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The best Minecraft shaders to brighten up your world

Best Minecraft shaders
(Image credit: Mojang)

The best Minecraft shaders are used to significantly improve the looks of your game, giving all those standard blocks a glow up using various methods of computer wizardry. If you pick the right ones then you can boost your Minecraft experience to the next level, as a good Minecraft shader can either make everything more realistic, or apply a stylized appearance to filter your adventures though a new lens. There are many options to choose from, so to save you some time we've selected the best Minecraft shaders around, as well explaining everything you need to know about installing them.

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How to install Minecraft shaders 

In order to get your shader packs up and running, you’ll want to start off by downloading the Forge if you haven’t played around with any sort of modding before. This makes adding and installing mods a whole lot easier. Once you’ve downloaded Forge, you’ll want to run the installation process and make sure it’s located in your Minecraft folder. The next time you start up Minecraft, the Forge profile should be available to you, which you should select to run your shaders packs. 

Then you’ll want to download Optifine, which makes Minecraft look better and run faster, and also supports all manner of configurations, including texture packs and most importantly, in this instance, shaders. On the Optifine page, hit the preview button at the top of the page to find the latest version. Once you’ve downloaded the Optifine.Jar, you’ll want to pop it in your mods folder, which you’ll find in your Minecraft file. Some shaders also require the GLSL Shaders Mod, so it could be worth downloading it and dropping it in your mods folder, too. Then you simply download the shader pack you’re after and put the zip.file in your Minecraft shaderspack folder. Once you’re in the game, go to options and then video settings, where you should see a shaders tab. Click on that to set which shader you want to add to the world.  

The best Minecraft shaders

Sildurs Vibrant World 

Best Minecraft shaders

Sildurs Vibrant World is a great place to start if you’re getting into the shaders world. It’s an extension of the GLSL Shaders Mod, and revamps the lighting system to add more ambience and reflections to your minecraft world. It also stays up to date with the latest version of Minecraft and has configurations for those running older versions. The pack is specifically designed to run on any graphics card and computer, so everyone can enhance their Minecraft world with pretty lighting. The sun is a lot more vibrant, with crimson rays of light streaming through the trees, to shining reflections bouncing off rivers - it gives Minecraft a colourful makeover that just makes everything so much nicer. 

BSL Shaders

Best Minecraft shaders

The BSL Shaders pack is a high-performance shader that adds lots of colour and lighting effects that elevate the Minecraft world. Everything looks fancier, with reflectively realistic water and a richer more saturated colour palette. The way the light streams through the trees is just the icing on the shader cake. It really does bring the world to life in a pretty, picturesque sort of way. The puffy clouds look almost like our very own skies but in the Minecraft setting, and indoor areas like the homes you construct, or the caverns you dig down to, look punchier. 

Chocapic13 Shaders 

Best Minecraft shaders

If you're after something with more ambiance and mood lighting, you can't go wrong with Chocapic13's Shader. Since it also enables you to make tweaks of your own, it has also spawned many great shaders others have created. It adds some fantastic effects to enhance the atmosphere of your world - such as fog - and it also brings in more shadows and lighting that really work their magic on the landscapes. The shader looks especially good at night. 

Lagless Shaders

Best Minecraft shaders

Not everyone has high-performance machines that can bear the brunt of some of the more taxing shaders, so if you're looking for a simple enchantment that will still take Vanilla Minecraft to the next level, Lagless Shaders is a great option. It's already become a firm favourite for many as it adds some pretty effects to your world like waving grass without compromising your frame rate. 

Sushi Shader

Best Minecraft shaders

Sushi Slader is based on the above Chocapic13's Shader and it makes the world feel more alive with its vibrant colours and sparkling waters. It also adds in coloured shadows to make translucence objects like windows look much more realistic. The colours really do pop from the screen with this shader with the added bonus of a richer level of detail when it comes to reflective surfaces - water will distort your reflection just like it does in the real world. 

Continuum Shader

Best Minecraft shaders

Continuum’s Shader adds an impressive amount of lighting and detail, with configurable colour grading to boot. Everything looks very professional from the clouds, to the shining rippling waters, and the light flitting through the trees. It’s definitely on the higher-end performance wise, but if you’ve got the specs to take it, this shader really steps up the look and feel of the game. Snowfall and rain looks more dynamic too, and the trees will swish in the wind.

Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders (SEUS)

Best Minecraft shaders

Another high-performance shader, Sonic Ether's Unbelievable Shaders pack adds some really impressive shadows and lighting to the world. It especially looks great indoors, with the light shining through the windows, or peaking in above a cave. The textures of the grass and sand looks very appealing, and the sky looks incredibly realistic. 

KUDA Shader

Best Minecraft shaders

The KUDA shader is another great pick that brings more detail and makes for a richer Minecraft experience. Everything looks glossier and refined, with shiny water, more shadows, light rays and yet more puffy clouds in the sky. It’s a very solid shader that will neatly makeover the world without being too over the top. It might not be as show stopping as some of the other shaders, but it still livens up the world with some very appealing features.  

MrMeepz Shader

Best Minecraft shaders

MrMeepz Shader might not be as high-end as some of the other shaders on offer, but there's something so warm and inviting about it. The lighting gives off a very cozy feeling. It's as if the Minecraft world has been soaked in orange sunlight for a long time. The water looks very pretty, with nice animations, and if you always like your skies to be pure blue, this shader has no clouds at all. It's basically like an eternal summer. 

RudoPlays Shader

Best Minecraft shaders

RudoPlays Shader takes the vanilla world and gives it a good going over with graphical enhancements. The shader adds detailed foliage, lens flares, light rays and a soft kind of ambiance that makes the Minecraft world that much more pleasant to lose yourself in. The shadow work also looks fantastic and while the water isn't as reflective as others, it still looks very pretty. 

Heather Wald

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.