Laminar Research released X-Plane 11.50 as an open beta just last week and since then the team has worked hard to fix reported bugs and make various improvements to the platform. The biggest change with X-Plane 11.50 is the inclusion of the new Vulkan / Metal API to render the graphics within the simulator. With that big change came a lot of potential pitfalls, but Laminar has been listening to feedback to make continued improvements.
The full list of improvements is pretty long and includes fixes, changes and also amendments to various simulator crashes. The full list is below for what has changed in beta 2.
- Fixed show traffic path pipeline nullptr error.
- Fix crash when AG item has bogus forest ref.
- XPD-10422 Plane Maker >Expert>Build Weapons>Geometry UI Overlap.
- XPD-10438 Update King Air beta angle.
- XPD-10442 Incorrect leg-deduplication with DF-HA, losing turn restriction.
- XPD-10569 VR Right eye not working with Vulkan.
- XPD-10607 Fixed skycolors nullptr pipeline on Vulkan.
- XPD-10621 Fixed FOV and all screen pref param dataref being broken.
- XPD-10624 Fixed null pipeline on right click of hierarchy in Plane Maker with Vulkan.
- XPD-10625 Fix for un-inited turbulence.
- XPD-10629 Fixed black screen on GF 6,7,8 series.
- XPD-10632 Removed extra comma in loading screen.
- XPD-10636 Failed to create Vulkan window, no surface formats found.
- XPD-10638 Metal out of memory.
- XPD-10641 C172 panel all black with OGL.
- XPD-10642 Crashes when starting flight on Nvidia Mac.
- XPD-10647 Can’t use Vulkan with multiple GPUS + SLI.
- XPD-10656 Fixed Vulkan error handling for better crash reporting.
- XPD-10657 Fixed missing pipeline on Vulkan with night vision mode.
- XPD-10662 Fixed aircraft being in wrong place in Plane Maker wing view.
- XPD-10668 Doesn’t launch when display is connected to different than rendering GPU.
- XPD-10669 Muted ATC log spam.
- XPD-10671 Fixed crash going from setting FX 1 to 2 with Metal.
- XPD-10674 Fixed sound spaces not rendering correctly.
As always with beta software, there may still be issues. In this particular case, Laminar Research has highlighted their current known bugs. If you choose to try out the new beta, then please be aware so you aren’t disappointed. Equally, there’s a current list of addons that do not work with the new Vulkan / Metal API, which is also listed below. Their known bugs list is below.
- First load time with Metal and Vulkan will be surprisingly slow. This is lots of shaders/pipelines compiling for the first time; subsequent runs will be faster.
- Blurry textures.
- Jagged cockpit shadows.
- XPD-7871 Dark contrails instead of white.
- XPD-9234 Flickering cloud shadows on the ground.
- XPD-9729 Contrails and wing condensation missing in replay.
- XPD-10458 Need control of eGPU selection.
- XPD-10506 First run shader creation is super slow.
- XPD-10569 VR Right eye not working with Vulkan.
- XPD-10607 Null pipeline when opening skycolors.
- XPD-10616 Water reflection off if wave height is non zero.
- XPD-10617 CTD when using “regenerate icons for current aircraft (and livery)”.
- XPD-10619 EGPU massive FPS loss with OpenGL Drawing.
- XPD-10623 Panel screenshots command not working/crashing.
- XPD-10673 GPU counter broken.
Known Addon Issues
Needs update from developer to work with Vulkan/Metal:
- Aircraft using DreamEngine Sound
- Ground Traffic
- Flight Factor A320
- Flight Factor 767
- JAR A320
- JAR A330
- Pilot Edge
- ToLiss A319 & A321
- Traffic Global
- XPRealistic Pro
X-Plane 11 and Vulkan/Metal: What Is It?
What does Vulkan bring to X-Plane ? The developers have explained what they were aiming at achieving with the addition of the Vulkan API to the game.
- Better handling of plugin drawing. This means for example that weather addons have a better compability and possibilites, as explained here.
- Better handling of texture paging. This means that the use of Video RAM (or VRAM, the size of the memory of your graphic card) is much more optimized. Unused textures will be cleared from the memory with more efficiency. The display of the texture has also been revamped. In the end, the user will see better performance and better stability, with less risks of exceeding their GPU VRAM capacity. More detailed explanations can be found here.
As X-Plane developer Ben Supnik said “a flight simulator is more than its rendering engine”. The update also pushes new features for the desktop and mobile version of X-Plane, but the developers have said they would update us later on this subject.
While your X-Plane is updating, you can listen or read the script of the interview of Ben Supnik with FSElite in January 2020.
Austin from Laminar Research also put together a detailed video on exactly what it is and how it impacts the simulator.
How to Update X-Plane to 11.50 Beta
If you are a non-Steam user : the X-Plane 11.50 is available by running the X-Plane installer, checking “Get Betas” and letting it do its job.
Steam users do not have access yet, but the beta have been pushed to Steam and should be available very soon. Users will need to enable it by selecting “Public Betas” in the application properties.
After the update is done, the first startup of X-Plane with Vulkan may take longer than usual, due to the shaders compilation.
Users who already own X-Plane 11 should be able to run X-Plane 11 with Vulkan without troubles. You need to make sure your GPU drivers are up to date. For users who want to take this release as an opportunity to try out X-Plane, the minimum requirements are as follows :
- 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