Released in 2009, Minecraft has come a long way since it was purchased and stewarded by Microsoft in 2014. Despite all the downloadable content and expansions, one area hasn’t received that much attention: the graphics.
To remedy this, the modding community has created shaders that change the game’s picture quality and resolution. As a player, you can implement shaders in a number of ways, and it all depends on the type of art style you want in your Minecraft world.
Before we get to the best Minecraft shaders for 2021, it’s important to know which versions to look for (typically 1.14 or higher) and how to install them so you can view Minecraft in a whole new way.
How to install Minecraft shaders
shaders is not much different from installing mods in other games. To start, you have to install a mod manager as well as a program called Optifine
Optifine significantly improves Minecraft’s graphics and performance, and it allows you to boost the frames per second (fps) in the game. It also removes lag and lets you change the graphics settings on a granular level. The latest versions of Optifine are directly compatible with most shaders as well.
Find the right mod manager
As far as mod managers are concerned, Forge
is generally recommended by the Minecraft
community. It’s very easy to use and has enough features to make installing mods easier than ever, and it also has the most comprehensive features.
The Forge API makes sure that all mods are compatible with each other before launch so it can prevent crashes in the game due to mod incompatibility. If you want to look at other options, MultiMC
is also a good open-source option often used by the Minecraft
community. It has the added bonus of being able to run multiple instances of Minecraft
at once as well.
Installing Optifine and a mod manager
To install Optifine, simply click on the download page and install it for the version of Minecraft that you use. Ideally, this should be version 1.14 or 1.15. Forge (or any other mod manager) is installed in a similar way, but you need to make sure to launch the "Forge" profile from your game launcher in order to access your mods.
Keep in mind that not all mods, including shaders, are compatible with both programs. Still, it makes sense to download both programs because they can be used simultaneously to run different combinations of mods.
Also, make sure you have Java installed to run both Optifine and Forge. After you install the programs, the next step is to download the shaders.
How to get shaders in Minecraft
When looking for the best Minecraft shaders, there are numerous options to choose from. If you prefer, you can follow individual modders and visit their websites to pick from the shaders they have produced. But if you are starting from scratch and aren’t as familiar with the community, you should venture to a Minecraft modding site.
There are several good options for you to peruse. Minecraft Forum
and Planet Minecraft
are where many modders initially upload their mods. However, when it comes to finding the best Minecraft
shaders, in particular, 7Minecraft
have some of the most extensive collections on the internet.
Download folder management
Whichever source you use, you can easily download the shader files you need and install them directly by using your preferred Minecraft mod manager.
All you need to do is drag and drop the shader files into your "shaderpacks" folder. This folder will be located within the "mods" folder, which you can find within the master Minecraft folder. You can find that particular folder under "AppData" in your C: Drive.
10 best Minecraft 1.14 shaders
Minecraft 1.15 was released on December 10, 2019, but most mods, including shader packs, are still in their 1.14 versions as of this writing (January 2020). In other words, you need to run Minecraft 1.14 to be able to use shaders.
With that in mind, here are 10 of the best Minecraft 1.14 shaders to consider using in 2021.
1. Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders Mod
Long considered the gold standard of Minecraft
shaders, Sonic Ether's Unbelievable Shaders (SEUS)
have been around since 2011, only 2 years after Minecraft
originally launched. In that time, this shader pack has gone through a number of different versions. It also serves as a high-end option for Minecraft
players who want to experience all that shader packs have to offer.
What this pack does better than most other Minecraft shaders out there is create a sense of realism. It does this by including soft natural lighting, optional rain effects, and similar effects to make the game look as realistic as possible.
Because of this, keep in mind that SEUS
is one of the most resource-intensive selections on our list. It should only be used with high-end gaming computers, like those in our HP OMEN series
. Otherwise, you may have trouble rendering some of the effects this shader is capable of.
Plus: High-end realism
2. Sildur's Shaders Mod
Like our first pick, Sildur's Shaders
have been around for quite a while. They’re also some of the most highly-rated shader packs by the Minecraft
community. Unlike SEUS
, Sildur's Shaders
are a bit more performance-friendly.
This pack is more customizable as well and comes with 3 settings: basic, enhanced, and vibrant. Each setting offers various levels of visual enhancement, and both the basic and enhanced versions should work with most machines.
Sildur's Shaders pack more specifically focuses on the lighting in the game, and it helps to make the sun more vibrant in the game world. It also creates a light reflection effect, which allows the sun to bounce off oceans and rivers, and even shine through trees.
Moreover, this shader pack brings out the color in the Minecraft world so that you can really appreciate the aesthetics of the game without pushing your device to its limit.
Plus: Performance-friendly & customizable
Minus: May not work with all machines
3. Lagless Shaders Mod
As its name suggests, the Lagless Shaders
are specifically built with performance in mind, making this the preferred option for those who have older or budget computers. That aspect alone makes it one of the most popular shader packs in the community. It can even run on systems that still use an Intel® G41 Express Chipset, which was a common processor back in 2009.
While Lagless Shaders certainly won't create quite as many effects as some of the other Minecraft shaders on this list, it does bring out the vibrancy of the colors in the game world - all at a smooth 60 fps.
