Do You Need a Graphics Card for Minecraft?

The question “Do you need a graphics card for Minecraft?” actually refers to whether you need a DEDICATED graphics card or not. In other words, is an integrated graphics card good enough for Minecraft?

The simple answer to the question is, No! you DO NOT need a dedicated graphics card for Minecraft to work. Minecraft isn’t a very demanding game and therefore even a potato PC with a decent integrated GPU should suffice for Minecraft.

However when playing at max settings, high resolution, draw distance and when using graphics enhancing mods particularly, you will certainly need a good dedicated graphics card.

In the following text I will talk in detail about whether you need a graphics card for Minecraft by looking at the system requirements, in game testing and also benchmark comparisons.

Also Read: Minecraft PC Build Guide

For Starters: What is the Difference Between Integrated vs Dedicated GPU?

People often confuse the fact that if they do not have standalone graphics card installed on their motherboard, then they do not have a GPU at all.

That is hardly the case. All PCs require a graphics card in order to display stuff on the screen. No GPU means no display.

The question boils down to whether you need a dedicated (standalone) or is the integrated (built-into the CPU) sufficient for the tasks you are running.

Integrated GPU include the likes of Intel HD and Intel UHD series graphics as well as AMD Vega series GPUs.

Now compared to NVIDIA’s and AMD’s dedicated GPUs, the integrated graphics card are far weaker. The table below explains this further:

GPU G3D
Mark
Notes
Intel UHD 630 1395 Integrated; As found on 8-10th Gen
Intel CPUs
Intel UHD 750 1684 Integrated; As found on 11th Gen+
Intel CPUs
AMD Radeon
Vega 8
(2018 Version)
1704 Integrated; AMD 2000 Series APU
Intel UHD 770 1928 Integrated; As Found on 12th Gen Intel CPUs.
Intel Iris Pro 580 2044 Integrated; Found on premium laptops.
AMD Radeon
Vega 11
(2018 Version)
2139 Integrated; AMD 2000 Series APU
Nvidia GeForce
GT 1030
($79)
2613 Dedicated; GPU
Entry Level
AMD Ryzen 5
5600G
Vega 7 Graphics
2639 Integrated; As found on the Ryzen 5600G
AMD Ryzen 7
5700G
Vega 8 Graphics
2708 Integrated; As found on the Ryzen 5700G
AMD Radeon
RX 550
($79)
2764 Dedicated; GPU
Entry Level
NVIDIA GeForce
RTX 3080Ti
26,677 Dedicated; High End

You can see from the table above that the even the best integrated GPUs, the AMD Vega 8 as found on the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G, is far weaker compared to the High End NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080Ti (2708 vs 26,677 points).

In fact, even some of the cheapest and entry level dedicated GPUs such as the AMD RX 550 is better in performance as compared to the current best iGPU i.e the Vega 8.

With the performance difference between an iGPU and dedicated GPU established, we will now gauge whether Minecraft needs a dedicated GPU or if the integrated GPU would suffice.

Also Read: Is Integrated Graphics Card Good Enough?

Integrated or Dedicated GPU for Minecraft 

To check whether an integrated GPU is sufficient for Minecraft or if you need a separate dedicated graphics card, we need to look at some case studies.

People have even played this game on almost every GPU possible ranging from the weaker Intel UHD 610 as well as the super expensive RTX 3090/

Here are the results:

Case Study: iGPU Intel UHD 610 (G3D Mark Score 732)

A user on Youtube tested Minecraft on one of the weakest integrated GPUs available i.e the Intel UHD 610 along with an entry level Intel Pentium Gold G5400 GPU. 

On “Fast” graphics settings and the 8 chunks of Render Distance, he was able to achieve frames per second well above the 60 mark even under intensive conditions like raining.

The following image is a screenshot from the video. 

Minecraft GPU Requirement
Image Source: Benchmarks YT Channel on an integrated Intel HD Graphics.

As such, this here forms the minimum benchmark. A game that can be played on an Intel UHD 610, can be played on almost ALL PCs without having to buy a separate dedicated graphics card. 

Case Study: iGPU Intel HD 630 (G3D Mark Score 1128)

I personally tested the game on my Intel HD 630 graphics with an Intel Core i7 7700HQ.

The graphics setting were set at “Fast”, 1920×1080 Resolution, Smooth Lighting set to OFF, Render Distance of 12, Biome Blend set to 5×5.

The game was easily playable. If the game world was generated, the game easily maintained 60 FPS. However, as you moved around and as the game world loaded, I did experience drop in frames.

Do You Need a Graphics Card for Minecraft
The game maintained good frame rates. However, when moving if the game world was being generated, frame drops were seen.

Case Study: Dedicated AMD R9 270 (G3D Mark Score 4306)

RandomGaminginHD is another user on YouTube who tested Minecraft on a dedicated AMD R9 270, which happens to be one of the GPUs that meets the recommended system requirements for the game.

In this case, the graphics settings was set to Fancy, Maximum Lighting with a resolution of 1920×1080. At a render distance of 32 Chunks, the game was consistently able to run at 200 FPS. 

This indicates that for the vanilla game (without any third part mods installed), AMD R9 270, or any other dedicated graphics card that is close to its performance score, is way too powerful.

In fact, you may as well play the game on 4K settings with this graphics cards and still maintain a decent frame rate.

Case Study: Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 (G3D Mark Score 26283)

Modding knows no bounds. Even the heaviest and most powerful of graphics cards can feel underwhelming when modding Minecraft despite it being a seemingly simple game.

In fact, a user that goes by the name of DMIIITRIEV on YouTube did just that.

