The Complete G1000 Flight Sim Hardware Panel Guide (2024 Edition)

Easily control the G1000 with these realistic hardware panels for your home simulator.

The Garmin G1000 is a popular avionics system that many of our students want to simulate in Microsoft Flight Simulator or X-Plane.

Often, pilots start with the G1000 on their main monitor and adjust the knobs/buttons with a mouse. However, this simply isn’t realistic — and it can be very frustrating.

Enter the world of G1000 hardware panels.

Our guide will explore the variety of options to help you realistically simulate the physical aspects of the G1000. From entry-level to high-end, we’ll explore a range of products from leading companies.

Whether you’re a sim enthusiast or a seasoned pilot looking to enhance your simulation setup, this guide is tailored to help you find the perfect fit.

Let’s dive in and elevate your G1000 sim experience!

Note: The prices mentioned are current as of January 2024. Please ensure you verify the latest prices and specifications directly from the manufacturers’ websites, as they might change.

What is the Garmin G1000?

The Garmin G1000 is an avionics system introduced in 2004. At the time, it brought a shift in general aviation technology from traditional “steam gauge” instruments to modern “glass cockpits”.

It consists of two main components: a Primary Flight Display (PFD) and a Multi-Function Display (MFD). The PFD provides critical flight information such as attitude, airspeed, and altitude, while the MFD offers navigational data, weather, terrain, and more.

Diagram of G1000 PFD vs. MFD

Why do pilots love glass cockpits like the G1000?

For starters, it offers a large attitude indicator covering the entire PFD. This makes it much easier to quickly detect the aircraft’s attitude compared to the smaller gauges in round-dial aircraft. It consolidates instrumentation, making your scan pattern easier. Many aspects of the G1000 can be customized according to the pilot’s preferences.

Shifting from mechanical to digital, the G1000 offers excellent accuracy and reliability. Traditional gyro-driven instruments are more prone to failure compared to their digital counterparts in the G1000.

The Garmin G1000 has evolved with time. The G1000 NXi, its latest iteration, builds upon the foundation of the original. It boasts enhanced graphics, faster processing capabilities, and new features like visual approach guidance.

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G1000 Software

Most of the G1000 hardware options we will cover in this article are just external displays with physical buttons/switches on the bezels.

They do not generally have their own G1000 software built in. They rely on your simulator (like MSFS or X-Plane) to generate the G1000 functionality and graphics, which are simply dragged onto the external G1000 display.

Below is an overview of various software options that interface with G1000 hardware:

Garmin Trainer

The Garmin Trainer offers the most realistic G1000 simulation, as it’s developed directly by Garmin. It’s a standalone simulator that many pilots use to learn the G1000 on the ground.

While it doesn’t feature realistic flight dynamics, you can still control the aircraft in a basic manner using a joystick or autopilot.

It lacks visual scenery but is unparalleled in accurately simulating the real system.

MSFS

The default G1000 in Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) provides a basic representation of the real-world system. Many of the more detailed functions are not fully modeled.

There is also a free upgrade available in the MSFS marketplace, called the Working Title G1000 NXi. It enhances the realism of the stock G1000 in MSFS, including various NXi features and overall improvements in functionality.

X-Plane

G1000 simulation in X-Plane

X-Plane’s model of the G1000, which they call the “X-Plane 1000,” is also reasonably accurate for basic training.

However, like with the MSFS version, some of the more detailed pages and features of the real system are not implemented. However, the X-Plane team is working on improvements in version 12.1.0, including new features such as ADS-B simulation, Stormscope, Traffic Map, and WAAS pages.

While there isn’t a go-to upgrade package at this time, some add-on aircraft may have their own G1000 versions with improved functionality.

Which planes have a G1000 in MSFS and X-Plane?

The following aircraft are built in by default in MSFS/X-Plane (as of February 2024).

X-Plane 12:

Microsoft Flight Simulator:

Numerous add-ons are available for each sim which may offer G1000 integration (either embedding the sim’s built-in G1000 or a custom-developed version.

How to control the G1000 in your sim

Controlling the G1000 in flight simulators with a mouse is very different from the real deal.

For starters, using a mouse to mimic knob turns and button presses can be cumbersome, especially for frequent adjustments like radio tuning.

Also, the mouse lacks tactile feedback. Real pilots often depend a lot on touch, operating controls without needing to look at them each time. But a mouse requires you to look more at the panel while adjusting controls, reducing realism and diverting focus from flying the airplane.

Let’s explore how to mitigate this with G1000 hardware panels.

Do You Need a Full Hardware G1000 Panel?

While not absolutely necessary, incorporating a full hardware G1000 panel can significantly enhance your simulation experience.

Pros:

  1. Realism: Hardware panels closely replicate the look and feel of the actual G1000, elevating the realism of your simulation.
  2. Muscle Memory: Physical knobs and buttons on flight simulation hardware, like the G1000 panel, enable the development of muscle memory. This aspect is critical in real-world flying, where pilots often operate controls based on feel, so they can focus primarily on flying the aircraft.
  3. Reduced Frustration: Using physical controls for tasks like tuning radios is far more satisfying and precise. The tactile feedback of turning a knob is more intuitive and less frustrating than trying to achieve the same result with a mouse.

