With the best Minecraft shaders, you can instantly level up the look of your Minecraft world – even without a fancy schmancy RTX graphics card. But with so many downloadable mods for the sandbox game, if you’re unsure, let’s start with what Minecraft shaders even are.
One of the best PC games of all time and the ongoing king of sandbox games, Minecraft has incredible replayability, keeping fans and newbies coming to the game time after time. While the vanilla game itself gets regular updates, with the Minecraft 1.20 release date coming soon, Minecraft mods, texture packs, resource packs, and shaders can completely reinvent the game, with the latter affecting its overall look. Mods can completely alter gameplay, and Minecraft texture packs and resource packs change the appearance of existing blocks and add new blocks respectively. Meanwhile, shader packs give you the same game, but just with fancier graphics and effects.
Here are the best Minecraft shaders in 2023, up to version 1.19.3:
BSL Minecraft shaders deliver some of the best visuals you can get in the game without breaking your rig. The lighting is warm and welcoming, the water is realistic without contrasting too much with the blocky environment, and there’s a tangible atmosphere wherever you look. What’s more, the way light descends on your Minecraft world with BSL shaders on also gives some of the effect of having RTX enabled, even on a basic, budget PC setup.
While BSL and SEUS are both fantastic all-rounders, if you’re after a slightly more realistic shader, then BSL is the one to go for.
Named SEUS for short, Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders improves the realism of your Minecraft, much like BSL above it, but the newer PTGI version is slightly brighter than other shaders on this list, so will give you a different look. The water effects in SEUS PTGI are also considerably better, giving clearer water that is easy to see through – and kind of makes you feel like you could be on an exotic getaway.
Soft natural lighting, rain that adds a glossy sheen to every surface it touches, procedurally generated clouds, and much more await you in SEUS PTGI. There are other, less demanding, versions of SEUS as well, including legacy and renewed, but despite it’s efforts to mirror RTX effects, SEUS PTGI can be run with lower-end graphics cards, including my own GTX 1650.
Continuum was once the Sistine Chapel of Minecraft shaders but is now the default for realistic graphics mods. Upon installing this shader, you’ll be greeted with photo-realistic lighting effects: colour gradients across the skybox, true-to-life clouds, and shadows that adjust in shape and angle with the sun’s position. Everything here is top-notch.
Unfortunately, such results come with the caveat of needing a mighty powerful rig, but when visual fidelity like this is on the line, it’s worth it. The team behind Continuum is working on versions for lower-end setups, with Continuum RT for GTX 1080 graphics cards and higher in early access. They’re also working on a brand new, ultra-realistic texture pack to go with their shaders, so if you ever wanted to see what Minecraft would look like in real life, you can support the development and purchase early access packs now.
Sildurs Vibrant shaders
Sildurs Vibrant Shaders is another classic but still offers plenty for the budding graphics tweaker. At the high-end, you can grab the Vibrant shaders pack for extreme rigs, which overhauls the Minecraft lighting tech to add the holiest volumetric lighting imaginable, some gorgeous reflections, and bloom effects. Alternatively, there’s the Enhanced default shaders pack which has some neat effects and can be tuned right down in case your rig resembles a potato with some jump leads attached to it. Sildurs shaders is always kept up to date, and is currently supported by versions 1.7.10 – 1.19.3.
The KUDA Minecraft shaders make several notable improvements to natural lighting in Minecraft, but this shader’s pièce de résistance is its gloriously enhanced sun rays. Resembling those benevolent beams of light, you only seem to get at the least sociable hours of daylight, KUDA shader turns any rural scene into a masterpiece.
There’s an impressive depth of field effect, too, making this a solid shader for Minecraft artwork and screengrabs of your latest Minecraft builds. KUDA strikes a pleasing balance between soft and realistic, and it’s not too demanding either.
Naelego’s Cel Shaders
Add some crisp, cartoony visuals to proceedings with this Borderlands-inspired, cel-shaded look. Naelego‘s expertly crafted shader introduces bold colours and crisp outlines to emulate the look of a classic comic or cartoon. There’s a hefty caveat, though: this shader isn’t very well optimised and will huff and puff if you’re flying around in Creative mode.
Perhaps the stunning Minecraft Shaders deviate too much from how you want Minecraft to look. You may have a soft spot for the textures from when shaders were still new. The Nostalgia Minecraft shader has a retro vibe and plenty of upgrades for performance and new features. If you miss the ‘Super Duper Graphics Pack’, this shader accidentally has “some similarities”, according to the mod’s page. We particularly like how it looks at dawn and during sunsets.
Like a few other teams and packs on this list, the Nostalgia creators are also working on a RTX-like shader pack, NostalgiaVX.
Clear, crisp graphics with some beautiful water effects and glowing lighting – Chocopic13’s Minecraft shaders are undoubtedly handsome. However, one of the main reasons to check out this shader is it comes in a range of versions based on what rig you have, from extremely demanding all the way down to toaster tier. The bottom end isn’t far near as fetching, but it’s hard to beat for almost no performance impact. Chocopic technically isn’t available for the most up-to-date version of Minecraft yet, but is available on the most recent version of Optifine, which is currently 1.19.2.
While most will rightly point out the impressive shadow work in the Werrus shader, the water effects merit its inclusion in this list of the best Minecraft shaders. The colour, the gentle waves, and the genuine sense of depth are hard to beat, and it runs on pretty much any PC, too. The lighting and shadows are at their best at night and make encountering a skeleton archer in pitch-black terrifying. Even better, Werrus is already available for Minecraft 1.19.3, so is one of the few shaders on this list you can play on the current version of the game.
Ebin Minecraft shaders were inspired by SEUS, although out of the box, they look very different. The most noticeable change is that the clouds and foliage are impressively realistic, but there are some slight visual improvements pretty much everywhere you look. Admittedly, it’s a little intense on your hardware, but can you really put a price on modifying Minecraft? Ebin is also available for Minecraft 1.19.
This edit of the projectLUMA shader is simply breathtaking. The Sora Minecraft shader has all the fantastic skyboxes and lighting effects you’d expect, just like the shaders it’s based on, but it combines it with enhanced shadows and reflections. It stands out because the water effects are on par with the Oceano shaders. We think it looks even better in motion, and the updates to other biomes also look fantastic!
How to install Minecraft shaders in 1.19
Getting Minecraft shaders up and running is a simple enough process. Before you start installing a shader pack, though, you’ll want to download and install either Forge or Optifine. Remember that these aren’t always updated, so your options are limited if you want to run shaders on the latest version of Minecraft Java. Likewise, you need to ensure the shader you’re downloading is for the same version of Minecraft Java you’re running.
Follow these steps to install Minecraft shaders in Java edition:
- Download additional software like Optifine if needed – requirements will be specified on the shader download page.
- Download the shader pack.
- Place the shader pack zip file in the Minecraft > .shaderpacks folder.
- .shaderpacks should be located in you AppData folder. If you can’t find it, type %appdata% in your search bar, and then locate the .minecraft folder within it.
- From the Minecraft Launcher, select the Optifine or Minecraft game version you need to run the shader and hit ‘Play’.
- Load your world or create a new world, and go to Options – Video Options – Shaders, then ensure the shader you want is selecting, as seen in the image above.
And there you go, the best Minecraft shaders to upgrade your graphics outlook. These are great if you want to add a unique atmosphere to your favourite Minecraft maps or your cool Minecraft house ideas. Combine the best Minecraft shaders with different texture packs and resource packs to create some incredible Minecraft builds, like a mushroom-themed cottagecore dream base, or a brightly-coloured, well-lit modern house.
Additional contributions by Jordan Forward.