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Benchmark Results: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2012: $500 Gaming PC

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Though CPU-limited, both gaming systems breeze through Skyrim’s High detail preset. Our new machine leads by two percent on average, falling just shy of last quarter's overclocked rig. At 1920x1080, only 6 FPS (or 8%) separate the fastest and slowest configurations.

We know you don't spend $170 on a graphics card to play Skyrim at these lower-end settings, though...

At Ultra details and with 8x MSAA applied, this quarter's PC still looks platform-limited (we can tell because frame rates at 1920x1080 match those at 1280x720).

The slight improvement we see across the board on the overclocked config looks like the result of tighter memory timings as much as graphics overclocking. We still see notable gains compared to last quarter's PC, though. Last time around, overclocking bolstered performance at 1920x1080 by 14%. Our efforts this time yield a 27% boost at stock settings and a 32% increase overclocked.

In the end, both machines easily cut through Skyrim’s highest detail levels, maintaining at least 40 FPS at all times. However, they also share the same weakness: graphics cards with 1 GB of on-board memory. I'm sure that many of the Tom's Hardware readers who play Skyrim on their PCs don't run the vanilla game. If you plan to use the official high-resolution texture pack and/or other mods to improve this title's quality, stepping up to a 2 GB card would probably be worthwhile.

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