What is Render Dragon in Minecraft PE ?

In June of 2020, Minecraft released an update (1.16.200) for Windows that added exciting new features to the game. Join us while we tell the tale of the Render Dragon and ray tracing.


Render Dragon

Render Dragon is the new graphics engine for Minecraft Bedrock platforms. Render Dragon was developed by the Mojang Studios graphics team to give our game greater performance, stability, and flexibility. The new architecture of Render Dragon enables our developers to bring new graphics features such as physically based rendering (PBR) and ray tracing to the game.

Render Dragon has been available for Xbox and PlayStation hardware since 2019, and we are now bringing it to Windows. We plan to bring Render Dragon to all Minecraft Bedrock platforms, including mobile.

Render Dragon
Update 1.16.200 is a free update for Minecraft for Windows that includes four exciting new features:  
Render Dragon graphics engine   
New ray tracing lighting technology  
Physically-based rendering (PBR) system   
NVIDIA DLSS for supported hardware   
With these new features, players can dramatically change the look and feel of the game. Immerse yourself in volumetric fog. See Minecraft in a whole new light (yes, we went there), with a cutting-edge, dynamic lighting system, ray tracing. Players can also experience advanced kinds of block textures, including metallic surfaces, bump maps, normal maps, and light emission (Glowy, reflective dirt blocks? Yes, please!).
What is Render Dragon in Minecraft PE ?

What is Ray Tracing?

Ray tracing is a series of computer rendering techniques that bring more realistic lighting to scenes. In traditional computer rendering (or “rasterization”), lighting information is provided by objects in the scene.

In contrast, ray tracing behaves more like lighting in the real world – rays of light are shone into a scene, and lighting information is collected as those rays bounce, absorb, and scatter around objects in the world. The result is a highly realistic depiction of the way light behaves, creating dramatic effects such as:

  • Sunbeams and atmospherics  – Directional shafts of light typically occur at sunrise and sunset when sunlight passes through particles in the atmosphere or underwater.
What is Ray Tracing ?
  • Dynamic shadows - More realistic shadows that change as lighting conditions change (i.e., sundials in Minecraft!)
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  • Ambient Occlusion – shadows cast in corners or crevices where light rays cannot escape.
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  • Reflections - Light bounces off surfaces, both casting and picking up color as it travels. Bouncing light hits smoot surfaces and maintains a spread depending on the material. This can create diffuse reflections or very sharp ones.
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  • Refraction - As light passes through translucent materials, it bends and bounces. The image you see may be distorted, refracted, and its color will be affected by the translucent material.
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Ray tracing techniques have been used to bring more realism to movies for many years. However, only recently, through advances in computing, has the technique been available for real-time applications such as video games. Ray tracing, and specifically the path tracing technique Minecraft is using, is very graphically intensive.

That is why to experience ray tracing (Render Dragon), you must meet certain minimum technical requirements.

What Are The Minimum Requirements for Ray Tracing In Minecraft For Windows?

  • OS (Operation Systems): Windows 64-bit
  • GPU: DirectX hardware ray tracing capable GPU like NVIDIA GeForce® RTX 20 Series and higher, and AMD Radeon™ RX 6000 Series and higher
  • Hardware: PC; Virtual reality headsets and Mixed Reality (MR) headsets are not supported
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 or equivalent
  • RAM: >8 GB of RAM 
  • A version of Minecraft: 1.16.200 or higher

You may have to update your Windows operating system and graphics drivers to experience ray tracing.

If your hardware does not support ray tracing, you will be unable to download ray tracing content from the Minecraft Marketplace (below is the error you will see):

What Are The Minimum Requirements for Ray Tracing In Minecraft For Windows?

Minecraft Shaders

What Is Unique About Ray Tracing In Minecraft? What Is Path Tracing?

Some video games use hybrid rendering, mixing ray tracing, and traditional rasterization, where ray tracing is used to enhance some aspects of a scene (i.e., more realistic reflections).

On the other hand, Minecraft uses a technique known as path tracingto render the entire scene. In other words, almost everything you see on screen comes from ray traced lighting! Path tracing requires a lot more graphical computing power and is only available on certain hardware devices.

