Skyrim Special Edition
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DaydreamingDay

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About this mod

Hello, this is a guide about what to do to have the best performance possible on Skyrim SE.
Nothing here introduces unstability, disables functionality, or change your play in any way.
Only one change: less waiting, more CPU, more GPU.
Enjoy, DaydreamingDay

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Hello,

this is a guide about what what to do to have the best performance possible on Skyrim SE.

Nothing here introduces unstability, disables functionality, or change your play in any way (except sometimes better graphics).
Only one change: less waiting, more CPU, more GPU. 

I have added a list of bugfixes, seeing as performance-wise, it's better to avoid using GPU or CPU time to handle bugs.

Enjoy,
DaydreamingDay

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PERFORMANCE

I. Personally tested and endorsed

A. Strictly no gameplay change

06/2021 To speed up startup: PrivateProfileRedirector SE - Faster game start (INI file cacher)

06/2021 This part is based on the work of xrayys optimized skyrim cpu balance.
To assign more CPU to Skyrim, we have to increase CPU Priority.
To avoid cpu hyperthreading switching, which Skyrim doesn't manage well, and generates stutter, we have to setup CPU affinity.
To setup CPU priority and affinity, here is an easy guide in the sticky comment of MO2 and CPU Affinity.
OR To simply install CPU priority setup only, a mod: Skyrim Priority SE - skse pluginboring3 is working on including the cpu affinity in the mod too.

06/2021 To reduce your draw calls number: Lightened Skyrim

06/2021 To avoid  low FPS with many ESP or ESM plugins installed (explanation for multithread-enabled developer: there are at least 4 nested iteration loops the game does in every frame, and the lowest loop iterates for each plugin installed, and this code runs on multiple threads, and for each plugin it locks a mutex every time):
SSE Fixes, now included into SSE Engine Fixes (skse64 plugin)
Moreover, SSE Engine fixes includes a fix which unties vertical look sensitivity from framerate and form/tree lod reference caching which can give a massive FPS boost in certain areas.

06/2021 To simply have better performance, I perceive more fluidity: SSE Display Tweaks. "DXGI flip model can bypass desktop composition (DWM) and send frames directly to the screen, making windowed mode perform just as good or better than exclusive with less stutter, reduced input lag and higher framerates. Another benefit is better integration with features like HDR and G-Sync. [...] Lowering frame latency may also reduce stutter (significantly in some cases), there's a detailed explanation above MaxFrameLatency option in the config."

06/2021 Skyrim Project Optimization SE adds occlusion culling planes in interiors so that objects behind walls aren't calculated by the GPU.
09/2021 Of course, you need to check this mod's compatibility with your installed mods modifying interiors. For JK, JK's interiors Patch Collection has a patch.

06/2021 To avoid waiting time when opening doors: Get On With It - No more waiting for doors
Of course, you need to check this mod's compatibility with your installed mods modifying door meshes.

06/2021 To easily set your performance settings: Bethini

06/2021 To speed up disk i/o, if you have lots of available RAM (it at least helps some stuttering): Primocache
It's paying, but there is a one-month free trial so that you can see if it's worth your money. It's way cheaper than a new SSD.

08/2021 Vanilla Script (micro)Optimizations rewrites the vanilla scripts to speed them up.

09/2021 Exterior FPS Boost introduces occlusion culling planes in the exteriors.

09/2021 powerofthree's Tweaks proposes speedup functions in the experimental section of its ini.

B. Strictly speaking, these mods alter appearance or gameplay, so I put them separate from the other mods

09/2021 Skyrim Landscape and Water Fixes is a huge collection of fixes regarding graphic glitches, misplaced objects, improved navmeshes and more around Tamriel worldspace. It removes a lot of duplicate objects including trees, which can increase FPS in several areas.

06/2021 To have a better image with better performance: Cleaned Skyrim SE Textures replaces original textures by cleaned textures, better compressed, so a better image quality with a better performance.
Alternate and complementary mods are in the untested section below.

06/2021 SSE FPS Stabilizer allows to change ini settings dynamically to maintain a constant targeted fps.
Otherwise said, you can have reduced settings for demanding areas like whiterun, and still have extraordinarily beautiful skyrim where the area is less demanding!

06/2021 To lower fps used by grass, or to improve grass for the same fps: Grass FPS Booster

06/2021 When starting the game, automatically "Continue" (so no waiting just to click on Continue ; you can do something else in the meantime, the game is really  ready to play when you hear audio :P): Start On Save

09/2021 Dynamic Distant Objects LOD - DynDOLOD allows to generate your own distant objects dynamically, so for all your mods; in the words of Nevieth: "if you select the medium or low preset, it can actually give you more performance than not using it at all. Plus it makes the game look nicer and has less pop-in and stutter."

