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Which GPU for Skyrim


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Hello! Time has come to buy a new comp and I want it to run Skyrim with ENB + high reslotion textures/tropical skyrim.


So here is my problem, I don't know which graphics card should I buy, so that my Skyrim would run decently. I have a monitor with 1600x1200 resolution (not widescreen). Which graphic cards should I check out? Thanks for your help in advance!

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Hello! Time has come to buy a new comp and I want it to run Skyrim with ENB + high reslotion textures/tropical skyrim.


So here is my problem, I don't know which graphics card should I buy, so that my Skyrim would run decently. I have a monitor with 1600x1200 resolution (not widescreen). Which graphic cards should I check out? Thanks for your help in advance!


What's the current specs of your PC? Picking up a video card depends on what your PC has, or you could run the risk of dealing with bottlenecking problems.


If you're going to use Tropical Skyrim (or any HD textures up to 2k), of course, you'll have to not just upgrade the video card but also the rest of the PC.


Alternatively, Aceeq also has a Tropical Skyrim alternative that's available here (and it doesn't impact system performance):


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Basicly, it'll be an i5 4xxx, 8gb ram (1600), all the required, a good mobo that won't bottleneck the components. I'm also considering a ssd. I just dont want to go overkill on the gpu, since it costs quite a lot, that's why I need a recommendation for it. Will 2 gb graphics card be enough or should I look for a 3gb model, and which one? I dont want to go all out, since the most graphic intense game I'll play will be Skyrim.


All the components I have figured out, but I've been struggling with which gpu to get for over a month :s

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Well if you're going to be using higher res textures, then 3GB is a good way to go. I'm using a r9 280 3GB with just the Bethesda hi-res textures and I've been experimenting with various ENB's. A few mild ENBs (haven't tried K ENB) would usually get me around 35-45 FPS outside, and around 45-55 inside. It really depends on how great you want your graphics to be. Some are enthusiasts who want to have the best components and/or who can't play less than 60 FPS. I would say the sweet spot is maybe around a 7950/70 or 760/770 range. Honestly I would try to look for deals, there are usually tons of deals going on where you can anywhere from 10-50 dollars off the current usual price. The newly revealed 970 has been getting some good reviews as a price/performance component, but it goes out of stock quite often so you should check on that.

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in (kinda) short words:
 - get at a graphic card with 4GB of VRAM (less is not worth it, almost no matter the price)

 - get an nVidia if you want speed above everything else and good texture filtering (and if you want to have CUDA and PhysX ofc)

 - get an ATi if you don't bother having a few FPS less, better anti alias and good backwards compatibility (and if you need OpenCL and TressFX ofc)


Decide by the techical facts what you need (and by the available money ofc) and don't listen to fanboys.

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I'm not a fanboy, all I care is that I'd take advantage of it and it wouldnt choke if I push a little :) . I believe that in the states, the prices are lower. I live in europe and I was thinking about the GPU budget around 300€. Would you care to recommend me one? Thanks btw, apreciate all of your answers.

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if power consumption is something you care about, then get an nVidia card as the money you (may) save on an ATi will vaporize over time if you look at the electricity bills. Counts more for 290X and upwards, but still something worth considering as your PSU must withstand the power consumption as well and must have all the needed cables and connectors


As i prefer anti alias and compatibility (less Z buffer problems in Skyrim, FO3 and TESIV still works like a charm w/o having to fiddle around and so do my beloved DX8 games [like Zanzarah f.e.]), together with my preference to do as many stuff via OpenCL as possible i go with ATi for now. But my PSU can withstand the power consumption and my electricity bill is already an atrocity so i stopped caring.


Short version again:
 - low power consumption, PhysX & CUDA, good texture filter = nVidia

 - high power consumption, TressFX & OpenCL, good anti alias and backwards compatibility = ATi


What card exactly for your budget is something you got to figure out yourself, as prices differentiate between manufacturers and you may prefer a specific company. But worth knowing: if you get an AMD APU, then you can crossfire some Radeons with the APU, resulting in R9 290 performance. Which APU and Radeon those are, i've forgotten but you can google it. But again: AMD + ATi = outrageous power consumption, compared to an intel + nVidia system.


Or you do what w3r6zz72z wrote and wait as prices will drop. if you order in the US (like me) then wait for black friday (November) to get a nice discount.


Let's get techie here for a moment...

