What goes into an HD texture pack?

I posted this in response to a question on the Daily thread. I think the response was a bit lost on the original supplicant (although it did answer his question!). So I’m reposting it here in case it helps someone else.

(I think search engines do a slightly better job indexing and reporting wordpress results than deeply-buried reddit comments).

Other texture packs like Skyrim HD only cover a tiny percentage of what’s in the HR DLC – Noble Skyrim covers 4.4% and Skyrim HD covers 2.6% of the textures.1

Running these packs without the high res DLC will actually decrease VRAM hit since so many textures will be reverted to low-res vanilla. With the high res DLC the increase in VRAM requirements are probably around 5-15% (a few hundred MB all told), which is consistent with what my actual tests have told me.2 Obsessively retexturing every single object in skyrim like I have3 will increase VRAM useage by around a factor of 4, but in the end adding many new objects (if you triple the different kinds of animals and trees in one scene or give all 30 NPCs a different high res hair… woof) has the highest VRAM hit.

Recommended is to use the optimized vanilla textures version that includes the HR DLC, since the high res DLC does have some inefficiencies, and use whatever retextures on top of that that you please.


  1. numbers include the DLC, normal maps, and all other types of dds files included in the HR DLC, such as glow maps, inactive parallax maps, etc.
  2. Math: 5% of the textures have been increased in size from somewhere to 2x size to 4x size. So 5% of the original size – 5% of 6.9 GB – has increased in size to around 1.3 GB with the 4x textures, replacing the original 0.34 GB, for a total increase in size of 1 GB, which is 14.5% of 6.9. 1
  3. At this point mod organizer stops accurately counting overwrites – if I go to my virtual data folder I can’t find a single texture from the high res dlc, but it still says I’m only at around 60% of the files from it overwritten.

  1. This does not explain why the total size on disk of Noble Skyrim is a whopping 3.43 GB. However, my tests show an increase of around 200-300 mb depending on scene, out of 1.6-1.8 mb useage total1, which is consistent with the math above.2

  1. note that VRAM useage varies with hardware; these tests were done with a 970 and actual numbers were a lot different on my 650M.
  2. Noble Skyrim and Skyrim HD pick textures that make a big impact on the scene and focus on cities, dungeons… basically constructed features. So you’ll see a lot bigger difference in Solitude, where I have actual notes on the numbers, than in the middle of the forest in Falkreath, where neither mod does anything at all.
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