s Guide to Skyrim
Why am I writing a guide on Skyrim tweaks?
Skyrim is a broadly appealing game
and there’s no doubt, it’s my Game of the year… But playing Skyrim
wasn’t always as fun as the developers meant it to be
why? My computer is more than 6 years old…
granted, I did upgrade to an ATI
aphics card, and it has greatly prolonged the
lifespan of my gaming rig.
But in Skyrim… let’s just say an a
old Pentium D processor
doesn’t cut it anymore. The Pentium D is
essentially just 2 Pentium 4 CPU’s slapped under the same heatspreader and connec
ted to form a ”Dual
Core” CPU (Just like a Core 2 Quad is in fact 2 Core2Duo’s linked together).
In terms of performance, the
Pentium D at 3.0GHz performs
roughly like a Core 2 Duo at 1.6
Ghz… and that might just explain why I’m
having trouble producing pl
ayable framerates in Bethesda’s newest masterpiece of a game.
I know, lots of people have dated gaming rigs… Therefore I decided to do s
ome research into the matter
and make a tweaking guide, that’ll actually make Skyrim playable on slower and older system
as well as
How useful is this tweaking guide?
Let’s just say that during the testing, I’ve been able to run skyrim with high quality visuals, smoothly (a
30FPS) on my dated gaming rig with a Pentium D @3GHz (Performs like a
i3 running at
9GHz), an HD4770 graphics card
(Which is actually a good
, albeit older mainstream
guide will allow you to run it on smaller cards as well
, 3GB of DDR2 RAM and at a resolution of
t not sound as impressive as it is,
so how about I also provide the s
ettings at which I play stable
on my laptop (at an average of 29FPS)… specced with a first generation Core i3@2,16GHz a
a cheap HD5470 graphics card?
The goal of this guide
Make skyrim run much more smoothly without sacrificing much in terms of image quality
in fact, it looks
better than ever
on my main gaming rig
On to the tweaks and tricks:
Terminate the jqs.exe process:
Many older systems (as well as new
) have a process, jqs.exe running in the background. It’s a Java Quick
Starter application that’s non
essential to nearly every system out there.
So why go ahead and terminate that process? Because it causes periodic CPU load spikes
the game freeze for a few seconds on systems with slower CPUs. Simply open your task
), open the Processes tab, find jqs.exe, right click it and terminate it.
Got a logitech gaming mouse? Terminate the Setpoint util
Simply find the logitech Setpoint utility program and exit it, while playing Skyrim. This will make windows
read your mouse input directly from the mouse and can slightly improve CPU performance
important, however, can this sometimes lower the
input lag on a slower system.
Some game settings are more important in deciding the performance of your game than others. It’s very
important that you don’t run out of graphics memory, as this will ofte slice your framerate in half (Ouch!)
Playing on a high
end rig with at least an HD4870, GTX260, HD5770, HD6770, GTX460SE or GTX560
Graphics card and
at least 700M
B of graphics memory?
you’ll not be running out of graphics memory any time soon.
The game is playable on Ultra
in Full HD resolution (1920
1080). I suggest setting Antialiasing to x2 if
running the game in a high resolution and x4 if running in a low resolution (1366p or less). Antialiasing is a
very expensive setting for some video cards
the performance give
s you a better value of
quality in some of the other settings.
Anisotropic Filtering should be set at x8 for a great balance between quality and performance.
If your game
is still running at low framerates, set Radial blur quality to medium, Decal qu
antity to medium and untick
Playing on a mainstream rig (I use these settings) with at least an HD47
0, HD5700, HD6670, GTX9800
GTS250, GTS450 or GTX550Ti with at least 512MB of graphics memory?
You’re in da
nger of running out of memory and
he game may not run well in Full HD resolution
program that keeps track of graphics memory, I’ve found the optimal resolution/setting combination to be:
1776x1000 with FXAA enabled (in the advanced options)
Base your settings off of the Ultra pr
eset and then modify:
Texture Quality: High
Radial Blur Quality: Low
Shadow detail: High
Decal Quantity: Medium
we’ll later be making a tweak that makes it switch to ”none” while actually being
right in between medium and none.
Water: Reflect onl
It looks very much the same.
Playing on a low
Base your settings off of the Medium preset. Set
Antialiasing to ”off” and
Anisotropic Filtering to x2
it off entirely is not worth the image quality impact
which is severe).
Textures: High, if at all possible. If you have less than 512MB of graphics memory, you may consider
medium (even though it’s a sin)
Radial Blur quality: Low
Shadow detail: Low
Decal quantity: None
Water only reflects land
or nothing at all
. It still looks good for some reason.
Object detail fade:
Nope on high
end, yes on all others.
Distant object detail
: low or medium on low
end, high on mainstream and ultra on high
Item fade: Al
ways 4 (or 3 on low end systems)
Light fade: 10 on low end, 20 on mainstream, max on high
Specularity fade: 5 on low end, 8
10 on mainstream and max on high
Grass fade: 3 on low end, 4 on slightly better systems, 7 on mainstream, 7 on high
tor fade: 6 on low end, 7
8 on mainstream, 10
max on high
Object fade: 5
6 on low end, 7
10 on slightly better systems, 13 on mainstream, max on high
To make use of the following tweaks, navigate to your Documents/My games/Skyrim folder and open the
skyrimprefs.ini file in notepad. Changing the numbers after entries in this file, changes the ingame settings,
and I’ve found
a bunch of tweaks that have a
If you’re playing on a newer computer with a Core 2 Duo, Athlon II CPU or higher at 2.8GHz or more, but
are using a slow graphics card, look for the tweaks that
improve graphics performance.
