Low End PC Performance Guide: Skyrim
Set 200 years after the events from Oblivion, Skyrim is the next open-world RPG from the Elder Scrolls series. Developed by the same Bethesda Game Studios, it utilizes the new Creation engine exhibiting lush environments, rocky mountains, and realistic weather effects. It also incorporates Havok’s Behavior technology which renders non-playable characters with smooth and lifelike behavior. The game won Best RPG and Game of the Year 2011 awards from various gaming websites.
TEST SYSTEM & REQUIREMENTS
|TEST SYSTEM||MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS|
|Processor||AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.6GHz Dual-core||Dual Core 2.0GHz|
|Memory||3GB DDR2 800MHz||2GB|
|Video Card||nVidia GeForce 9600GT 512MB DDR3(Green Edition)||DirectX 9 compatible with 512 MB of RAM|
|Driver / Patch version||nVidia Forceware 295.73||18.104.22.168.4 with High Resolution Texture Pack|
|Operating System / DirectX||Windows 7 SP1 64-bit / DX 11||Windows XP 32-bit / DX 9.0c|
If we will be basing from today’s technology, it’s very easy to get past the minimum requirements and our 4-year-old system can definitely play this. But in a game like this, you would want to turn every graphical detail on high as possible for this is where you would really appreciate the beauty of the game. Playing on Low preset will look like you are playing an older game than its predecessor.
Skyrim can use the two cores of our processor and the 2GB memory requirement is sufficient to play this game.
Distant Object Detail
|Distant Object Detail||Low||Medium||High||Ultra||High|
|Object Detail Fade||Off||On||Off||Off||Off|
|High Resolution Textures||Off||Off||Off||Off||On|
We didn’t use the actual Low preset because some of the settings were not exactly set in its lowest value like the texture quality was set on medium; instead, we altered and set every detail in its lowest value. Our altered version of Low preset is what we used in Preset Image Comparison and in our benchmarking process.
Our Custom setting has three obvious differences from High preset – it lacks grass from the left side; lower shadow quality under the carriage and well; and rugged edges of wood on the right side. Ultra setting will give you more grass and more detailed mountain.
For our benchmarking process, we used a 90-second FRAPS benchmark from the scene right after you and Hadvar escaped the dragon from Helgen Keep.
Also we disabled the VSync by adding “iPresentInterval=0” to the bottom of the Graphics section of the Skyrim.ini file (\Users\Username\My Documents\My Games\Skyrim).
For this benchmark, we used our Low preset as a baseline to see which detail cripples our system when set to its highest value. Using the results from this and image comparison, we came up with our Custom settings. Basically we turn off or set to the lowest each detail that doesn’t display visual enhancement, set to medium or high otherwise.
If you looked back at our Preset image comparison, our Custom setting is comparable to High preset but performance-wise, you will have smoother gameplay with the Custom setting across all three resolutions. Low and Medium preset will give you the best performance but as we said earlier, this is a game where you want the best graphics possible. Playing at Ultra preset is a pain in the eye and this is where our 4-year-old system is reaching its maximum capability to play this game.
Based on our Preset Benchmark results, you can either play Skyrim at High or Custom setting. We even didn’t have to overclock and tweak to gain more performance as our system is capable of playing the game even on high preset. We really liked games like this where you don’t need a monster gaming rig. Even though this is just a DirectX 9 game, visuals are fantastic plus the High-Resolution Textures adds more detail without taking much of the performance. For additional content, we added a video comparison between Low and Custom settings. Notice that our custom setting has more grass, and rocks, items, and NPCs are seen from afar.