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Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Skyrim Total Enhancement Project v2.01

File Info: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Skyrim Total Enhancement Project v2.01

Title:
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Skyrim Total Enhancement Project v2.01
Author:
TheCompiler
Created:
11/16/2011
Updated:
2/13/2012
Downloads:
 
Also known as:
Skyrim, Elder Scrolls V: Sky Rim, Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
User Rating

/5.0

Description: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Skyrim Total Enhancement Project v2.01

It's time to take your Skyrim experience to the next level with this Project Enhancement mod. Be sure to read the readme and instructions below, you will take a FPS hit for installing the various options. But as you know, that's the price you play for glamor.


NEWS:
-13 December - IMPORTANT NOTE: Patch v1.5 of 4GB Launcher breaks iCCC (or any d3d9.dll mod), this issue will disappear magically when this week Beth releases the next patch featuring 4GB support for Skyrim. To fix it in the meanwhile, copy all of the ICCC files to the 'exes' folder 4GB Launcher created.
-13 December - Patch v1.90 released! Big update! New and updated mods recommandations, new BOSS guide and much more. I strongly recommend to re-install your graphics mods from scratch, since the installation order and mod tweaks have been much extended, apologies! Also added a donation link to support my project.

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LASTEST CHANGES:
QUOTE

v1.90b
-Added "FPS" prefix to warn about major FPS intensive mods.
-Updated step-2 of the guide, underlined the difference between "High" and "Ultra" settings.
-Silly Level of Detail - Potions and Poisons has now a working link again.

v1.90
-Added the BOSS guide in step-4E to easily sort esms/esps in Data.
-Added "DETAILED INSTALLATION" suffix to mods requiring particular procedure for my recommendations.
-Added "CORE" prefix to must-have mods, in order to reduce the hassle for users who don't want to install everything.
-Other small guide enhancements.
-Updated comparison screenshots.
-Updated recommended mods list:
*Mods ADDED:
High Resolution Armors (NOTE: Very big mod! Install both parts)
High Resolution Books (NOTE: Install both parts)
HQ Towns and Villages
Re-Defined Dungeons (NOTE: Also install "Hall Murals" addon)
Not Really HD Rings (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
Not Really HD Banners (NOTE: Install AFTER "HQ College of Winterhold" and "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite)
Enhanced Distant Trees (NOTE: Install AFTER "Vurts Skyrim Flora Overhaul", overwrite)
Alchemy and Enchanting Benches Retex
Better Rain
Deadly Spell Impacts
HD Linens
High -Res- Hrothgar
Hi-Res Pelts
HQ Skyrim Map
Improved Lantern
Lush Grass
Not Really HD Claws
Not Really HD Keys (NOTE: I recommend to pick the "Normal Maps" version)
Not Really HD Leather Strips
Not Really HD Mask of Clavicus Vile (NOTE: I recommend to pick the "Wrecked" version)
Not Really HD Stone of Barenziah
*Mods added as NON-Recommended*
Better Sorting (NOTE: Unfortunately, this is not compatible with "Vals Crafting Meltdown" mod. I'll include this eventually, if a compatibility addon will be available)
Monster Retex Packs (NOTE: I personally don't like most of the changes expecially the over-saturated colors. This is just my personal taste (on which this guide is mainly based), if you like the mod, use it!)
*Mods REMOVED:
Realistic Magical Impacts (Replaced by "Deadly Spell Impacts")
Tree LODs With Shadows (Replaced by "Enhanced Distant Trees")
*New/Updated mod NOTES (only the main changes, minor notes are too many to be listed):
Skyrim HD - 2K Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I strongly recommend use "Alternate Mountains" addon, looks much better even if older. Overwrite when prompted)
A Higher Quality of Shields -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
Beauty Faces by necKros (NOTE: Install AFTER "XCE", overwrite. If you like really beautiful -but not very lore friendly- women faces, use Better Females by Bella instead)
Better Landscape Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite)
Realistic Water Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I recommend to also use "Ocean and River Textures" and "Reduced Object Splashing" addons. NOTE2: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite)
Spamheinzs HD Houses -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I recommend to use the older v1.1 version, not the new 1.5 or 1.6. NOTE2: Install AFTER "HQ Towns and Villages", overwrite)
Vurts Flora Overhaul -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD" and "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite)

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IMPORTANT NOTES (Read please!):
-I'm not a native speaker, therefore my english isn't perfect; deal with it :D.
-This guide will be updated till the release of TES6, unless I have a fatal accident and die. I'm compulsively refreshing the new/tracked mods and the trusted tweak websites every hour, updating the guide accordingly (after testing indeed), but I'll release updates less frequently and in bigger chunks to don't force users to check this guide every hour, like I do.
-These tweaks WORK, many early tweak guides have the bad attitude of speculating and suggesting experimental or total pointless tweaks, leading only to placebo effect or even game issues. Tweaks listened here are totally tested, more tweaks will be added if more are confirmed working.
-Check the comparison SCREENSHOTS! Better if you download them and watch them in HD & full screen, with the Nexus image slider, enjoying the differences is more difficult. You can see the FPS pre/after tweaks in the up-left corner of the screenshots.
-Check the videos:
VIDEO 1 (credits to danesbenoit). VIDEO 2 (credits to TheThomQ). Beautiful Skyrim - Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6, Episode 7 (credits to AndrewKS).

