Building the Best PC for Minecraft

Last updated: May 2017

Minecraft is a game with virtually unlimited crafting capabilities. Users have created a 1:1 scale representation of the entire country of Denmark, a recreation of King’s Landing from the Game of Thrones television show, and even a mini-game version of Minecraft within the game itself.

Minecraft is also one of the best-selling games of all time. Developed and published by Mojang, the alpha was released back in 2009, with the full release arriving in late 2011. The game was acquired by Microsoft in 2014.

This article will take an in-depth look at Minecraft’s graphical settings, as well as the impacts that they have on the game. We'll also give you a good idea of the kind of PC hardware you'll need to run Minecraft to your own personal satisfaction. If you just want to know what to buy without all the in-depth analysis, you can skip to the recommendations sections.

Minecraft is a very easy game to run. Almost any system is able to run it at the bare minimum, and most can run it at maximum settings.

Let's take a look at what Logical Increments tier you should build to play Minecraft.

What to Buy

We recommend PC builds in "tiers," with each tier containing the most powerful, most reliable, and least expensive combination of parts for that price. We don't list the individual parts in this guide because they change frequently based on local prices and new releases. You can see the latest individual part choices for each tier at the main guide page, which is updated regularly. Open it in a new tab to compare: Logical Increments PC Parts Guide.

These benchmarks assume that all of the graphical settings in the game are set to their highest or turned on. You can get even better performance out of your PC if you adjust some of the graphical settings, but we explain that in more detail below.

Tier 1600x900 1920x1080 2560x1440 3840x2160
Destitute ($190) Borderline Unplayable Unplayable Unplayable
Poor ($240) Playable Borderline Unplayable Unplayable
Minimum ($340) Very Smooth Smooth Playable Playable
Entry ($390) Very Smooth Very Smooth Smooth Playable
Modest ($410) Very Smooth Very Smooth Smooth Smooth
Fair ($450) Very Smooth Very Smooth Very Smooth Smooth
Good ($490) Very Smooth Very Smooth Very Smooth Smooth
Very Good ($530) Silky Smooth Very Smooth Very Smooth Very Smooth
Great ($630) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Very Smooth
Superb ($750) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Excellent ($1000) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Outstanding ($1100) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Exceptional ($1400) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Enthusiast ($1600) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Extremist ($2500) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Monstrous ($3,500+) Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth Silky Smooth
Explanation
Below 20 FPS Unplayable Jerky animation, "lag" and "stutter".
20-30 FPS Borderline Ok for some, too "laggy" for others. AKA "Cinematic".
30-45 FPS Playable Acceptable to most people. Not very good though!
45-60 FPS Smooth Fluid animation, no "lag".
60-90 FPS Very Smooth Very smooth is very smooth to almost everyone.
Above 90 FPS Silky Smooth Criminally smooth. For hardcore and professional players.

NOTE: Installing mods in Minecraft can significantly increase the performance costs of the game. In particular, shader mods can require your PC to be several tiers above what we list here in order to achieve the same performance. You can still use this chart as a baseline for what you might need. For more information about modding, read our next section:

A Note About Mods

The benchmarks above are based on the demands of the base Minecraft game, meaning they do not account for mods.

Minecraft has the capability to easily be modified by installing mods. Many of these mods will enhance the game’s graphics or add features, which may cause the game to be more demanding on your hardware. Some mods can significantly increase the game’s hardware demands. For example, a PC that gets Silky Smooth performance at 4K may only get Playable or Borderline performance with enough graphical mods installed.

This is especially true for shader mods that enhance visuals. Shader mods can cut your performance in half -- or even more. So, be forewarned. Minecraft is a much more demanding game with certain mods installed.

Keep this in mind if you’re thinking of installing mods. Read up about the graphical demands of your desired mods to help inform your idea of how your computer might handle it. We recommend reading this guide from the Minecraft Gamepedia for help on setting up mods.

A Note About Frame Rate (FPS)

Frames per second (FPS) measures the number of images your computer can produce every second. Higher frame rates mean that your screen will show more images per second, which means that you will see a smoother animation. Lower frame rates cause a game to appear to stutter, which is generally not enjoyable for the player.

A comparison of 50, 25, and 12.5 FPS.

For the purposes of our PC build guides, we recommend computers that will achieve 60 FPS in your game of choice. Some gamers are satisfied with frame rates as low as 30, but that depends largely on the gamer and the game.

For more information and animations explaining frame rate, please check out our Frame Rate page.

Higher Resolution for Better Gaming

A comparison of several common resolutions.

