How to Turn on Ray Tracing in Minecraft.
Ray tracing is the latest generation rendering technology that brings real-time graphics closer to photorealism. It takes powerful hardware to make everything work well, but if you have a PC, nothing beats visual flair.
Even Minecraft, known for its retro blocky 3D worlds, hasn’t escaped the ray-traced glow. It is not enabled by default, but you will have a magical time if you have the right hardware.
What Does Ray Tracing Do in Minecraft?
First, what games usually refer to as real-time ray tracing is a more advanced approach known as path tracing. The general idea between them is the same, but the math used in the path tracing improves the final image. We’ll just focus on “ray tracing” in this article, but it’s worth knowing the term “path tracing” because it comes up all the time in modern graphics discussions.
For a deeper dive into this technology, check out What is ray tracing? & What is path tracing and ray tracing?
In Minecraft, ray tracing makes Minecraft more photorealistic. The light is simulated to act like it does in real life. Object textures in Minecraft have also been replaced with PBR (Physically Based Rendering) materials with ray tracing enabled. In other words, wood has the optical characteristics of wood. Metal behaves as it should and so on.
As a result, the Minecraft world, with reflections, shadows, and lighting, looks more like a real Minecraft diorama than a video game. It has to be seen to be believed, so take a look at these screenshots.
Amazing, right? If you want to dive into the world of Minecraft with ray tracing, let’s start by checking if your system meets the minimum requirements.
Minecraft Ray Tracing Requirements
To use ray tracing mode in Minecraft, you must meet the following requirements:
Windows 10 or 11 64-bitNvidia RTX or Radeon RX 6000 GPUs or betterIntel Core i5 equivalent. or better8 GB RAM (more recommended)
Only the Bedrock Edition of Minecraft supports ray tracing at the time of writing. This version is also known as Windows 10 Edition, but it works just as well on Windows 11. The Java version of Minecraft, which is still very popular today, does not support ray tracing.
While the Radeon RX 6000 series cards support hardware accelerated ray tracing, they don’t have dedicated hardware like Nvidia’s RTX cards. If you have a weak RX 6000 GPU, you may experience performance issues with ray tracing in Minecraft, especially if you increase the detail.
It should also be noted that Minecraft Bedrock Edition is available through Xbox Game Pass for PC or Game Pass Ultimate. If you are a first time subscriber, you can usually get the first month for a dollar to try it out and see if it works for you. There is no need to purchase the Bedrock Edition if you previously purchased the Java Edition, unless you want to play with Game Pass.
How to Turn on Ray Tracing in Minecraft
The first thing to do is update your GPU drivers to the latest version. It is also recommended to update Windows if there are any pending updates. Buy Minecraft Bedrock Edition from the Microsoft Store app, or install it from the Xbox app if you’re a Game Pass subscriber.
After starting the game, you will need to sign in with your Microsoft account. If you are already logged in through Windows, this should happen automatically.
If you open Settings > Video and scroll down the settings list, you’ll see Ray Tracing with a toggle in the menu. However, this option is not available and you cannot enable it.
To enable it, you’ll need a ray tracing compatible resource pack containing the appropriate texture types and lighting settings. Return to the main menu and open the Marketplace.
In the marketplace, you can find both paid and free content. You will also find both types of ray tracing packages. Click on the magnifying glass to open the search bar and type “ray tracing” where it says “Enter search here”.
At the top of the results, there should be several packages made by Nvidia, which makes RTX GPUs. You will notice that there is an RTX logo on the thumbnails, although third party packages may not be present.
In this tutorial, we will be using the Imagination Island RTX. Click the button that says “Free” to get the package. Then wait for the purchase to complete.
Then select Download.
Select “Download” again in the next window to confirm.
Wait for the download to complete. While this is happening, you can’t do anything else.
Once the download is complete, select Create this World! Then select “Create” or “Create on Realms Server” if you want to create an online session.
Wait for the resource pack to load. If you receive a warning that the online game is not rated, select the Do not show this screen again check box, and then select Continue.
Wait for the world generation process to complete and you should be in the game.
If the game still looks like regular Minecraft, return to the main menu. Then go to Settings > Video and toggle the Ray Tracing switch to on. Your screen may briefly flicker when the game world is being redrawn.
Now everything should look completely different. Welcome to the world of Minecraft with ray tracing!
If you want to go back to the ray-traced world, all you need to do is select “New Game” from the main menu and then select the RTX world from the list.
Adjusting Ray Tracing Settings
Unlike games like Cyberpunk 2077, there isn’t much that can be changed in Minecraft’s ray tracing settings. The only things you can control are ray tracing render distance and scaling.
As the name suggests, the render distance determines how far the rays are traced. Beyond the render distance you set, no ray tracing is applied. So distant objects may not be reflected in shiny surfaces near you. The higher this parameter, the more effective the graphics will look, especially in open areas lit by the sun.
Eight “chunks” of distance is the default setting and the minimum. We suggest increasing this value one notch at a time until the game becomes unplayable or unstable. Do not worry. You cannot break anything. The worst thing that can happen is that the game will crash and you will know how far you can go with your system.
Scaling simply means that the game is rendered below your screen’s native resolution and then scaled. This is a great way to improve performance, and Minecraft scales well due to its small footprint, so enable this setting if your framerate is low.
Ray Tracing for Minecraft on Xbox Series X
While Microsoft has shown off a ray-traced version of Minecraft running on the Xbox Series X as we write this, there is no indication that this will become an official feature. If you want ray-traced Minecraft, the only place is a Bedrock Edition PC.
No Ray-Tracing GPU? Try Alternative Shaders and OptiFine
Not everyone has the ability to buy the latest GPU, or perhaps you prefer the Java Edition of Minecraft, which lacks the microtransactions and locks of Windows 10 and 11.
While you can’t get true ray tracing, there are plenty of alternative shader packs you can download to radically change the look of your game.
“Shaders” are pixel shaders, which are special graphics programs that help determine the exact color and brightness value that each pixel in the game should have. There are shaders to make things look wet and shaders to make things look lit or in shadow. There are shaders for everything you want to achieve on your computer screen.
While traditional shader based graphics don’t look as good as ray tracing, you can get close to it! There are many options and this is not a guide to alternative shaders in Minecraft. However, it is best to start with alternative shaders and Optifine. YouTuber Daniel Plays has a great guide to walk players through this moderately technical process.
How to Turn on Ray Tracing in Minecraft
How to Turn on Ray Tracing in Minecraft