LAST NOTE: If you find the guide helpful, please, ENDORSE, also feel free to donate. You will contribute to rise my (already huge) enthusiasm and my efforts to improve S.T.E.P.!

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UPGRADING GUIDE:
*How to upgrade from previous versions of the guide. Remember to always check the changelog at the bottom of this page for more details.

From v1.88 to v1.90b:
1) Check the new step-4E.
2) Check again the step-2.
3) Check the changelog to see which mods have been added/modified in v1.90 (I recommend re-installing every mod from scratch following directly the step-4).

From v1.871 to v1.88:
1) Install my updated injector settings (iCCC-ENB v1.58) from step-1.
2) Check the Nvidia Inspector setting guide again in step-3A.
3) Check the changelog to see which mods have been added/modified in v1.88.
4) Check the new step-6N.



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### S.T.E.P. - Skyrim Total Enhancement Project v1.90: ###
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You have a decent rig and want to get the BEST from Skyrim, don't you?

What we are going to do (plus FPS HIT for every step):
*You can safetly skip one of more steps if you want.

-1- Add a "Post-Process Injector" mod with custom enhanced settings. (FPS HIT ~1-2, or even FPS GAIN if using iCCC-ENB)
-2- Understand and tweak the Skyrim Launcher graphics settings.
-3- Force Supersampling AA, Anisotropic Filter, and SSAO. (FPS HIT variable, depends on the feature you enable, SSAO on Quality is the most heavy)
-4- Install mods I recommend in specific lists, plus Nexus Mod Manager and BOSS guide. (FPS HIT variable, depends on the place you are and the mod you pick)
-5- Tweak the INIs for both visual quality and performance. (FPS HIT ~0-2)
-6- Fix common issues and allow Skyrim EXE to use 4gb RAM. (FPS gain!)

Overall FPS HIT: 3-20, depending on your system, your RESOLUTION, and the steps you took.

My Rig:
Resolution: 1440x900
OS: Win7 Ultimate, 64bit
CPU: Intel i7 Core 860, 2.80 ghz
RAM: 4gb DDR3, 1600 mhz
Video: GTX 560 TI, oc'd 900mhz, 1gb GDDR5
*I'm using the last nVIDIA beta drivers 290.36

NOTE FOR USERS WITH A LESS POWERFUL RIG: Basically, just skip step-3 of the guide and avoid big textures mods (or always pick up the reduced version), in order to get most of the enhancements with the minor performance loss.




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### FULL GUIDE: ###
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STEP 1) ### POST-PROCESS INJECTOR: ###
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*Select only one choice!

CHOICE 1: iCCC - Natural Shaders (STEP recommended)
*Install "iCCC-ENB", download it from the download section here, or from ITS PAGE (with more info). Base FXAA Post-Process Injector v1.3 is included in the download:

-Put the files from iCCC folder (ENB OR No-ENB version) to your main Skyrim folder (the steam one, not the one in documents), overwrite if prompted.

-ENB version is merged with ENB-Series fixes for Skyrim v0.096 by Boris Vorontsov, which fixes some graphical issues/freezes, but negatively affects performance by 2-3 FPS drop. Remember that the only difference between ENB and No-ENB version of iCCC is the fixes added by ENB, no visual improvements.

NOTE: To increase performance with the ENB merge version, add your videocard's "DeviceId" and "VendorId" to the enbpatch.ini file, below "[FIX]" (works for both Nvidia and ATI cards, not only for ATI like SES). This step will considerably improve performance, reducing the FPS drop to 0 or even gaining few FPS over vanilla!
For GTX 560 Ti (my card) they are:
DeviceId=00001200 (also 1201 and 1202 work)
VendorId=000010DE
You can see these info in your card detail info, but it's not very intuitive, I suggest to check HERE, or, if you have a NVIDIA card, use Nvidia Inspector v1.9.5.5, it will display both info in the main program screen, check the "NVIDIA Profile Guide" jpeg image (download it or watch it in the images page) to see where they are displayed.

-The default config has vignette and normal sharpen, in the "optional configs" you find non-vignette and high sharpen versions, choose only one. Vignette is the edges darkening screen effect and High-Sharpen version is more indicate if using 4x/8x Sparse-Grid Supersampling AA.


NOTE: Once ingame, pressing PAUSE/BREAK key will toggle the mod effects (so you can spot in real time the difference!).

How to enable the FPS Counter (ONLY if using iCCC-ENB or ENB alone):
-Press "*" ingame to enable the FPS counter.

How to enable FPS Limiter (ONLY if using iCCC-ENB or ENB alone):
-Go in Skyrim folder, open the file "enbpatch.ini" with a txt editor. Change the line "EnableFPSLimit=false" to "EnableFPSLimit=true" and set "FPSLimit=" to the value you need if you have a 60hz monitor, set "FPSLimit=60.0".

