Minecraft already has fantastic art direction, but the plain blocky look can get a bit old after a while. If you’re growing tired of the same old visual style, then you can install Minecraft shaders as long as you’re playing on PC. Shader packs modify the lighting and rendering techniques the game uses, giving the game a complete visual overhaul and making it look like a next-generation version of Minecraft. Some Minecraft shaders are more intense than others, but each will alter the game in a noticeable way. These are 10 of the best shaders for Minecraft in 2020, compatible with Minecraft 1.16.1 and earlier.
How to Install Minecraft Shaders
The first step to installing Minecraft shaders is to download and install Optifine. Optifine is a mod that optimizes Minecraft and makes it run better (for more mods you should install, check out our list of the best Minecraft mods). Optifine isn’t fully updated for 1.16.1 at the moment, but you can install a preview version by clicking “Preview Versions” at the top. After installing Optifine, download any of the shaders below and place the ZIP folder in the following directory:
Once that’s done, start Minecraft and navigate to the Video Settings menu. From there, click on Shaders to view your currently installed shaders.
Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders
Probably one of the most recognizable Minecraft shader packs of all time, Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders is, well, unbelievable. It has remained a classic shader for good reason though. Gorgeous lighting, realistic water, and better shadows combine to give Minecraft an incredible facelift. The only downside to Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders is that you’ll definitely need a pretty powerful PC to run it at an acceptable framerate, but the beauty is well worth the performance hit.
It’s not just the bright, outdoor environments that benefit from Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders. Caves reach new levels of darkness, making torches an absolute necessity for any trips underground. Indoor areas also look much nicer, with more natural shadows and lighting pouring in from windows and doorways.
Another immensely popular Minecraft shader pack, Sildur’s Shaders offers a drastic visual overhaul of the game without as heavy a performance hit as some of the other shaders on this list. It still requires a somewhat powerful rig to run, but Sildur’s Shaders is designed to be lightweight and run across a wide variety of hardware configurations. It does everything you’d expect a shader to do, reworking the lighting and adding advanced post-processing effects, but you can customize individual effects to save performance if you don’t have a top of the line PC.
Chocapic13’s Shaders is another shader pack that has been around for quite a while, and that’s largely due to its scalability. Chocapic13’s Shaders has several preset that accommodate many different hardware configurations, but it still aims to deliver a quality experience even at its lowest preset. At the high-end level, however, Chocapic13’s Shaders really shines with beautiful, vibrant colors during the day and dark, moody lighting at nighttime. Mid-range GPUs can still get great performance out of this shader pack even using a high-end preset.
Minecraft shaders usually come with a pretty hefty performance hit, but this shader pack is designed with low-end PCs in mind. SFLP Shaders literally stands for “Shaders for Low-End PCs,” which is accurate considering its main goal is to bring the shader experience to those without super powerful setups. It’s actually a tweaked version of Chocapic13’s Shaders, scaling that style down to work on less powerful hardware. You won’t get many crazy effects with SFLP Shaders, but it still provides a nice lighting overhaul without sacrificing too many frames.
While most of the shader packs on this list go for vibrant and colorful styles, Voyager Shaders is a bit more restrained. It offers a more muted, realistic color scheme than most shaders, and it pairs well with a realistic texture pack. That doesn’t mean Voyager Shaders isn’t filled with beautiful sights. Nighttime especially looks really great, but you’ll definitely need torches or glowstone to see through the pitch darkness. Unfortunately, Voyager Shaders only works with Nvidia graphics cards, so AMD and Intel HD users will have to find another shader pack to use.
Just like SFLP Shaders, Lagless Shaders is designed for low-end PCs. Because it doesn’t take advantage of all the bells and whistles of powerful graphics cards and other hardware components, Lagless Shaders doesn’t look too crazy, especially when compared to the other shaders on this list. However, if you value framerate over everything, Lagless Shaders is for you. It’s a little more intensive than SFLP Shaders, but you’ll get a few more fancy effects to compensate for the slight performance hit. It’s also great for purists, as Lagless Shaders does not change too much of the style of vanilla Minecraft.
Naelego’s Cel Shaders
If you’re as much of a Borderlands fan as you are a Minecraft fan, then you may want to look into Naelego’s Cel Shaders. Naelego’s Cel Shaders transforms Minecraft into a bright, bold, vibrant cels shaded world with punchy colors and bold outlines. It’s not an incredibly realistic look like you’d get with most of the other shaders on this list, but it’s definitely a unique style. Even if you might not like the heavily stylized visuals of Naelego’s Cel Shaders, it still offers a nice change of pace from the trove of hyper-realistic shader packs out there.
BSL Shaders doesn’t deviate too much from the visual style of vanilla Minecraft, but sometimes you don’t need a drastic change. Rather than change it, BSL Shaders enhances the look of vanilla Minecraft. Of course, the lighting and shadows are dramatically overhauled and there are a ton of fancy effects like ambient occlusion and bloom thrown over everything, but at the end of the day, BSL Shaders still maintains that Minecraft style while delivering nearly unmatched visuals. The performance hit is heavy, but if you have a PC powerful enough to run BSL Shaders, you’ll be treated to some of the best-looking blocks you’ve ever seen.
If you want the best possible graphics for Minecraft, then look no further than Continuum Shaders. There are countless tweaks and additions to the graphics, to the point where you’ll want to stop and stare at every vista you come across. Realism is the name of the game with Continuum Shaders, and the game’s lighting has been entirely reworked to provide a more cinematic look to everything. Water flows and ripples, grass sways in the wind, and rivers and lakes reflect the trees along their banks. Continuum Shaders is well worth the performance hit if you have a PC powerful enough to run it.
KUDA Shaders cranks the colors up to 11, offering a bold, vibrant presentation. It’s definitely one of the boldest shader packs on this list, and every little detail in the environment stands out due to the saturated colors and stark contrast on display. It still maintains the style of vanilla Minecraft, but it makes everything look a whole lot prettier. Also, the performance hit isn’t that huge despite the pretty visuals. It’s a nice middle of the road shader pack that doesn’t dramatically change things up but still tweaks enough to create a noticeable upgrade. If you think the other shaders on this list are too much, then KUDA Shaders is for you.
- This article was updated on:July 28th, 2020