Best $300 upgrade I can make to improve Skyrim performance

alaskaalex

Honorable
Apr 29, 2012
3
0
10,510
Hello,

I built my PC about 4 years ago and can currently play Skyrim on Medium settings running about 25-30 fps on 1080p resolution. I want to make an upgrade that will ideally bump the settings up closer to Ultra and improve FPS. I'm a complete beginner - not sure which part(s) I should upgrade. I haven't watercooled or overclocked or anything.

Here are my current specs:
2x Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS SLI
Intel Core 2 Extreme CPU X9650 3.0GHz
EVGA nVidia nForce 780i SLI Mobo
4GB DDR3 RAM
Corsair Enthusiast Modular TX850M PSU - 850w

I'm not attached to anything but if I do a GPU upgrade I think I would like to use a single nvidia GPU.

Thanks for any advice!
 

neojofa

Honorable
Feb 17, 2012
6
0
10,510
I found myself in a very similar situation to yourself. I have an e8400 core2, and I was able to play Skyrim at about the settings you just specified. I upgraded to an MSI GTX 560TI. I can now play ULTRA settings at full 1920x1080. All on a video card upgrade. The 560TI is about $220 right now. Toms recommends the Radeon HD 7850 for a $270 price range. Check Toms best graphics cards for the money April for that recommendation info.

Since you mention you would an nvidia I recommend the 560 TI 448 core. Cheaper than a GTX 570, and only slightly below the performance.

I was surprised at the increase I received on my system with just a GPU upgrade. Good luck to you!
 

alaskaalex

Honorable
Apr 29, 2012
3
0
10,510



Thanks for the info!

I was actually looking at either the gtx 560ti or maybe a 570 - what kind of framerate are you getting on ultra with the 560ti?
 

alaskaalex

Honorable
Apr 29, 2012
3
0
10,510



I think if they were GT or GTX they would max it out without trouble but they don't handle skyrim well - they handle other games like ME3 and Rage fine but for whatever reason they struggle to run Skyrim on High or even my very heavily graphically modded Oblivion on High.

In retrospect, I think twin GTSes were a bad decision - a single GTX would probably almost match the power and twin would have blown them out of the water

Thanks for the advice, I'm definitely considering a 560 or 570 now.
 

neojofa

Honorable
Feb 17, 2012
6
0
10,510
Thanks for the info!

I was actually looking at either the gtx 560ti or maybe a 570 - what kind of framerate are you getting on ultra with the 560ti?

I am running Skyrim on about 40fps with my 560 ti. I have a slight overclock in, but not enough to skew that score by much. That is with all settings in the launcher maxed out at 1920x1080.

There is nothing more fun than shopping for new computer parts (well... it is up there on the fun meter), and I hope you love your new card as much as I love mine!
 

kulladoctor

Honorable
Apr 4, 2012
97
0
10,640
Just a thought:

if you wait a couple of months, the 600 series cards will be out and you will get a much better deal.

Remember that Skyrim also stresses the CPU quite heavily, and you may be able to up the details by upgrading to Sandy/ivy bridge, which is already out. Here is a performance chart for Skyrim in ultra using the 5770 HD:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/skyrim-performance-benchmark,3074-6.html


as you can see, it runs Skyrim in Ultra with everything maxed out at 1080 @ 30fps. Your cards should be equivalent to this set up as a single 8800 gtx is about 40% slower than a 5770. (See tom's graphics comparison charts)

The difference between the setup in the link and yours is that that computer is running a i5- 2500k.

Pick up a i52500k or 3570k + z77 motherboard for about 350 now, and then upgrade to a 600 series GPU down the line.


 

MajinCry

Distinguished
Dec 8, 2011
958
0
19,010
I get an ever constant 30FPS (I use a frame-cap. DXTory.) with my e6700 and my DDR3 6670. My settings are a mix between high and ultra. Render distances maxed, No AA, 16X AF, Max texture detail and a "Distant Detail" Mod (Makes things like rocks, houses, etc. Render further than usual.).

Your biggest benefit would be upgrading the CPU. Skyrim uses the CPU for stuff that should really be on the GPU. Particles are the main frame-rate killer, and the CPU does the work for 'em.

It's a shame you bought an Extreme. AFAIK They are way too overpriced for what they do, compared to their non-extreme counterparts.

Ever tried going for a few performance mods on SkyrimNexus? Theres a few that can be found.