Minecraft has come a long way from its humble beginnings as an indie Java-based sandbox game. It is now a worldwide phenomenon owned by Microsoft. It’s basically what every good independent game should aspire to be.
However, let us not lie to ourselves. Minecraft is still one of the fugliest games ever conceived. This is part of its charm. It’s even spawned and inspired Minecraft block-alike games. Nevertheless, for gamers who can’t stand to look at it, there’s hope. This hope comes in the form of mods known as shaders and in this guide, we’ll explore ten of the very best shaders for Minecraft 1.14 & 1.15.
Top 12 Best Minecraft 1.14 Shader Packs
It should go without saying but this guide is for PC gamers (sorry console peasants) running version 1.14 of Minecraft. First of all, what are shaders? Shaders are programs or pieces of software that enhance a game’s visuals through re-rendering or post-processing.
Before you can use them on Minecraft, you need to download Optifine which requires the latest version of the Java Runtime Environment. Once you are done downloading Optifine, you can install it by running the jar file.
To install the shaders, all you will need to do is copy or move the downloaded compressed files to this folder: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft\shader packs. If you’re looking for in-depth instructions on how to install mods, check out our guide on how to add Mods to Minecraft.
Now that we’re done housekeeping, we can start discussing the best Minecraft shader packs for versions 1.14 and 1.15.
Continuum, especially the high version of the pack, is stunning, to say the least. The first thing you’ll probably notice while running it is the much-improved water physics. Water has a more realistic quality to it. It shimmers, ripples, and submits to the breeze.
Trees and plant life are way more vibrant and alive. They are still block-shaped but it looks as if they were purposefully trimmed and sculpted that way by a skilled gardener. Lighting effects and shadows are also greatly improved.
Together with the water and foliage, they combine to deliver a visual experience that was thought to be impossible with Minecraft. Clouds also look far more realistic. Sure, you will not be able to tell a cumulonimbus from a stratocumulus cloud but they look a lot better than the default.
Furthermore, the Continuum Shader provides a fully dynamic weather system, with observable changes in Minecraft’s atmosphere. Dusk feels like dusk and dawn feels like dawn.
Have you ever run a Snapchat filter to make an old face appear younger or less wrinkly? That’s what installing and running Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders is like. It’s really hard to make quadrilateral shapes appear less rough-edged and pixelated but somehow Sonic Ether has managed to do it.
SEUS features improved global illumination and screen space ambient occlusion. Shadows are also enhanced through screen space shadow tracing. Just like the Continuum Shader Pack, SEUS also has realistic cloud patterns.
The water physics are also a marked improvement. Sunrise and foliage are mirrored beautifully off rivers and lakes. Moonlight reacts as realistically during night time. Not only does SEUS update the way water looks from the outside but it enhances how it looks from the inside as well.
SEUS comes with new underwater rendering. With base Minecraft, the only thing that seems to differentiate the underwater environment from the topside environment is water bubbles floating to the surface. SEUS changes this by making it look wavier and shades it in blue.
SEUS is definitely one of the best shader packs for Minecraft, and it’s worth your time.
Photo-realism is near impossible in Minecraft but shader packs like Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders bring you pretty close. What makes this shader pack so appealing is its multi-platform support. It works on Windows as well as Linux and macOS.
Whether you’re working with a budget build or the best high-end gaming PC that money can buy, there’s a version of Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders specifically catered to you. It comes in Lite, Medium, High, High-MotionBlur and Extreme.
If you find that certain shaders or features aren’t interacting well with your system, you can actually tweak them or switch them off completely. For instance, you may find that cross-processing is causing a drop in frame rates. Sildur allows you to switch it off, in-game. Shadows can also be tweaked and enhanced on-the-fly.
Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders offer better lighting and water reflections. One of our favorite visual features is lens flare. It’s a very subtle touch that makes sunlight look more realistic. You may be tempted to shield your eyes while looking at it.
You also get motion blur, which is another welcome addition to Minecraft’s visual elements. This makes movements feel a bit more realistic. If you like a bit of customizability from your shader, then Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders should be a perfect fit for you.
#4 BSL Shaders
Employing the right shader can increase a game’s immersion. As one of the best sandbox games out there, Minecraft’s gameplay should be engrossing enough to make you feel like you’ve been transported into another world.
Minecraft’s rough aesthetics can interfere with immersion. That’s where BITSLABLAB’s shaders come in. It features more realistic cloud formations (a running theme in this article). Surfaces are made less harsh with BSL’s unique cel-shading.
To make the green of the foliage and plant life pop, BSL utilizes its own blend of bright color boosts and saturation. Thanks to these features, the sky also looks a whole lot bluer.