How to fix poor performance on laptop with Nvidia "Optimus" technology (ONLY if using iCCC-ENB or ENB alone):
-Go in Skyrim folder, open the file "enbpatch.ini" with a txt editor. Change the line "ForceVideoAdapterIndex=false" to "ForceVideoAdapterIndex=true" and the line "VideoAdapterIndex=0" to "VideoAdapterIndex=1".


WARNING: If you are experiencing crashes, please set the Skyrim executable (TESV.exe) to run as administrator. (Right click TESV.exe > Properties > Compatibility > Check "Run this program as administrator.") Also, turn off any on-screen display programs and monitoring tools such as Fraps, ATI Tray Tools, MSI Afterburner, GPU-Z, etc. Make also sure you have the latest DirectX runtime installed.


CHOICE 2: Skyrim Enhanced Shaders (SES)
*The previous Injector, iCCC, is "lighter" and less sophisticated. If you want an advanced shaders mod, download SKYRIM ENHANCED SHADERS, check the page for info, instructions and bug reports.

NOTE: You can check the screenshots for comparison between iCCC and Skyrim Enhanced Shaders in the optional download section of this page.


CHOICE 3: Other Injectors
*If both the previous mods didn't suite your tastes, you can download different configs, here some:

*Realistic Skyrim - Custom Settings for FXAA PPI
*4 Profiles for FXAA Injector
*Ultro's FXAA and Ultra Settings
*FXAA Injector Subtle Realistic Coloring and Sharpen
*Maddo - Custom FXAA and ini settings
*Rendermax fine-tuning FX
*Himmelsrand Custom Shader Suite


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STEP 2) ### CHANGE LAUNCHER OPTIONS: ###
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-Run the Skyrim Launcher and change your game graphics settings:
*Set "High" OR "Ultra" settings, max out Anisotropic Filter and 4x/8x Antialiasing (you may want to use 4x AA, since the difference between 8x and 4x is very subtle and not worth the fps loss).
"High" settings: Better performance (much better on some systems), better looking shadow, much shorter shadow view distance (therefore much worse long-distance landscape eye-candy).
"Ultra" settings: Worse performance, more pixelated and less definite shadows, much greater shadow view distance (long-distance landscape will look pretty)

-Go in Advanced:
*Max out everything BUT leave UNCHECKED "FXAA" and "Object Detail Fade".
*FXAA reduces Anisotropic Filter effect and overall details, Object Fade makes the details fade from a certain view distance.

-Ok and exit.


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STEP 3) ### SUPERSAMPLING, ANISO FILTER, LOD BIAS and SSAO: ###
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A) NVIDIA USERS:
*NVIDIA users, download and install the last drivers (beta if available) HERE.

-Download Nvidia Inspector v1.9.5.5.

-Follow the steps explained in the "NVIDIA Profile Guide" jpeg image (download it or watch it in the images page).

IMPORTANT NOTES:
-When you look for TESV Skyrim in the profiles list, search for "Elder Scrolls: Skyrim", not "The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim", otherwise you won't find it. If you can't still find it, update your NVIDIA drivers to the lastest beta.
-Make sure Trasparency Multisampling is DISABLED! It will make khajiit and some creatures ingame semi-trasparent as well.

FEATURES DESCRIPTION: (and FPS HIT)
Supersampling: 2x (FPS HIT ~2-4):
-SS 2x is very performant, but if you want an even better SS, try 4x/8x SS or 4x/8x Sparse-Grid SS (both are BIG fps killers).
WARNING: Sparse-Grid SS may cause semi-trasparent NPC/player/mobs glitch! Turn it off if you experience this issue ingame.
Anisotropic Filter: 16x (FPS HIT ~1-2):
-Forcing AF 16x from your video card settings improves water rendering, even if the game already uses AF 16x.
LOD Bias: -0.250 (FPS HIT ~1):
-This setting sharpens even more the textures, the sharpen quality is far superior than FXAA Injector's one, but this is more resource demanding. The best configuration is using my iCCC (default sharpen version) plus a subtle LOD Bias negative setting, like -0.250 or -0.500 (the less it is, the more is strong). The final result is not only a fairly sharpened image, but a much more detailed distant textures quality, without an excessive crispy effect usually obtained with a too high FXAA Injector's sharpen.
SSAO: Performance or Quality (FPS HIT Performance: ~3-5. Quality: ~5-9):
-Nvidia has "released" a Skyrim SSAO compatibility version for Skyrim, but it still sucks, because it doesn't apply the occlusion to the lighing, but to the whole image. While waiting for ENB to finish his ubah SSAO for Skyrim, I recommend to use "COD4 - Modern Warfare" SSAO compatibility, which is arguebly better. "Performance" mode is much faster and its visual isn't much different from "Quality" mode, but in "Performance" mode there is a ugly flickering occurring every time you are moving, therefore I recommend "Quality" mode.
WARNING: SSAO in "Quality" and, even worse, in "High Quality" mode has a HUGE impact on performance!


B) ATI USERS:
*ATI users, download and install the last drivers (beta if available) HERE.

