In this post, we will discuss the top 10 Minecraft server jars for both performance and features. We will discuss Paper/Spigot and its forks, as well as modded jars, and provide download links for each.
Pufferfish is a fork developed by Pufferfish Host. Pufferfish is a highly optimized Minecraft server jar that includes many features useful to large servers. It includes async mob spawning, heavily optimized hoppers, and improved map rendering speed. It's also fully compatible with all spigot and paper plugins. Its companion fork, Pufferfish+, includes additional features like async pathfinding, async entity tracking, and some other miscellaneous improvements. Pufferfish+ is available to all Pufferfish Host customers for free. Standalone licenses are also available for purchase.
Paper is the most popular Minecraft server jar file around. It started in Minecraft 1.8 to add additional optimizations to Minecraft, and has since grown to become the most popular Minecraft server fork. You can never go wrong with Paper.
If you want the performance of Pufferfish with even more crazy non-vanilla features, Purpur is the jar for you. Purpur's most popular feature is ridable entities, but they include literally thousands of config options. Feel free to go buck wild!
Spigot is one of the earliest server jar files still maintained today. Spigot started off as a fork of Bukkit. It includes some performance patches, but is generally far slower and more buggy than paper and its forks. For this reason, we recommend using Paper or one of its forks instead of Spigot.
If you are interested in using the latest and greatest mods, Fabric is the server jar for you. While you can have excellent modded Minecraft experiences with Fabric, there are also vanilla-compatible mods available that greatly improve client and server-side performance. If you want to maintain vanilla parity and improve performance for your server, we recommend using Fabric and some if its many enhanced performance mods.
Forge is the classic modded Minecraft server jar. Forge supports many fun mods and modpacks, and you can really have a blast with your friends if you're getting bored of vanilla minecraft. Forge doesn't have too much in the way of performance mods though, and is more "legacy" than fabric, so we generally recommend using Fabric instead of Forge if your mods support both mod loaders.
Sponge is a fully-open source re-implemetation of the Minecraft server. The sponge server jar allows you to create plugins using the sponge plugin API, which is slowly growing in popularity. Only a small handful of plugins support sponge though, so you may be better off using a more traditional server software.
Airplane was formerly the fastest publicly available server jar before it was discontinued. Airplane pioneered features such as DAB, which allowed laggy entities like villagers to tick more slowly when further away from players. Now that Airplane has discontinuted, you should use Pufferfish instead.
Tuinity was a server jar that added many improvements on top of paper, most notably no-tick view distances and the optimized "Starlight" chunk lighting algorithm. Tuinity's patches have since been included into Paper, and it is now a discontinued project.
This guide wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Vanilla server jar. Unfortunately, the vanilla jar is quite buggy and slow compared to alternatives, so we don't recommend using it unless it's absolutely required for things like speedruns.
There's our roundup of the best Minecraft server jars. As always, if you're looking to improve the performance of your Minecraft server, the easiest way is to get better hardware. Pufferfish Host has the latest and fastest CPUs for Minecraft available at affordable prices. Check us out!