If you’re limited in
terms of CPU performance, look for tweaks that
improve CPU performance
Shadow draw distance
This decides how far away the game draws shadows. On a slow laptop, I recommend setting this to 2000.
On faster sys
tems such as my primary gaming rig, Setting it to 4000 will yield the result, I like the best.
Setting it higher than 4000 will result in the game drawing shadows further away, but also in shadows
On fast systems with graphics c
ards having at least 1GB of RAM and a GTX460, HD5770, HD6770 or GTX560
GPU or faster, setting this between 6000 and 8000 can improve image quality without costing much in
terms of performance.
This tweak improves graphics performance.
Decal level of detail
These settings decide how close decals have to be to the camera to load all the details. I recommend
setting them to 1000 and 500
, on a low
end graphics card.
On my main gaming rig I have them at 1500
and 1000 (which I think is default)
setting it lower will
improve framerates on systems with slower graphics cards
at the cost of visual quality
This tweak improves graphics performance
THE MAGICAL TWEAK THAT IMPROVES CPU PERFORMANCE.
That’s right. Th
is tweak will actually lower the CPU load of Skyrim. After applying it, my CPU is no longer the
bottleneck of my system
and my FPS improved by a good 2
0% on average:
These settings decide
how far away from the camera, leaves on trees are animated. This does, obviously,
impact the immersion and visual experience negatively
But on a CPU
bottlenecked system it proves to be
VERY GOOD TRADE
Okay, the trees don’t rustle as much in the wind
in return, I get a playable game
After this tweak is applied, only trees right around the player are animated. I got the idea for this tweak
after remembering that an equivalent tweak, I discovered in Oblivion (Which affected grass swaying in the
also greatly improved CPU performance when set to lower values.
Please note: If this is indufficient, even more performance can be gained by setting both values at 0.0000.
On my laptop, which has no problem with CPU performance, I’ve set it to:
It still improves performance over the default setting, but without as much of an impact on the visuals.
This tweak improves CPU performance.
Lowering decal quantity below medium:
This tweak is for mainstream
it will lower the amount of skin decals, the game will
attempt to handle, increasing performance during combat. It’s really
hard to count more than 10 skin
decals while fighting a dragon, anyway.
end machines decals will be turned off entirely, making this tweak irrelevant.
This tweak improves graphics performance.
Rendering less skinned trees:
The lower setting simply decides how many trees around the player will be fully textured. Setting this
below 20 will noticably lower the image quality with trees at a medium distance in the picture… I
recommend setting it a
17 for low
end computers, 20
30 for low
mainstream machines and for my
mainstream gaming r
. If you have a high
end graphics card, anything between
60 and 15
0 can be
okay depending on how much faster than an HD5770 it is.
Got a GTX580 or HD6970? Set this at 150.
This tweak improves graphics performance.
Render less particles:
end rigs this will work wonders without having a severe impact on image quality. On very low
rigs, don’t be af
raid of setting it as low as 150. On mainstream computers, you can set it anywhere between
300 and 500
(I use 350)
bove 500 does not improve image quality in a visible way. Got a high
end rig? Spend your horsepower someplace else.
This tweak impr
oves graphics performance.
Save on water reflections:
This will lower the resolution of water reflections
I have noticed no decrease in image detail, but it does
a performance boost around water. That makes this tweak practically free.
end rigs both
settings can be set at 128
it will release some extre performance, but it may make water reflections seem
blocky when moving quickly at the surface of water a
reas. When standing still, however, it will be hard to
Hunting for even more performance?
Turns off refractions. Only recommended for low
end or portable computers.
These tweaks improve graphics performance.
ut still important tweaks.
IF YOU HAVE SOME PERFORMANCE HEADROOM ON YOUR GRAPHICS CARD,
these settings will improve
image quality greatly:
The most important of these to is the bDrawLandShadows line. Setting it to
=1 will make the overly bright
world a bit more realistic by adding shadows to the landscape. It comes at a price, but with any mainstream
end GPU it’ll run just fine. bTreesRecieveRhadows should only be used with high
end graphics cards
better). Setting this to =1 will make trees recieve shadows
both from the world, but also from
themselves. Trees will be darker, the game will look significantly better.
On a low end PC
leave those at =0.
These tweaks improve image quality at the cost
of higher higher memory use and lower graphics
Graphics driver tweaks:
This is also one of the tweaks that greatly improves the feel and realism of the game. Open your graphics
card drivers, navigate to the ”Colors” section.
In AMD drivers c
hoose ”Fullscreen 3D” to only alter settings for games and not the desk
top. Now you
decrease gamma by 25
and increase brightness by 10
points... And that’s it.
nVidia drivers have a
This will make a large part of the game seem overall
but also significantly more
vibrant as bright areas will become brighter, bringing the overall color experience closer to realism.
AND… that’s about what I have so far.
I’d love to hear some feedback on this guide. Has it been useful? Did it work
You’re welcome to write me at
(Rookienoob was taken by someone else) or
message me on Reddit (Reddit user ”Tall_bright_stranger”).
Good luck and happy tweaking