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Best Minecraft mods: the very best mods for Minecraft 1.17.1

Change Minecraft forever with the best mods for 1.17.1

What are the best Minecraft mods to spruce up your adventures? A huge part of Minecraft's success has been the ease with which it can be modded and customised to become whatever kind of game you'd most enjoy playing. From day one, Minecraft was always intended to be a highly moddable game, and over the years there have been thousands upon thousands of mods of all shapes and sizes released by the game's millions of players.

Whether you're looking for utility and performance mods or real game-changers, there's no better place to begin than right here, as we've narrowed the thousands of mods out there down to the very best, most essential mods to use with Minecraft 1.17.1.


The best Minecraft mods

Forge or Fabric: which Minecraft mod loader should you use?

To install most Minecraft mods, you'll need a modloader like Forge or Fabric. Only certain mods, such as Optifine, can run without a modloader.

The choice of which mod loader is best for you depends on which mods you want to use. Lots of mods can only be run on the longer-standing Forge, so you may end up wanting to use Forge simply so you can use all the mods you want. However, if all the mods you want to run can indeed be played on either Forge or Fabric, then I'd suggest using Fabric since I've found it to be the more lightweight and user-friendly of the two choices.


How to install Minecraft mods

The first step in order to install Minecraft mods is to download a mod loader. Make your choice between Forge and Fabric, and download and install your chosen mod loader.

After that, things get pretty simple. Just download the Minecraft mod(s) you want to use, and then move the downloaded Executable Jar File for each of your mods into your "mods" folder in your Minecraft directory. You can find your Minecraft directory by opening Windows Explorer and typing into the address bar "%appdata%\.minecraft" (without the quotes). If you don't have a mods folder, go ahead and create one, then pop the mods inside.

After that you can run Minecraft using either the Minecraft Launcher or your chosen third-party launcher, then select the installation/instance of Minecraft you want to run (Forge or Fabric) and click Play!


Best Minecraft FPS mods

A screenshot of the Minecraft settings menu with the Sodium mod enabled.

Sodium

Ooh, controversial! I'm putting Sodium above Optifine! Why? Because Sodium really does seem to be just slightly better than Optifine at optimising Minecraft and wringing as much performance from your machine as possible. Sodium is built for use with Fabric, and offers a great many extra options for customising the look of your Minecraft world and toning down or disabling the more performance-expensive aspects of vanilla Minecraft's graphics rendering.

When used in conjunction with Iris Shaders, Sodium is also the best platform I've found for running the best Minecraft shaders, allowing you to run them at the highest FPS possible and switch between them quickly on the fly. What's more, if you're missing certain useful features of Optifine (zooming, connected textures, and so on), the Fabric community has put together a host of extra mods that do all those things too.


A screenshot of the Minecraft settings menu with the Optifine mod enabled.

Optifine

What is there to say about Optifine that hasn't already been said a thousand times over? It's the most popular Minecraft mod in existence. It drastically increases the number of customisation options for Minecraft's graphics and rendering, making Mojang's notoriously un-optimised behemoth of a game surprisingly performant. Plus, just like Sodium, it lets you run your favourite shader packs - though don't expect that to increase your FPS. Quite the reverse.

Optifine is your best bet if you're not using Fabric. It's incredibly easy to play Optifine without a mod loader, but annoyingly, running Optifine with either Forge or Fabric ends up being a bit of a pain, because you need to download either OptiForge or OptiFabric (depending on your mod loader of choice) to run alongside Optifine.


A clump of XP orbs in Minecraft.

Clumps

Unlike Sodium and Optifine, Clumps isn't a great big FPS-increasing overhaul of the entire game. Instead, it solves one particular problem which tends to cause FPS drops in vanilla Minecraft: lots of experience orbs floating around at once.

This is a very common sight in worlds where players have put together XP farms to help with their Minecraft enchanting needs. Clumps is a lifesaver in these places because, as the name suggests, it clumps together all nearby XP orbs into a single orb, significantly decreasing the amount of work required by the game to render all those floating collectibles.


Best Minecraft exploration mods

A Minecraft screenshot of multiple biomes added by the Biomes O' Plenty mod.

