Yesterday we compared vanilla Skyrim on PC to its newly enhanced self following the released of the official High Resolution Texture Pack (HRTP). Some of you expressed interest and enthusiasm in the popular "Skyrim HD" (SHD) mod in the comments, so we're back again today comparing the HRTP with that one, and then combining the two for extra fun (Flora Overhaul is also worth considering throwing in the mix). To do this, read over the method here (be sure not to copy over the 'sResourceArchiveList2' part, or you'll experience audio issues).
If you're new to modding Skyrim, hit up our wiki for everything you need, including the mods discussed here.
The most notable aspect of SHD is it fundamentally alters the look of some textures, which is to say in some places they "pop" almost as though tessellated compared to the more flat HRTP textures. Neither is clearly 'better'; this will come down to preference, and whether or not you're a purist.
SHD does make some surfaces noticeably smoother, however. Furniture, for example, looks almost straight from IKEA, whereas with HRTP it looks more like something that fell off a dump truck (more appropriate for the universe, some would say).
(Click screens to enlarge)
Some surfaces like bridge railings are undeniably much higher quality with SHD, though trees are noticeably inferior. Grass, on the other hand, is vastly superior with SHD, and completely neglected with HRTP. Combining the two packs keeps the pseudo-tessellation and high quality grass while retaining the crappy furniture look; trees and NPCs are no different than in HRTP.
In short, there's advantages and disadvantages to going with either. We'd recommend SHD if we had to pick one, but both should be carefully considered, depending on your own needs and preferences.