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#1 Nitrohell

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 05:15 PM

Hello guys, new member here looking for some help. I've been wanting to go back to Skyrim for a while now, stopped playing 1 year or so ago when my desktop started having some problems and haven't played it ever since. Today I started looking for some mods, I'm not very interested in the complete overhaul mods that give a new game experience, I didn't finish my first playthrough before, but even ruling these out, there are so many mods to choose from it's a bit overwhelming, until I found this project. This is a truly amazing work you guys have here, having a detailed list of mods that are compatible with each other and have been tested by countless members will provide many new modders, like myself, an amazing Skyrim experience with relative ease. Even though this helps alot, I'm still having some doubts, hence why I created this thread. For starters here's my spec: Windows 7 Pro 64 bit Intel i7-2600 3.4GHz NVidia GeForce GTX 650Ti 1GB 4GB RAM DDR3 1600MHz Regular 7200 rpm Hard Drive 1920x1080 Monitor I know it's not that good, especially the GFX, I used to have a GTX 460, which apparently runs Skyrim better than the one I have now, but it started having some problems and since it was still on warranty, I got this one in return. For what it's worth, my MoBo was also exchanged at the same time and the one I got have PCIe 3.0. As you can see my specs are far from great, no Extreme STEP for me, but I was hoping this was enough to run at least a Baseline STEP installation. But what does a Baseline installation means exactly? In the guide the Baseline description says: "Core and non-Core mods; performance/quality and balanced options wherever possible.". Does this mean, I should install all mods, Core and non-Core, following the instructions found on the Baseline and Notes? Can I have a more or less smooth gameplay with all those mods installed, around 30+ fps, with the specs I've posted?  Another, simpler, question, what are those "BCF Available" links on some mods? I suppose they are meant to be used after the installation of the mod to replace some files, just want to be sure about it. Final question, after installation, the recommended course of action is that I don't update my game, i.e new patches, nor update/remove my mods until I'm done with that particular save file, am I correct? For now that's it. I may need further help when I start installing, I've seen many things on the installation guide that I'm not familiarized with, but most of them also have guides and I haven't looked at those yet. Thanks in advance for any answers you can provide.
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#2 TechAngel85

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 01:02 AM

First, thank you for liking STEP! :thumbsup: Now, Baseline STEP is what you should probably install. 96% of users install and use Baseline, including most of the STEP team. Your system should run it just fine. 2% of users run Performance (consumer laptop users, etc) and the remaining 2% is running Extreme. (These percentage are all guesses by me.) What to install in Baseline? You will install all of the mods on the guide. Don't worry about the "performance/quality and balanced" options. Just follow the guide and follow the notes where provided. If notes aren't provided and that mod has different options, then the choice is up to you on what to install...meaning all options are okay. As long as your vanilla game is between 40-50 FPS, then you'll be good to go because STEP can cause up to 10 FPS loss (sometimes more, sometimes less). This is also highly dependent on your Launcher/Video Card settings, but you should be able to play on at least high settings pretty well. BCFs are used with Wrye Bash (WB) for creating friendly installers for mods that aren't WB friendly. Here is all about BCFs: https://wiki.step-pr...rking_With_BCFs (you should use a mod manager like WB or MO for STEP. Don't use NMM!) Updating A lot of mods included in STEP are or require the latest version of Skyrim (1.9) so you'll want to update your game before STEP installation. Bethesda announced that there will be nothing new for Skyrim so you'll be safe updating now. Adding mods isn't an issue with saves. Removing them can be, however. You'll want to follow any recommended uinstallation instructions from the author's nexus page when removing mods. Then clean your save of the removed mods by loading the save and resaving it. Simple as that!

#3 Aiyen

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 07:57 AM

STEP baseline is a good starting point... but I would still recommend that you buy some more RAM .. they do not cost a lot and having 8 or 16 Gb is just smart since then you do not have to close down everything in the background while playing. 4Gb is going to give you some bad stuttering because the OS takes up a large chunk and other programs as well which means there is not enough left for cache use. Might also cause you some unnecessary CTD´s when you start to add more mods. In general you want 3 Gb for the OS, 3 for Skyrim.. and then what is left over for other stuff like media players etc etc you might want running. Your GFX is nice enough. It is in the 600 series which is more then good enough.

#4 TechAngel85

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 09:48 AM

STEP baseline is a good starting point... but I would still recommend that you buy some more RAM .. they do not cost a lot and having 8 or 16 Gb is just smart since then you do not have to close down everything in the background while playing.
4Gb is going to give you some bad stuttering because the OS takes up a large chunk and other programs as well which means there is not enough left for cache use. Might also cause you some unnecessary CTD´s when you start to add more mods.
In general you want 3 Gb for the OS, 3 for Skyrim.. and then what is left over for other stuff like media players etc etc you might want running.