Resolution refers to the number of pixels on a screen. High resolution means more pixels and generally more space and detail, while low resolution means fewer pixels, and often less space. If you are using a typical (not high-end) laptop or an old screen, you likely have a low resolution. When comparing screens with a similar aspect ratio, it is always better to get a higher resolution screen. Higher resolution will always looks better, as you have more real estate and a sharper picture. The image below shows the difference in real estate between common resolutions.

For more information on resolutions, check our Screen Resolution page.

Minecraft Hardware Requirements and Performance

Before discussing how various PC components influence your performance with Minecraft, let’s take a look at the game’s Minimum and Recommended system requirements, according to Mojang:

Official Minimum System Requirements:

  • CPU: Intel Pentium D or AMD Athlon 64 (K8) 2.6 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • GPU (Integrated): Intel HD Graphics or AMD (formerly ATI) Radeon HD Graphics with OpenGL 2.1
  • GPU (Discrete): Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT or AMD Radeon HD 2400 with OpenGL 3.1
  • HDD: At least 200MB for Game Core and Other Files

Official Recommended System Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3 or AMD Athlon II (K10) 2.8 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • GPU: GeForce 2xx Series or AMD Radeon HD 5xxx Series (Excluding Integrated Chipsets) with OpenGL 3.3
  • HDD: 1GB

Now let’s discuss how each component influences the game’s performance on your PC.

CPU vs. GPU for Minecraft

Unlike most games, Minecraft is more dependent on your CPU than your GPU. That means that the power of your CPU has a greatest impact on your computer’s performance, and your CPU will often be the component limiting your FPS.

In fact, Minecraft is so easy on GPUs that if you don’t even need a graphics card if you have a powerful enough CPU. For example, it is possible to get 60+ FPS at 1080p using just the integrated graphics chip in a good i5 or i7 CPU (such as the i5-7500 or i7-7700K).

You may want to invest in a graphics card for more graphically demanding games, and we recommend graphics cards in our PC builds for this reason. But if you’re building a PC exclusively for playing Minecraft, you could consider excluding a graphics card and putting that money toward a more powerful CPU.

Also, adding shader mods will significantly increase the graphical demand on your GPU. Keep that in mind!

Minecraft CPU Requirements

For Minecraft, the CPU is the most important component to consider. That said, the game is still playable on very cheap CPUs -- especially if you also include a cheap discrete graphics card. Because Minecraft can render so many objects in the game, you may notice a huge performance difference between a budget CPU and a higher-end one when it comes to playing Minecraft, more so than in other games.

Note: The following recommendations assume that you do have a discrete graphics card. These CPUs will not be good enough for Minecraft without a separate graphics card.

For 1600x900, we recommend at least an Intel G3900.

For 1080p and above, we recommend at least a G4560.

If you plan to play Minecraft without a discrete graphics card, we recommend an i5-7500 for 1080p, or an i7-7700K for 4K.

Minecraft GPU Requirements

As we said, Minecraft is not very demanding on the GPU side, unless you install shader mods. With a sufficiently powerful CPU featuring integrated graphics, you don’t even need a graphics card to play the standard game. However, even a weak graphics card will increase your performance quite a bit. We recommend including a graphics card in PC builds to add a balance of power.

With shader mods, you'll probably need a discrete graphics card to get good performance in Minecraft. Keep that in mind as you're making your hardware decisions.

One interesting thing about Minecraft’s performance is how it scales with resolution. The difference in hardware demands between 1080p and 4K resolution is significantly less than in other games.

At 1600x900 on maximum settings -- assuming you don’t have a very powerful CPU -- the most affordable graphics card to achieve very smooth framerates will be the R7 240, which is the cheapest discrete graphics card we recommend.

For 1080p at maximum settings, we recommend the R7 250 or R7 250X.

For 1440p, we recommend the RX 460.

For 4K, we recommend the GTX 1050 or above.

Minecraft RAM Requirements

Mojang’s minimum specification calls for 2 GB of RAM while the recommended specification calls for 4, which is reasonable. Though you could get away with 2, we would recommend 4 GB if you do plan on running the game on maximum settings. In fact, it makes the most sense to get 8 GB of RAM, since you can allocate more RAM to the game in order to get decreased load times and increased performance.

Minecraft Game Settings

Now we will go into detail on the settings available within Minecraft and the effect that they will have on your game.

Graphics

Minecraft has two options for its general graphics setting: Fancy and Fast. Fancy enables high quality graphical effects, which includes increased rain particles, leaves being transparent rather than solid blocks, a black vignette present around the edge of the screen in darker areas, and a red warning vignette effect that becomes visible when reaching the world border. Fast disables all of these aforementioned effects, in turn improving performance.

