20 Best Minecraft Shaders (2021) | Game Rant

If you're a fan of Minecraft but terribly bored with how the game looks and feels, shaders are the perfect way to make things more interesting. What these mods do is tweak the graphics and the lighting of the game to create a better atmosphere. Lights and shadows tend to be more realistic and look nicer overall compared to the regular aesthetic of the game.

Many shaders are difficult for PCs to handle, so it's generally good to make sure your PC has what it takes to run the game with some of the better, heavier shaders. However, there are a few shaders out there that work fine on low-end computers as well. Here are 10 of the best shaders for Minecraft, ready to spice up your gaming experience.

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Updated on August 9th, 2021 by Anastasia Maillot: Unfortunately, the next major update for Minecraft has been delayed until the holidays of 2021. However, what it promises is a full revamp of the current world generation system, allowing for more dramatic and bigger caves.

With lush caves, underwater caves, and large dripstone caves becoming a thing in just a few more months, there's no better time to choose a shader to go with the new world generation available in the snapshot version of the game. Here are a few additional great shaders compatible with the newest 1.17 update.

How To Install Shaders In Minecraft

Always check the requirements for each individual shader on the download page before installing anything. Not all shaders will have the same guidelines, but most will. This short guide applies to the majority of shaders.

  • Step 1: Install the latest version of OptiFine HD from the official site.
  • Step 2: Run the automatic installation process for OptiFine HD.
  • Step 3: Download your desired shaderpack.
  • Step 4: Navigate to your ".minecraft" folder. On Windows, this is found inside a folder titled "%appdata".
  • Step 5: Copy and paste the shaderpack .zip file inside a folder called "shaderpacks" found within the ".minecraft" folder.
  • Step 6: Launch Minecraft. Once in-game, go to Menu > Options > Video Settings > Shaders. Click on Enable Shaders and choose the .zip file you installed.

20 AstraLex Shaders

AstraLex Shaders is a shaderpack that focuses above all on upgrading the lighting in Minecraft. Many of the reflections and special lighting effects have been upgraded, making it one of the more heavy-duty shaders out there. Players with slower PCs might experience some slowness.

That being said, like most shaders, AstraLex can also be adjusted according to the player's needs, so if some features seem annoying, they can be turned off in the shader's settings.

19 CaptTatsu's BSL Shaders

The original BSL shaders are a staple on the shaderpack community, courtesy of its creator capttatsu. It's not quite as intense as some other shaders, which is why BSL is perfect for players who are looking for a more light shader to use while playing.

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BSL is best described as a shader pack that tweaks light and water above all, but also add this distinctive filter to Minecraft that makes colors and visuals pop in a satisfying way. As usual, it can be customized through its settings.

18 ProjectLUMA Shaders

Now on to a more heavy-duty shader again, ProjectLUMA is a photo-realistic shader with all the special effects of light rays and lens flares to make Minecraft appear more beautiful than it actually is. Be warned, however, that low-end PCs will somewhat struggle with this one.

The pack's highlights aren't just the light changes, but also the way it tweaks water's appearance and physics. Movement and waves will definitely make lakes, ponds and oceans appear far more realistic.

17 SORA Shaders

If the idea of moving water is appealing but the requirements of higher-end shaders are too much to handle, SORA shaders are an excellent choice. The shadows and lighting effects are barely there, but just enough to make a difference.

The advantage of SORA shaders is that it still stays very much true to the original look and feel of Minecraft. It's a great introduction to shaders for new players who want to try something new but are unsure where to start. Photo courtesy of Shadersmods.com.

16 Complementary Shaders

Inspired by the original BSL shaders, Complementary Shaders are meant to be in many ways the ultimate shaders for a Minecraft player. Not only are these shaders meant to look great, they're also supposed to run on a wide variety of PCs regardless of GPU limitations.

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Sure enough, Complementary Shaders manages to achieve great performance without compromising looks. It's a nice in-between solution for demanding players who love good aesthetics, but can't afford to splurge on a new GPU. Photo courtesy of Shadersmods.com.

15 Sushi Shader

Players looking for a great general shader with tons of customization options to really fit the needs and the limitations of the user themselves will really appreciate Sushi Shader. Much like some of the heavy lifter shaders that have been around for a long time, Sushi Shader completely changes the look and feel of the game.

This is a shader that requires a higher-end GPU to run, but the results are well worth it. From realistic water, reflections, and dynamic, moving grass and foliage, it performs solidly like any other big shader pack.

14 Wisdom Shaders

For low-end PCs there's nothing quite like the Wisdom Shaders. With incredibly realistic results, this shader still works wonders even if the player doesn't have newest GPU. Moreover, many of its settings provide a lot of customization, so players can experiment and see what best suits their PC's capabilities.

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The cool thing about this low-end shader is that it still tweaks the lighting quite a bit, and even makes the water fully realistic and physics-based. For such a light shader, it accomplishes much more than it promises.

13 Magnificent Atmospheric Shaders

Those wanting to turn Minecraft into something a bit more exciting will really love the Magnificent Atmospheric Shaders, which introduce a ton of environmental and lighting changes. The game actually feels quite scary and tense, as areas where light can't reach are actually very dark.

One of the main features of this shader pack is the fog, however, which not only makes it difficult to see at a distance but also appears depending on the weather or the time of the day. There's nothing scarier than walking at night in the fog, after the rain!

12 BBEPC Shader

Small things make a huge difference, as illustrated by BBEPC Shader. This pack provides all the regular tweaks of a shader pack, but puts a huge emphasis on weather effects, which makes the game look absolutely gorgeous. During rain, the ground will actually become wet, and stormy weather will also reduce visibility.