-Open your Catalyst Control Center:
*If you have the ATI Catalyst Software installed, go to your desktop, right click on the background and select "Catalyst Control Center". Find the 'Gaming' section on the left then select '3D Application Settings'.
QUOTE
By MonkeyBoy24
-Set these options:
Anti-Aliasing:- Mode:'Use Application Settings' , Filter: 'Standard'
"Morphological Filtering" disabled (enabling this may give slightly smoother textures, reducing sharpness. But it may also blur text. Users preference on this one)
Tessellation: 'AMD Optimized' (again, this currently has no effect on Skyrim).
Catalyst A.I.:- Texure Filtering:'High Quality' , Enable Surface Format Optimization: enabled
Wait for Vertical Refresh: 'On, unless application specifies' (take note of TheCompiler's notes regarding vertical sync, this can be overwritten with the .ini tweaks)
Anti-Aliasing Mode: 'Multi-sample AA' (or for some, just ensure 'Adaptive' and 'Super-sample' are not enabled).
OpenGL Settings: 'Triple buffering' enabled

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STEP 4) ### NMM GUIDE and RECOMMENDED MODS: ###
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*List updated 13 December 2011.
**I'm reporting here all kind of mods (graphics, gameplay, quests etc) that, after proper testing, I consider must-have. I won't list any mod which may result in game unbalance, gliches, or anything that is a weirdo or a cheat. So, if you're gonna suggest that kind of mods, keep the suggestion for yourself ;)

---> Nexus Mod Manager (NMM) Guide <--- by TheStigma
*Through I would recommend to always install mods by hand, both to learn the Skyrim modding file structures and to more easily tweak them for my detailed installation suggestions.


MODS prefix/suffix:
"DETAILED INSTALLATION" suffix is a link to an in-depth procedure I recommend to follow for a particular mod (using or removing specific files, addons etc), following it is highly recommended, even if it may seem an hassle. You can of course decide to simply install or skip a whole mod instead of follow my advices.
"CORE" prefix means that I consider the mod a "must-have", so if you don't want to install everything, you can pick-up only the important ones.
"FPS" prefix warns about major FPS intensive mods, so if you have a slower machine, you can avoid them or select a "reduced" version (which most of those mods feature in the optional files).

IMPORTANT: Don't forget to keep TRACKING (using the Nexus tracking function: Files -> Tracking Center) all these mods, in order to keep them always updated!


A) Textures/Graphics:
*These are textures and general graphics mods, environment, weather etc, that will improve, NOT change the game's visuals. I've included a detailed explanation on which mod should override the other ones, the listening order also represents the installation order.
WARNING: Good people, if you want to use HiRes textures you NEED to use also 4GB Skyrim, otherwise please don't complain about crashes!

Texture mods that MUST overwrite each other, in installing order:
1-High Quality Food and Ingredients
1-CORE-FPSHigh Resolution Armors (NOTE: Very big mod! Install both parts)
1-High Resolution Books (NOTE: Install both parts)
1-FPSHQ College of Winterhold
1-HQ Towns and Villages
1-Improved Dragon Texture
1-Improved NPC Clothing
1-FPSRe-Defined Dungeons (NOTE: Also install "Hall Murals" addon)
1-CORE-FPSSkyrim HD - 2K Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I strongly recommend use "Alternate Mountains" addon, looks much better even if older. Overwrite when prompted)
1-COREXCE - Xenius Character Enhancement (NOTE: I recommend to also use the "Darker Eyes" addon)
2-COREA Higher Quality of Shields -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
2-AEterna Circlets Improvement (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
2-Beauty Faces by necKros (NOTE: Install AFTER "XCE", overwrite. If you like really beautiful -but not very lore friendly- women faces, use Better Females by Bella instead)
2-COREBetter Landscape Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite)
2-Blood Dragon Fix (NOTE: Install AFTER "Improved Dragon Texture", overwrite. Put in Data/textures/actors/dragon)
2-CORE-FPSChris2012s Whiterun HQTP (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite. After installed, go in Data/textures/architecture/whiterun and DELETE "wrcastlecarpets01_n.dds" and "wrcastlecarpets02_n.dds")
2-Deadly Serious Shrouded Armor (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
2-Ebony Armor Redone (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
2-COREEnhanced Night Skyrim (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite. NOTE2: I recommend "Medium" version and "Colorful Galaxy", *default version has too many stars*)
2-Improved Candles (NOTE: Install AFTER "Re-Defined Dungeons", overwrite. NOTE2: I recommend "Natural Beige" version)
2-CORENightingale Prime (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite. NOTE2: Use "Male and Female" version)
2-Not Really HD Rings (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
2-Razor Scales Armor and Cannibal Lord (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
2-COREReAL Sun - insane0h Realistic Sunglare (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite. NOTE2: If you don't like this (how could you?), check the more popular Skyrim Sunglare)
2-Realistic Paper (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Books", overwrite. NOTE2: I recommend the "darker" version)
2-Realistic Rain Ripples (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite)
2-CORE-FPSRealistic Water Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I recommend to also use "Ocean and River Textures" and "Reduced Object Splashing" addons. NOTE2: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite)
2-Shield of Ysgramor (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite. Put in Data/textures folder)
2-CORE-FPSSpamheinzs HD Houses -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I recommend to use the older v1.1 version, not the new 1.5 or 1.6. NOTE2: Install AFTER "HQ Towns and Villages", overwrite)
2-Yosolda Genuine Hi-Res Outfit (NOTE: Install AFTER "Improved NPC Clothing", overwrite)
3-COREHD Furniture and Barrels (NOTE: Install AFTER "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite. NOTE2: I recommend the "Cross and Bark" version)
3-HiRes Glass Armor and Weapons Retex (NOTE: Install AFTER "A Higher Quality of Shields", overwrite)
3-Not Really HD Banners (NOTE: Install AFTER "HQ College of Winterhold" and "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite)
3-CORE-FPSVurts Flora Overhaul -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD" and "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite)
4-COREEnhanced Distant Trees (NOTE: Install AFTER "Vurts Skyrim Flora Overhaul", overwrite)