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Drag the cursor to compare Graphics on Fast and Fancy.

Render Distance

This option controls how many chunks of the world are visible at once. If fewer chunks are included, the FPS tends to be higher as the game has less to render. Turning this setting up will, in turn, greatly reduce your frame rate. This setting has a slider which ranges from 2 to 32 chunks.

Render distance is commonly referred to as fog, since the most distant terrain fades into the sky color in a way which is reminiscent of fod. This is done to avoid a sharp edge to the visible game world.

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Drag the cursor to compare Render Distance on 16 Chunks and 32 Chunks.

Smooth Lighting

This effect uses ambient occlusion in order to smooth lighting across blocks, or add a distinctive light level to specific blocks. It’s settings include off, minimum, and maximum.

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Drag the cursor to compare Smooth Lighting Off and Maximum.

Max Framerate

This limits the framerate at which the game will run. This ranges from a minimum of 10 FPS to an option for unlimited frames. For best performance, it is recommended that you limit this to the refresh rate of your monitor, so as to prevent the unnecessary rendering of frames you won’t be able to see, which can overwork your GPU. (Your monitor’s refresh rate is the same as the Hertz. So, if you have a 60 Hz monitor, your refresh rate is 60.)

3D Anaglyph

This allows the player to view the game using 3D glasses, when enabled. This is off by default but can be turned on. This should, of course, only be enabled when playing with 3D glasses.

View Bobbing

This is the option that controls the “bobbing” motion of the camera as the player is walking. It can be toggled on and off. Disabling this effect may very marginally increase performance.

GUI Scale

This controls the size of the GUI (graphical user interface), as well as that of the HUD (heads up display). The options for this setting include Auto, Small, Normal, and Large. Auto will scale the GUI to your monitor resolution, while the others are preset sizes. It is worth noting that if you are playing it on a large resolution, setting this to “Auto” can make the GUI larger than any of the presets.

Brightness

This dims down of increases the light levels of the game’s surfaces. This effect is seen in the night, as well as the day.

Clouds

This setting affects the rendering of clouds in the game. It has three options: Off, Fast, and Fancy. Off causes no clouds to be rendered in the game. Fast causes the clouds to be rendered in 2D, so they are flat. Fancy causes the clouds to be rendered in 3D, making them appear more rectangular.

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Drag the cursor to compare Clouds on Fast and Fancy.

Particles

This setting allows certain particle effects to appear, though the block breaking particles are not affected by enabling or disabling this setting. The three levels of this setting, in order from least to most particles, are “Minimal,” “Decreased,” and “All.” These effects include falling particles, particles from both lava and water, and sprinting particles. In the “Minimal” setting, specifically, rain is silent and the hearts that ordinarily appear around mobs in Love Mode do not appear. Both of these things aren’t the case when it is on the other settings.

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Drag the cursor to compare Clouds on Fast and Fancy.

Fullscreen

This setting allows the user to put Minecraft into fullscreen mode, or keep it in a window. This can also be toggled at any time via the use of the F11 key.

Use VSync

When turned on, this limits your framerate to your monitor’s refresh rate. This is typically something like 60Hz or 144Hz. Enabling this can fix issues such as tearing. On the flip side, it increases input latency and may cause stuttering if your computer lacks the ability to render the same frames per second as the refresh rate of your monitor.

Minimap Levels

This option affects how smooth the textures look. The higher the level, on a slider that ranges from 1 to 4, the smoother the textures will appear to look.

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Drag the cursor to compare Minimap Levels Off and on Level 1.

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Drag the cursor to compare Minimap Levels on Level 2 and Level 4.

Alternate Blocks

This setting toggles alternate block models. If this is turned off, the least complex highest priority model is the one that will always be used. If you would like a variety in the models, this is recommended to be kept on.

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Drag the cursor to compare Alternate Blocks Off and On.

Use VBOs

This setting toggles vertex buffer objects. This allows the rendering to be done right within the GPU, by allowing it to use VRAM instead of RAM in order to render objects. This makes no visual difference, but will increase performance if you have a lot of VRAM.

Entity Shadows

This setting determines whether entities will display simple shadows. Having this enabled makes the shadows appear more detailed than they otherwise would. It can be toggled on or off.

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Drag the cursor to compare Entity Shadows Off and On.

Choosing the Best Settings

Minecraft is not a demanding game. If your computer can manage to get at least a steady 60 FPS with all settings at their maximum, we recommend that you keep those settings. If you are getting below 60 FPS, though, you can try lowering some of the game settings.

