10+ Best Stable Diffusion checkpoints (SD 1.5)

Top 10 best Stable Diffusion checkpoints of SD 1.5

Now that you know what Stable Diffusion is, how to install it, and the basic usage of Stable Diffusion, you must be wondering what Stable checkpoints to use. I’ve compiled the top 10 best Stable Diffusion checkpoints for SD 1.5.

You’ve probably downloaded Stability AI’s official Stable Diffusion 1.5 model (SD 1.5) during the installation process. While it is a big improvement over the Stable Diffusion 1.4 model (SD 1.4), it is still a base model for general use with the main purpose of showcasing what Stable Diffusion 1.5 is capable of.

If you followed my installation guide, you would have installed the DreamShaper v8 checkpoint. It’s the model I recommend to people who are new to Stable Diffusion.

To bring your Stable Diffusion to the next level, you need to get a custom checkpoint like DreamShaper. Before we dive into the top checkpoints, let’s have a brief look at what best Stable Diffusion checkpoints are.

The best Stable Diffusion checkpoints ranked

I have listed the top 10 best Stable Diffusion checkpoints based on their popularity, ranking them based on the total number of downloads they have on Civitai.

Top 10 Stable Diffusion checkpoints

These checkpoints are ranked by popularity as of writing. Note that some of these checkpoints differ by very small number of downloads, so expect the rankings to fluctuate.

Regardless of their standings, these checkpoints are very established and popular amongst Stable Diffusion and are great to starting points for your Stable Diffusion journey.

1. Realistic Vision

  • Type: Merge
  • Usage: Photograph
  • Download: Civitai

It is a close fight between Realistic Vision and ChilloutMix, but Realistic Vision edges out slightly probably because it can generate a wider range of face types. It is merged from a long list of realistic checkpoints to squeeze the most realism out of them.

While I don’t use Realistic Vision that much, I use the inpainting checkpoint all the time. It is great for fixing photorealistic images.

2. ChilloutMix

  • Type: Merge
  • Usage: Photograph, digital painting
  • Download: Civitai

ChilloutMix is so good at creating realistic images that it stirred up a lot of controversy around the generation of images with a real person’s face. The issue snowballed to a point where the creator had to transfer ownership of the checkpoint to Civitai and go into hiding to avoid legal repercussions. I take this as proof of the checkpoint’s capability and popularity.

Besides being the most popular realistic checkpoint for Asian faces, ChilloutMix is also used by to train many LoRAs and checkpoints, even non-realistic ones.

ChilloutMix is released under the Dreamlike License due to the checkpoint it used in the merge that is rather restrictive. Model creators seem to have bypassed this by training models using generated images instead of just merging.

3. DreamShaper

DreamShaper by Lyon is the checkpoint I recommend to all Stable Diffusion beginners. If you’ve followed my installation and getting started guides, you would already have DreamShaper installed.

It is a very flexible checkpoint and can generate a wide range of styles and realism levels.

4. MajicMix Realistic

Type: Merge
Usage: Photograph, digital painting
MajicMix Realistic has become the standard for photorealism in the later half of 2023. It is one of my most used checkpoints, though nowadays I tend to switch between one of the MajicMix Realistic derivatives out there for a more specific look.

How popular is it? MajicMix Realistic has a recognisable face, especially before v7. It’s so easy to spot the face and I see it a lot on Taobao. Yes, Taobao sellers are already using AI-generated images for product images in mid-2023.

5. Uber Realistic Porn Merge (URPM)

  • Type: Merge
  • Usage: Photograph, digital painting
  • Download: Civitai (NSFW)

You can tell from the name that URPM is created to generated realistic NSFW images. That explains its popularity. It is very good with anatomy, naturally, and hence is used in many checkpoint merges for realistic and non-realistic models. Realistic Vision contains URPM.

Realistic Vision delivers better skin and hair textures due to the other checkpoints in the merge. But if you want a high level of NSFW concepts in your output, you might want to consider URPM.

6. epiCRealism

  • Type: Merge
  • Usage: Type: Photograph
  • Download: Civitai

EpiCRealism by epinikion takes realistic output to the next level with the amazing skin and hair texture it generates. On top of realism, it can create images with a photographic look if you prompt for it. I love the cinematic lighting it’s capable of. This special look that epiCRealism delivers has led to many checkpoints being merged or trained with it.

Realistic Vision contains epiCRealism, but I feel that it lost some of the latter’s magic touch in the merge. When I want the photos to look like a photograph, epiCRealism is the first checkpoint I would use. Its derivatives are also useful if you want to go for a particular look.