Texture/graphics mods not requiring particular installation order:
-Alchemy and Enchanting Benches Retex
-CORE-FPSAlternative Road Textures (NOTE: DON'T overwrite if prompted!)
-Ash Pile Retex
-Better Beast Races
-Better Rain
-Better Gold
-Chopper HD
-CORE-FPSDeadly Spell Impacts
-CORE-FPSEnhanced Blood Textures (NOTE: I recommend using also "Blurry Screen Blood" optional file, *looks more immersive*)
-COREEnhanced Distant Terrain
-COREEyebrows Match Hair
-Fox Textures
-FPSHD Better Reflections for Armor and Weapons (NOTE: Use also "Ebony Purple FIX" addon)
-HD Linens
-HD Sacks Retexture
-FPSHigh -Res- Hrothgar
-Higher Poly Skyrim
-Hi-Res Pelts
-COREHiRes Road Signs
-HQ Skyrim Map
-Hybrids Hires Plants and Herbs Retexture
-Immersive Skyrim Thunder
-Improved Lantern
-Improved Torches Textures
-FPSIntricate Spider Webs
-Iron Ore Vein Retex (NOTE: If you like spotting ore veins being damn easy (cheat-like), use this instead: Glowing Ore Veins 300)
-Lush Grass
-Mage and Monk Outfits Texture Replacer
-Moon Size Tweek (NOTE: I recommend size x0.5)
-Nicer Snowflakes (NOTE: I recommend "Realistic" version)
-Not Really HD Claws
-Not Really HD Keys (NOTE: I recommend to pick the "Normal Maps" version)
-Not Really HD Leather Strips
-Not Really HD Mask of Clavicus Vile (NOTE: I recommend to pick the "Wrecked" version)
-Not Really HD Stone of Barenziah
-Realistic Caribou
-Realistic Elk
-CORE-FPSRealistic Smoke and Embers
-CORERetextured Wolves and Pelts
-CORESlofs Simple Horse Retex
-Silly Level of Detail - Potions and Poisons (NOTE: I recommend "Ceramic" version)
-CORESkyrim Weapon Retex Project
-Smooth Dragon Runes


B) Gameplay/Content:
*Gameplay, quests, new weapon/armors/locations etc. I focus my selection on immersion and realism, not on fancy pink stuff.

-CORECowardly Horses (NOTE: Use "Cowardly horses.esp" OR "Cowardly essential horses.esp", not both)
-COREKillable Children (NOTE: Use also "Quest Protected Patch")
-CORELost Art of the Blacksmith (NOTE: If your Skyrim is updated to v1.2, use the "Bethesda Safe" version!)
-COREMore Craftables
-CORERealistic Ragdoll Death Force
-COREVals Crafting Meltdown

C) Fixes/Other:
*Must-have fixes/tweaks mods.

-CORESKSE - Skyrim Script Extender (NOTE: Put the files in the Skyrim directory. For Skyrim v1.3 only!)
IMPORTANT NOTE: The 4GB Launcher DOES launch SKSE if the file is there, so just start the game through the 4GB Launcher, or through SBW.exe (Simple Borderless Window, check step-6I) if using it.
-Colored Map Markers OR Skyrim Compass Tuner (NOTE: Use only one, they're not compatible. NOTE about "Colored Map Markers": Put in Data/Interface folder)
-COREContainer Categorization (NOTE: When updating, always REMOVE the OLD one. Requires SKSE)
-Death Cam Duration Options (NOTE: I recommend to use the "60 sec" version)
-Display time on loading screen
-Epic Enhanced Skyrim Soundtrack (NOTE: This is pure epicness, use it along with "Death Cam Duration Options" mod)
-COREEsbern Quest Fix Tutorial
-COREInterface Hard Coded Key Tweaks
-COREItem Icons OR QD Inventory (NOTE: Use one or the other, they aren't compatible yet *QD Inventory is bugged, use it only for testing*)
-Lockpick Pro (NOTE: Tweak the "lockpickingmenu_settings.txt" file from Data/Interface to have only the pick HEALTH displayed, *otherwise it's a cheat*)
-Main Font Replacement (NOTE: I recommend "Magic Cards Font")
-Smooth Blade Draw and Sheathe SFX
-Third Person Channeled Dual Casting Animation Fix (NOTE: Put "meshes" folder in Data)
-Third Person Dual Wield Animation Fix (NOTE: Put "meshes" folder in Data)


D) Popular mods I don't recommend (and why):
*Popular mods I've not listened in previous lists because I find they are (still) not bringing a real improvement to the game or because they are not compatible/bugged, but which many users are requesting. Feel free to check and use them.
NOTE: I'm not advertising against those mods, I'm just explaining why I feel they don't bring an improvement to my mods setup. They may still be a great addition if used alone or for different tastes.

