We've come a long way since 2011's Skyrim, I'm sure you'll agree. Games look heaps better and the original Skyrim certainly looks of a different time now. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is a halfway step to modern graphics, improving Skyrim's visuals in just about every way Bethesda can without remaking the entire game. Art and effects have been remastered. Volumetric lighting added, dynamic depth of field, screen space reflections and more. A half-step in graphical advancement would ordinarily indicate a half step in hardware demands, but as it turns out The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is heaps more demanding than the original Skyrim. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Minimum System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit 
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-750 2.66 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB System Memory
  • GPU RAM: 1 GB Video Memory
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 470 or AMD Radeon HD 6870
  • DX: DirectX 11

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Recommended System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-2400 3.1 GHz or AMD FX-8320 3.5 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB System Memory
  • GPU RAM: 3 GB Video Memory
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon R9 290

So Elder Scrolls fans, here's the original Skyrim system requirements for point of reference. The two are almost incomparable. Fortunately this doesn't mean that Skyrim Special Edition is outrageously demanding however.

In general you just need a much more modernised PC to play Skyrim Special Edition, regardless of how high-end your hardware is. Windows 7 64-bit is now a necessity, as is DirectX 11 compatability and a pretty hefty 8GB RAM requirement. The latter is only going to up as you begin installing mods also.

Down at the minimum a relatively low spec rig will see you through with a first-gen i5 or AMD's Phenom II X4 945, coupled with a 1GB video card. The GTX 470 and Radeon HD 6870 are listed but you can expect to be able to run Skyrim Special Edition pretty well on a GTX 750 or something similar. The recommended specs for Skyrim Remastered are the absolute top-end about three years ago, but any semi-decent PC gaming hardware bought since 2013 should be plenty capable of playing Skyrim Special Edition with the graphics settings cranked up.

Remember, you can always check out how well your PC can run the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition System Requirements here, where you can check benchmarking and performance from other users. Compare your graphics card to the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition GPU benchmark chart.

Lastly a shout out to kjtmsmj11 for bringing these to our attention, much appreciated!