Are shader packs legal? This is a question that has been asked very often and we want to give you some Information about it. Shaderpacks are modifying the d3d9.dll which is part of your graphics-driver. Your graphics-driver creates the images shown on the screen – without this little file, no image would be shown.
The shaderpack’s d3d9.dll does not have a license which allows NVIDIA or AMD to distribute it together with the graphics driver file! Because of this, they are considered “illegal software”. This also means that most German download-portals have to delete any download, if they judge it being a shader pack and not a mod or texture pack.
How to install shaders
Usually you can simply install shader packs by dragging them into your Skyrim root directory. You are then done – the next time you open Skyrim, it will use the new shader. If you want to select which one is used ingame, there are some ways to do this:
- Use ENBSeries with “ENBoost ” or RTSS (Nexus). Those two little helper-tools make it possible to use more than one shader pack at the same time.
- Use ENBSeries together with “ENB Organizer ” or “RTSS Scripter”. Those tools help you to install and uninstall the different shader packs by changing some values in your Skyrimpref.ini.
- Use NLA (Nexus). This helper-tool changes the values in your Skyrim.ini directly without installing any additional applications or files! You should be careful with NLA, because if you install several shader packs with it, there is a chance that they overwrite each other – this will lead to an unworking graphics-driver and you have to reinstall the driver.
- Use NMM (Nexus). If you’re a bit experienced with computers, this is a nice way to install shader packs. The mod manager will help you to install only one shaderpack at a time without overwriting any other files. You can even manage different versions of shader packs and activate or deactivate them by using the mod manager.
- Use Skyrim Script Extender (Nexus). This will help you to launch each shaderpack with a skse-plugin: the shader packs will be activated one after another and you can start Skyrim directly with your chosen version of ENBSeries. We recommend using ENBSeries with ENBoost and NLA for the best results. Thanks to Boris Vorontsov (ENBdev) for his great work on ENBSeries!
What is a shader pack and how does it work
Shaderpacks are simply shader-files that your graphics-card uses to create the images shown on your screen. Those files are not made by us – we re-distribute them, because they do not have a license (e.g. MIT license, zlib/libpng License etc.) which allows us to distribute them together with our files.
Shaderpacks are most often written in the language “GLSL” (OpenGL Shading Language). This is the shader-language which has been used for all shaders before DirectX 10 was released. If you’re interested, you can find out more about GLSL on Wikipedia .
Why shaders are not good for Minecraft
Shaders can be very useful for Minecraft, but most shader packs have been made for other games and are simply not good enough to run on your computer. You might see a nice lightning-effect or some realistic shadows, but if you try running with those shaders at high resolution it will cause your frame-rate to drop below 30 fps. If you’re playing on a laptop, it might even drop to 10 fps.
Shaders don’t only make the game look more nice, they can help you to understand how Minecraft works – if you know what each shader does and why it is doing something exactly like that, you will be able to create and apply your own shaders and modify the game without any problems.
What kind of shaderpack should I install
There are different shader packs and each has a specific purpose: Some of them make Minecraft look like an old 2D game, some will make it like a realistic 3D game and other shader packs try to mimic the graphics from famous single player games. You can even choose your favorite games for your shader packs – but this will most likely cause the shader packs to have a bad performance, because they’re simply not optimized for Minecraft.
Shader Packs are nice, but they’re not for everyone. It’s hard to find the right shader pack – even if you search for hours on end. You should think about it twice before installing a shaderpack: If your frame-rate is good and it doesn’t drop below 30 fps while playing Minecraft, don’t install any shaders.