-Armor Improvement and Clothes Improvement (NOTE: Many users reported they're too sharpen and too colorful, expecially if using FXAA Injector)
-Beautiful Skyrim - HD Clutter and Furniture (NOTE: Differs too much from the original feeling and atmosphere of the game, items are too clean)
-Better Sorting (NOTE: Unfortunately, this is not compatible with "Vals Crafting Meltdown" mod. I'll include this eventually, if a compatibility addon will be available)
-Landscape Texture Pack WIP (NOTE: Those textures are very detailed on a close look, but I feel they spoil the visuals on medium-far view distance and are too different from the original ones, I'll maybe consider to include some of the textures in future)
-Monster Retex Packs (NOTE: I personally don't like most of the changes expecially the over-saturated colors. This is just my personal taste (on which this guide is mainly based), if you like the mod, use it!
-Riften HQ Textures (NOTE: Differs too much from the original -rusty- Riften textures, seems like someone cleans up the wood every hour)
-Serious HD Retexture Landscape (NOTE: I think it still doesn't bring an improvement over tha vanilla terrain. Yes, the detailed textures in the preview screenshots are gorgeous, but this is far different when watching them on med-far view distance ingame)
-Tytanis - The Ultimate Mod (NOTE: After extensive testing I realised this mod is a bit cheaty, makes crafting really too easy, but since things may change, I'll probably consider this in future)


E) Using BOSS to easily sort esms/esps:

-Download BOSS.
-Install it and run "BOSS.exe", it will automatically sort the plugin in Data.
-Run NMM and enable the deactived esps/esms you want.


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STEP 5) ### INI TWEAKS: ###
-----------------------------------------------------------
*These tweaks WORK, many early tweak guides have the bad attitude of speculating and suggesting experimental or total pointless tweaks, leading only to placebo effect or even game problems. Tweaks listened here are totally tested, more tweaks will be added if more are confirmed working.

NOTE: If you want some advanced tweaks (that I do not recommend, even if having a really powerful rig, because they'll bring stability issues) like u-grid tweaks, max visible trees/grass/clouds distance, etc, check HERE and HERE (this has screenshots).

A) Skyrim INI Tweaks:
*Go in "[username]/My Documents/My Games/Skyrim", make a copy of the file "Skyrim.ini" and name that copy as you want, it is a backup.

-Open the original "Skyrim.ini" with a txt editor (make sure the file is not tagged as READ-ONLY). Add these lines:
QUOTE

under [General]:
fMasterFilePreLoadMB=128.0000
iPreloadSizeLimit=268435456

under [Papyrus]:
iMaxAllocatedMemoryBytes=2000000000

*Those will allow your PC to actually use more memory.

under "uExterior Cell Buffer=36":
sIntroSequence=

*This will disable the intro sequence.

Then add at the end of the file:
[Actor]
fVisibleNavmeshMoveDist=14000.0000

*This will allow your arrows to hit very distant targets.

-Save, exit.


B) SkyrimPrefs INI Tweaks:
*Go in "[username]/My Documents/My Games/Skyrim", make a copy of the file "SkyrimPrefs.ini" and name that copy as you want, it is a backup.

-Open the original "SkyrimPrefs.ini" with a txt editor (make sure the file is not tagged as READ-ONLY), find these lines and change them if you want:
QUOTE

iBlurDeferredShadowMask=3 (change to 1 or 2) - In low values (0, 1 or 2) it sharpes of the shadows (not the resolution), making also the vegetation more "vibrant", it even gives a subtle increase in performance, but also gives a more "pixeled" effect to shadows. I recommend changing this value to 1 or 2. If you can't deal with the "pixeled" shadows, just rise this value back to 3 or even 4, to have more "soft" shadows.
WARNING: When you change the options from Skyrim Launcher, this tweak will reset to the default value "3", you'll have to re-apply it again.

bTreesReceiveShadows=0 (change to 1) - Improves tree shadowing by enabling (fake but nice) shadows ON trees!

bDrawLandShadows=0 (change to 1) - Enable land shadowing, larger shadows are unaffected, this is a subtle effect.

iWaterReflectHeight=512 (change to 1024)
iWaterReflectWidth=512 (change to 1024) - Those subtlety improve water reflections, this is the only custom tweak that have an actual effect on water quality.

bMouseAcceleration=1 (change to 0) - Disable mouse acceleration which is annoying on the highest possible degree, raise the mouse sensitivity from the game options instead.

NOTE: If one of those settings is not already present in your INIs, just add it at the end of the file.