He tested the game with some of the heaviest mods that included extreme texture resolution, PTGI 12 Shaders, Stratum AND Ray Tracing on a gaming PC with an RTX 3090.

The game looks absolutely fantastic to say the least, however, even with the behemoth of a graphics card that is the RTX 3090, the game dips below 60 FPS!

This is quite the surprise for a game that is playable on a potato Intel UHD 610 iGPU.

DMIIITREV minecraft benchmark
Image: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 Heavily Modded Minecraft Test Run. Source: DMIIITRIEV

So the point being made here is that the vanilla game itself doesn’t require a dedicated graphics card at all, however, if you are an enthusiast and a modder, then a dedicated graphics card is a must.

Depending upon how heavily you mod the game, sky could the limit for you. 

Does Minecraft Support Ray Tracing; Do You Need a GeForce RTX Card for Minecraft?

Yes, Minecraft started supporting Ray Tracing after the release of version 1.16.200.

So in case if you cannot see the ray tracing option in the settings, then either your graphics card does not support ray tracing or your game is not updated.

It should be noted that ray tracing is only supported by a select few graphics cards that includes NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2000 and GeForce RTX 3000 series GPUs and AMD 6000 series GPUs.

Minecraft Ray Tracing
Image: Ray Tracing enabled vs No Ray Tracing Source: NVIDIA

So Do You Need a Graphics Card for Minecraft?

The short answer is no and I have already established by looking at the case studies above.

However. we can further tell what kind of GPU Minecraft needs from the System Requirements.

Minecraft System Requirements

The following are the official minimum system requirements:

CPU Intel Core i3-3210 / AMD A8-7600 APU
GPU Intel HD 4000 / AMD Radeon R5
RAM 4 GB
Hard Drive 1 GB

The following are the official recommended requirements:

CPU Intel Core i5-4690 / AMD A10-7800 APU
GPU GeForce 700 Series / AMD Radeon RX 200
RAM 8 GB
Hard Drive 4 GB (SSD Recommended)
  • System requirements taken from Mincraft.net
  • Note the system requirements above are for the Minecraft JAVA (original) edition.

If you are well versed with PC hardware, you could tell on your first glance that Minecraft DOES NOT require a powerful GPU at all.

Afterall, this game was released more than a decade ago and although there have been large updates, the game still remains very light and playable even on a potato PC.

Minimum Requirements: Intel HD 4000 / AMD Radeon R5

Intel HD 4000 is an iGPU which was released all the way back in 2012. It is more or less obsolete. 

AMD Radeon R5 is also a fairly old obsolete iGPU released way back in 2014. 

As far as their G3D mark scores go, they are nowhere close to the performance that even the weakest iGPUs today can give:

GPU G3D Mark Remarks
Intel HD 4000 333 Minecraft Minimum Requirements
AMD Radeon R5 M335 549 Minecraft Minimum Requirements
Intel UHD 610  732 iGPU found on newer Intel Pentium CPUs
Intel HD 630  1128 iGPU found in 7th gen Intel CPUs
Intel UHD 630  1315 A popular iGPU found found in 8th-10th Gen Intel CPUs.
Vega 8 Graphics 2708 Most powerful iGPU at the moment; found on AMD Ryzen 7 5700G CPU.
AMD R9 270 4308 Low End Dedicated GPU; Minecraft Recommended Requirements
GeForce RTX 3090 26283 High End Dedicated GPU

The point I am making here is that even if you have an older 7th gen Intel CPU with an Intel HD 630 GPU (or something close to it), you far exceed the minimum requirements of Minecraft.

In other words, it is difficult not to have a PC with a graphics card that is not capable of playing Minecraft today at the minimum level.

Recommended Graphics Card Requirements for Minecraft

The official recommended requirements of graphics card for Minecraft are the GeForce 700 Series / AMD Radeon RX 200.

Unfortunately, this is a bit vague as it does not point you to a model but instead points you to an entire series.

Every series has several graphics card from low-end to high end. For instance the NVIDIA GeForce 700 series has the GT 720 as the entry level graphics card, GTX 760 as the midrange and GTX 780 as the high end dedicated GPU.

Here are the scores for different GPUs from the GeForce 700 and RX 200 lines:

GPU PassMark
Score
NVIDIA
GeForce
GT 720
597
NVIDIA
GeForce
GTX 760
4780
NVIDIA
GeForce
GTX 780
8013
GPU PassMark
Score
AMD
R5 230
242
AMD
R7 260X
2892
AMD
R9 280
5608

Source of the Benchmark Scores

  1. Videocardbenchmark.net

The following chart shows how the minimum and recommended stipulated GPUs for Minecraft compare with the newer and popular iGPUs and dedicated graphics cards.

GPU Passmark Scores

A few observations can be made here. For starters the GT 720 and the AMD R5 230 dedicated GPUs are a no go and it would not make sense for you to buy them as they are even weaker than the iGPUs.

The mid range AMD R7 260X is almost as powerful as the AMD Vega 11 iGPU as found on the Ryzen 5 3400G.

The high end GTX 780 and its contemporary equivalent the AMD RX 5500 are an excellent choice if you choose to go with a dedicated GPU.

Since the GTX 780 is obsolete, the RX 5500 is a great contemporary choice if you want a high end GPU for modding the game.

Final Words

So in conclusion the answer to the question “do you need a graphics card for Minecraft?” is a resounding No! You do not need a dedicated GPU in order to enjoy the game.

However, in order to meet the higher graphics settings and resolution, you may need to procure a decent low-end dedicated graphics card.

And finally, a high end graphics card is absolutely unnecessary. You would only need a high end graphics card if you are an enthusiast and you want to go beyond the vanilla game with heavy graphics enhancing mods installed. 

Also Read:

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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