But if you're running Minecraft on a high-end or a mid-tier machine, then you may want to look elsewhere. Although it is the most optimized shader pack of the bunch, it lacks some of the features of the other packs. It’s also primarily meant for those who can’t run the game with other shaders on our list.
Plus: Good for older computers
Minus: Fewer effects than others on our list
4. KUDA Shaders Mod
Although KUDA Shaders
is one of the newer Minecraft
shaders on this list - it only came out of beta in late 2018 - it is one of the most comprehensive and is regarded very highly by the game’s community.
KUDA Shaders quickly rose to prominence for its relatively bug-free experience as it delivers unique, volumetric fog effects that follow the player as they move around the game world.
This pack also significantly ups the pixel count of a lot of the default textures, making the game feel like it has overall better graphics. Because of this, we don’t recommend that you try this shader pack with an integrated graphics card
. If you do, the game could slow down to as low as 20 fps.
Plus: Bug-free & fog effects
Minus: Needs a dedicated GPU to avoid slow-downs
5. CrankerMan's TME Shaders Mod
It may not be as well-known as other Minecraft
shaders on this list, but CrankerMan's TME Shaders
has one distinct advantage; it is still compatible with various versions of the game, including 1.15, 1.14,1.12.2, 1.11.2, 1.10.2 and 1.9.
As such, this shader pack gets more regular updates than most other shader packs, and you can expect it to be more quickly compatible with newer versions of Minecraft.
CrankerMan's TME Shaders also has a lot of effects to bring to the table, and it helps to improve the game’s framerate. In fact, the "TME" in its title stands for "too many effects."
These effects include foliage movement in the trees, realistic cloud shadows that follow the more realistic-looking clouds, and an overall more three-dimensional look to the game.
Of course, not all players are looking for a more realistic Minecraft world, but those who are will certainly enjoy adding TME Shaders to their own experience.
Plus: Compatible with multiple versions of the Minecraft
Minus: Too realistic for some players
6. GLSL Shaders Mod
The GLSL Shaders Mod
is another realism-focused Minecraft
shader that is popular with the game’s community. While it does maintain more of the blocky textures (known as “voxel”) that are Minecraft
’s signature aesthetic, it stands out from the crowd by upping the contrast between light and shadow to make them more consistent with one other.
Better yet, the GLSL Shaders pack is compatible with a variety of mods. This makes it a great pick for those looking to experiment and tinker with their game.
Plus: Compatible with multiple mods
Minus: Requires input and adjustments from you
7. Triliton’s Shaders Mod
Triliton's Shaders Mod
is one of the newer Minecraft
shaders on our list, and it’s built primarily for use with AMD graphics cards
. Given that optimization, AMD users will definitely want to try this one out.
Beyond that, these Minecraft shaders just make some unique changes to the game. They include the removal of indoor fog and the addition of a color filter that normalizes the color palette of the game.
Plus: Upgraded color filtering
Minus: Primarily for AMD graphics cards only
8. Robobo1221’s Shaders Mod
Robobo1221’s Shaders Mod
is specifically focused on high-end computers
, and it has a variety of features that prove that point. They include smoothing out water textures to make them crystal clear, as well as paler lighting at night, volumetric clouds, and dynamic weather.
While this list contains some other realism-focused mods, this one really takes things to another level. For example, the ground gets wet when it rains and the trees wave in the wind. If you want a hyper-realistic Minecraft experience, this mod is for you.
Plus: Heightened realism
Minus: For high-end computers
9. Chocapic13’s Shaders Mod
Chocapic13’s Shaders Mod
is another hyper-realism Minecraft
shader, but it strikes a better balance between quality and performance. This makes it a better option for gamers whose computers may not have the latest tech.
In terms of what it brings to the game, Chocapic13’s Shaders Mod allows you to customize the world’s colors to match your preferred look. Plus, it adds mist and other controlled weather effects.
Plus: Great for mid-range computers
Minus: Not as high performance as others on our list
10. Continuum Shaders Mod
The Continuum Shaders Mods
focuses more on the cinematic, making it the most ultra-realistic mod on this list. As a result, it requires a modern graphics card
to use, and you should not attempt to run it with anything else.
With volumetric light and clouds as well as procedurally-generated weather effects, this Minecraft shader truly pushes the envelope of what’s possible in the game. It really is the one of highest quality shaders available.
Plus: Most ultra-realistic on our list
Minus: Needs a decent, dedicated GPU
Minecraft shaders revolutionize the way that you experience the game. With a variety of shader packs available, it can be challenging to choose how exactly you want to alter your game world.
There are many high-end shaders packs available, but we recommend that you try those that are more flexible and less resource-intensive. That way, you can gauge exactly how you want to alter your world from the vanilla game instance.
Players who are new to Minecraft shaders should try out Sildur's Shaders first. This pack offers the best variety and has the most customizable options, which can help you figure out how to shaders work.
After that, the choice is yours. From next-level packs like Continuum Shaders to the more straightforward GLSL Shaders mod, there are plenty of great ways to freshen up the way you play Minecraft.