Most importantly, the player's depth of view is significantly changed. Anything outside of what the player's looking will be blurred out, which gives the game a highly realistic and somewhat frightening feel.

11 PlunderPixel's Shaders

PlunderPixel's shader pack is another fantastic general, do-it-all shader mod which is recommended mostly for players with excellent PCs. While it's pretty taxing in terms of performance, the results it provides are well worth the sacrifice, as it changes Minecraft into a stunning work of art.

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Water, reflections, and realistic skies are just a few examples of how this shader pack tweaks the game. One of its main selling points would have to be the reflections of light and the environment against water, which allow for perfectly picturesque views.

10 Sonic Ether's Unbelievable Shaders

This shader is a classic example of all the things a good shader can do: introduction of proper shadows, lights and even realistic water. The entire game has a much prettier filter, like that of a beautiful photograph or even a movie. Paired with a realistic texture pack, this shader can really do a lot.

However, the highlight of this shader pack is without a doubt how it makes the sky and all the stellar objects look. It turns the sun into an actual source of light, rather than a square block in the sky, and even the moon looks realistic enough. The clouds travel the skies freely, and look just like real puffs of white clouds.

9 Oceano Shaders

When choosing a shader, you might be considering a specific style that a pack introduces. Oceano definitely has its own highlights. As the name implies, it completely overhauls the way water looks like in Minecraft, along with all the other basic things that any shader does from changing the lights and shadows.

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Moreover, you'll have a gorgeous, realistic sky with multicolored sunsets and sunrises, as well as a hazy afternoon sunlight that peeks perfectly through the foliage. The best part has to be how the world looks at nighttime, with just a few lanterns and the moon to light your way.

8 SFLP Shaders

Not all of us can afford awesome gaming PCs that can run games at the best possible settings with incredible mods. And that's fine! Thankfully, modders understand this, too. It's why we have shaders like SFLP, which is actually a tweaked version of Chocapic13's shaders, optimized for even the weakest PCs.

You might not get the full treatment with this shader, but you'll still see a huge difference in how light goes through water and how shadows appear in the game. The sky looks much better overall, and you can easily make small adjustments to the details if your computer still can't handle it from the user menu.

7 Continuum Shaders

Maybe you do have a fantastic gaming PC and you want to get one of the best possible experiences in Minecraft. Let's say you're looking to record a cinematic video for instance. Then, you'd probably want something like Continuum Shaders, which puts a huge emphasis on the lighting engine.

The shader pack comes with a nice, hazy warm-toned filter that gives every frame a nice photogenic appearance. It has a highly realistic look, which is ideal for any of your amazing builds to be photographed or recorded for a nice montage. But be warned: only for good PCs.

6 Sildur's Shaders

Minecraft can sometimes seem a little bit lacking when it comes to colors. Thankfully, most shaders fix the issue by introducing nice lighting and filters. However, what Sildur's Shaders does is beyond most other shaders. It truly brings the environment of Minecraft to life with a nice boost to colors.

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Water will appear much more blue with this pack, and at a distance, things will also appear with a slight bluish fog. Alternatively, if your computer can't handle everything, you can opt for the Enhanced Default option, which adds just a tiny bit of shadow and a filter to the world to make the default look a bit nicer to look at.

5 Chocapic13's Shaders

When it comes to famous shaders, Chocapic13 is perhaps one of the best known shaders mod creators out there. What's great about this pack is that you have different levels to this mod depending on how much your computer can handle, so everyone can experience these shaders to a degree.

The look of these shaders is very realistic and vibrant in colors. Beautiful skies with realistic stellar objects and actually moving trees and water add just the needed depth a Minecraft game. It's ideal for those who want a gorgeous world for their adventures, and for those who just like taking pictures of their game and their builds.

4 Voyager Shaders

The Voyager shaders are a bit more low-key compared to some of the other shader packs out there. Due to the slightly muted and washed out colors, it pairs best with realistic texture packs rather than the default look. It's ideal for those who truly value realism in Minecraft.

A lot of work and detail in this pack went especially into water, which is pretty clear and see-through without much of a shade to it compared to other packs. Keep in mind that this shader will only work with Nvidia graphics cards, and is definitely on the heavy-duty side when it comes to resource usage.

3 Builder's Quality Of Life Shaders

If you're on a low-end PC and still looking for something ideal to spice up your game, definitely give this texture pack a shot. While it lacks many of the detailed lighting and shadow work seen in other packs, it brings huge improvements to the game without pushing your PC overboard.

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One of the best quality of life improvements is also included: the appearance of stained glass is much better with this shader pack on. Moreover, the distance fog has been improved, and clouds look overall less blocky and more realistic. For a low-end PC owner, this is a great option.

2 KUDA Shaders

For a crisp, refreshing and vibrant Minecraft look that makes the default textures really appear phenomenal, KUDA shaders is the ideal option. Much like with Chocapic13, you have a few different options that fit what your computer is able to handle, which means everyone can experience these shaders.

Dramatic in how good they look and yet staying true to the original look of the game, KUDA is another perfect option for those who don't want to make the game appear too different from its original look. As usual, the lights, shadows and fog have been worked to give a gorgeous look to your environments with a blue-toned filter.

1 Triliton's Shaders

For a smoother Minecraft experience, Triliton's Shaders make every frame of your game appear like a smoothed-out photograph. This shader pack has one of the most visually pleasing looks for bodies of water, which both reflect but appear clear at the same time.

Performance-wise, AMD users may have a slightly better experience overall when using this shader pack. One of the highlights of this pack is definitely the work put on lighting, rather then other visual effects. So, if you'd like to see realistic shadows and rays of light, this is definitely for those who appreciate such effects.

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