I had Skyrim running pretty well with 100 mods on a cheap $400 desktop (Athlon X2 2.8GHz, 4GB RAM, Integrated Radeon 3000 256MB VRAM). By pretty well I mean medium textures, medium LOD and a playable framerate (at least for my sneaky assassin sniping style-- big battles did lag) with very infrequent CTDs (far less than 1 every 24 hours game time) but I wondered if I could do better (better visuals with no FPS loss or better FPS) as there are so many ini options and other mods I've yet to try.
So even though it was stable, since I'd been updating and modding/unmodding the game for a long time now and a lot of that before I learned about clean saves and mod managers and there are now a number of mods I no longer use (usually because I found no benefit to them, or the performance hit was too great); I decided to start over again as it were completely clean of any accumulated detritus in my skyrim folders so I backed up skyrim directories and then uninstalled and reinstalled Skyrim to clean out the cobwebs. I am today at the point where I have a shiny brand-new fresh install of Skyrim with all three DLCs patched to 1.9-- naked of any mods yet!
I have decided that I will change mod managers since I've been filtering BASH delev and relev tags from my BOSS reports for a while and I do use some mods which mess with leveled lists I figured it was about time to learn how to make a bashed esp. I also like that WB should also help me with mod install order, something I was always unsure about with NMM. And since I'd noticed STEP for a while now but always felt too modded to join in I thought now might be a perfect time to get started so here I am. I do have some questions though and I hope this is the right place for them.
I am mainly trying to follow https://wiki.step-pr....com/STEP:Guide as I am very interested in the "Performance STEP options-- Core mods only; performance options wherever possible-- as my poor box needs all of the mercy that I can spare it, but I must have STEP!" So when I get to 1.B.1. Launcher_Settings, I am a bit confused as I don't see Performance, Baseline, and Extreme options but one directive telling me to set my game to Ultra settings (my PC always autodetects at Medium and even that is too much without tweaking).
Is there another guide for Performance STEP or am I actually supposed to set at Ultra here?
The next section-- 1.C.2. ATI Users-- too I was also unsure about. If I try to set my own settings for tesv.exe I get a message that an AMD pre-definied application profile already exists and asks if I wish to overwrite. I've also seen other similar information like the RCRN's ATi AMD Radeon Tweak Guide for Skyrim. Most of my previous mods were more about immersion and realism and less graphics as that is the weakest link in my box, but I was hoping to achieve a little better this install.
I'm not sure if I should just leave it with AMD's defined Catalyst Application Profile, which is what I have always done or to do this too?
Onto the next section--1.E. Install Utilities . As I mentioned I am trying to adapt to BASH now for my mod installer so I am also looking at https://wiki.step-pr...Guide:Wrye_Bash too with the main install guide. One thing I do like about NMM though is the version checking and ability to endorse good mods. I wanted to use it still for this and downloads. To that end I have also found a couple relevant pages: Linking NMM and Bash Installer Directory? and the older Guide to Setting up Wrye Bash and NMM for Skyrim to make them work together. I've got my NMM paths set in their config gui and my bash.ini set so that all seems to be working-- NMM downloads right to Bash Installers directory.
I am just throwing this out there in case anyone else does this and knows of any gotchas or zingers trying to use WB and NMM in coordination?
I am also looking at Installing ASIS and SkyRe with some additional stuff as I do use SkyRe and had been contemplating adding ASIS for a while too. I will probably skip the TK stuff save maybe TK Hitstop and I am not sure about magic. I rarely play mages and SkyRe does change up spells already. I love my Khajiit with SkyRe's Weaken Gravity spell. So anyway, I guess the STEP stuff should always go first and I do hope by sticking to just core I won't overwhelm my system.
There are a number of other pages I have been perusing too:
How-To's & Guides:
- Radeon HD 3000 or Equivalent GPU Video Tweak Guide-- Some good ideas but too much of a visual impact for me to use completely. I will suffer a slower FPS for more eye candy.
- Low End PC Performance Guide: Skyrim
- Skyrim Tweak Guide 2.2-- Mostly got the multi-core ini stuff from this.
- I've also used https://www.tweakguides.com/ before mostly for Neverwinter Nights but sadly their Skyrim link now takes you to a NVidia page so I guess ATI users are SooL tweaking Skyrim now.
- Getting the most out of Skyrim on a lower end machine
- Low-end PC - how to get most of it?
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Here are the mods to improve performance
- Ultimate Performance for Low End Rigs
- Skyrim Performance - Tweaks and Mods
Some stuff I've seen on the Nexus lately I may look more into:
- Ultimate Performance for Low End Rigs
- Interior and Dungeon Fog Remover
- Colorful Lights - No Shadows - More FPS
- RCRN -- HDR Lighting and Weather Enhancement-- I normally shy away from increasing graphics but read "The FPS drop is minimal, in the worst case about a 10% fps only in certain locations!" and it looked nice from pics.
- mrhaandi's injectSMAA-- I forget where I stumbled onto this but may look at it as it is supposed to be lighter on your system than AA/FXAA but still pretty up things.
I definitely intend to use HiAlgoBoost again too as I found it helped me immensely. It does lower FPS when you are standing still but since the scene is not changing who cares. It reduces resolution on the fly during fast movements to keep the FPS peppy even in combat or quick passing scenery.
If anyone has any comments or more pages for me or other low-end performance tweaks I missed I'd love to hear that too but mostly I am stuck at those initial STEP steps wondering about launcher and graphics settings...