Minecraft: Java Edition vs Bedrock Edition

Minecraft Java vs Bedrock - Steve swims in an ocean monument with a trident
(Image credit: Mojang)

What’s the difference between versions of Minecraft? That’s not as simple a question to answer as you might think. Most current players will be used to whatever version they’ve started on, whether it’s Java or Bedrock. But what about new players or players looking to jump from a different platform? That’s where things get a little more complicated—two games, similar features, an ocean of difference.

Is the original Java Edition the definitive version? Can Bedrock’s updated tech slay the powerful Java behemoth with years of head start under its belt? With the help of cutting edge science (read: research and opinion), let’s compare and contrast to see which version is right for you so you can download Minecraft and get started.   

Recent updates

February 20, 2024: Mojang has announced add-ons for Bedrock edition, which are now more like Java-style mods that can be added, combined, and removed—though they aren't always free.

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FeatureBedrock EditionJava Edition
ModsLimited, free and paid add-ons✅ Extensive
Cost✅ $29.99 for both editions✅ $29.99 for both editions
Controls✅ Native controller supportMods required for controller support
Crossplay✅ All platformsNo crossplay
ServersAverage✅ Large selection
Parental Controls✅ Extensive in XBox Live SettingsLimited inside Minecraft
Updates✅ Regularly updated✅ Regularly updated
GraphicsAccessible✅ Stunning if you have the hardware


(Image credit: Microsoft/Wizards of the Coast)

While both versions of Minecraft support mods—Bedrock calls them addons and has recently expanded them—Java has far more options. Importantly, Minecraft Java mods tend to be free, while Bedrock add-ons can be either free or paid downloads in the Minecraft Marketplace.

Because Java edition lets mods get at the inner workings of Minecraft itself, Minecraft mods can do everything from add entirely new dimensions to re-inventing the combat system or just adding a skeleton who plays a trumpet. Bedrock addons are so far more limited, mostly revolving around things like handcrafted adventures, adding some blocks, and resource and skin packs.

While Bedrock’s addons are far more friendly to someone new to creating, they’re outclassed by the sheer complexity and diversity of Java edition’s infinite mod playground, for now.

Winner: Java Edition 


Minecraft Java vs Bedrock - Steve holds up a diamond in a pile of diamond blocks

(Image credit: Mojang)

Java Edition and Bedrock Edition are sold together nowadays for a set price of $29.99. Unlike the old days, you’ll get both versions of Minecraft in one neat package and a unified launcher, so you can swap between them at will. 

Winner: Everyone


Both versions support mouse and keyboard, but only one supports controllers. Despite releasing all the way back in 2010, Mojang hasn’t implemented controller support for Java Edition. This won’t be an issue for most PC-centric players, but should you wish to make the jump from console gaming to PC, you’ll need to install an additional program, like JoyToKey, or a mod like Controllable to be able to use your controller of choice. 

Winner: Bedrock Edition


(Image credit: Mojang)

One of the key selling points Microsoft loves to remind us about was that Minecraft is "better together," which is simply not true if you’ve ever played with your kids and watched helplessly as they TNT a structure you’ve spent hours building. Or so I’m told…

On Bedrock Edition, anyone can team up with players from other devices, including Xbox, Android, iOS, and Switch. When playing with others you’ll need to sign up for a free Xbox LIVE account, but that’s all pretty painless.

On Java Edition, you’re stuck with just other Java Edition players, so there’s a pretty clear winner.  

Winner: Bedrock Edition


(Image credit: Mojang)
Best of Minecraft

Minecraf 1.18 key art

(Image credit: Mojang)

Minecraft update: What's new?
Minecraft skins: New looks
Minecraft mods:  Beyond vanilla
Minecraft shaders: Spotlight
Minecraft seeds: Fresh new worlds
Minecraft texture packs: Pixelated
Minecraft servers: Online worlds
Minecraft commands: All cheats

This one’s a nice and easy answer. Both versions have servers.

If you’re new to the world of servers they are, in a nutshell, gargantuan worlds created and hosted online with the intention of supporting masses of players. Think adventure worlds, PvP, puzzle maps, that sort of thing. The only issue here is we’re working with two different versions of the same game, so Java Edition can’t connect to Bedrock Edition servers and Bedrock Edition can’t connect to Java Edition servers.

When it comes to picking a version, it all comes down to which has more servers you like the sound of. As Java Edition has been around since the dawn of time, it makes sense that’ll have more variety when it comes to the best Minecraft servers.  

Winner: Java Edition (narrowly)

Parental controls

Java Edition doesn’t have much in the way of parental controls. You can essentially boil it down to: turn chat off, only join servers the parent has checked out first, and general stuff like set real-world screen time limits and enforce it. On the flipside, Bedrock Edition needs an Xbox LIVE account to play online, which means it comes with all the benefits associated, including the ability to customize privacy settings, alter who your kid can interact with, report problem players easily, and so on (you can change your child’s settings via the Xbox site here). 

Winner: Bedrock Edition


The Java Edition of Minecraft used to be the go-to version when it comes to flashy new content, but that’s since changed as Mojang aims to release updates across both versions simultaneously. On Java you can access the latest and greatest update via the launcher’s snapshot feature, whereas on Bedrock Edition there’s an ‘Experimental Gameplay’ option that works in a similar vein. If you want to try out the latest new additions, you can’t go wrong with either version. 

Winner: Draw


(Image credit: Mojang, modded by dedelner)

This all comes down to how powerful your PC is. On low-end machines, Java Edition is a muddy nightmare. Render distance is reduced, loading up massive worlds takes longer, and it’s generally more prone to crashes. If you don’t have a rig decent enough to run Minecraft (some people don’t, okay?), the Bedrock Edition has been optimized to run on just about anything.

But should you wish to really push Minecraft to the limit with realistic textures, exquisite lighting, or actual water physics, then you’ll need to go Java to get the most out of it with the best Minecraft texture packs and Minecraft shaders.   

Winner: Java Edition 

With contributions from