Lighting and shadows also look realistic due to modifiable-scaling SSAO and edge detect occlusion. Whether the lighting comes from sunlight or a flame-lit torch, it behaves like real-world lighting.
While the graphics remain as blocky as ever, leaves on trees are distinguishable and sunshine has the ability to pass between them. BSL delivers one of the best graphical overhauls with this shader pack.
It’s funny how a good shader pack can transform Minecraft into Zelda Breath of the Wild. Chocapic13’s shader pack is particularly noteworthy for its dynamic weather effects. You get more realistic fog and rain.
Dry surfaces become wet and reflective from rain. Chocapic13 achieves this through parallax occlusion mapping (POM). POM is an enhancement that is used to create more textured and reflective surfaces.
Chocapic13 uses this to make rendering blocks a lot more efficient. It also adds an additional variety of textures and reflective surfaces. Furthermore, Chocapic13 utilizes bumpmap, which is a less performance-intensive method to add relief mapping.
Chocapic13’s shaders also offer improved shadows, volumetric lighting, and gorgeous lens effects. However, despite this shader pack delivering more optimized textures, it’s very system resource-demanding.
To get frame rates above 30 fps, you’ll need an Intel i3 processor, a GTX 750 Ti graphics card, and 2GB of RAM (minimum). If your PC does not meet these requirements, I’d suggest that you stay away from this mod.
The KUDA shader pack for Minecraft is loved by the modding community because of its customizability. Many shaders on this list aim for realism, while KUDA aims for customizability. This is not to suggest that KUDA’s shaders aren’t awesome to look at, but KUDA’s primary advantage lies in its compatibility.
KUDA Shaders should work on low powered systems if the pack is configured properly. Another reason to use KUDA’s set of shaders is that bugs are rare. This can be attributed to KUDA’s long development cycle.
One of KUDA Shaders’ most significant visual effects is its volumetric fog. It behaves and reacts to the atmosphere as fog should. It casts an ominous but beautiful shade over Minecraft’s Overworld.
KUDA Shaders offers soft lighting and smoother textures. It is a joy to see setting sunlight making its way between tree leaves. KUDA Shaders’ bloom effect is not so overwhelming that it creates dream-like visuals. It’s balanced enough to help soften Minecraft’s textures.
To add to some of the realism, you also get lens flare. The water physics are amazing too. Watching rain puddles reflect and ripple under raindrops will have you gawking with admiration at just how much attention to detail these modders paid to this particular shader.
Speaking of attention to detail, water ripples and/or movement is influenced by the speed of the wind. KUDA Shaders also delivers realistic cloud opacity. As we’ve mentioned before, most of KUDA Shaders’ features can be customized and configured. For instance, there’s a menu for dynamic weather controls. Fog blur can also be disabled.
All these features and more is what make KUDA-shaders one of the best Minecraft shader packs of all time.
Another pack that seems to be popular with Minecraft modders is Vanilla Plus’s set of shaders. Mostly because of its low overhead. In comparison to the other shaders in this list, Vanilla Plus is a little more subtle. That’s why it’s called Vanilla Plus. It’s essentially stock or classic Minecraft with a few visual additions.
But how many additions you get depends on the version of the shader pack you download. There’s Regular, SE (SEUS edition) and CE (Chocapic Edition). Each version except Regular is made to mimic more ‘powerful’ mods (SEUS v08 and Chocapic v3). Regular is just baseline Vanilla Plus.
Why use the Vanilla Plus versions of these shaders as opposed to using the original ones? Since Vanilla Plus uses a more updated framework, the Vanilla Plus version of these shaders has better optimization.
All versions of Vanilla Plus include temporal anti-aliasing which reduces the effects of transient aliasing. If you want to learn more about it, we have a nifty guide that goes into greater detail about aliasing and anti-aliasing.
Vanilla Plus also brings the Overworld to life through dynamic shadows and livelier colorization. The clouds you’ll find in Vanilla Plus aren’t realistic as the ones you’d find in BSL’s or Sildur’s shader packs but they’re still a marked improvement over Minecraft’s original clouds.
Vanilla Plus also features screen-space reflections, improved fog as well as crepuscular rays (God rays) which make sunsets look more realistic.
#8 Beyond Belief Shaders Pack (BBEPC)
Beyond Belief Shaders Pack has been around since the mid-2010s, making appearances for multiple in multiple versions of Minecraft. The 1.14 version of the pack is just as good as it has ever been. It was originally conceived and created by Daniel Rodriguez Moya and the current version is based on SEUS.
One of BBEPC’s most notable features is realistic water effects. A lot of emphasis has been placed on improving how the weather works in the Overworld, particularly on how the environment reacts to wet conditions.
Surfaces will appear moist and dampened from rain. Thanks to the improved water effects, puddles will move according to wind speed. Larger bodies of water are clearer and appear more photo-realistic.