Cheap versions of GPUs/graphic cards are cheap for more then one reason and one is an reduced instruction set so some instructions have to be done in software as the hardware does not support them. This is a bad trade-off imho, so it's always best to go for the big models, like 290 (ATi) or x90 Titaniums (nVidia) to ensure that all graphic related stuff is done by the graphic card and not the CPU (no matter how much a game uses the CPU or not) as this way it's more accurate and in case a game engine has no fallback, the game can run nativly and sometimes even look a tad better. Else you may have to wait for patches or driver updates that fix graphic errors or even crashes, mostly based on the GPU not understanding rather standard instructions.

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I second all the above mentioned, especially on Vram and importance of a powerful graphics card. Owning a 750ti oc 2gb (it's all fancy names), which is considered cheap and easily available, I can tell you it's not enough for high textures and ENB. If you want 2k textures you should definately go for 4gb and If you want an ENB with at least some nice effects enabled you should go for a gtx770 or ATi equivalent. Of course you should also check the your power and power consumption each card requires.

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I don't know the "best" card to use for Skyrim, but I can tell you what I'm using. I'm running a Gigabyte 680 4GB. Using Realvision ENB (Option B Performance ver), quite a number of high res packs and enhanced distant terrain, I run at aboud 40-50 fps in exteriors, sometimes dipping below 40, and 50-60 inside interiors. If anything is bottlenecking me it's probably the CPU, an old i5 650 (3.2GHz). If you're going for a Nvidia card I would recommend having a case with relatively good ventilation.

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If you can afford it, get the 970 Nvidia one. Been out for a week, excellent card, 4GB RAM and very cool for long gaming sessions.


In UK it's like 250 Gpounds. For 300$ i'd stretch it a bit more and get it with eyes closed.


I'd definitely get NVIDIA for Skyrim btway. Boris has nvidia and most of the screenshot /enb dudes/makers use nvidia too.



Edit: If you can get an ssd, it's a good investment. I haven't noticed a huge difference in skyrim with it, but it does help overall the system.

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My electricity bill got halved (I am serious) when I switched to an HD7970 from an Nvidia card I dont want to name XD low consumption and very low heat, also very easy to clean, unlike those big black boxed gfx cards. Its and "older" card but I am like 100% satisfied with it, and still got 40+ fps with Somber on 1920x1080. But yeah, I like Nvidia too (apart from *that* card), so no hard feelings on them but all I can say is this card was an absolute positive disappointment. I dont know what my next one is going to be, might go with an Nvidia, will depend on the current market.

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The 7k series are early R9 270 models, hence the low power consumption. And yes, those are still nice graphic cards and hard to come by.

i was referring to the big models (290+), where ATi outdoes nVidia in regards of power consumption.


So if one wants an R9 270 and can get hold of a 7970, i suggest going for the 7970 as those should be cheaper and can do TressFX as well.

it's really just an early version of the R9 270, covering all it's functionality.


The 8k series on the other hand is not worth the money as those are M8 models for the desktop. Good for office PCs.

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If you are not willing to bump the budget up a bit to get GTX970 then I'd suggest you wait for AMD to respond.  That card has reset the price-performance curve for US$250-450 and AMD has to reposition its cards.  We haven't seen this kind of disruptive launch in a long time.


Price in europe roughly 350 euro´s for 970.


At no sense going for AMD normally you can get good card for less money then over priced Nvidia´s but at moment with newly launched gtx 970 wich is more powerfull then the amd 290 you pay 350 for 970 while for older card 290 bit more.


For less then 350 you have options for both cards.



I would suggest go for at least 3GB bettter even 4GB card if you wanne run skyrim at it´s best.

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But be aware of the fact that the 970 is a small version of the 900 series GPU and has due to this a reduced instruction set.
Something most people don't care about until they start facing problems caused by this fact. Problems don't have to arise, but there's still the propability.

Lichdom is a very prominent example, where the bad performance on nVidia GPUs compared to ATi is not based solely on ATi optimization but more on the fact that some instructions have to be done in software on the CPU, leading to bigger nVidia models delivering better performance as those suport more instructions on the GPU but still less then a cheaper ATi.

Nvidia stopped supporting the full DX instruction set with DX10, leaving enthusiats only the choice of the big AMD models, but their biggest models support at least most of it while the smaller models only support the the bare standard or even only the bare minimum on the smallest models.


Hence why i said that a user needs to decide by technicals facts, her/his needs and the available money on what hardware to get. it's pro and con for both manufacturers and will always be this way.


i still recommend getting the big models of nVidia or ATi to ensure that games can run nativly, w/o any emulation, to avoid unforseeable problems.

And as AMD has announced the next GPU generation as well i would wait, which gives the opportunity to save some more money and which leads to lowered prices on the now available big models.

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