Version: 2021.3
Render pipeline feature comparison
Choosing and configuring a render pipeline and lighting solution

How to get, set, and configure the active render pipeline

This page contains information on how to get, set, and configure the render pipelineA series of operations that take the contents of a Scene, and displays them on a screen. Unity lets you choose from pre-built render pipelines, or write your own. More info
See in Glossary
that Unity is currently using. The render pipeline that Unity is currently using is called the active render pipeline.

Overview

To render content, Unity can either use the Built-in Render Pipeline or a render pipeline based on the Scriptable Render Pipeline (SRP), which includes the Universal Render Pipeline (URP) and the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP).

To specify which Scriptable Render Pipeline Unity uses, you use Render Pipeline Assets. A Render Pipeline Asset tells Unity which SRP to use, and how to configure it. If you don’t specify a Render Pipeline Asset, Unity uses the Built-in Render Pipeline.

You can create multiple Render Pipeline Assets that use the same render pipeline, but with different configurations; for example, you can use different Render Pipeline Assets for different hardware quality levels. For a general introduction to Render Pipeline Assets, see Scriptable Render Pipeline introduction. For information on URP’s Render Pipeline Asset, see The Universal Render Pipeline Asset, and for HDRP’s Render Pipeline Asset, see The High Definition Render Pipeline Asset.

As soon as you change the active render pipeline in the Unity Editor or at runtime, Unity uses the new active render pipeline to render content. If you are in the Unity Editor, this includes the Game view, the SceneA Scene contains the environments and menus of your game. Think of each unique Scene file as a unique level. In each Scene, you place your environments, obstacles, and decorations, essentially designing and building your game in pieces. More info
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view, and previews for Materials in the Project panel and the InspectorA Unity window that displays information about the currently selected GameObject, asset or project settings, allowing you to inspect and edit the values. More info
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.

When you change the active render pipeline, you must ensure that the assets and code in your project are compatible with the new render pipeline; otherwise, you might experience errors or unintended visual effects.

Determining the active render pipeline

Settings in both Graphics Settings and Quality Settings determine the active render pipeline. In Graphics Settings, you configure the render pipeline that Unity uses by default. In Quality Settings, you can override the default render pipeline for a given quality level.

To get or set the default render pipeline, use Graphics Settings > Scriptable Render Pipeline Setting (or its equivalent API, GraphicsSettings.defaultRenderPipeline). To get or set the render pipeline that overrides the default for a given quality level, Quality Settings > Render Pipeline (or its equivalent API, QualitySettings.renderPipeline).

Unity determines the active render pipeline like this:

  • If the current Quality Settings level > Render Pipeline references a Render Pipeline Asset, Unity uses that value.
  • Otherwise:
    • If Graphics Settings > Scriptable Render Pipeline Setting references a Render Pipeline Asset, Unity uses that value.
    • Otherwise, Unity uses the Built-in Render Pipeline.

How to get and set the active render pipeline in the Editor UI

Getting the active render pipeline

To get the active render pipeline in the Editor UI(User Interface) Allows a user to interact with your application. Unity currently supports three UI systems. More info
See in Glossary
, you must check both the Graphics Settings and Quality Settings windows. For information on how to use these values to determine the active render pipeline, see Determining the active render pipeline.

Activating the Built-in Render Pipeline

To set the active render pipeline to the Built-in Render Pipeline, remove any Render Pipeline Assets from Graphics Settings and Quality Settings.

To do this:

  1. Select Edit > Project Settings > Quality.
  2. For each quality level, if a Render Pipeline Asset is assigned to the Render Pipeline field, unassign it.
  3. Select Edit > Project Settings > Graphics.
  4. If a Render Pipeline Asset is assigned to the Scriptable Render Pipeline Setting field, unassign it.

Activating URP, HDRP, or a custom render pipeline based on SRP

To set the active render pipeline to one that is based on SRP, tell Unity which Render Pipeline Asset to use as the default active render pipeline, and optionally which Render Pipeline Assets to use for each quality level.

To do this:

  1. In your Project folder, locate the Render Pipeline Asset(s) that you want to use.
  2. Set the default render pipeline, which Unity uses when there is no override for a given quality level. If you do not set this, Unity uses the Built-in Render Pipeline when no override applies.
    1. Select Edit > Project Settings > Graphics.
    2. Drag the Render Pipeline Asset on to the Scriptable Render Pipeline Setting field.
  3. Optional: Set override Render Pipeline Assets for different quality levels.
    1. Select Edit > Project Settings > Quality.
    2. Drag the Render Pipeline Asset on to the Render Pipeline field.