The Beyond Belief Shaders pack features advanced motion blur features. If you’re used to playing Minecraft in first-person, then this will add some realism to the experience or at least make it feel more like a first-person shooter.
BBEPC also introduces more realistic sun lighting. It feels like it is being scattered and reflected off the world’s upper atmosphere. It behaves differently during twilight, dusk, and dawn.
The shader pack also features a depth of field enhancement, where surroundings over the horizon are blurred to emphasize objects that are closer to your field of view. Plantlife and foliage also acquiesce to the wind’s presence. This mod may be system taxing because of the depth of field feature.
Make sure that your PC has enough juice to run it.
CrankerMan’s TME (Too Many/Much Effects) Shader pack was built with high-end gaming PCs in mind. If you feel that Minecraft’s base graphics are patronizing to your PC’s capabilities then this is the shader pack you should turn to.
The water effects are stunning. The way the sun shimmers and reflects off a lightly rippling current is truly astonishing. There are games like Crysis that make you stop in your tracks to look around and admire what a graphical marvel it is.
Minecraft cannot be accused of being one of those games. However, CrankerMan’s slew of shaders transforms Minecraft’s very drab blocky aesthetic into something very fantasy-like. Textures are far smoother.
TME has its own unique cel-shading, which is quite noticeable in the game’s browns. Shadows react realistically to the sun’s position out in daylight. The sky also feels truer to nature. Clouds are plume-like and they react to the weather accordingly.
Tree leaves and grass seem to move almost independently. Once again, we feel that we need to reiterate that this mod was built specifically for high-end gaming computers. You won’t get high frame rates using it. Nevertheless, the textures, volumetric lighting, and fog, as well as dynamic weather effects, are well worth it.
CrankerMan’s TME Shaders Mod is available for version 1.15.2, 1.14.4, 1.12.2, 1.11, 1.10.2, and 1.9.4. Unless your PC can’t handle it, you have no excuse for not trying it out.
#10 Cybox Shaders
What we like most about the Cybox shader pack is the way it makes colors pop. The greens and blues look more alive. There are a lot of subtle nuances you may miss if you’re not looking for them. For instance, the way that light shines off wooden surfaces is particularly captivating.
Cybox does amazing things with dynamic lighting. Shadows appear and act more realistically. When sunlight passes through leaves, it almost appears as if each leaf casts its own shadow. The water effects are also more than decent.
But where the Cybox shader pack really shines (no pun intended) is in its lighting. The detailed sky and water would not look as great if it wasn’t for the HD lighting. Even animals look better. You’ll have a better time taming your horse in Minecraft once you activate these shaders.
Large bodies of water react realistically to change in wind speed and movement. Even though the mod has technically been discontinued, you can still download legacy versions of the mod.
If you like the way games like Borderland look then you’ll love Naelego’s Cel Shaders. By now, you should have noticed that a large majority of the shader packs in this guide aim for graphical or visual improvement. It’s like they’re all competing for the shiniest shader award.
But Naelego does things a bit differently. Instead of aiming for realism, they aim to change Minecraft’s graphical style but cel-shading all the game’s textures. Colors are slightly bolder and more vibrant. At times, it feels like walking through a 3D version of Super Mario World.
This shader pack isn’t just useful from an aesthetic standpoint. It can also be used by the visually impaired thanks to the way it renders and produces half blocks. Naelego’s shader pack isn’t very system taxing either. You should be able to run it on most PCs.
#12 Lagless Shaders
For those looking for something a little more forgiving on system resources, then the Lagless shader pack could be a great option for you. It improves visuals and textures while balancing the frame rate. Each block is smoothed out with less pixelated textures.
It doesn’t have the best water physics but it’s still a marked improvement over Minecraft’s stock graphics. Lagless doesn’t introduce blatant or gaudy visual refinements. It gives Minecraft a very clean and pristine look. It has an ice-cube-like static beauty to it.
Sometimes simple is best. All you need to run this mod is 2GB of RAM and an Intel G41 Express Chipset Family graphics card.
- Trilton’s Shaders Mod
- Voyage Shaders Mod
- Oceano Shaders Mod
- Builder’s Quality of Life Shaders Mod
- Werrus Shaders Mod
There you have it! In this guide, we covered twelve of the best shader mods for Minecraft 1.14. The suggestions in this guide should be enough to help you renovate and overhaul Minecraft’s look and feel. Whether you are a newcomer or a Minecraft veteran, you can benefit from using these shader packs.
While we focused on the 1.14 version of the game, the above shader mods should work for the latest builds as well. Which one is your favorite shader? Leave a comment down below. We’d love to hear from you. As always, thank you for reading.