Today is the day. X-Plane 11.50 public beta 1 is now available for download to everyone. (Steam users: the beta is staged on the servers, and we’ll let it loose this afternoon if it isn’t setting people’s machines on fire.)
I want to extend my appreciation to the 50+ third party developers who participated in the eleven (!) private developer previews. This is probably the most complex single patch we have developed with regards to third party add-ons; their help testing and trouble-shooting issues was invaluable.
Like all public betas with the number “one” in the title, this is a very new, very untested beta; if you wish to try it, maybe keep your regular X-Plane install around. If you post in the comments that you got the beta and now you can’t fly and you are sad, probably the other commenters are just going to say “I told you so” a few hundred times.
Getting The Beta
Non-Steam users can get the update by running the installer, checking the “get betas” box, and running; Steam users will be able to get beta soon by picking public betas in the application properties.
If you can run X-Plane 11, you should be able to run X-Plane 11.50; if you have an old operating system or hardware, you may be stuck running X-Plane 11.50 with only OpenGL as the driver. Here’s a break-down of what you need to run with the Vulkan or Metal drivers:
- Mac users need 10.13 or newer.
- Windows users need Windows 10—we do not support Vulkan on Windows 7.(1)
- Linux users need a distro that can run reasonably recent proprietary NVidia or AMD drivers.
GPU Hardware (Windows and Linux):
- NVidia: GeForce 600 seres or newer
- Any GCN or newer AMD card (E.g. HD7000 series or newer)
GPU Hardware (Mac):
- Any GPU that comes with a Mac that can run 10.13 or newer or
- Any eGPU supported by Apple
- Hackintoshes: we have heard anecdotally that GeForce 10 series on a Hackintosh does work, but we do not have this hardware in the company, so YMMV.
Drivers (Windows and Linux):
- NVidia: 440.26 or newer
- AMD: 19.12.3 or newer
To run with Vulkan or Metal, there is a new check-box in the rendering settings screen – just check the box and restart. If Vulkan or Metal crashes on startup, we will turn the check-box off automatically so you are not locked out of X-Plane.
(1) In theory Vulkan should run on Windows 8, but our devs are all running Windows 10. If you have Windows 7, please update your OS – Microsoft isn’t security patching Windows 7, so it’s more than time.
The First Run Will Take a While To Load
For some users, the first time you start the sim in Metal or Vulkan you may see several extra minutes of load time while X-Plane compiles shaders. This will not happen every time you start the sim, so my advice is: get a beverage appropriate to the time of day and let the sim load.
What you’re seeing is shaders compiling. X-Plane 11.40 compiled shaders while you flew, resulting in stutters. Try this in 11.40: start the sim cold and dark at night, and turn on the battery and landing light. Feel those stutters? That’s the sim going “oh noes, I need the terrain shader with the landing light now”.
X-Plane 11.50 loads every shader it could need up front during preload of scenery, but that’s a lot of combinations. On the first load, the compiled shaders are saved to a disk cache, so load times will be back to normal the next time around.
We are working to make the first load faster, but because it’s a one-time thing it didn’t seem like a good reason to keep everyone out of the beta.
Will My Add-Ons Work?
First, we expect every add-on that does not use undocumented hacking to “just work” in OpenGL – if you find this is not the case, please report a bug.
We expect most add-ons to just work in Vulkan and Metal; we are keeping a list in the release notes of add-ons that we know do not work and require an update from the developer.
Please go easy on your third party developers – in some cases they will need to update code that has “just worked” for over a decade, and the author of a popular add-on will probably hear from users about updating to Vulkan hundreds of times a day. Some add-on authors are part-time or have day jobs, so as a community we will need to be patient.
Third party developers: we should have public docs and an SDK update by the end of the week with complete info about 11.50, but if you were not in the developer preview program and want to dig in now, ping us.
I Found A Stutter!
While we have made tremendous progress with stutters compared to X-Plane 11.41, I can tell you that as of 11.50 beta 1, we are not done, because Sidney is working on fixes for stutters that did not make the first public beta.
The good news is, we’ve reached a point where we can identify and kill stutters in a straight-forward manner – it’s never just “dark matter in the OpenGL driver” anymore. We also have tools built into the sim to collect stutter reports from users – we’ll help you use that once we kill off the remaining known ones (which appear to be in Windows itself – that’s how far we’ve come).
I Found A Bug!
The release notes do list some known bugs, some of which we already have fixed for an upcoming beta 2. If you find something you think is a bug, please file it. Commenting about the bug here, emailing us, and discussing it on a forum do not count! If you file it, it goes into our tracking system so we don’t lose it.