How to get and set the active render pipeline in C# scripts

In C# scriptsA piece of code that allows you to create your own Components, trigger game events, modify Component properties over time and respond to user input in any way you like. More info
See in Glossary
, you can get and set the active render pipeline and receive a callback when the active render pipeline changes. You can do this in Edit Mode or Play Mode in the Unity Editor, or at runtime in your application.

To do this, use the following APIs:

The following example code shows how to use these APIs:

using UnityEngine;
using UnityEngine.Rendering;
 
public class ActiveRenderPipelineExample : MonoBehaviour
{
    // In the Inspector, assign a Render Pipeline Asset to each of these fields
    public RenderPipelineAsset defaultRenderPipelineAsset;
    public RenderPipelineAsset overrideRenderPipelineAsset;
 
    void Start()
    {
        GraphicsSettings.defaultRenderPipeline = defaultRenderPipelineAsset;
        QualitySettings.renderPipeline = overrideRenderPipelineAsset;

        DisplayCurrentRenderPipeline();
    }

    void Update()
    {
        // When the user presses the left shift key, switch the default render pipeline
        if (Input.GetKeyDown(KeyCode.LeftShift)) {
            SwitchDefaultRenderPipeline();
            DisplayCurrentRenderPipeline();
        }
        // When the user presses the right shift key, switch the override render pipeline
        else if (Input.GetKeyDown(KeyCode.RightShift)) {
            SwitchOverrideRenderPipeline();
            DisplayCurrentRenderPipeline();
        }
    }

    // Switch the default render pipeline between null,
    // and the render pipeline defined in defaultRenderPipelineAsset
    void SwitchDefaultRenderPipeline()
    {
        if (GraphicsSettings.defaultRenderPipeline == defaultRenderPipelineAsset)
        {
            GraphicsSettings.defaultRenderPipeline = null;
        }
        else
        {
            GraphicsSettings.defaultRenderPipeline = defaultRenderPipelineAsset;
        }
    }

    // Switch the override render pipeline between null,
    // and the render pipeline defined in overrideRenderPipelineAsset
    void SwitchOverrideRenderPipeline()
    {
        if (QualitySettings.renderPipeline == overrideRenderPipelineAsset)
        {
            QualitySettings.renderPipeline = null;
        }
        else
        {
           QualitySettings.renderPipeline = overrideRenderPipelineAsset;
        }
    }

    // Print the current render pipeline information to the console
    void DisplayCurrentRenderPipeline()
    {
        // GraphicsSettings.defaultRenderPipeline determines the default render pipeline
        // If it is null, the default is the Built-in Render Pipeline
        if (GraphicsSettings.defaultRenderPipeline != null)
        {
            Debug.Log("The default render pipeline is defined by " + GraphicsSettings.defaultRenderPipeline.name);
        }
        else
        {
            Debug.Log("The default render pipeline is the Built-in Render Pipeline");
        }

        // QualitySettings.renderPipeline determines the override render pipeline for the current quality level
        // If it is null, no override exists for the current quality level
        if (QualitySettings.renderPipeline != null)
        {
            Debug.Log("The override render pipeline for the current quality level is defined by " + QualitySettings.renderPipeline.name);
        }
        else
        {
            Debug.Log("No override render pipeline exists for the current quality level");
        }

        // If an override render pipeline is defined, Unity uses that
        // Otherwise, it falls back to the default value
        if (QualitySettings.renderPipeline != null)
        {
            Debug.Log("The active render pipeline is the override render pipeline");
        }
        else
        {
            Debug.Log("The active render pipeline is the default render pipeline");
        }

        // To get a reference to the Render Pipeline Asset that defines the active render pipeline,
        // without knowing if it is the default or an override, use GraphicsSettings.currentRenderPipeline
        if (GraphicsSettings.currentRenderPipeline != null)
        {
            Debug.Log("The active render pipeline is defined by " +GraphicsSettings.currentRenderPipeline.name);
        }
        else
        {
            Debug.Log("The active render pipeline is the Built-in Render Pipeline");
        }
    }
}
Render pipeline feature comparison
Choosing and configuring a render pipeline and lighting solution
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