Your GFX is nice enough. It is in the 600 series which is more then good enough.

More RAM might help but I don't believe it to be necessary or that it'll cause bad stuttering. My TESV.exe has never taken up more than 2GB and if your OS is taking up 3GB there is something wrong! Windows 7 or 8 has never taken up more than around 1.8GB on my system (higher resolution might push it slightly above 2GB but nowhere close to 3GB). You should be closing all your background processes and application anyway as good gaming practice A) because you want all the resources going to your game; not being shared with your other processes and B) because you want as little room as possible for conflicts and CTDs due to other processes running. You'll more likely run into stutter from the 1GB VRAM than the 4GB system RAM. (my system never uses over 4GB RAM when gaming and I have full Baseline installed).

#5 Nitrohell

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 10:14 AM

@techangel85 Thanks for your answers. I didn't expect the Baseline installation of STEP to cause such a low FPS loss, if that's the case then I suppose I won't have many problems. Hopefully I won't have any Random CTD's either, I had some nasty ones when I was playing before, couldn't walk around in the open world for more than 30 minutes without having a CTD, inside dungeons and cities I was alright though, but then again, I probably messed up my save by removing/updating some mods without following the instructions. That's why, this time, I'll probably patch the game to the latest version, install the mods I want to run and keep that setup until I'm ready for a new save. It's probably safer and less troubling that way. Yea, I'll probably use either MO or WB, not sure which one yet, once I'm ready to start installing stuff I'll probably take a while to read the guides about both of them and try to come up with a choice. I'll probably go with WB though, since most mods/guides refer to him in some way. @Aiyen Yeah I know, when I bought my computer I was a bit influenced by the guy from the store, in some ways he helped me, when I went there new CPU architecture had come recently, at least in my country, and I wasn't aware of it, so he advised me to steer away from the 1366 socket and go with the 1155 and Sandy Bridge, this saved me some money and got me a better processor at the same time, although if I had known better, I'd have gone with an i5-2500 instead, the "k" versions weren't available there yet, on the other hand he also told me I would never need more than 4GB of RAM, I didn't buy it but the person I was with, and was going to pay half, isn't a big fan of gaming, especially on computers, so I couldn't really start a discussion with the store guy about needing more RAM for games, I let it pass thinking I'd update it later. Unfortunately things didn't go as expected and I haven't had the chance to do an update yet. If I had the money a few months back, my plan was to get the old card money back instead of the gtx 650, spend a few more bucks and get myself either a 660 or 670 as well as another 4/8GB RAM. Right now I probably won't buy a new card unless I find someone to sell this one, but I still plan on doing the ram upgrade.
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#6 MontyMM

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 10:35 AM

@Aiyen
Yeah I know, when I bought my computer I was a bit influenced by the guy from the store, in some ways he helped me, when I went there new CPU architecture had come recently, at least in my country, and I wasn't aware of it, so he advised me to steer away from the 1366 socket and go with the 1155 and Sandy Bridge, this saved me some money and got me a better processor at the same time, although if I had known better, I'd have gone with an i5-2500 instead, the "k" versions weren't available there yet, on the other hand he also told me I would never need more than 4GB of RAM, I didn't buy it but the person I was with, and was going to pay half, isn't a big fan of gaming, especially on computers, so I couldn't really start a discussion with the store guy about needing more RAM for games, I let it pass thinking I'd update it later.
Unfortunately things didn't go as expected and I haven't had the chance to do an update yet.
If I had the money a few months back, my plan was to get the old card money back instead of the gtx 650, spend a few more bucks and get myself either a 660 or 670 as well as another 4/8GB RAM.
Right now I probably won't buy a new card unless I find someone to sell this one, but I still plan on doing the ram upgrade.

Yeah, I've had a certain type of techie telling me how much RAM I wouldn't need since I put 64MB in my Pentium II  :P

Luckily, that CPU could probably serve you well for years, and with a RAM upgrade and a new GPU when the time is right, you should be good to go.

I agree with techangel though - while you're constrained by the 1GB card, you might not find the 4GB RAM a limiting factor for Skyrim.  Could be cutting it close though, and suffering some performance drops here and there.
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#7 TechAngel85

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 10:53 AM

Not to mention, once you reach around 3GB of RAM use in Skyrim you're screwed anyway due to the RAM ceiling. There's a thread here in the Troubleshooting forum talking all about it.

