So I am buying a rig that will play Skyrim pretty decently. My question is: Are there some must have mods or performance boosters that will increase performance and everyone should be doing whether they have strong rigs or not?
plays it just fine at minnimum 60fps vanilla with no oc.
Do wish I got a nicer mobo though.
Brett is right though, a better card will produce better results, and the more mods that are visually intensive the better the card you need. Skyrim tends to run better with ati cards although this seems to be one of the few games that does. If you really want a good card that will last, in my opinion not saying this is right, I would say get at least a gtx 670 or 7970.
And if you are dead set for ati and can wait a while, their new generation might come out soon.
Finally, yes, there are mods that can improve the performance of skyrim on your system like skyboost, but I notice that when using many of the graphic enhancing mods they tend to cancel out and make it as if they were not there.
A 7950 is extremely good. Its not the best of the best but so what? its the 2nd to the top tier card in amds line up... I am using an Athlon 2 x3 + 6870 and 4 gb ddr2 ram Honestly it maxes out skyrim just fine. I added the lite version of "Texture pack combiner" still it runs at around 30~ fps minimum. Indoors its higher, when theres dragons it can drop but thats just because I am using not a very powerful setup.
Skyrim does not take a lot to max out, at all.
As for your question. For strong rigs I highly recommend the Texture Pack Combiner. It just makes the game look that much better. (lets face it vanilla doesn't look the best.)
7950 is more than enough to run Skyrim. My 7870 can run it at max graphics, AA and FA settings and never dip below 60fps. However, if you're using a HD texture pack or an open cities mod, the 7950 might be the better choice.