The best Minecraft shaders to make your world look better

Minecraft shaders sildur's shaders water village
(Image credit: Mojang)

The best Minecraft shaders will alter the way your blocky world looks, usually with enhanced lighting and shading, and maybe some post-processing effects to amp up colors. All together, good shaders make Minecraft look more realistic with superior light and shadow, but sometimes you can also get more stylized looks too, whether its oppressive shadows for something spooky or a saturated colors to make things lively and vibrant.

Although, bear in mind that shaders are completely different from the best Minecraft texture packs, which alter the appearance and texture of existing blocks and items within your world. Here's how you go about installing Minecraft shaders and applying them to your game, as well as our picks for Minecraft's best shaders, all of which are up to date with current versions of the game.

How to install Minecraft shaders

  1. Install Minecraft Forge. This makes adding and installing mods a whole lot easier.
  2. Download Optifine. This makes Minecraft look better and run faster (and is so useful as a Mod it made it to our best Minecraft mods list), and also supports all manner of configurations.
  3. Once you’ve downloaded the Optifine.JAR file, move it into your mods folder, which you’ll find in your Minecraft file.
  4. Some shaders also require the GLSL Shaders Mod, so it could be worth downloading it and dropping it in your mods folder too.
  5. Simply download the shader pack you’re after and put the zip.file in your Minecraft shaderspack folder.
  6. Open Minecraft, 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

Sildur's Shaders

Best Minecraft shaders

Sildur's Shaders is a great place to start if you’re getting into the shaders world. It’s an extension of the GLSL Shaders Mod (also part of Optifine), and enhances the Minecraft lighting system to add reflections, better shading, and more to your 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 volumetric light rays 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 higher-performance shader that adds lots of color and lighting effects that will elevate your Minecraft world. Everything looks fancier, with reflectively realistic water and a richer more saturated colour palette. Much like Sildur's Shaders, this pack features enhancements such as volumetric light and ambient occlusion, but it also comes with customizable clouds and water. 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. 

AstraLex Shaders

Minecraft shaders astralex night time nether portal

(Image credit: Mojang)

Based off the previous BSL Shaders pack, AstraLex Shaders builds on this to create a more unique shader pack for your Minecraft world. Featuring vibrant skyboxes, with especially pretty night skies full of stars, visual processing effects such as chromatic abberation and film grain, and even new rain effects, including options to have rain splatter on your character. Lots of these options are fully customizable too, so you can turn off more or less exactly what you want and don't want with this shader.

Chocapic13's 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. 

Continuum Shader

Best Minecraft shaders

The Continuum 2.0 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.  

Minecraft cheats | Best Minecraft servers | Minecraft Realms | Best Minecraft seeds | Best Minecraft skins | Play Minecraft for free | Minecraft The Wild update | Minecraft Allay | Minecraft frogs

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

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. 

With contributions from