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Thread: So how does MSTS run on newer PCs?

  1. #1

    Question So how does MSTS run on newer PCs?

    Hello guys and gals,

    I have been away from the active MSTS community for almost 9 years by now and the last time I ran MSTS it was on a Core 2 Duo E8600 @ 3,33GHz, with 8GB DDR2 RAM and with an ATI HD4770 graphics card with 512MB GDDR5 VRAM. I ran everything from HDD, so no SSD. I was underwhelmed by the results I got, there was little frame rate improvement over the AMD Athlon 64 3500+ PC I had before ...

    So how much of a boost could I expect with a newer PC? With a top of the line "Core i5" of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. generation?

    Or does MSTS run better on AMD-based systems (I had that impression with my older PCs)?

    And any preferences regarding the graphics cards, nvidia vs. ATI/AMD? How much VRAM should a new graphics card have and does MSTS profit from more than 4GB VRAM?

    And what about the Windows version you use, would you recommend 7 or 10, strictly for MSTS, all other considerations aside?

    I know these are very broad and general questions, so feel free to answer with equally broad and general experiences and recommendations. ;-D

    PS - I would really like to focus on MSTS with this question. I figure ORTS profits more from later hardware though ...

    PPS - I am so glad is still alive ... :-)
    Last edited by GoGoran; 02-26-2021 at 09:55 PM.

  2. #2


    Welcome back!

    I'll respect your attempt to try and resurrect MSTS, but do hope you'll give the current version of ORTS a shot as well as TSRE for editing consists, activities and routes.

    Up until about 2016, I was running MSTS pretty much daily on an i7 Alienware, and the performance improvement seems to be pretty good compared to older chipsets.

    Most tools behave under Win10 although a few need tweaks or compatibility mode. Win7 was very stable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Pacific Time


    I'll echo Eric, welcome back! I'll be in your position soon (almost all the parts have arrived to build a new computer replacing the old Core2 Extreme; not completely up to date because I don't feel like paying the scalpers, but at least 10 Intel Generations newer than the olde beaste). From my experience, here are a few specifics that might reduce the output of expletives a bit:

    1. Install MSTS (sounds like you have it, which is good) in its own directory at the C: or other disk root level, or at most one directory level down (from something like C:\trainsims"). Install the MS updates. So far, this is the "steam4me" method. Then don't bother with any other program updates (like MSTS Bin) because you won't ever actually run MSTS. The purpose is to provide a place to install routes and such that demand access to MSTS assets like scenery objects and default trains/consists. Xtracks, Newroads, Scalerail, etc. would also go here as a base installation (might also need to be in miniroutes).
    2. Install Open Rails in the same top-level location (e.g. "C:\trainsims\openrails"). Start with the basic install from the web site so any dependencies (.Net version, etc.) get installed with it, then set the option for weekly updates. Then next time you start it, an update link should appear in the top right corner of the starting menu. Click on it and let it update.
    3. Install TSRE. You won't need the tools that MSTS provided any more.
    4. DO NOT INSTALL ANY ROUTES OR TRAINS OR CONSISTS OR ANYTHING THAT WOULD GO IN A 'GLOBAL' FOLDER IN THE OPEN RAILS DIRECTORY. Many Open Rails updates wipe out everything previously in the Open Rails folder.
    5. Put MSTS-dependent older (free, mostly) routes and trains in the MSTS route etc. directories as if you were going to use them in MSTS; installme.bat files should work there. Put newer huge routes in mini-route directories under the main "trainsims" directory. Put commercial stuff in its own directory under the main "trainsims" directory or the MSTS routes/trains directory as the installer wishes. For instance, stuff you get from Trainsimulations will go in the "C:\trainsims\trainsimulations" directory if you use my setup. Open Rails has an options page where you tell it where things are located, then it just works.
    6. And if you want to use Route-Riter, be sure to copy its 'TSUtil' directory to your Java Program Files directory and name it 'classes'. Also, make sure that the Route-Riter directory (also worth installing in that 'trainsims' directory ... see a pattern?) has 'temp', 'temp2', 'TempFiles', and 'TempFiles2' directories.

    And have fun!

    Mike B

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Montreal, QC


    I believe Steam4me explains how to set the sim and editor shortcut launchers to maximize the ram it will use and tells you what those values are, but they are still comparatively low. The limits of the program have long been surpassed by cpu and gpu capability, and I'm not sure the game can use any modern equipment better/more effeciently than equipment that was brand new in 2010.

    I can still run MSTS in compatability mode on my win10 with a Nvidia card although I have not tested that recently; I never do bother anymore because the resolution, rendering quality, framerates and loading time for any later MSTS content I enjoy like NEC or Surfline or Seligman are all so much worse in MSTS that the nostalgia is just not worth the sacrifice in simulation quality in my books.

    Longer consists and busy tiles will still clog it even if your graphics card and processor are cutting edge.

    ORTS is just a much more rewarding software. Still supported, still getting updates.

    Even if you want to run default MSTS routes and stock, ORTS will still play it smoother.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Ohio USA


    I recently bought an HP R3 tower with with an AMD Ryzen 3 3200G processor with Radeon Vega Graphics at 3.60 GHz. 8 Gigs of ram installed with Win 10 64 bit OS. And a 1 TB HD. Runs Mullan with reasonable frame rates of mid 30s. Which for me is awesome as I could not run most of Mullan activities because the frame rates were zero, with exception of the Ash Grove Switcher act. I coupled that with an HP 27 inch monitor which can display 1980 by 1080. So all the stuff I have bought looks Soooo much better. I bought the tower and monitor for 630 dollars. Plus I can upgrade the tower if I choose. It really is a great budget setup for those who can not afford some of the better towers. As I said, you can always update stuff. It really is a fast PC.
    M. Payne

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