-Save, exit.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
STEP 6) ### 4GB RAM ENABLER and FIX FOR COMMON ISSUES: ###
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A) Allow Skyrim EXE to use 4GB RAM (IMPORTANT)
-Download and use 4GB Skyrim.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The 4GB Launcher DOES launch SKSE if the file is there, so just start the game through the 4GB Launcher, or through SBW.exe (Simple Borderless Window, check step-6I) if using it. Don't forget to also check HERE.
IMPORTANT NOTE2: Patch v1.5 of 4GB Launcher breaks iCCC (or any d3d9.dll mod), this issue will disappear magically when this week Beth releases the next patch featuring 4GB support for Skyrim. To fix it in the meanwhile, copy all of the ICCC files to the 'exes' folder 4GB Launcher created.

B) Fix game launch crash after installing S.T.E.P.:
-Again, If you are experiencing crashes, please set the Skyrim executable (TESV.exe) to run as administrator. (Right click TESV.exe > Properties > Compatibility > Check "Run this program as administrator.") Also, turn off any on-screen display programs and monitoring tools such as Fraps, ATI Tray Tools, MSI Afterburner, GPU-Z, etc. Make sure you have the latest DirectX runtime installed.

C) Disable V-Sync: fix mouse lag and costant slowdowns:
-Go in: "[username]/My Documents/My Games/Skyrim", open again Skyrim.ini with a txt editor, add this line under [Display]:
iPresentInterval=0
*This will disable the Vertical Sync, fixing performance drops and/or mouse lag for most users, at the cost of a barely noticeable screen tearing effect. WARNING: This tweak can also cause screen flashing and weird physics glitches for some users.
This is a fix for Win7, which addresses some of the glithes caused by disabling v-sync, but apparently doesn't fix the physics bug:
QUOTE
Open an elevated command prompt (right click on command prompt and run as admin) and type the following:
bcdedit /set useplatformclock true
And press enter. Exit command prompt and then REBOOT for it to work.
Remember to reboot or it won't work. Games rely on QueryPerformanceCounter to accurately measure the time in the Windows. Windows 7 changed the way timing works. The above change will measure time based on the 'old' way
Don't worry there are no ill effects and it is completely reversible. If you want to undo it, open an elevated command prompt and type bcdedit /deletevalue useplatformclock and press enter and reboot again.

D) Fix ATI semi-invisible people and messed walls:
-Set ATI Antialiasing setting on multi-sample, do not set it on "adaptive". Also, remember to download lastest ATI driver v11.11c.

E) Defrag your Hard Drive with a proper defrag tool:
-Check on Google a freeware (or if you can afford, payware) defrag tool, I recommend "Smart Defrag" by IOBit. Windows defrag utility sucks. Defrag your system in order to gain some performance and prevent game freezes/crashes. Defrag is NOT recommended for people using SSD, defragging an SSD may severely affects its lifetime.

F) Fix ingame stuck downgraded skill:
-When a skill appears in red and it's much lower than it is supposed to be (and you got no negative magical effect active), then you have encountered a game glitch. This is how to fix it:
Once ingame, open console with the ~ or \ key.
Type: player.modav marksman 1 (enter) (replace "marksman" with the bugged skill).
Reopen the console.
Type player.modav marksman -1 (enter)
Your skill should be now fixed.

G) How to increase FPS:
-If you followed the whole guide, like the enhanced graphics, but your game is unplayable because of low performance, just disable SSAO or Supersampling AA (or both) from step-3 of the guide. This will considerably improve back performance at the cost of a minor visual quality loss.

H) How to fix the crappy Field of View:
-Press "`" (or "\", depending on your keyboard localisation) key ingame to open the ingame console (it's usually right under or in the general vicinity of the Esc key), type FOV #, hit enter. Use a number from 66-90 in place of # depending on what looks the best (vanilla is 65). I personally use 70 because I like the FOV just a bit wider than vanilla, and my resolution is just 1440x900.
This change will be permanent in your saved game, other INI FOV tweaks don't require opening the console, but usually corrupt the game, this one is safe.

I) How to swith to windowed mode (expecially for ATI):
-If having stuttering problems or ctd in fullscreen mode, and want to switch to a "fullscreen" windowed mode, download Simple Borderless Window and follow the guide.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The "Simple Borderless Window" launcher (SBW.exe) DOES launch both SKSE and 4GB Launcher if the files are there, so just start the game through SBW.exe.

L) How to enable FPS Limiter (ONLY if using iCCC-ENB or ENB alone):
-Go in Skyrim folder, open the file "enbpatch.ini" with a txt editor. Change the line "EnableFPSLimit=false" to "EnableFPSLimit=true" and set "FPSLimit=" to the value you need if you have a 60hz monitor, set "FPSLimit=60.0".

M) How to fix poor performance on laptop with Nvidia "Optimus" technology (ONLY if using iCCC-ENB or ENB alone):
-Go in Skyrim folder, open the file "enbpatch.ini" with a txt editor. Change the line "ForceVideoAdapterIndex=false" to "ForceVideoAdapterIndex=true" and the line "VideoAdapterIndex=0" to "VideoAdapterIndex=1".

N) How to allow Nvidia and ATI Software to detect 4GB Launcher (Possible Large Performance Increase):
-Check HERE.




