It turns out that Austin Meyer, founder of Laminar and creator of X-Plane, uses a Mac Studio as his main computer (see interview). I imagine he has an M1 Ultra. That likely explains why my new M2 Max Mac Studio runs X-Plane 12 so well. I got the 32 Gigabyte RAM and 2 Terabyte model (I’ve found that capacity is the sweet spot). At max scenery settings, X-Plane uses about 23 GB of RAM for video, leaving 9 GB free for other things. So 32 GB seems perfect. I love how Apple Silicon GPUs can access all available RAM!
My previous desktop machine was an M1 Mac Mini with a mere 8 Gigabytes of RAM. Depending on airport and aircraft complexity, X-Plane 12 typically ran 10-15 FPS on the ground and 20-30 in the air (worse FPS if there are low clouds). Crucially, this was (and still is) on a 1080p monitor. Despite knowing quite clearly how non-performant my Mini was running a flight simulator, I was still unprepared how well my new Mac runs X-Plane. It now runs 25-35 FPS on the ground and ~60 FPS in the air. What I thought were bugs were actually caused by the underpowered Mini. For example, on the Mini, during replay mode, spoilers and reversers would always deploy laughably early even though I deployed them at the right time. That is no longer an issue. Taxiing was also rather challenging at low 10-15 frames per second. I’d oversteer all the time. Now taxiing is far more responsive. The aircraft also feels livelier in the air, as now I can descern the air buffeting aircraft even outside turbulent conditions.
Now all I need is the soon to be released Yawman Arrow controller. I have avoided buying other controllers because the Yawman looks perfect for my use case.