing angles. Good enough from where I sit.

As soon I installed and ran MSFS, I realized that I needed a completely new PC. I assembled a new gaming PC. The new rig: Asus B550-F AM4. RYZEN 7 3700X. 32GB DDR4 3200. Radeon RX 5700 XT. M.2 1TB NVMe SSD. That was before the new crop of GPUs came out (e.g. RTX 3080). I knew they were about to be released. But I didn’t want to wait. That proved to be a wise choice.

My two subsequent YouTube videos were made with the new setup. This is what I added to the video description, after several inquiries on my setup: I am running 3 x HD (i.e. 1920×1080). You will notice that I am running in windowed mode (see the white window title bar at the top), and not full-screen mode. That’s because I can’t get Eyefinity/Radeon RX 5700 XT to let me change the combined display group to any resolution other than the default 11520×2160 resolution it created. In fact, Radeon Software reliably crashes after some 15 seconds if I tried to change anything in it in this mode. I had to use that 15 second time window to change it back to single-monitors mode before it crashed. I had much better luck with my previous setup which I used for the first two weeks after the launch (Nvidia 1070 ti) and Nvidia Surround. Since shooting this video, I’ve managed to get “Windowed Borderless Gaming” to make the title bar go away, but not without a lot of trial and error.

About Xinhai Dude 辛亥生

The name Xinhai Dude 辛亥生 is a pun in Chinese, as it means both “he who was born in Xinhai” as well as “he who studies Xinhai”. I had an ambitious plan to write something about the great Xinhai Revolution of 1911, thus my blog But after an initial flurry of activities the initiative petered out. One day I will still carry it through. But for now, this website has turned into a conglomerate of my work on various topics of interest to me, including travel pictures, RC model airplane flying, inline skating, ice skating, classical music composition, science fiction short stories, evolution and atheism.
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41 Responses to Geometric distortion in a triple-monitor setup for MSFS 2020, compared to XPlane 11

  1. Wil Santiago says:

    Any tip/advice on how to setup 2X32″ monitors on the sides and a 43″center main monitor. I’ve been trying to make them match up zoom wise, just not having a lot of luck. Any ideas?

    • It is near impossible, even with the Sim Update 10. Go to various MSFS forum threads I linked to from the second last section, “Further Research”. You will find people asking the same question as you do. The short answer is, until Zoom scaling factor can be separately specified for all monitors, you can only use matching monitors, in odd-numbers. Sorry.

  2. mknorr2014 says:

    I found this site looking for a way to fix the distortion.
    All I found was example after example of the distortion. So many that I couldn’t be bothered trying to read it all. In the end nothing helpful.

    • It is true. And it’s sad, after all this time. I am still watching the official forum threads I mentioned at the end of this article, waiting for the day I can fire up an updated version of this sim to get a true experience without distortions.

  3. Austin Fang says:

    Thanks for the detailed write up! You mentioned Pinelawn Cemetery above. That looks like KFRG. I fly N888FU (發發發福) out of Republic as well.

    Hope to see you around!

  4. Amazing write up! Thank you for your contribution.

    I would like to do a three TV setup but I’m concerned with PC might not be capable. I have 3600 cpu with an EVGA RTX 3070 and 32gb RAM. Do you think that would be good enough to get 30fps with three monitors? Would graphics quality need to be lowered quite a bit?

    • Alex,

      Your setup will be more than fine. You problem will be screen distortions like I showed here. People back at the MSFS forum as still complaining about it every single day. I’ve long given up on it. I haven’t touched this sim for months. I will go back to it when triple monitors are properly supported.

      Hey, since you asked, I added a new section at the very end of the article about my setups. That’s plural. What I used for this article on launch week was not what I subsequently ran on, for the two videos I made. Please reload and look at the last section.

      • Thanks so much!

        I’ve actually had lots of trouble with MSFS, turned out my VPN was causing 2-3 second freezes every minute or two. Now that I know to disconnect my VPN, MSFS is finally playable but because of the issue I ended up playing more XP11 which feels a little more realistic. So maybe I’ll just run triple TVs with XP11 and hope MSFS gets updated.

        • > I ended up playing more XP11 which feels a little more realistic. So maybe I’ll just run triple TVs with XP11 and hope MSFS gets updated.

          That is in fact what most home-sim folks are doing, after falling in love temporarily for a few weeks with MSFS. Everyone with more than one monitor have largely given up, and gone back to XP11.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this awesome post. If I may ask a question? Considering these multi-screen issues, what would you recommend as the ideal single monitor size and format in 4k?

    • Many people went back to XP11 with their multi-monitor setup. Asobo doesn’t plan to address our issue in the short-term. You can see these in the I linked to, at the end of the article.

      Some people put up with using a single, large 4K monitor. I am not flying much in MSFS 2020 lately. I switch back and forth between running HD with triple monitors, and be horrified by distortions, and running just one 4K monitor.

      My PC setup today is not the same as you see in this article. I wrote this article only a week or two after MSFS 2020 became available to the public. I have since build a new game PC for MSFS 2020. However, I did explicitly buy these three monitors you see in the article in anticipation of MSFS 2020.

      I bought three cheap, consumer-grade TVs. They are not even real monitors. SAMSUNG 43-inch Class Crystal UHD TU-8000 4K (UN43TU8000FXZA, 2020 Model). For a flight sim, they are more than good enough. And they are huge :)

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  8. Pierre says:

    Hi, thanks for all your explanation work. I’m building a setup myself with a 220 degrees curved screen. I’m using a geobox G804 to direct my four projectors. This way the video card doesn’t have to work that hard as it is only working on one output. But prepar3d can not handle a single screen with a 220 degrees view. You seem to have a lot of experience with various flight sims. Can you tell me what program does have the ability to do this? Regards, Pierre

    • I think the way you are doing it may make it harder than it needs to be. The truth is that modern video cards can handle multi-viewports (think multiple HDMI outputs with different camera angles) with zero overhead. See the Further Research section at the end of the article for pointers.

      Many car racing games make use of free multi-viewport support in Nvidia to drive multiple monitors without any extra work for the video card. We all hope that that is how Asobo is using to implement the two-viewports needed for VR. If that is the case, they don’t need to do much to enable multi-monitor/multi-projector supports without geometric distortions.

      With Geobox G804, you are forcing the sim to produce an image for one large, wide monitor. The number of pixels needed are not reduced. Most video cards support 4 output ports. You can just drive your 4 projectors from one video card, without using that G804.

      That said, I have not run such sims that use native, video-card supported multi-viewport tech. I run XPlane11 on triple monitors without distortions, as you can see in this article. But XPlane 11 doesn’t use native video card support. It instead detects your multiple physical monitors, and specifically produces a rendering for each one of them. This is not as efficient as native multi-viewport support. But XPlane has been supporting multiple monitors years before that Nvidia Pascal architecture materialized.

      • Pierre says:

        Thank you very much for your excellent comment. Is helping me very much. So I will connect my four projectors to the video card directly. Any idea what the best way would be to do the blending of the projectors?


        • Pierre, I don’t know. You are in a new territory with that edge blending thing. I’ve got to admit, it’s cool. There are a few YouTube video about GeoBox G804. That’s a professional gadget. I don’t think even the multi-monitor guru Michael Brown I mentioned in Further Research toys with that :D

  9. I’m so happy I have found your explanations…. I have a two-monitor setup and since I tried FS2020, I always felt something was off (I couldn’t tell what because I have no proper reference, I only played FS’98 when I was a kid). Now you’ve put the exact words on what my brain was considering ”not good at all”.
    With my 2-monitor setup, my goal is to have center cockpit vision on the right monitor and have the left window on the left monitor (thus being able to make a correct left pattern with the runway in sight on my left). But I couldn’t get it right and couldn’t find any options in the menu to tweak. I tried the zoom in-game, tried moving the camera around to balance things out, but couldn’t

    I will definitely voice my concern to ASOBO for this. Don’t get me wrong, I also think FS2020 is super nice and all. But this feature…. it’s not a feature for me…. it’s suppose to be there… always.

    • Dimitri, after I wrote this article, I tried to stop using triple monitors in 1080 vertical resolution, as I was upset with the distortion. I went back to a single 4K monitor. It was beautiful, but I just couldn’t get back to a limited field of view with a single monitor. I switched back and forth between single monitor and triple monitors.

      At one point, I tried dual monitors running a resolution between HD and 4K. I thought the resolution was more than good enough. But I couldn’t quite decide whether I wanted to avoid extreme distortions close to edges, by centering my cockpit view on the bezel between two monitors, or do what you did – center my cockpit on the front monitor, and use the left monitor to look out of the left widow pane, at the runway when landing. I think like you, I gravitate towards looking left, probably because we sit on the left side of the cockpit in most planes :)

  10. Sautya says:

    Are you using monitors or screens ? What resolution and model ?

  11. Rade Serbedzija says:

    All of this is of course well known by serious simmers but general public (and you wouldn’t believe how many devs) just can’t wrap their heads around it.

    “Dude it has triples support, I saw it, it looks siiiiick af bro! If they include RTX no other sim will be able to compete. I mean how could it, it’ll actually be rendering each individual ray and atom on the Earth whoa!”

    Good demonstrations.

    • Thanks, Rade.