-------------------------------------------------------
### CHANGELOG: ###
-------------------------------------------------------

v1.90b
-Added "FPS" prefix to warn about major FPS intensive mods.
-Updated step-2 of the guide, underlined the difference between "High" and "Ultra" settings.
-Silly Level of Detail - Potions and Poisons has now a working link again.

v1.90
-Added the BOSS guide in step-4E to easily sort esms/esps in Data.
-Added "DETAILED INSTALLATION" suffix to mods requiring particular procedure for my recommendations.
-Added "CORE" prefix to must-have mods, in order to reduce the hassle for users who don't want to install everything.
-Other small guide enhancements.
-Updated comparison screenshots.
-Updated recommended mods list:
*Mods ADDED:
High Resolution Armors (NOTE: Very big mod! Install both parts)
High Resolution Books (NOTE: Install both parts)
HQ Towns and Villages
Re-Defined Dungeons (NOTE: Also install "Hall Murals" addon)
Not Really HD Rings (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
Not Really HD Banners (NOTE: Install AFTER "HQ College of Winterhold" and "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite)
Enhanced Distant Trees (NOTE: Install AFTER "Vurts Skyrim Flora Overhaul", overwrite)
Alchemy and Enchanting Benches Retex
Better Rain
Deadly Spell Impacts
HD Linens
High -Res- Hrothgar
Hi-Res Pelts
HQ Skyrim Map
Improved Lantern
Lush Grass
Not Really HD Claws
Not Really HD Keys (NOTE: I recommend to pick the "Normal Maps" version)
Not Really HD Leather Strips
Not Really HD Mask of Clavicus Vile (NOTE: I recommend to pick the "Wrecked" version)
Not Really HD Stone of Barenziah
*Mods added as NON-Recommended*
Better Sorting (NOTE: Unfortunately, this is not compatible with "Vals Crafting Meltdown" mod. I'll include this eventually, if a compatibility addon will be available)
Monster Retex Packs (NOTE: I personally don't like most of the changes expecially the over-saturated colors. This is just my personal taste (on which this guide is mainly based), if you like the mod, use it!
*Mods REMOVED:
Realistic Magical Impacts (Replaced by "Deadly Spell Impacts")
Tree LODs With Shadows (Replaced by "Enhanced Distant Trees")
*New/Updated mod NOTES (only the main changes, minor notes are too many to be listed:
Skyrim HD - 2K Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I strongly recommend use "Alternate Mountains" addon, looks much better even if older. Overwrite when prompted)
A Higher Quality of Shields -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "High Resolution Armors", overwrite)
Beauty Faces by necKros (NOTE: Install AFTER "XCE", overwrite. If you like really beautiful -but not very lore friendly- women faces, use Better Females by Bella instead)
Better Landscape Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite)
Realistic Water Textures -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I recommend to also use "Ocean and River Textures" and "Reduced Object Splashing" addons. NOTE2: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD", overwrite)
Spamheinzs HD Houses -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: I recommend to use the older v1.1 version, not the new 1.5 or 1.6. NOTE2: Install AFTER "HQ Towns and Villages", overwrite)
Vurts Flora Overhaul -DETAILED INSTALLATION- (NOTE: Install AFTER "Skyrim HD" and "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite)[/quote]

v1.88b
*Updated mod NOTE:
Spamheinzs HD Houses (NOTE: After the 1.5 patch, no need to remove the thatch files anymore, also mod name changed)

v1.88a
*Updated mod NOTE:
Yosolda Genuine Hi-Res Outfit (NOTE: Install AFTER "Improved NPC Clothing", overwrite)

v1.88
-Updated iCCC-ENB to v1.58c.
-Added note in step-6N on how to allow Nvidia and ATI Software to detect 4GB Launcher.
-Updated Nvidia Inspector Guide: new SSAO Mode and 4GB Launcher exe fix.
-Other small guide enhancements.
-Updated comparison screenshots.
-Updated recommended mods list:
*Mods ADDED:
Vurts Flora Overhaul (NOTE: Install AFTER "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite. From the main file install all, but DON'T install "Pine Branches", choose "Bark 1". From the updates install also "Shrubs" and "Pines Update" (use only "Bark 1", not "Pine Branches"), but don't install "Groundcover" addon. After the installation DELETE the 6 "branch" files from Data/textures/landscape/trees. *Those are only recommendations, if you like all, install all*)
Deadly Serious Shrouded Armor
HD Sacks Retexture
Improved NPC Clothing
Smooth Dragon Runes
*Mod added as NON-Recommended*
Serious HD Retexture Landscape (NOTE: I think it still doesn't bring an improvement over tha vanilla terrain. Yes, the detailed textures in the preview screenshots are gorgeous, but this is far different when watching them on med-far view distance ingame)
*New/Updated mod NOTES:
XCE - Xenius Character Enhancement (NOTE: I recommend to also use the "Darker Eyes" addon)
HD Furniture and Barrels (NOTE: Install AFTER "Chris2012s Whiterun HQTP", overwrite. I recommend to use the "Cross and Bark" version)
Silly Level of Detail - Potions and Poisons (NOTE: This mod is actually unavailable, let me know when it gets re-uploaded. NOTE2: I recommend "Ceramic" version)
Spamheinzs HD Farmhouse (NOTE: After the installation, DELETE the 4 "thatch" files from Data/textures/architectures/farmhouse *they're worse than vanilla*)


Download the Full Changelog.txt to see the older changes.

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