Unlike a lot of recent game releases, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for the PC has performed very well in the graphics department.

While users have reported a crash to desktop that will be familiar to anyone who has been playing Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, there hasn’t been much that needs tweaking.

Skyrim runs very well on today’s hardware and seems fairly optimized. The shadows can be low quality and chunky, but overall frame rate is good. If you want to fine tune some additional options, though, you can browse through the .ini files in the following location in Windows:
My Documents > My Games > Skyrim.

Solid Tip: Before you go ‘tweaking’ these .ini files, you should copy and paste them into the folder so you have a backup version.

explosive start

Skyrim's explosive start

Improve Shadows

These are off by default, but try them out to see if your PC can handle it. It looks great.

Location Default (OFF) Improved (ON)
SkyrimPrefs.ini bTreesReceiveShadows=0 bTreesReceiveShadows=1
SkyrimPrefs.ini bDrawLandShadows=0 bDrawLandShadows=1

Ambient Occlusion for Nvidia Cards

If you have a GeForce, you can use Nvidia Inspector to turn on an Ambient Occlusion flag for Skyrim. Need help with the Inspector? Check out instructions in this older Divinity 2 example.

Location Compatibility Flag
Nvidia Inspector 0×00000003

Disabling Vertical Sync (Vsync)

Vsync is a good thing! Only turn it off if your computer is struggling to keep the frame rate high.

Location Vsync ON Vsync OFF
SkyrimPrefs.ini iPresentInterval=1 iPresentInterval=0

Disabling Mouse Acceleration

Personal preference for people. Note that Skyrim has Mouse Sensitivity set very low at the start of the game, so check that first.

Location Default (ON) Disabled (OFF)
SkyrimPrefs.ini bMouseAcceleration=1 bMouseAcceleration=0

Field of View (FOV )

Some people prefer to view the world in a wider angle, some think it looks fish-eyed. The default FOV is not listed, but is probably 70. You can edit FOV by adding a new line as shown below. Set the number to whatever you want. Add the code to the bottom of the file.

Location Add This
Skyrim.ini fdefaultfov=70

Additional Helpful Stuff

Experiencing a crash to desktop with Skyrim PC? I did an article on the same type of crash a couple weeks ago for Dead Rising 2 OTR. Skyrim uses the same fix and involves changing your sound card settings. Check out the crash to desktop fix.

Having trouble with navigating the menus with the mouse? Check out the menu navigation article for some tips on becoming a pro with Skyrim’s user interface.