Skyrim FPS issues after 30 hours w/o issue


Jul 29, 2012
Hey all, I have a problem that has been plaguing me for the past two days.

A little backstory first, I bought Skyrim using Steam about a week ago. I installed it and was pretty stoked when it automatically set my graphics to High. I put about 30 hours into the game in the first 5 days on these settings all the while getting very smooth FPS. Here is what I'm running:

Windows 7
Intel Core i7 Q720 @ 1.60 Ghz/ Turbo to 2.8GHz

So Friday night, I launch Skyrim (cause that's just how I roll on a Friday night in July) to get a few more hours in before bed. The first thing I notice that's off is the loading time for my Save. It is painfully slow, normally, initial load times are about 10-15 seconds, this time however I had time to play with the cat and run to the washroom.

When it finally loads, I'm in 1st person POV, and the FPS is absolutely horrendous. I figure it's just a bit of lag coming out of the gate so I try playing and it's not getting any better.

Fast forward a bit, I tried doing a bunch of stuff to help with the performance, the first thing I did was scale back the graphic settings, first to medium, then to low. I can't remember exact numbers but I gained maybe 2 or 3 FPS on medium, then I think I got up to about 13-14 FPS on low.

So then I started doing stuff outside the game to help;

-made sure all my drivers were up to date
-I tried fiddling with my virtual memory
-had Steam verify my cache
-disabled VSync
-registry scan
-downloaded any and all updates for Windows 7

I then re-installed the game and didn't notice a difference, then I did the following:

Go to Nvidia control panel and set it to these settings
Anostrophic Filter 8X
AA Gamma - Off
AA Mode - Application Controlled
AA Transparency - Off
CUDA - All (default)
Maximum Pre Rendered Frames - Force to 3, dont use application controlled
Single Display Performance Mode (Unless youre using dual monitors of course)
Power Management - Maximum Performance
Texture Filtering - Off
Negative LOD - Clamp
Texture Quality - Quality (normal, not high)
Trilinear Optimization - Off
Threaded Optimization - Force on
Vertical Sync - Force off

Then, Under Skyrim settings, set it to the Ultra button at your native res.
AF to 8 Samples
AA Off
Advance -> Everything on High/Ultra with Shadows on Medium
All water reflections
Object Detail Fade On

oddly enough, now running on Ultra I was getting 11-12 FPS outdoors/in town, and ~15 indoors, then I switched over to Low and got about 15 FPS outdoors and 20 indoors, but still, not what I had been getting using the High settings :fou:

I started tweaking my settings using NVIDIA's Skyrim guide and managed to get 17-18 FPS outdoors on high-ish settings.

CPU is sitting between 2500-2600MHz.

GPU is running at 383/761/301 during gameplay, the maxes should be 550/1350/950 :S

So this is where I'm stuck now. The game is playable, but not really as enjoyable as it was. I have no idea what happened to make the performance drop so much. I didn't install anything between sessions, I hardly even touched the thing.

Anyone have any ideas??