To celebrate the recent preview launch of Optifine for 1.16.1, we’ve updated our list of the absolute best Minecraft shaders for 1.16.1 so you can find exactly the right fit for you. We run the gamut between highly performant, lightweight shaders and glorious trundling behemoths that require beastly rigs to even contemplate using. But all the below shaders are guaranteed to make your Minecraft world look more fantastic than any resource pack could ever make it.
Best Minecraft shaders 1.16.1
The best Minecraft shaders for 1.16.1 at the moment are BSL Shaders. No matter how you set the shaders up and no matter where you point the camera, you’ll always end up with an absolutely marvellous screenshot with BSL Shaders. Add to that the fact that it’s lightweight and more performant than most of the others on this list, and you’ve got yourself a real winner.
We’ll talk more about BSL and all its competitors below. Click any of the links to skip ahead and read about each shader pack! And yes – each one is compatible with Minecraft 1.16.1 as long as you have the latest preview build of Optifine.
BSL Shaders | Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders | Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders | Nostalgia Shader Pack | Continuum Shaders | Chocapic13’s Shaders | Beyond Belief Shaders | KUDA Shaders | Vanilla Plus Shaders
How to install Minecraft shaders for 1.16.1 using Optifine
Here’s how you can install any of the below shaders for Minecraft 1.16.1:
- Download and install Optifine for 1.16.1.
- Click Preview Versions at the top to reveal the 1.16.1 compatible versions of Optifine. Don’t be alarmed by the fact that they’re preview builds; they run just fine.
- Download any (or all!) of the shader packs below.
- Place the downloaded ZIP folder(s) in the following location:
- C:\Users\[Your Name]\AppData\Roaming\.minecraft\shaderpacks
And that’s it! You can now go back to Minecraft (making sure you run the Optifine 1.16.1 version from the Minecraft launcher), and under Video Settings you can click on Shaders to bring up the shaders selection screen and customisation options for each pack. Simple as that.
Good lord, BSL Shaders are beautiful. Like, really beautiful. In fact, when all’s said and done, this is the shader pack that I go back to for my own survival world. Everything included here, from the amazing depth of field effects to the crisp lighting, the beautiful water reflections, and the fluffy far-off clouds utterly transport you to a place that you could almost imagine to be Minecraft 2.0. Plus, you can turn on World Curvature for some crazy nice screenshots like the one at the top of this article.
You might expect that such stonking pulchritude comes at the cost of lower frames, but… no, not really. It actually runs a little better for me on my (high-end) rig than the other “go-to” shaders on this list (Sildur’s and SEUS). But the fact that Minecraft can look this good and still run at a decent 60 FPS on a good rig just blows my mind.
Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders
Sildur’s Vibrant Shaders is probably the go-to option right now for Minecraft shaders mods, and it’s easy to see why once you see it in action. Not only does this shader pack give Minecraft a much-needed and incredibly comprehensive makeover, but it’s also made a name for itself as one of the most customisable and flexible shaders mods around.
That’s really where Sildur’s success lies. After all, every single shader pack on this list looks beautiful. But with Sildur’s, it’s very easy to spend ages tweaking little settings to achieve the absolutely perfect look for you and your Minecraft world. You’ve got six different versions of the mod to try out, from Lite through to Extreme, so no matter your specs you’ll be able to run Sildur’s with little effort. And even at maximum settings, Sildur’s is remarkably lightweight and scores massive points for performance compared to most other Minecraft shaders around.
Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders
Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders, or SEUS for short, is where many players who have dipped their toe into the Minecraft shaders ocean would have started. This shader pack goes for a very clean and familiar Minecraft look, less flashy than many on this list but just as beautiful, particularly in motion.
The downside is that it’s not nearly as customisable as Sildur’s or certain other Minecraft shaders on this list; but the upside of that is that it looks great right out of the gate, no tweaking of settings required. The skies are bright and bold, the shadows add a new level of depth to the world, and the gentle flapping of the leaves in the wind really helps you to lose yourself in your own great big survival experience.
Nostalgia Shader Pack
Nostalgia Shaders give you an extremely lightweight and wonderfully subtle graphical overhaul for your Minecraft worlds. Designed to emulate the first few popular shader packs of the early 2010’s, Nostalgia may be a little lacking in the customisation department compared with others on this list, but the flipside of this is that you really don’t need to do much tinkering to get a very performant and great-looking Minecraft experience.
