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.
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:
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
- AMD Ryzen 5 2600 ($119)
- ASRock B450M Pro4 mATX ($88.99)
- Patriot Viper Elite 2x 8GB DDR4-2666 ($64.98)
- Crucial P2 500GB M.2 SSD ($66.99)
- EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO ($299.99)
- DIYPC DIY-A1-W case ($39.94)
- EVGA 450W BR 80Plus Bronze PSU ($49.99)
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
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600 ($174.99)
- ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming 4 ($143.99)
- Team T-Force Vulcan Z 2x 8GB DDR4-3200 ($69.99)
- Crucial P1 1TB M.2 SSD ($109.99)
- Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Super Windforce OC ($499.99)
- NZXT H510 case ($69.99)
- be quiet! 600W 80Plus Gold PSU ($89.90)
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.