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I've been comparing different models as to their impact on frame rate.  Comparing the Laminar Cessna Skyhawk, Piper 140, Cirrus jet and the DH-2 Beaver,  the worst is the Piper by quite a bit.  And its graphics are actually poor compared to the others.  Is this just a sign of poor coding?  I'm not seeing much in the way of additional functionality to justify its poor frame rate.

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The way it was designed could be a factor. I have a couple of general aviation payware planes from the same design company, and one of them performs great and the other grinds my computer to a halt. Laminar Research takes a lot of care to make sure the default aircraft are high quality, use the latest techniques and are usable on any of X-Plane's hardware specs.