Friday, August 23, 2013

Skyrim on Intel HD Graphics

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the long waited sequel of The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion. Just like its predecessor, the game features impressive graphics, so you may wonder whether it's going to run on Intel HD Graphics. Well, wonder no more, as I can confirm that the game runs fine as long as you play on a reasonable resolution and settings. Read on to find out which settings will let you enjoy a smooth Skyrim gameplay on Intel HD Graphics.

The screenshot below shows the settings I have found to provide smooth gameplay in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on my Intel HD Graphics 3000 equipped laptop (Intel Core i3 2310m CPU), i.e. the game is perfectly playable on the medium settings preset (simply click the Medium button) at 1280x720 resolution.

Skyrim Settings for Intel HD Graphics

The medium preset puts textures on high, which makes the game look really good, but the compromise is that all other settings are put to low and all effects are turned off. Nevertheless, this is the way to go if your computer is with integrated graphics card as this will give you both nice image quality and high enough frame rate (more than 30 FPS most of the time).

If your laptop is equipped with a newer version of Intel HD Graphics, for example Intel HD Graphics 4000, Intel HD Graphics 4600, etc. or you are on a desktop with Intel HD Graphics 3000 or newer, then you can try to further increase the details and/or the resolution. However, if your computer is equipped with an older or weaker version of Intel HD Graphics like 2000, 2500 or the Intel HD Graphics in Celeron and Pentium processors, you may need to lower some of the proposed in this article settings in order to enjoy smooth gameplay.

If you are on a laptop, no matter which settings you choose to play on, don't forget to monitor the temperatures of your CPU at least for a few game sessions each time you increase the settings, because higher settings will stress your laptop's hardware more, which will result in more heat. Temperatures above 80°C indicate that your computer is having a hard time running Skyrim on the current settings, so you should lower one or more of the settings and/or the resolution to ensure your laptop won't overheat and turn off to prevent further damage.

I hope this article helped you enjoy a lag free gameplay of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Let me know if these settings work well for you, too or if you have found that other ones suit you better.

See also:


  1. Thanks for all the tips in 4 Ways to Improve Intel HD Graphics Performance!
    I wanna ask you what is your average fps, i have a similar hardware and can get a satisfying performance, I get around 15~20 fps!
    i3 2348M HD 3000 and 2x4gb ddr3 dual channel!

  2. What OS do you use?
    I have about the same specs and can't get 30+ fps, i get around 17! :(
    I'm using windows 8 64bits
    i3 2358m, 2x4gb ram ddr3 1333mhz

    1. Hi, Luis. I'm using Windows 7 64-bit, I'm not sure whether the Windows 8 Intel HD Graphics driver are the same. If they are not, Windows 7 drivers may be a bit more polished and optimized and thus provide a better experience. Here are a few more thing you can try:

      1. If you are using a third party software to measure the frame rate, disable it, as it may lower the game's FPS.

      2. Use a temperature monitoring software (Hardware Info for example) to check out whether your computer heats up too much during gaming. Excessive temperatures (85°C is the limit for the i3 2348m) may lead to throttling, which results in a sudden performance drop.

      3. I have done my tests in the first acts of the game. In late game when there are a lot of things going on around you, an FPS drop is possible. If that is the case, you may need to switch to the low preset to enjoy smooth game play.

    2. I checked the temperatures and it is reaching 85ºC, those notebooks cooler stand does help avoiding this temperature ?

    3. At these high temperatures you are most likely experiencing throttling issues, i.e. your CPU automatically downclocks itself in order to decrease the heat output and cool down and this hurts the performance and causes the lag. Skyrim is a heavy game, even my HP ProBook 4330s, which has a pretty nice cooling by the way, has throttled once for a few seconds at medium settings.

      Regarding the notebook cooler stands, they may have a minor to moderate effect on temperatures depending on your laptop's cooling system. In my case a quality stand decreases the temperatures by up to 7°C when the laptop is under heavy load, so do not expect miracles.

      No matter whether you use a stand or not, such high temperatures are not healthy for your laptop, so I recommend you further decrease the game settings, for example if you are playing on medium, switch to low or decrease the game resolution.

  3. Thank you a lot for all this help, I'll just quite play Skyrim on my notebook, it's not proper for gaming and I won't push it any further!
    Again, thank you very much!

  4. thanks for the tips I was wondering how do I monitor my computers temperature while I'm playing games

  5. Savior!! You've shown the path for my crappy system to play elder scrolls 5. Hail to you sir!!!

  6. I have a lenovo ideapad p400 which runs intel hd graphics 4000. I was seeing the requirements of many new games like watchdogs etc, and found out that i had all the needs except dedicated video memory, which was only 32 mb. I have an available graphics memory of 1664 mb. Will i still be able to play these games?

    1. As this article shows Skyrim is playable even with the older Intel HD Graphics 3000, so you should be able to play Skyrim and most of the other high end games with Intel HD Graphics 4000 but only on low resolutions and graphics settings.