Unfortunately, lowering multiple settings will not have a cumulative effect on framerate: If a setting give 10% improvement, and another gives 10%, lowering both will not give 20%, but between 10-12%.

To improve your framerate, try the following steps, ordered by how they affect the game's visuals.

Improve FPS (slightly) with little to no impact on visuals:

  • Turn down “Render Distance” to 24.
  • Set “Clouds” to Fast.
  • Allocate more RAM to Minecraft:
  • Minecraft, by default, allocates itself one gigabyte of RAM. This can often lead to stuttering and slow load times when running the game on high settings. If you are encountering this issue and have some RAM to spare, here are the steps you should go through in order to allocate more RAM to Minecraft.

    1. Firstly, double check that you have enough RAM. You don’t want to allocate more memory than you have/are using. (Should show how to check RAM usage on Windows and Mac)
    2. Make sure that you have the latest version of Java SE installed. Minecraft runs on Java so this is a prerequisite for making sure the game is running properly.
    3. Boot up Minecraft.
    4. In the launcher, click on the “Edit Profile” button in the bottom left corner of the screen.
    5. Check the bottommost box entitled “JVM Arguments”
    6. There should be a line that says “-Xmx1G”. If this isn’t here, add it in the text box directly adjacent to “JVM Arguments”
    7. Change the number “1” in the previous statement to the number of gigabytes of RAM you would like Minecraft to be able to use. For example, if you want it to use 3 gigabytes the line would read “-Xmx3G”.
    8. Click “Save Profile”.
    9. Boot up Minecraft! You have now allocated more RAM to the game.

Improve FPS (moderately) with a small impact on visuals, in addition to the above:

  • Turn down “Render Distance” to 18.
  • Turn “Smooth Lighting” to Minimum.
  • Set “Minimap Levels” to 3.
  • Set “Particles” to Decreased.

Improve FPS (by a large amount) with a moderate impact on visuals, in addition to the above:

  • Turn down “Render Distance” to 12.
  • Set “Minimap Levels” to 2.
  • Turn “Smooth Lighting” to Off.
  • Set “Particles” to Minimal.
  • Set “Entity Shadows” to Off.

Last resort:

  • Turn down “Render Distance” to 8.
  • Turn “Minimap Levels” Down to 1.
  • Set “Smooth Lighting” to Off.
  • Set “Graphics” to Fast.

Logical Increments Tiers and How They Fare

To determine how your PC will perform with Minecraft, you’ll need to consider three things:

  1. The resolution you want to play at (usually your screen’s native resolution)
  2. How much graphical detail you want
  3. How smoothly you want the gameplay to run

For our purposes, we aim for a very smooth 60+ FPS with the graphical settings turned all the way up. If you’re willing to lower any graphical settings, or you’re happy with frame rates lower than 60 FPS, you can get by with an even lower-tier PC.

Below, we list the the tiers on our parts list that would achieve that 60 FPS baseline with Minecraft at a range of progressively more demanding screen resolutions. If you are satisfied with lower than 60 FPS, you can get away with getting lower-quality hardware than what we recommend here.

1600x900

The Minimum tier, featuring the R7 240 and G3900, will get you very smooth performance at 1600x900.

1920x1080 (1080p)

The Entry tier, featuring a R7 250X and G4560, will get you very smooth performance at 1080p.

2560x1440 (1440p)

The Modest tier, featuring the RX 460 and the <G4560.

3840x2160 (4K)

The Fair tier, with a GTX 1050 and G4600, will likely get you 60+ FPS at 4K.

Conclusion

Though Minecraft may look relatively simple, it still has a fair amount of high quality settings. You will want a solid GPU to play at maximum settings, and you shouldn’t skimp on the CPU too much, as it plays an important role in running the game. However, if you need to save money anywhere, it would be best to spend a bit less on the CPU. Our PC build recommendations aim to strike a balance of power between the GPU and CPU -- not because you generally need a powerful CPU for gaming, but because you ideally want a balanced PC that can handle anything you might need it to do.

We hope this guide has helped you determine the hardware you’ll need to play Minecraft to your satisfaction, and what settings to use to help strike a balance between good visuals and good performance. If you want to do any more research on PC hardware, visit our homepage.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below, or email us at contact@logicalincrements.com.

About Us

Matthew Zehner is the Community Manager for Logical Increments

Logical Increments helps more than a million PC builders each year with hardware recommendations for any budget.

Sources

  1. Minecraft Gamepedia: Game Options
  2. Minecraft Gamepedia: Hardware Performance
  3. WikiHow: Allocate More RAM to Minecraft