System stability is a complex issue, and is addressed both positively and negatively by a myriad of factors, however, most factors fall into one of two categories either hardware or software, and in-order to properly address the question I would like to go over both, so please forgive me if I cover something which you’ve already addressed.Software
If you don’t care about the software, or configuration settings, skip this and go to hardware.
Software tends to be overlooked in general, and to use an analogy if hardware was a workhorse, than software would be the saddle and an improperly setup saddle will lead to a bad time for all.
I address this because it’s the cheapest and regardless of hardware can have a major impact on performance.
-Bloatware and other applications hogging system resources. Try to optimize performance by terminating unnecessary applications and services running in the background. Every call to the OS or CPU by another application takes away from a CPU call that could be used by Skyrim.
-Page Files & Other Settings: Depending on how your system is setup, it will likely have a page file. On some systems this is necessary because of hardware limitations (RAM, I’ll address this more in hardware), but on others it adds to the load by taking up valuable hard drive processing time. Other settings such as power usage (Operating System & Nvidia Control Panel) as well as number of CPUs available or application priority (can be seen via task manger, though be warned higher priorities can be detrimental to OS stability) can have an impact as well.
-Updates: Firmware & software updates tend to optimize or improve earlier code, and while they do not always impact stability, it is usually better to be running the latest version of things such as BIOS firmware (including hard drive drivers for certain models), OS Updates (as mentioned elsewhere in the forums), and critical supporting software such as .NET frameworks (as an example).
-Skyrim Prefs & Nvidia Control Panel: Both of these are heavily system specific, and work best when tailored to your system’s hardware. Generally ‘optimally’ configured settings for most games will work out just fine, but to pull out everything from the game its best to configure these to be exactly what works best on your system, and fortunately Nvidia allows for application specific settings.
-Overclocking: Overclocking can be a great boon to performance while addressing the video card, CPU, and RAM. Unfortunately, it requires a great deal of understanding and computer knowledge to make modifications (whether at the BIOS level, or via OS software). So if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. Bad things happen.Hardware:
If you’ve survived this far, yay!, if you skipped, boo on you :p
Based on your current configuration, I would prioritize upgrades as follows.
1.) Get a second SSD, and place all of your games on it (or just Skyrim) so that the hard drive calls taken up by the OS will be separate from those taken by the game. This will improve performance by ensuring all the calls made to it are purely for whatever game you’re playing at that time. (SATA III / SATA 6Gb/s for best performance, based on Motherboard).
2.) More RAM, up to 32GB (based on your motherboard, this is the cap). Since you only have 8GB of RAM available, your system likely needs to have a page file, which takes up valuable hard drive access time, but provides you with an artificially enhanced set of RAM. More RAM, and faster RAM (DDR3-2133, provided BIOS can handle it properly) can significantly enhance the performance of a machine. RAM Specs: Size, Speed, Access times – I recommend G.Skill RAM because they test their sticks to work with each other at the set timings and I’ve never had a problem with them thus far.
(Some RAM needs to have the speed hard set in the BIOS)
3.) CPU: I would recommend looking into activating “Intel Turbo Boost” for the CPU if it is not already active, this should give you a bump in performance without having to upgrade. Although, this falls under overclocking, so be careful or get help. If you do want to upgrade, you’ll likely need to look into a new motherboard as well, and anything sufficiently improved enough will likely cost $600-$800 or more to acquire.
4.) Graphics Card: Your graphics card is pretty nice, and should not need an upgrade. The only thing I could see improving here would be likely to go with an SLI bridge setup. My reasons for this, are due to the fact that the 980 Ti is roughly on par with the 1070, so upgrading won’t get you much, and a second 980 Ti might be expensive (for a new one anyway).
Graphics Card Fun Facts:https://www.techpowerup.com/gpudb/2724/geforce-gtx-980-tihttps://www.techpowerup.com/gpudb/2840/geforce-gtx-1070http://gpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Nvidia-GTX-980-Ti-vs-Nvidia-GTX-1070/3439vs3609
5.) Power Supply (Optional): If you do upgrade, make sure to calculate your power draw, as each piece of new or improved hardware is likely going to take more power. (Overclocking often comes at the expensive of power, so if you go that route there is even more reason to check).
Sorry for the massive wall of text, but if you have any questions let me know, and I’ll do my best to answer them.