Canny members of the Skyrim modding community are working on a plugin to enable support for DLSS, FSR2, and XeSS upscaling in the Special and Anniversary Editions of Bethesda's sprawling RPG. Modder PureDark is working together with a small team on the unofficial plugin, called Skyrim-Upscaler, and it should help bump up those frame rates somewhat. It's available to download now from Github if you want to give it a go yourself, but there’s no plan to release the plugin publicly until the modders sort out VR compatibility.
As well as improving performance on lower-end PCs, one of the main reasons the modders are working on this plugin is to help boost frame rates when other graphically intensive Skyrim mods are installed. Alas, the Skyrim-Upscaler plugin isn’t compatible with graphics mods such as the popular Enhanced Natural Beauty series for now, but DLSS compatibility for it is being worked on, according to YouTuber Mern who spoke with Puredark in the video above. The inclusion of AMD's FSR2 tech should be a nice addition when you’re playing it on Steam Deck, too.
Mern gave Skyrim-Upscaler a go and saw up increases of around 50fps when running the game at a target resolution of 4K, but said they didn't see much improvement at all when targeting 1080p. They suspected this was likely due to other bottlenecks, though. You may find your experience using the plugin varies, as Mern didn't detail their machine's specs and whether any other mods were active while they were using the Skyrim-Upscaler plugin. To get the mod to work you will need to install shader tools, but that should be all.
Upscaling jiggery-pokery such as Nvidia's DLSS is essentially a free performance boost when enabled in a game. Without getting too technical about it, upscalers often take frames rendered at a lower resolution and blow them up to your display's native resolution, putting less of a strain on your graphics card. Skyrim might run pretty well on lower-end machines these days, but it's always handy to have access to newer technologies such as these, especially if you also run lots of mods at the same time.
Of course, DLSS support won't mean much if you don't have the requisite Nvidia card (i.e: their RTX 20 series and above), but thankfully the plugin's FSR2 and Intel XeSS support should help broaden its appeal. FSR2 is compatible with pretty much all modern graphics cards (starting with Nvidia GTX 10-series and AMD Radeon RX 460 GPUs onwards), and Intel's XeSS has a similarly broad remit as well. You won't be seeing unofficial support for Nvidia's DLSS 3 in Skyrim anytime soon, however, as there's no SDK available right now.