7. ReV Animated

  • Type: Merge
  • Usage: Digital painting
  • Download: Civitai

If you’re looking to create artwork with intricate details, ReV Animated is the checkpoint. It is so good at generate complex details and delivers a stunning digital painting style with the 2.5D to semi-realistic look it produces.

Unfortunately, the creator is no longer maintaining the model. I used to start off almost all my pieces with a Rev Animated draft, but it’s age is showing and there are other checkpoints out there that handles hands and complex poses better.

8. Perfect World

  • Type: Merge
  • Usage: Render, digital painting
  • Download: Civitai

Perfect World specialises in a semi-realistic look inspired by artwork from the game of the same name. It exaggerates body proportions, a goal that it proudly strives for. If that’s your thing, then this checkpoint is perfect for render-like and digital painting outputs.

9. MeinaMix

  • Type: Merge
  • Usage: Anime
  • Download: Civitai

MeinaMix is hands down my favourite anime checkpoint for the typical anime look. It strikes a good balance between the character and background.

10. Beautiful Realistic Asians

  • Type: Merge
  • Usage: Photograph
  • Download: Civitai

Beautiful Realistic Asians (BRA) by pleasebankai is capable of generating very realistic photographs of Asian subjects. However, I find that it takes good prompt engineering to coax the best out of it, and this kind of explains why it is less popular than ChilloutMix. When used right, BRA generates better realism than ChilloutMix.

The photographs BRA generates have a cinematic aesthetic to them like epiCRealism but specialising in Asian features. Why the need for Asian-specific checkpoints? Well, most of the general checkpoints give Asian faces that lean towards the Western stereotypes or preferences. These Asian-specific checkpoints delivers output that with Asian aesthetics.

Many realistic checkpoints use BRA in their merge partly because of its quality, and partly to avoid the licensing issue with ChilloutMix.

11. CyberRealistic (Bonus)

To me, CyberRealistic sits between Realistic Vision and epiCRealism. I feel that it delivers output closer to what Realistic Vision is trying to achieve while retaining a more photographic aesthetic. It also works very well with textual inversions and LoRAs, though I’ll need to do some tests to determine if it is more versatile than the other two checkpoints.

Realistic Vision contains CyberRealistic. I suggest trying all three to see which you prefer, or just switch between them. All three are great for photorealistic output, especially if you want to avoid Asian faces.

12. Counterfeit (Bonus)

I had to add this as another bonus to the Top 10 because the majority of anime checkpoints out there can be traced back to Counterfeit. They either use Counterfeit or a derivative in their merges, or are trained with Counterfeit-generated data sets.

Before Counterfeit and Abyss Orange Mix came about, anime checkpoints were mostly trained on the controversial Anything V3. Anything V3 is suspected to be the leaked NovelAI checkpoint, and hence has a lot of question marks hanging over it regarding copyright infringement.


Top 10 best Stable Diffusion checkpoints of SD 1.5
Top 10 best Stable Diffusion checkpoints of SD 1.5

These top ten or twelve best Stable Diffusion checkpoints are ranked based on their total number of downloads on Civitai at the time of publishing this article. This might not be a truly accurate reflection of their popularity, because some of them have multiple versions and downloads of all the versions add up to the total downloads.

A checkpoint with ten versions can have someone downloading all eight out of ten versions, whereas another with one version gets only one download. Still, it is a good list to get you started if you are new to Stable Diffusion, and you’re looking for checkpoints to play with.

Having more versions means more effort has been put in to keep improving the checkpoints. If you’re interested to rank the checkpoints based on the actual number of downloads, check out my Ultimate Stable Diffusion Checkpoint Database for a comprehensive breakdown by version.

Free Notion resource

I’m giving away my personal top 10 Stable Diffusion photorealistic checkpoint list for free when you join my newsletter. While it is less comprehensive than the paid Ultimate Database, this free list is a good way starting point if you are new to the world of Stable Diffusion.

I’ve split the list so that you can view the top 10 trained checkpoints, top 10 merged checkpoints, or the overall top 10 checkpoints.

What about anime or painterly checkpoints? You can find them in the Ultimate Database. There’s just an overwhelming number of anime checkpoints out there. Besides, they differ a lot by art style and that is subject to personal taste, so it doesn’t make sense for to rank them.

You get the full-sized comparison grids to study the effect of different variables and parameters on the checkpoints output. I create these for my own research and write down my notes in the Ultimate Database, and I’m sharing it with you.

Feel free to reach out if you have checkpoints to suggest or if you want me to do a more in-depth review.

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