By far my favourite thing about Nostalgia though is the cloud options. Do yourself a favour: set both layers of clouds as high as they can go, and turn on Story Mode Style. It looks so, so very good. Why is this not just what clouds look like in regular Minecraft?
Right, here’s the thing about Continuum Shaders. I waxed lyrical earlier about the stupendous beauty of BSL Shaders, but Continuum Shaders just knocks any other on this list out of the park. Just look at that screenshot. Seriously, click on it and view it at full 2k resolution. Continuum puts a lot of emphasis on its authentic lighting effects, and it shows.
But – and it’s a big but – in terms of optimisation, Continuum falls flat on its face compared to many other Minecraft shaders out there. The way I’d put it to you is this: if you want an amazingly good-looking screenshot that makes your Minecraft world look like it came out of a world-class modelling or animation studio, Continuum is what you should use. If you’re after a shader pack that looks amazing in motion and allows you to get on with a spot of building or mining or fighting, then maybe you should give this one a pass. While still appreciating its beauty, of course. I mean seriously, look at that screenshot. I can’t get over it. That’s the best-looking Minecraft screenshot I’ve ever seen.
Here’s another classic shader pack whose name might be familiar even if you’ve never used Minecraft shaders in your life. The venerable Chocapic13’s Shaders pack still stands up today as one of the best options available for 1.16.1, thanks to its vibrant but pared-back style and its ability to run on a great deal of different rigs without too much trouble.
For those looking to really test their Titan XPs with the eyecandiest of eyecandy, well, this probably won’t knock your socks off like you’re hoping. But Chocapic13’s Shaders somehow create a more relaxing Minecraft than nearly any other shader pack I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot). There’s something so serene about this particular combination of swaying leaves, gently shimmering waves, and soft, subtle lighting.
Beyond Belief Shaders
If you want to recreate Pirates of the Caribbean in Minecraft, then Beyond Belief Shaders are absolutely the shaders for you. That’s the best-looking water of any shader pack on this list, full stop. It really is Beyond Belief.
Taken as a whole, I’d say there are still one or two shaders that look slightly higher-quality, but Beyond Belief Shaders still completely revitalise your Minecraft experience, even before you’ve started tweaking the settings (which is made easy by a lovely and well-presented set of customisation options). The lighting is great, the godrays and lens flares actually add to rather than take away from the experience, and… I mean, c’mon. That water. That’s real-life water, that is. Incredibly impressive stuff.
KUDA Shaders bring out the colour in the landscape like no other shader pack I’ve tried. It’s as though each vista surveyed has been adjusted by a professional colour grader and photo editor. It knows just where to saturate, where to desaturate, where to raise the reds and the oranges and the blues and greens. It knows how to make the rivers pop and the snow on the tops of those mountains gleam against the steadily darkening horizon.
KUDA Shaders also comes equipped with a decent array of customisation options, along with preset options ranging Low all the way up to Cinematic if you don’t want to spend time adjusting things. Even on Low, it feels like a new Minecraft. And, funnily enough, while most other shader packs tend to look best in the daytime where the godrays and lighting effects are out in full force, I think KUDA shines best in low light, just as the sun starts to set.
Vanilla Plus Shaders
Another excellent and popular shader pack from the creator of the Nostalgia Shaders mentioned above, Vanilla Plus aims to give you a high-quality, elegant Minecraft graphics makeover while staying as true as possible to vanilla Minecraft. And this is does with outstanding success.
This is what Minecraft should look like all the time, right out of the gate, the first time you load it up. You’d be forgiven for looking at the above screenshot after a long while spent away from Minecraft, and not realising this was a shader pack, but instead saying to yourself, “my god, I forgot how good Minecraft looks sometimes.” What’s more, this is one of the most lightweight and best-optimised shader pack of any on this list, beating out even Sildur’s in this regard (though of course not matching Sildur’s incredible variety of customisation options). I think I spent about 10 minutes longer wondering about the world on Vanilla Plus Shaders than I did with any other shader pack, because I was just so impressed with how good it made Minecraft look, without losing the charm and nostalgic feel of plain-old vanilla Minecraft.
And with that, I’ll conclude this guide to the best Minecraft shaders out there for 1.16.1. The above nine shader packs cover the entire spectrum in terms of looks, customisation options, and performance impact – so hopefully you’ve found the shaders mod for you. But that’s not all! If you’re looking for a spectacular vista to combine with your newfound shader pack, then why not check out our list of best Best Minecraft seeds 1.16.1?