Biomes O' Plenty

There's a reason for Biomes O' Plenty finding its way onto all the best Minecraft mods lists online: it's damn good at what it does. This expansive mod adds a great many new biome types to Minecraft's world generation, along with dozens of new block types, new foliage, and much more. This is an essential mod for injecting renewed life and interest into your Minecraft worlds, and giving you a reason to explore the Overworld again.

Of course, using this mod completely changes world generation, so you won't be able to use our list of best Minecraft seeds, but who needs it when you've got so many new biomes to explore?


A screenshot of a top-down map of a Minecraft world made using the JourneyMap mod.

JourneyMap

Available only for Forge, JourneyMap is a frankly astounding map mod for Minecraft which lets you map your world in real-time and then view your map either in full-screen or as a minimap in-game; or, best of all, in a web browser window while you play!

It's this final method which has made JourneyMap such a staple Minecraft mod all these years. Nothing quite beats playing Minecraft on one screen and then on another screen seeing a map of your world update in real-time beside you. JourneyMap also comes with a host of options for configuring the map itself and how it presents information to you.


The Antique Atlas mod item in Minecraft, which shows a map of the world inside a book.

Antique Atlas

There are various map mods out there, and JourneyMap is superior to most of them: but Antique Atlas is well worth a mention simply because of its wonderful aesthetic. This mod allows you to craft an Antique Atlas item out of a Book and a Compass, after which you can open the book up to view a beautiful Zelda-esque drawn map of your surroundings. The fact that the map lives in a book rather than on a separate screen makes the whole mod feel much more natural and immersive than any other map mod I've ever used.


A screenshot of the Nature's Compass mod item in Minecraft pointing the player towards a biome of their choice.

Nature's Compass

Nature's Compass gives you a new item - the titular Nature's Compass - which you can craft by surrounding a regular compass with logs and saplings. Right-clicking this improved compass brings up a list of every biome type, and clicking on one will detect the nearest biome of that type and guide you towards its location. Indispensable for exploring the right biomes to see Bees, Goats, and other biome-specific Minecraft mobs.


A screenshot of various tombstones in Minecraft made using the Corail Tombstone mod.

Corail Tombstone

Minecraft mods have been providing death chests and other variants of the same concept for years now, but few do it as stylishly as Corail Tombstone, which heaps all your belongings into a nearby tombstone when you die.

With all sorts of gravestone customisation options, both visual and functional, you can set Corail Tombstone up to work exactly how you want, and never again have to suffer the indescribable pain of losing your entire expedition's worth of ores and materials with one careless wrong step. A fantastic companion for when you're digging deep underground to find Diamonds, or embarking on a Nether expedition to gather Netherite, Potion ingredients, or the items you need to challenge the Wither boss.


A screenshot of a menu in the Waystones mod of Minecraft, which allows the player to select between various locations to teleport.

Waystones

If you've been playing Valheim recently and lament the fact that vanilla Minecraft doesn't give you the ability to instantly teleport to different areas, then Waystones is the mod for you. This mod allows you to craft Waystones and give them tags, then teleport to them either with one-use scrolls or a Warpstone, or by interacting with another Waystone elsewhere.


Best Minecraft creative mods

Island fortress built in Minecraft

WorldEdit

WorldEdit is the ultimate building and construction tool for Minecraft, full stop. With a tremendously powerful series of different commands and tools available to you in Creative Mode, WorldEdit is all but necessary for the timely creation of vast Minecraft builds, from adventure maps to colossal structures and landscapes, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Using Minecraft commands you can create, copy, and paste different blueprints; you can select and fill areas, create shapes such as cylinders and spheres of any size on the fly, and so much more. This makes it easy to make buildings quickly, like a cloud-scraping Minecraft tower.


A screenshot of a wood and stone bridge in Minecraft made using the Chisels and Bits mod.

Chisels and Bits

Chisels and Bits is a powerful mod which gives players access to various chisel tools, with which you can carve individual blocks down, pixel by pixel, into any shape your heart desires. There's no end to what you can accomplish with the Chisel tool, from decorative statues and blocks for your castle to physically etched signs and much more. It's the perfect way to add new challenge and possibility into your latest Minecraft house ideas.


Best Minecraft quality of life mods

The three types of backpack added to Minecraft with the Useful Backpacks mod, set against a Minecraft landscape backdrop.

Useful Backpacks

A simple, lightweight, and brilliant mod, Useful Backpacks allows you to craft three levels of backpack, each of which gives you extra inventory storage space. There are many mods out there that give you increased inventory slots and the like, but none of them fit in with Minecraft's aesthetic and style like Useful Backpacks does.

Of course, with the arrival of Minecraft 1.18 we're going to see Bundles incorporated into vanilla Minecraft, but they're not nearly as powerful as the backpacks you'll be able to create using this mod.


A screnshot of the various types of chests added to Minecraft with the Iron Chets mod.

Iron Chests

Iron Chests is another mod with a name that gives you a suitable idea of its purpose. But what you might not have expected is that this mod actually gives you a whole array of new types of chest for storing your items inside, each built out of a different material (Iron, Gold, Diamond, Obsidian), each able to hold more items than the last or giving you extra benefits, such as explosion resistance with the Obsidian Chest. A very handy mod for hoarders.


A Minecraft screenshot of some Oak Leaves, with the HWYLA mod displaying details about the block to the player.

HWYLA

What HWYLA does, quite simply, is give you a little tooltip when you hover your reticule over literally any world item or block, telling you exactly what it is (and, if you like, which mod it comes from). One of the most lightweight Minecraft mods in this list, it's also right up there for the most essential and useful. Whis this not just part of vanilla Minecraft by now?


A cluttered inventory in Minecraft.

Inventory Sorter

Inventory Sorter is a lightweight addon that adds two very simple but very useful mechanics to organising items in inventories or chests. The first: clicking the middle mouse button in an inventory will auto-sort all items inside. The second: you can mousewheel scroll over an item stack in order to move the item one at a time into your inventory, or vice versa. You owe it to yourself to just use this mod all the time until it's added to Minecraft by default.


The Crafting Table window in Minecraft, inside which the player is crafting a stone furnace.

FastWorkbench

For players who played Minecraft before version 1.12, you will likely remember crafting being much more responsive than it's been since. FastWorkbench looks to increase the responsiveness of crafting items in a crafting table, along with disabling the recipe book to increase performance and the speed with which you can log in to your game. A lightweight, must-have mod in my book, alongside the Placebo mod which FastWorkbench requires to work.


A Minecraft player is surrounded by long grass which impairs their visibility.

SwingThroughGrass

Say it with me now: long grass sucks. And apparently there are many who share this opinion, because SwingThroughGrass has become one of the most downloaded Minecraft mods. Quite simply, this mod allows you to swing a sword or other weapon through long grass, preventing that super-irritating issue of the swing being interrupted by the long grass for no reason whatsoever.


Two Minecraft trees side-by-side in a plains biome.

FastLeafDecay

Here's a mod I never knew I needed in my life. FastLeafDecay does exactly what it says on the tin, significantly reducing the time it takes for a trunk-less tree to despawn all its leaf blocks. Instead of waiting a minute or more, the whole process is over in less than two seconds. It's very satisfying, and certainly nicer when you're farming for saplings or apples.


A Minecraft screenshot of the inventory window with the Appleskin mod displaying details about a Cooked Porkchop item.

AppleSkin

Can you say with any certainty that you 100% understand the saturation mechanic in Minecraft? I can now, and it's all thanks to AppleSkin. Not only does this super-useful little mod tell you how much hunger a food item will replenish when you hover over it, but it'll also give you the saturation level of each item too - a stat which Minecraft hides by default.


And with that, I think we'll wrap up this Minecraft mods discussion. That's quite a hefty array of mods to be getting on with anyway - some of which quite significantly change the game, but most of which simply make Minecraft a little easier and more pleasant to get along with. If you want to change the look of your Minecraft game more than the way it plays, then take a look at our list of the best Minecraft texture packs.

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Ollie Toms

Guides Editor

Ollie is known round these parts for having just about the deepest voice in existence. Some say he used to be pretty darn good at Rocket League, but he has since sacrificed that accolade in order to become passably decent at Apex Legends. His favourite pastimes include playing piano covers of his favourite game soundtracks, and burying his face in the warm fur of his two cats.

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