While there are many ways to do path tracing, Minecraft makes use of the DirectX Ray Tracing API (DXR) to leverage hardware-enabled ray tracing.

What Are Shader Mods And Lighting Mods?

The shader term is broad and can have different meanings in different contexts for Minecraft. Shaders are small programs that run on the GPU (Graphics Processing Units). For example, they give developers a way to change how the GPU draws/rasterizes objects. People have created packages of features known as “shaders” for Minecraft Java, which include some of the same features as Render Dragon, such as advanced textures, atmospherics, and dynamic shadows.

What Are Shader Mods And Lighting Mods?
(BSL Shaders: Java)

Does Render Dragon Support Community Shaders?

Currently, Render Dragon does not support 3rd party community shaders. Any community shaders previously used on Minecraft for Windows may not run on a Render Dragon version of the game.

What is “RTX” ?

“RTX” is NVIDIA’s graphics rendering platform and is available on certain NVIDIA graphics cards. NVIDIA has worked with Microsoft to integrate RTX support with Microsoft’s DirectX Raytracing API (Application Programming Interfaces) (DXR) to enable certain cards to perform ray tracing.  

Mojang Studios and NVIDIA worked closely together on the development of Minecraft with ray tracing on Windows.   

Minecraft with ray tracing is supported on all hardware ray tracing capable GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) that support the DXR standard.

What is “DXR” ?

“DXR” or DirectX Raytracing is a part of Microsoft’s DirectX 12 API that enables developers to add real-time ray tracing to their video games, allowing them to achieve next-gen movie quality realism. The DXR API is an industry-standard that runs on all hardware with support for DirectX 12 Ultimate.


NVIDIA DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) is groundbreaking AI rendering technology that takes Minecraft visual fidelity to a whole new level using dedicated Tensor Core AI processors on GeForce RTX™ GPUs. DLSS taps into a deep learning neural network’s power to boost frame rates and generate beautiful, sharp images for Minecraft.   

NVIDIA DLSS gives you the performance headroom to maximize ray tracing settings and increase output resolution.

What Is Physically Based Rendering (PBR) ?

Today, textures in Minecraft are authored by modifying the color and opacity of an object.

Physically-based rendering allows developers to adjust even more properties of a material such as:

  • Emissivity – how much light an object casts
  • Metallic – how much color a material contributes to its reflection 
  • Roughness- how rough or smooth an object appears 
  • Height – simulation of depth on a flat surface 
  • Normals – simulation of curvature on a surface and how light should bounce off it
Render Dragon

Together with the more realistic lighting of ray tracing, PBR brings new realism and dimensions to Minecraft blocks.

With this update, Minecraft creators and players who have a ray tracing capable machine can edit these new properties of blocks! Metallic iron blocks – you got it! Glowy lava – all yours!

Is Ray Tracing A Special Version Of Minecraft?

Ray tracing is a free feature included in the Minecraft for Windows game! Players who own Minecraft for Windows can experience ray tracing for free if they meet the minimum technical requirements and the game has the 1.16.200 update or higher.

Is Minecraft With Ray Tracing Free?

Yes! Players who own Minecraft for Windows can experience ray tracing for free as part of the 1.16.200 game update. Please note that you must meet the minimum technical requirements to experience some of these new features.

Render Dragon

Render Dragon

Render Dragon

Sounds Awesome! How Do I Experience It?

If you meet the minimum requirements for Render Dragon and you are on the Windows version of the game, you can experience ray tracing in Minecraft in one of two ways. 

1. Download ray tracing enabled packs in the Minecraft Marketplace.

  • Many free worlds featuring PBR and ray tracing are available in the Minecraft Marketplace, with more to come. 
  • You can find all the content supporting ray tracing in the Marketplace by selecting the blue icon.
Render Dragon

2. Create your own PBR textures and sideload them into the game.

  • Check out the NVIDIA Minecraft with RTX PBR Texturing Guide for more information.
  • Note: at this time ray tracing cannot be enabled for all world seeds.
  • After you are inside a ray tracing enabled world, ray tracing lighting will be turned on by default.

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