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Minecraft RTX Minimum Requirements: How Much PC Do You Need?

Minecraft RTX
(Image credit: Microsoft, Tom's Hardware)

Today marks the public beta of Minecraft RTX—we've already tested Minecraft RTX performance on a bunch of graphics cards and CPUs to see how it runs. But how low can you go with your hardware and still get a good experience? If you want ray tracing, which is likely why you're here as it's the only real change with Minecraft RTX, you'll need one specific piece of hardware: a GeForce RTX graphics card. These are some of the best graphics cards available, and we've been recommending them since they first launched in 2018. Fans of Minecraft who own one of these cards will be treated to some of the best ray tracing effects yet. Just be prepared for much lower performance than traditional Minecraft.

What are the official hardware requirements for Minecraft RTX? Microsoft specifies a GeForce RTX card, a Core i5 or better CPU, and 8GB of system RAM. You'll also need Windows 10, of course—and it's probably best to go with the latest 1909 build, aka the November 2019 update. That means, at a minimum, you need a GeForce RTX 2060, which now costs around $300—a big expense just for Minecraft.

Here's the thing: There's no mention of the generation of Core i5 hardware that's required. 1st Gen Core i5 would mean something like the Core i5-660. That's a 2-core/4-thread CPU running at 3.33 GHz hailing from 2010! Could that actually run Minecraft RTX? Actually, yes, it could. Based on our tests with a Pentium Gold G5400 (a 2-core/4-thread CPU running at 3.7GHz), you might get slower performance than a state-of-the-art Core i9-9900K, but your bottleneck is still far more likely to be your GPU—especially at the default settings. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

In our testing, at 1080p with DLSS enabled and the default 8 chunk ray tracing render distance, the slowest CPU we tested averaged just 5% lower frames per second (fps) than the fastest CPU we tested. And that's with a $1,000-plus GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. What about using something a little less beefy, like a GeForce RTX 2060? Yeah, we checked that as well and here are the results: 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

So even if you have a relatively pathetic CPU—most desktop chips made within the past decade should suffice—Minecraft RTX should run acceptably at 1080p with an RTX 2060. There's certainly more variability in performance than normal, but the Core i9-9900K wasn't even able to deliver a consistently faster result at the default settings (DLSS 'Quality' mode with 8 chunk render distance). It has a slightly better 99th percentile framerate, but ended up 1 fps slower on average than the Pentium. Increasing the ray-traced render distance to the maximum 24 chunks flips the tables, giving the i9-9900K a 1.7 fps advantage on average (5%) but a slightly lower 99th percentile fps (-2%).

Unless you're running an RTX 2080 Ti, or at least an RTX 2070 Super, you probably don't need to worry about skimping on your CPU. Maybe more complex Minecraft worlds will tax the CPU a bit more, but clearly full ray tracing is pounding the GPU and its RT cores. It is worth noting that slower CPUs do have one noticeable disadvantage: object pop-in (eg, blocks loading) with a higher render distance becomes more noticeable. You can see it even on a Core i9-9900K or Ryzen 9 3950X, but loading in and processing all the extra chunks appears to take a bit more time on something like a Pentium G5400. 

Minecraft RTX PC Builds 

Just because it's possible to run Minecraft RTX on an ultra-barebones PC doesn't mean that's what we recommend, of course. If you already have even a modest PC in your house, sure, buy a GeForce RTX 2060 Founders Edition or one of the other $300 RTX 2060 cards. You might lose a bit of performance or have slightly longer load times than someone with a brand-new Core i9 or Ryzen 9 build, but that's about all you're missing. But if you want to build a new PC for the express purpose of playing Minecraft RTX, here's what we recommend: 

Minecraft RTX Budget PC Build for 1080p 

That's $730 for a respectable gaming PC—not counting the OS, but you can get Windows 10 for free, or as little as $30. Could we have saved even more money? Sure. You could get a 4-core CPU, a slightly cheaper motherboard, 2x 4GB RAM, and ditch the SSD storage to shave about $100 off the price. But then we'd be talking about a PC build that we don't actually recommend.

Nearly half of the total cost is in the graphics card, and we figure anyone buying an RTX 2060 will probably end up wanting to try out other ray tracing-enhanced games as well. Buying slightly more expensive components that will improve your overall PC experience ends up being the far better long-term decision. Or you can go the other way and spend more money for a more potent gaming PC:

Minecraft RTX Mid-range PC Build for 1440p

That's a big jump in price ($1,150) for only a modest bump in performance. You do get twice the storage capacity, a better case and power supply, and a graphics card that's about 30% faster according to our GPU hierarchy. Those are all good things, but it's certainly a lot of money to spend on Minecraft RTX. Or you could just buy the RTX 2070 Super and use it with your current PC, which will likely give you nearly the same performance in the game.

If you're serious about building a new gaming PC, you may also want to wait for the Minecraft beta period to end and see what Nvidia's upcoming RTX 3080 / Ampere brings to the table, along with AMD's Big Navi, both of which should also be out by the end of 2020. You probably won't save money, but you could end up with a significantly faster GPU in the next 6-8 months. But if you simply must play Minecraft RTX today? It's right there in the name: You'll need an RTX graphics card. 

  • bollwerk
    Found a typo:
    " It is worth nothing that slower CPUs.."
    I'm assuming that should be "noting", not "nothing"
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    bollwerk said:
    Found a typo:
    " It is worth nothing that slower CPUs.."
    I'm assuming that should be "noting", not "nothing"
    Thanks! Muscle memory can be a harsh mistress.
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    "That's nearly double the price ($1,150) for far less than double the performance. "

    $1150 is less than 60% more than the $730 of the first build. That's not really close to "nearly double the price" in comparative terms (i.e. 100% more).