C. To understand your performance

06/2021
Skyrim Performance Monitor 64
Elephant's Script Latency Tester

D. These are not mods, but actions to consider

  • 06/2021: updating your GPU drivers
  • 06/2021: reviewing your GPU drivers settings
  • 06/2021: overclocking your GPU/CPU
  • 09/2021: using DLSS to render at a lower resolution, then upscale
  • 09/2021: go through the list of mods using SPID (in the requirements section of SPID), and replace your mods using scripts by similar mods using SPID.
  • 09/2021: update your ENB, Boris adds constantly performance improvements.

II. Other elements, not yet tested by me

09/2021 Shadow Boost changes shadow distance (which can't yet be changed by SSE FPS Stabilizer) to maintain FPS. It was made for FO4, but works on SSE. However, I didn't find any report on how well it works with SSE FPS Stabilizer. Please test and report :-) !

09/2021 FPS smashed by HDT SMP explains how to have better performance when using HDT SMP.

06/2021 XRAYY SSE ENB Vulkan beta replaces the dx11 api by the Vulkan api, which is interesting for AMD users as the AMD drivers seem to be insufficiently optimized.
xrayys frame drops ctd knowledge base explains about draw calls limit, and gives some tests info about the vulkan driver.

09/2021 AMD FSR is available on every steam game including Skyrim SE, it does "lossless scaling"  to render at a lower resolution, then upscale.
AMD FSR project for Skyrim VR  to render at a lower resolution, then upscale.
2 guides for render at lower discussion then upscale through SSE Display Tweaks: Mechanical Panda - Performance Setup for 1080P monitors, and Sharpening Oversampling Shader - An ENB postprocess for improved visual fidelity.
Other solutions include: Magpie, Lossless scaling, IntegerScaler.

09/2021: MrShadowBlood made some cleaned textures to improve performance for some mods, too.

08/2021 Textures alternate mods:
Alternate mod for low-end pc: unofficial performance optimized textures AKA (UPOT) (the sticky post of Cleaned Skyrim explains how you should choose)
Other alternate mod: Simply Optimized Textures for SSE (but less textures covered, and no new version since 2016)
Other alternate mod: Optimized SSE Textures -FPS BOOST- (reduces textures size, so interesting for pc with little VRAM, but degrades image )

06/2021 Papyrus Profiling Parser: to analyze scripts performance

09/2021 The OSD of SSE Display Tweaks also has good Papyrus analyzing abilities. 

III. Mods degrading quality, but needing mentioning

09/2021 Paramount - FPS Galore - Alternatives is a collection of mods exchanging quality for performance.

IV. Load Accelerator

I do not advise anymore Load Accelerator to speed up loading screens, as my tests show no real improvement, even though fps do really go through the roof during loading screens.
Still, maybe someone will show measures which display contexts where it is useful.
Please do :)
See Sticky post if interested about this.

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09/2021
STABILITY
Are only included below mods that fix CTD or bugs making us lose GPU or CPU cycle, and which aren't already mentioned in the performance section.
Example of fix not included: Player Eyes Blink Fix.

Bug Fixes SSE
USSEP
Actor Limit Fix
Enchantment Reload Fix SE
Weapons Armor Clothing and Clutter Fixes
Hearthfires Houses Building Fix
powerofthree's Tweaks
Scrambled Bugs
WoW Dragon Mounds CTD Fix
Chillwind Depths CTD Fix

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Thanks

Please endorse these astounding mod authors!

Thanks to 13coins and Paazkrent for the discussion about the fixes list and Paramount :)
Thanks to DarkViper680 for the comment leading to a correction :)
Thanks to dmc99 for the comment on AMD FSR for Skyrim SE :)
Thanks to DSAdam97 for the advice to try and test SSE Display Tweaks :)
Thanks to ktifhfl for the advice on Magpie and Lossless scaling :)
Thanks to LolSpider to have reminded me of SSE Fixes, Grass FPS Booster and Simply Optimized Textures for SSE :)
Thanks to  Nevieth for the advice to include JK's patch for SPO and DynDOLOD :)   
Thanks to Paazkrent for the advice to include Shadow Boost :)
Thanks to thappysnek, author of MO2 and CPU Affinity to have kindly reminded me of it :)
Thanks to Viekang for his tip on Display Tweaks OSD script analyzing abilities.
Thanks to wolverene1878 for the tip on AMD FSR project for Skyrim VR :)
Thanks to Zanderat for the comment leading to displaying more info about the use of LoadAccelertaor with ENB :)
Thanks to Exalderan, daywalker03, DSAdams97, Kredans, Skinjack, Zanderat by alphabetic order for the LoadAccelerator discussion.


Tidbits

The provided file is a portable pdf file with the same info :)

Why install it through the mod manager (MO2)? Well, to know when there is a new version of course :) !
Ignore any warning when installing the mod, and don't activate it, just go into it and read the file.

Suggestions to add mods are of course very welcome :P

Funny fact: at the time I type these words, this mod is at the 42'nd place of SSE Nexus trending mods on the last 7 days.
I guess free fps are part of The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything :D