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Bill,

 

You mention a system, which implies hardware, but then talk about the wide range of software.  I'll start with some system suggestions.

 

The system will be determined by how much you can / want to spend - it's a bit like, "How long is a piece of string?".

 

I offer the following list of suggestions to start you off (others will add / suggest differently):

  • Motherboard - Intel Z97 chipset (preferably a gaming motherboard);
  • CPU - Intel i7 (if you can afford it), otherwise a fast Intel i5 (minimum 3.5GHz);
  • RAM - minimum 8GB, preferred 12 to 16GB (minimum 1866MHz) DDR3;
  • Graphics - NVidia based card with a minimum of 4GB DDR5 (GTX 980 G1 Gaming, GTX 980Ti, or GTX 980Ti G1 Gaming are three suggestions);
  • SSD - minimum 128GB for the OS;
  • HDD - minimum 1TB, preferably 2TB;
  • DVD - multi read; and
  • OS - Windows 7 is preferred (nearly essential).

After this the case and power supply should match the above.  A good gaming case helps.  Also liquid cooling systems can be a consideration.

 

I hope this helps as a start point.

 

Cheers

Andrew

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For basic flight sim software...opinions vary, but the main players are Flight Simulator X/SE (the Steam Version, unless you can find a boxed version of FSX Acceleration/Gold), P3D a Lockheed licensed product, or Xplane if you want a "General Aviation/Commercial Aviation" Flight simulator.

 

If you are interested in a Warbird/Combat simulators...I'll let someone else discuss those, I haven't used any in about 15 years...completely out of date personally on that front, but there look like there are several very intriguing products out there.

 

FSX and P3D have the most Addon software available (payware aircraft, payware sceneries, traffic software, weather software...etc).

I can't speak to the advantages/disadvantages of Xplane as I don't have it, perhaps someone else can expand upon it.

 

FSX probably has the most Freeware aircraft and sceneries available now, but many of them were created before Steam-FSX came out, so I am not sure how many of those work or "break" in the Steam version. Most of those payware addons are being made to/already work in P3D...and more all the time.

 

And a comment on hardware.

At a minimum you should get a joystick with rotating handle that can function as the rudder input. Best would be either joystick/rudder pedals, or yoke/rudder pedals. Forget about trying to fly a flight simulator with a keyboard and mouse....just don't attempt it...it can only serve discourage you.

 

And lastly, welcome to the Flight Sim Community...it is a fun community of creative people making and/or enjoying the amazing graphic progress being done in transforming the world from a green wire mesh 3D enviorment "back in the day", into the open 3d photo-realistic virtual world we fly around in these days.

 

Cheers.

Matt

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