If you want to increase Skyrim’s performance and boost FPS through the roof, there’s quite a few different things that you can do. It would really help if you knew how to install Skyrim mods but even without this you will be able to achieve some tremendous results by following what you’re about to see here.
Couple of things to note, in terms of what you should never do.
Never use an ENB, especially for Skyrim SE. An ENB will absolutely tank your FPS on a modest machine. On SE they are so badly optimized, I quickly uninstalled mine (won’t name it but the performance loss was terrible).
Stay away from CPU heavy mods like Warzones. I won’t link it because you’re better off without it.
Do not install custom high resolution textures. They will clog up your vRAM and kill your game with stuttering.
Now that you’ve got some basics on what not to do, let’s see what you should do.
Configuration Files Editor – BethINI
BethINI is a phenomenal utility that will edit all kinds of little details in your Skyrim’s config files. It’s portable so there’s no need to install it and it also works with other games as well.
Download and start. In the setup tab point it to your config files. If you’re using a modded version of Skyrim then you need to point it to those files instead.
To test if you pointed well (as a beginner), simply disable intro logos and start the game. If they’re still there – it didn’t work. If they’re gone, you’re good to go. Go back and edit more.
If you’re not sure how to use it, just pick one of its own presets (superior to vanilla ones) and click on recommended tweaks. Click save and exit.
If you want to edit more, put your mouse on top of any setting and a tooltip will show up with detailed explanation of what that setting does.
Generally speaking the outdoors draw distance as well as detailed draw distance is what will net you a lot of extra FPS. Other settings too, but Skyrim is usually badly performing outdoors.
Also, the grass setting is counter intuitive. If you reduce the value it has the opposite effect. So make sure to increase that one (or check after you click on different presets to see how it changed).
Install Performance & Fixes Mods
Now comes the part that will benefit you greatly if you took the time and learned how to mod the game.
First up, we’ve got two fixes mods that might not directly improve performance, but will fix a ton of issues with the game itself and its engine, and they are: Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch & SSE Engine Fixes.
The first one will unrender areas you can’t physically see while indoors, but make sure you load it fairly high in the load order so that other mods can overwrite it where necessary.
The second one will remove procedurally generated objects from the world (small pebles, stones, shrubs etc). as well as many other effects that are not necessarily needed if you’re looking to gain performance.
It will also get rid of underwater stuff so if you’re like me and don’t care about that, no need to keep it rendered (even though you’re not inside water – it’s still rendered).
These two mods combined should definitely boost your FPS by quite a bit.
The next mod is called Simply Optimized Textures for SE. This mod simply optimizes default textures and saves them in correct formats. End result is less vRAM consumption and basically no quality loss (0.01% or so).
This is a must have mod for GPUs with 2 GBs of vRAM.
After that, we have quite a few mods that remove effects such as fog (interior & exterior) as well as radial blur. Some of these are already included in the FPS galore mod but it won’t hurt to overwrite of course.
- Revamped Exterior Fog (Oldrim but works on SE).
- Interior Floating Fog Remover.
- Remove Interior Fog (different from the above one).
- No More Radial Blur.
Combine all of these with the previous ones and you’re good to go!
LODs are distant objects in the background that get swapped for real ones as you get closer to them. There are two utilities that you should learn how to use if you want to improve this aspect of the game and also gain performance.
If it’s out of your knowledge scope, it’s okay feel free to skip this step. You can always try later if and when you know more. I can tell you from experience that using:
- SSELODGen & Dyndolod has dramatically improved how my game looks as well as performance at the same time.
The textures are much more optimized compared to vanilla and there’s different presets to choose from of course. You should go with the recommended low values for complete performance boost.
You can find step by step guides on the tool’s pages, as well as additional information here. When you are ready to undertake this, go for it – you won’t regret it.
Once you generate all outputs, it simply installs like any other mod.