Cons:

  1. Cost: High-quality G1000 hardware panels can be a significant investment, making them less accessible for everyone.
  2. Space Requirements: These panels are often large and can be space-consuming, requiring a dedicated area for setup.

The decision to invest in such equipment should consider factors like budget, space availability, and your personal goals in flight simulation.

Hardware Panels

Let’s start by considering some of the more cost-effective and flexible options to help you avoid using your mouse.

These options might not replicate the exact look and feel of a real G1000, but they prevent the need to rely on your mouse.

Here’s a look at a few budget-friendly choices under $500.


Knobster (€95) + KnobXP/KnobFS (Free)

The Knobster, combined with KnobXP (for X-Plane) or KnobFS (for MSFS), is a simple yet effective solution that provides basic knob and button controls for your flight sim. Here’s how it works:

  1. You use the Knobster to select a parameter that you want to change in the KnobXP/FS menu (like a radio frequency)
  2. Press the button to confirm
  3. Then rotate the knob as you would in the real aircraft to adjust the value.

For VR users, this setup is a great choice. It offers a practical, single-device solution to interact with the simulator. Managing multiple knobs on a physical panel can be challenging in VR, but the Knobster simplifies this by consolidating control into one versatile knob. This is ideal unless you have mixed reality capabilities or highly developed muscle memory.

Air Manager (€65) + Knobster (€95)

For a highly customizable and flexible setup in your flight simulator, combining Air Manager with the Knobster is an excellent choice.

Air Manager allows you to create a tailored avionics interface that can match specific real-world aircraft. This level of customization is ideal for pilots seeking a setup that closely mimics the cockpit they are accustomed to or aspiring to fly.

The general setup involves a second monitor, ideally a touchscreen. This monitor displays your customized interface, bringing an additional layer of realism and interaction to your simulation experience.

Operating the Controls: To change a frequency, for example, you would first touch the radio knob on the touchscreen, then use the Knobster to rotate and adjust the frequency. This method combines the tactile feel of the Knobster with the interactive visual component of the touchscreen.

Cost Consideration: The overall expense of this setup will largely depend on the cost of your touchscreen monitor(s). While the Knobster itself is relatively affordable, investing in a good-quality touchscreen can add to the total cost.

You can read more about this setup in this article.

Summary:

  • AirManager and Knobster Websites
  • Sim compatibility: Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane
  • Operating system compatibility: PC, Mac, Linux
  • Location: Netherlands

Octavi (€183)

Octavi control panel for flight simulator (autopilot, radio, etc.)

Octavi is marketed as the “world’s smallest cockpit,” offering a unique blend of compactness and functionality.

It packs in more controls than simpler options like the Knobster. It includes a single knob but also features various buttons for autopilot, transponder mode selectors, and basic GPS functions such as ‘Direct To’, ‘Menu’, ‘Clear’, and ‘Enter’.

Octavi supports a range of popular flight simulators including X-Plane and MSFS 2020.

For users of Prepar3D, FSX, or those with customized aircraft, Octavi can be integrated using MobiFlight, a free open-source tool that allows for further customization.

Summary:

  • Website
  • Sim compatibility: X-Plane (10 and newer), Microsoft Flight Simulator. Also compatible with Prepar3D and FSX using MobiFlight.
  • Operating system compatibility: PC, Mac

Now explore some options that will look and feel like full G1000 panels.

These setups come with a higher price tag, exceeding $1000, but offer a much more authentic experience.

Simionic ($1564) + iPads

Simionic G1000 panels

Simionic offers a unique approach to their G1000 hardware offering, the SH1000MCombo. This is due to:

  • iPad-Based Display: Unlike other hardware panels that come with integrated displays, Simionic sells a frame that requires you to insert your own iPad. This setup leverages the high-resolution display and touch interface of the iPad, creating a versatile and visually appealing PFD and MFD.
  • Dedicated Apps: To use the Simionic G1000 panel, specific apps must be installed on the iPads. These are not the default versions from MSFS or X-Plane but are specially designed by Simionic. You can find the apps here. They are also compatible with Infinite Flight, and there is a beta version available for the G1000 NXi, as seen here.

This setup is ideal for those who already own iPads. If you don’t, the cost of the iPads should be factored into the overall cost, as they are essential to the functionality of the Simionic panel.

An advantage of this system over others mentioned later in the article is the simplicity of configuring the display. Because the iPads run an app that generates the G1000, it doesn’t require you to drag the simulator-generated G1000 onto the display, which can be difficult for some users. This makes it more user-friendly, especially if you plan to regularly unplug the device to remove it from your desk.

Summary:

  • Website
  • Sim compatibility: Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane, FSX, Prepar3D
  • Operating system compatibility: PC, Mac
  • Location: China
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Video comparison/review: Check out this video (by XForcePC featuring Austin Meyer from X-Plane) which compares the Simionic and RealSimGear G1000s

The remaining products in this article use the G1000 software that is built into your simulator (not separate apps).

