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See the incredible power of ray tracing with the best Minecraft RTX builds

Minecraft RTX
(Image credit: Reporters Without Borders / Mojang)

Who would have guessed, when Minecraft released back in 2009, that it would become one of the leading games to try out the next generation of graphical overhauls? But it's true, Minecraft RTX is an official Nvidia-developed patch and adds real-time DXR ray tracing to the blocky sandbox. This dramatically affects Minecraft's graphics, especially when it comes to lighting. Reflective surfaces, shadows, luminescent blocks—basically anything that affects light—has gotten a huge glow up and it's remarkable.

We've had plenty of Minecraft shaders to give the sandbox the sheen it deserves, but ray tracing is on another level. Jacob explored some of the Nvidia Minecraft RTX builds earlier this year and said that there was "no finer example of ray tracing."

To run Minecraft RTX you'll need hardware to back it up, which is means an Nvidia GeForce RTX 20 Series and AMD Radeon RX 6000 series or higher. To see the magic in real time, Nvidia has a bunch of Minecraft RTX videos over on their YouTube channel demonstrating the dramatic effects of ray tracing. But if you'd rather see it for yourself, look no further than the recommended builds below.

For our recommendations, the builds below have been specifically chosen because they really highlight the abilities of Minecraft RTX. Nvidia has released a handful of maps for demonstrational use but I wanted to highlight some other creator built maps.

I looked for anything with giant glass windows, erupting volcanoes with glowing lava, blinding neon cityscapes, and glistening waterfalls—basically anything that would react amazingly to light. Unfortunately, stone castles and medieval villages did not make the cut, and although RTX looks amazing with natural lighting, I'm looking for the best of the best.

Here are the best builds for Minecraft RTX: 

The Uncensored Library 

Minecraft

(Image credit: Reporters without boarders / Mojang)

A huge, open building with a gigantic glass ceiling? Definitely one to check out. The way that the Uncensored Library has been architecturally designed to filter in light is stunning and the gardens outside look spectacular. But that's not the only impressive thing about this build. It's also a genuine library inside Minecraft that acts as a clever loophole and safe haven for censored journalism

Meiva - Dance of the Elements 

(Image credit: Darastlix / Mojang)

When I see hot lava in Minecraft I want it to glow like the burning bright light of a blistering sun, and the volcanic lava in Meiva - Dance of the Elements does exactly that. This is the best volcanic map build in Minecraft, so make sure you see it in all its glory with RTX switched on. You might want some sunglasses for this one.

The Whale of Dreams  

(Image credit: Owlhouse / Mojang)

If you're after a colourful RTX Minecraft build, then The Whale of Dreams is here to make your wishes come true. It's one of the most vivid builds out there, capturing all the shades of the rainbow in a majestic underwater scene. Making use of the luminescent powers of ray tracing, this build will radiate off your screen.

The Dark Elven Kingdom of Vanhall

(Image credit: Iskillia / Mojang)

This Minecraft build might be a little old, releasing back in 2017, but with RTX The Dark Elven Kingdom of Vanhall gets an impressive upgrade. Underground caverns can be a weakness of ray tracing, due to the, you know, lack of any sort of light, but Iskillia makes clever block choices to bring their build to life, and RTX really accentuates that. 

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Cyberpunk Project

(Image credit: ElysiumFire / Iskillia / Mojang)

What better way to test the power of your PC than a ridiculously heavy build with Minecraft RTX turned on? The Cyberpunk Project is a stunning build inspired by Cyberpunk 2077's Night City, and it looks like the perfect backdrop to any futuristic neo-noir crime novel. Be warned though, this is one big build so read the description before you try to run it. 

IHOU

(Image credit: Builders Community Japan / Mojang)

The only down-side to Minecraft RTX is that your render distance is a lot smaller than it usually would be, but that doesn't matter with a city as dense as Ihou. This Minecraft city is one of the busiest I've seen and in such a small space! Surrounded by an ocean of glistening water with plenty of lamps and lighting, RTX just brings this walking city to life. 

Part of PC Gamer's UK team, Rachel loves a good ol' detective mystery, story-rich adventure games, and weirdly wonderful indies. Her proudest gaming moment is the one time she kept her virtual potted plants alive for a year.