      I decided to spend days writing this long article with screenshots and pictures, because it really irritated me to read, day in and day out, in the first week, folks on Reddit praising occasional glimpses of someone’s triple-monitor setup running msfs 2020.

      I still can’t believe it is now 3 weeks after launch. And folks are still doing the same on Reddit and on the official msfs 2020 forum!

      I keep posting comments on yet another “wow, multi-monitor works” thread, with a link to this article. One day soon a mod is going to ban me. I just know :D

  12. Anonymous says:

    Great work, this is the best I’ve seen on the net!

  13. Manfred Knorr says:

    I believe Nvidia addressed this with the 1080ti cards onwards. You enable the “Span displays with surround” option. Off course, the software has to support it. I racing does.

    • Yes. I think you are referring to the multi-projection engine supported by the Pascal architecture. MagicTT pointed this out in a previous comment. I’ve added links to Multi-projection to the end of the article.

      I think this article discusses what you are talking about:

      This Youtube video shows is in action:

      But as you said, each game/app must explicitly make use of it. I imagine that Asobo may make use of it for VR first (you need two separate projections).

      Cheers :)

    • Nvida surround in many games is quite distorted. It also does not support 31:9 with side 16:9s which is another rising popular trend.

      I have since bought XP11 due to this capability.

      • Piotr Stecki says:

        nVidia surround supports many ultra wide resolutions (5900×1080 with bezel correction in my case – 3 displays). However nVidia surround does not allow for setting side displays at an angle (e. g. to look at your wings through side widows). nVidia surround only allows on ultrawide FLAT displays – to avoid apparent distortions at far edges of left and right display you have to place 3 displays in one flat row.

  14. sierramike71 says:

    Thanks for this in depth work, please make sure this will be known by ASobo and Microsoft.
    (I will post the URl on MSFS forum also, if it’s not already done)

    • Thanks for the help. I did post a prompter post on the official msfs forum. But that thread didn’t pick up momentum. Instead, a different thread on triple monitor with different resolutions (on each screen) became the de facto triple monitor “support group”. You just reminded me to add it to this article. I added a separate list of links to relevant forum discussions to the end now. The first link is the de facto support group.

      I have also posted to AVSIM. I added that URL to the list as well. I’ll add more over time. If you have resources to add, please ping me.


  15. Piotr says:

    Due to projection used in MSF2020 you currently can’t have surrounding/periferal vision with 3 displays. The only viable option, adequate to the type of projection used is to set all 3 displays in one flat row, not at an angle, simulating one flat ultra wide display with nVidia surround. With such setup you will be looking at the side monitors at an angle and the distortion will be less noticeable.
    X-Plane implementation allowing setting side displays at an angle requires in fact 3 instances of X-Plane running simultaneously and on my machine I was never able to achieve satisfactory FPS, so even with X-Plane I used nVidia surround.
    I hope that Asobo will find a way to implement more cylyndrical projection, before (if?) they implement proper triple monitor setup with individually controlled view angles. However, I’m afraid that such config will be GPS killer as it is on X-Plane.

    • Yeah. If you place all three monitors in one flat plane, you will be looking at the two side monitors at an extreme angle, thus correcting for the geometric distortion optically. But not all monitors can be viewed at such extreme angles, especially not the cheap TVs I bought in place of real monitors. Color and brightness fade exponentially as viewing angle increases, with my cheap monitors. Also, this would be a colossal waste of GPU cycles, to render large number of pixels only to be optically compressed, back to proper proportions.

      Sigh. But that is a good point you just made. It will help those with good monitors and great CPUs :)

  16. MagicTT says:

    Hello XinHai Dude !
    Excellent explanations.
    I participated in the alpha from TEC1 and raised with many others this issue in the forums. I stated the same conclusions and requests, while in less details than your in-depth demontration (with also the screenshots comparisons between X-Plane 11 and MFS2020).
    The support for real multi-monitor is a must-have for cockpit builders, and nVidia Surround and the likes are a no-go from a realistic flight (false distances, perspective errors, etc.). NVidia offers “simultaneous multi-projection” feature which is available for use for developers.
    I personnally use 50° for each monitor (3×49”), with 1° for bezel correction, with X-Plane 11 and it’s great for VFR flying (use it for the PPL). The overall field of view is 152°, which is suffcient for me, especially combined with track IR – as you mentionned.
    The more people are voicing their concern, the more MS/Asobo will pay attention!! Let’s hope they do because it will make this flight simulation the platform for simpitbuilders for the years to come.
    PS: please excuse my poor english I’m not a-native speaker

  17. RMM says:

    Outstanding presentation. The attention to detail in all respects was impressive. Thanks for taking such time and effort.

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