FlightSimBuilder (€1440)

FlightSimBuilder G1000s

The FlightSimBuilder G1000 Suite offers an effective panel solution at a lower price point, without the need for iPads.

Summary:

  • Website
  • Sim compatibility: Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane
  • Operating system compatibility: PC, Mac
  • Location: United States
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Video resource: Check out this video (by SimHanger Flight Simulation) which reviews this system and the setup

Real Sim Gear ($2199)

RealSimGear G1000 panels

Real Sim Gear is one of the most popular options for G1000 panels at a more moderate price point. It’s the most common setup that we see our remote coaching clients using.

Summary:

  • Website
  • Sim compatibility: Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane 11/12
  • Operating system compatibility: PC (no Mac support)
  • Location: United States
  • Warranty: 1 year

Virtual Fly (€2785)

Virtual Fly G1000 panels

Virtual Fly produces a high-quality, 1-to-1 replica of the G1000 based on the real system’s exact measurements. They provide software called the VFHub to help set up any Virtual Fly peripherals from a single place.

Summary:

  • Website
  • Sim compatibility: Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS), X-Plane. Does not support Prepar3D.
  • Operating system compatibility: PC (Does not support Mac)
  • Location: Spain
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Video comparison/review: Check out this video (by XForcePC) which compares the physical differences between the Virtual Fly and RealSimGear G1000s

Aviatek (€3299)

Rounding off the list is Aviatek, which touts its G1000 as being “the one and only original Garmin G1OOO replica, ensuring an authentic training experience.”

They also offer a wide range of G1000 variants so you can match your aircraft’s avionics exactly, as well as an option for touch capability (a feature of real G3000 and G5000 systems).

Summary:

  • Website
  • Sim compatibility: Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS), X-Plane 11/12. It’s also compatible with Prepar3D but some level of manual configuration is required.
  • Operating system compatibility: PC (Mac compatibility is not listed)
  • Location: Spain

Full-scale/certified simulators with G1000

Examples of full-scale g1000 sims

If you have a larger budget and want the most immersive experience, consider a full-scale simulator that includes a G1000 built-in.

Some manufacturers of these simulators include:

Many of them offer certified simulators (like Aviation Training Devices or ATDs), which are essential if you want official training/proficiency credit from your simulator.

Which G1000 option is best?

Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Your Specific Needs and Budget: We have given you options ranging from around $100 and others exceeding $3000. Full-scale panels provide the ultimate immersive experience at the highest cost, while combinations like Air Manager + Knobster offer more flexibility and affordability.
  2. Desk Space: Consider the space available on your desk. Some options (like the Knobster or Octavi) have a small footprint, while full panels will require a lot more space.
  3. Additional Costs: Factor in the cost of mounts, cables, and any additional software that may be required. Mounting hardware is generally not included. Some options, like the Simionic, might even necessitate iPads.
  4. Flexibility: If you want the option to simulate different aircraft types, including steam gauges, consider more flexible solutions like Air Manager.
  5. VR Compatibility: For VR users, the Knobster is a practical choice due to its simplicity and ease of use in a VR environment.
  6. Simulation Software and OS Compatibility: Ensure the hardware is compatible with your preferred simulation software and operating system.
  7. Vendor Location: Consider the location of the company and how it affects shipping, taxes like VAT, support, and the exchange rate.
  8. Certification: If you would like to log your G1000 simulator time and get official training or proficiency credit from it, you would need to consider a certified simulator setup (like an ATD).
  9. Warranty: Consider the warranty offered for the hardware.
  10. Your Computer: Aside from the basic operating system compatibility, consider any FPS (frame rate) impact if your system is borderline already. Adding additional displays for your G1000 (the PFD and/or MFD) may drop the frame rate further. If this is a concern, then the Simionic (iPad-based) or Knobster/Air Manager solutions may be ideal.
  11. Realism and Feel: Assess how realistic the hardware feels in terms of button clicks, knob acceleration, and overall tactile experience. While it’s difficult to convey this in an article, watching review videos and getting first-hand feedback from pilots in forums can be invaluable. If you have the chance, consider attending a simulation convention like the FlightSimExpo where you can try different systems out in person.

Still undecided? The below video is another great resource to see a side-by-side test of the SIMiONIC, Aviatek, Virtual-Fly, and RealSimGear products:

Conclusion

There are indeed many G1000 simulator options on the market. In the end, the best one for you will depend on your specific requirements and budget.

Whether you opt for a full-scale panel or a more cost-effective solution, each option offers its own set of benefits to enhance your flight simulation experience – and it will be much less frustrating than using a mouse.

If you need help designing or configuring your G1000 sim setup, we offer personalized sim setup consulting with our experienced flight instructors.

For those who would also like to learn the full capabilities of the G1000, consider booking a session with a remote flight instructor, or check out our G1000 beginner’s video course.

We wish you many hours of enjoyable flying with the G1000 system!

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