#8 Nitrohell

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 12:11 PM

@MontyMM, techangel85 Yeah, I know my VRAM is definitively more of an issue then the system RAM, but having some more would definitively help, at least I'd be able to reach the 3GB cap, I did take a look at that thread already, which right now I don't think I can. Although, since I've done a format recently and don't have many stuff installed, mostly just drivers and AV, my RAM use may be lower now, it used to be around 1.2 GB. I may install some of the MoBo utilities later, hopefully it won't consume much RAM, I think one of them has an easy OC configuration option, it might be useful activating this before starting the game, the MoBo is a MSI Z77 MPower, the GFX also has a similar utility with an OC gaming profile. I've never OCed my computer before, so I'm not very comfortable with more advanced, but rewarding, methods, yet this should help quite a bit already. I'll probably use something like Game Booster as well to help with some background processes. Anyways, thanks a lot for your help. Hopefully I won't run into many problems while installing everything, otherwise I'll have to bother you guys some more.
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#9 MontyMM

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 01:52 PM

@MontyMM, techangel85
Yeah, I know my VRAM is definitively more of an issue then the system RAM, but having some more would definitively help, at least I'd be able to reach the 3GB cap, I did take a look at that thread already, which right now I don't think I can.

I just want to make sure there's no misunderstanding.  You're unlikely to hit the 3GB RAM cap while using a 1GB card because (to the best of our knowledge) the bulk of Skyrim's RAM usage with a heavy mod load is just mirroring the texture data that's in VRAM.   So, your video card would choke before you created a 3GB demand for RAM.
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#10 Aiyen

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 05:23 PM

More RAM might help but I don't believe it to be necessary or that it'll cause bad stuttering. My TESV.exe has never taken up more than 2GB and if your OS is taking up 3GB there is something wrong! Windows 7 or 8 has never taken up more than around 1.8GB on my system (higher resolution might push it slightly above 2GB but nowhere close to 3GB). You should be closing all your background processes and application anyway as good gaming practice A) because you want all the resources going to your game; not being shared with your other processes and B) because you want as little room as possible for conflicts and CTDs due to other processes running. You'll more likely run into stutter from the 1GB VRAM than the 4GB system RAM. (my system never uses over 4GB RAM when gaming and I have full Baseline installed).


Techangel85:

You are right with the memory for the OS, 2Gb give or take. I use about 1Gb for steam, AV, browser etc. Was also what I meant, my brain was just already ahead at the 3Gb for the game... sorry about that! :) 

However if you only have 4Gb ... then that leaves 1 for the game which is very much in the low end! 
The way windows assigns memory depends on the max amount of total memory available, so his windows would naturally use less and allow more for the game, but would not experience as smooth an experience as even 8Gb would provide. 
 
Stuttering is because of bottlenecks. If there is not enough RAM for cache, then the cache will be assigned on the HDD by windows. If this has to be read then you will get stuttering due to the extremely slow read/write speed of a HDD which is the worst bottleneck. It will also happen when memory swapping happens since the game then has to wait for the CPU to swap the memory.. this is the second worst bottleneck. There are other types.. but they are progressively less noticeable. 

As for the closing of everything
Possible conflicts between running applications are almost exclusively due to the applications fight for CPU time and memory. 
Which is why back in the 32bit OS days you had to close everything because the OS only had 3Gb give or take to assign, so alot of CPU time was required since memory was swapped all the time. Now with 64bit the OS can assign as much as is required as long as it is physically present in the machine. If an application has all the memory it could ever need, then the amount of CPU time it requires is minimal because memory swapping is minimal since it is already loaded.
So unless you are running a full DDSopt while playing or rendering a movie or some other thing that requires alot of CPU time, then the chance of an issue is very minimal. If there is an issue then it will most likely be because they try to access the same resources at the same time. 
One example here is OC software that runs at the same time as ENB... This will cause issues, and most likely a CTD


Nitrohell: Never trust a "tech" guy that says you will NEVER need something... he just proved that he does not know what he is talking about! :)

Also about the OC... All I can say is, if you got the money to spend on OC´ing you might as well just get the extra RAM. Never OC anything unless you are sure you can get a replacement part in the odd case that some resistor etc burns out. You can not use warranty unless you got a factory OC´ed component. 



Also you can actually get really high in RAM even with low VRAM... You just get progressively worse stuttering due to the massive bottleneck you create between GFX and RAM. Followed by missing textures, which always cause a CTD after a while.. up till the point where you just get a CTD or inf loading screen. 
At least that it what I experienced when doing a full stress test of the game to see how it handled progressively more massive memory loads. 