    Longevity-wise, I think that Ryzen 3600 will give you more usefulness over the years vs previous-gen Ryzen 2600. Add in the ~$115 by replacing the CPU, m/b, and memory from the 1080p build with the 1440p build, and you have a decent budget PC for ~$845. (Of course, some may not consider $845 to really be a "budget" PC, so we'll just call it a decent 1080p build.)
    Reply
  • WildCard999
    Looking forward to a similar article when Crytek does a RTX version of Crysis.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    2Be_or_Not2Be said:
    "That's nearly double the price ($1,150) for far less than double the performance. "

    $1150 is less than 60% more than the $730 of the first build. That's not really close to "nearly double the price" in comparative terms (i.e. 100% more).

    Longevity-wise, I think that Ryzen 3600 will give you more usefulness over the years vs previous-gen Ryzen 2600. Add in the ~$115 by replacing the CPU, m/b, and memory from the 1080p build with the 1440p build, and you have a decent budget PC for ~$845. (Of course, some may not consider $845 to really be a "budget" PC, so we'll just call it a decent 1080p build.)
    I think I wrote the "nearly double" before I bumped the RAM up to 16GB, storage to 500GB, and used a slightly cheaper CPU. At one point it was $620 vs. $1150, but then I decided I couldn't recommend the $620 build in good conscience, because there were way too many caveats. I'll go tweak the double bit now...
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    WildCard999 said:
    Looking forward to a similar article when Crytek does a RTX version of Crysis.
    It's supposedly already in the works, though I don't know that RTX ray tracing is confirmed. I saw something about it being "API agnostic" -- which would mean it doesn't use the hardware in RTX cards, or AMD's upcoming Big Navi, which sort of defeats the point IMO. But I guess we'll see.
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    I gotta say - when I thought of a game to really highlight ray-tracing, Minecraft was not the first one I'd have considered. :)
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    It's supposedly already in the works, though I don't know that RTX ray tracing is confirmed. I saw something about it being "API agnostic" -- which would mean it doesn't use the hardware in RTX cards, or AMD's upcoming Big Navi, which sort of defeats the point IMO. But I guess we'll see.

    https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/16/21223384/crysis-remastered-nintendo-switch-leak-website

    “Crysis Remastered will focus on the original game’s single-player campaigns and is slated to contain high-quality textures and improved art assets, an HD texture pack, temporal anti-aliasing, SSDO, SVOGI, state-of-the-art depth fields, new light settings, motion blur, and parallax occlusion mapping, particle effects will also be added where applicable,” reads the blog post. “Further additions such as volumetric fog and shafts of light, software-based ray tracing, and screen space reflections provide the game with a major visual upgrade.”



    Based on how much effort is going into reworking the graphics, it does seem like an odd choice to not use DXR.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    ...and we've been recommending them since they first launched in 2018.
    Or, you know, well before they launched. >_>

    2Be_or_Not2Be said:
    Of course, some may not consider $845 to really be a "budget" PC, so we'll just call it a decent 1080p build.
    Actually, it could be considered a relatively decent "1440p build" in most other games, even without those additions, as performance will tend to be more GPU-limited at that resolution. It's probably worth adding in at least the RAM though, seeing as it only saves about $5 dropping down to DDR4-2666. $55 more for a Ryzen 3600 could be considered reasonable, but if you start adding another $55 for an X570 board, you could have instead moved up to a 2060 SUPER or 2070, if performance in Minecraft RTX is the primary concern.

    As another option, one could instead drop the CPU down to a Ryzen 1600 AF for almost no performance loss, and that would bring the total cost of the build, even with the faster RAM, down to around $700.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    cryoburner said:
    Or, you know, well before they launched. >_>
    No, that's patently incorrect. The first RTX GPUs absolutely launched in 2018. To be specific, the RTX 2080 Ti was launched on September 27, 2018, the RTX 2080 on September 20, 2018, and RTX 2070 FE on October 17, 2018. The RTX 2060 FE was January 15, 2019, and the various RTX 20xx Super cards were in July 2019 (July 9 for the 2060S and 2070S, and Just 23 for the 2080S). Public reviews I think were even allowed about a week in advance of the retail launch dates -- certainly the RTX 2070/2060 Super were on July 2, 2019.

    cryoburner said:
    Actually, it could be considered a relatively decent "1440p build" in most other games, even without those additions, as performance will tend to be more GPU-limited at that resolution. It's probably worth adding in at least the RAM though, seeing as it only saves about $5 dropping down to DDR4-2666. $55 more for a Ryzen 3600 could be considered reasonable, but if you start adding another $55 for an X570 board, you could have instead moved up to a 2060 SUPER or 2070, if performance in Minecraft RTX is the primary concern.

    As another option, one could instead drop the CPU down to a Ryzen 1600 AF for almost no performance loss, and that would bring the total cost of the build, even with the faster RAM, down to around $700.
    Long-term, though, I'd rather have an X570 board than X470, and I figure you either go 2nd gen Ryzen with a cheaper B450 board, or go for X570 and 3rd gen Ryzen is my feeling. 1600 AF is fine, though the 2600 does clock a bit higher. Either will work (along with lots of other CPUs), and with a modest (2070 or lower / RX 5700 or lower) GPU you're not likely to end up being CPU limited in games. But the from Zen+ to Zen 2, 7nm node, higher clocks, PCIe Gen4 are worth having. If you can justify a $500 GPU like a 2070 Super, I don't think there's any reason to stick with anything less than Ryzen 3000 and X570. They're not required, but then neither is a 2070 Super.
    Reply