#11 Nitrohell

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 11:02 AM

@MontyMM I figured so. I also don't plan on doing long hours of non-stop gaming. I'll probably close the game every couple of hours if I play for longer, that should help maintain a more pleasant and smooth game. If I run out of RAM/VRAM and the game crashes after 2 or 3 hours of playing, I can live with that, I just don't want it to CTD every 10 or 15 minutes. As I said, back in my old save I would crash very often when moving around in the open world, after or 20/30 minutes, this was very annoying and I don't want it to happen again as it makes it makes me not want to play at all. I thought it was possibly because I was using too many mods, but if I'm supposed to be able to run STEP with this specs, then it probably wasn't, I had very few mods when compared to STEP and most were just character and armor/weapons textures, I did have some other mods like UFO and Deadly Dragons. Most likely the reason for my CTD's back then were because of updating mods without uninstalling them first nor following the proper instructions to uninstall. @Aiyen That's why I never got into OC'ing my stuff, I don't have the money to buy a new piece just because I blew up the old one while testing, but since in this case all I have to do is click a button to change profiles, I though it wouldn't be that risky. But if you're saying that the OC utility can probably conflict with the game itself and cause CTD's, maybe I should stay away from it.
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#12 Aiyen

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 11:45 AM

It will not conflict with the game itself.. only if you are using mods such as ENB that require post processing to work. Then they try to access the same ressources, which causes conflicts and CTD´s. But if you do not use any of those mods then there should be no issues. If it does cause more CTD´s then it is most likely because you have OC´ed more then you have cooling for.

#13 Nitrohell

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 06:50 PM

My plan was to get ENB yes, the game looks much better that way, in my opinion of course. I'm going to test the one in the STEP guide, but if that one is too heavy for my computer I'll probably go with the old one I had, it was fairly light and it would better than vanilla.
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#14 Nitrohell

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 11:13 PM

Hi there, it's me again.
I've finally got myself to install the game again, I've only done the most basic stuff though.
However I do have a couple of questions already.
First, what this is what I've done so far, installed the game, created a backup of the vanilla installation folder, installed the latest update and the dlc's, except for the texture dlc's as I'll be aiming for a baseline installation, did the launcher configurations as recommended in the STEP guide, did the .ini tweaks as recommended in the STEP guide.

Afterwards I opened the game to see how many FPS I would get, during the carriage intro scene the average was 53 FPS, so I went to the next step, Nvidia Inspector, I downloaded it and modified the Skyrim profile with all the the recommended options here, with some exceptions:
Ambient Occlusion setting set to "off";
Antialiasing - Transparency Supersampling set to "Sparse Grid Supersampling 2x";
Maximum pre-rendered frames set to "use 3d application setting", I was having a quite noticeable mouse delay when using any value above 5, there was still some delay at 5 but it was bearable, and the average FPS gain was only about 0,3 FPS between having it at default and setting it to 5, so I left it at default.

After finishing that I went ingame again, this time the average was 43 FPS during the same scene. This without any mods installed.
I didn't move the camera during the whole scene in both tests as to keep them as similar as possible.

I haven't used DDSopt to extract the vanilla .bsa files nor optimize them yet, I suppose my FPS will increase at least a bit after doing so!?
So, with the numbers I've collected thus far, do you think I can handle the baseline installation while using the recommended profile for Nvidia Inspector?

Besides that, I'm wondering if I got the installation process right, so can you guys take a look at this and point anything that might be wrong?

1. Install Utilities; (I'll be using Wrye Bash instead of Mod Organizer and both DDSopt and Optimizer Textures)
2. Install all mods using Wrye Bash and following the order they appear in the STEP guide; (I was planning on adding a few extra mods, mostly body replacement and willl be using Neovalen's guide, so I'll probably incorporate the new mods I want to install at the end of the step 2.H. since they should belong there)
2a. Use BCF's when available
3. Use DDSopt to extract all .bsa to loose files, including vanilla files; (I'm not sure if this and the next step should be done every time I install a new mod or if it can be done after everything is installed)
4. Use DDSopt to optimize and resize any mod flagged here;
5. Use BOSS to re-order all mods and flag any mod that needs fixing;
6. Use TES5Edit to fix all flagged mods;
7. Use Wrye Bash to create a bash patch for the mod list;
8. Run Optimizer Textures to further clean all textures;
9. Install an ENB; (Or not depending on how well the game is running)
10. Defrag the disk; (Unfortunately I don't own a SSD)

I'll be looking forward for your answers.

PS: I didn't open a new thread as I didn't think it was necessary.
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#15 Aiyen

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 04:21 AM

There is not really any point in using both DDSopt and Optimizer Textures as far as I know. DDSopt is the more advanced program and does everything the other does and more. As for FPS gain for optimizing, then do not expect much in terms of FPS. What optimizing does is reduce the overall memory requirements, which only affects performance when you load in new cells. So you would only get a bit less stuttering when loading new cells. The drop you see after altering the Driver settings is most likely due to the AA you have enabled. Do remember that if you use newer versions of ENB (higher then v.119) these needs to be disabled as they are not supported. If you have 40+ FPS then you should be able to run with more details on no problem. Also the intro ride into helgen is a rather bad place to test FPS, since you do get alot of stuttering, because a lot of script, textures etc are loading during that ride. It is better to wait until after helgen when you run around yourself to measure overall FPS. The area between Riverwood to whiterun is one of the more detailed in the game, so it is a perfect spot to test performance etc.


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