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[Unity] Thorough comparison of URP, HDRP, and built-in! Which one should we use?

  • Evelyn
    Full-time IndieDev.
    I'm Japanese, so please forgive me if my English is strange.

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Which rendering pipeline am I supposed to use?

Have you ever wondered when you start making a new game in Unity?

Personally, I think this is one of Unity's unique problems.

I'd like to use URP or HDRP, but I'm not sure, so I'll just use the default (=built-in rendering pipeline).

I think there are a lot of people who want to use URP and HDRP, but don't know what they're doing, so they just use the default (=built-in rendering pipeline).

So, in this article, I'll compare Unity's three rendering pipelines:

  1. URP (Universal Render Pipeline)
  2. HDRP (High Definition Render Pipeline)
  3. Built-in Render Pipeline

and show you which rendering pipeline to use when making which game.

Table of Contents

Conclusion: Comparison chart of URP, HDRP, and built-in RP

So, to conclude at the outset, a comparison of URP, HDRP, and built-in RP can be seen in the following table.

Pipeline Expressiveness Drawing Speed New Features
Built-in ×

Expressiveness of graphics

First of all, HDRP is superior to the others in terms of graphic expression. This is because HDRP excels at realistic expressions and is capable of very rich expressions such as AAA titles. It also has a lot of settings that allow you to fine-tune your graphics.

As for the expressive power of URP and built-in RP, at the time of writing, I think they are almost evenly matched.

Functional reasons

Finally, as to whether or not you can use the new features (Shader Graph, VFX Graph, etc.), you can use the new features in URP and HDRP, but you cannot use them in the built-in RP.

This is because URP/HDRP is a new rendering pipeline, while built-in RP is an old rendering pipeline. Incidentally, since URP is positioned as the successor to the built-in RP, there are no plans to add new features to the built-in RP in the future.

Summary of the features of each rendering pipeline

Now that you have seen the conclusion, I would like to share the following with you.

  1. Summary of the features of each rendering pipeline
  2. What kind of games are best to use the rendering pipeline for.

About URP (Universal Render Pipeline)

First of all, there are three main characteristics of URP.

Features of URP

  1. Light drawing process.
  2. Support for all platforms.
  3. New features such as Shader Graph are available.

First of all, as you can see from the previous verification results, the drawing process is light, and that's why URP is a great feature for a wide range of platforms, from mobile devices to high-end consoles.

It also allows you to use new features such as Shader Graph, and if you are modest, you can even introduce lighting to 2D games. Basically, it's enough to think of URP as being upwardly compatible with built-in RP, and if you're planning to create a new game in the future, there's no harm in choosing URP for now.

What kind of game should I use URP for?

It is ideal for creating almost all kinds of games, including smartphone games, VR games, and 3D and 2D games that do not require rich expressions. As mentioned earlier, if you have any doubts, you can always create a project with URP.

About HDRP (High Definition Render Pipeline)

Next are the features of HDRP. There are two main ones here.

Features of HDRP

  1. Superb graphics can be achieved.
  2. Use new features such as Shader Graph.

In the case of HDRP, it can be said that its greatest feature is its "high graphic expressiveness.

Conversely, because of this, HDRP does not work on mobile devices, so it should only be used when you really want rich expression.

What kind of games should I use HDRP for?

It is ideal for games that require photorealistic 3D expressions on par with AAA titles. Only some platforms are supported, so be sure to check the specifications carefully before using it.

About Built-in Render Pipeline

Finally, the main features of built-in RP are as follows.

Features of built-in RP

  1. We don't have to think too hard to use it.
  2. We don't have to worry about compatibility when using old assets.

The built-in RP is simple, easy to use, and works well with older assets, so it's useful if you're not comfortable with other rendering pipelines.

However, there are no other advantages, and I personally do not recommend continuing to use built-in RP in the future, as it is inferior to URP in terms of processing speed.

What kind of games should you use built-in RP for?

It's still useful for game jams, simple prototypes, and other situations where you don't want to bother setting up another rendering pipeline.
It's also useful when you really need to use old assets.

Wrap up

The above is a comparison of the three rendering pipelines in Unity, and what kind of games should use each of them. What kind of games should I use each of them for?

While it is good to have three rendering pipelines to choose from, I think it is also a source of confusion, and for beginners, it may be a difficult question to decide which one to use.

However, if you understand what I have written so far, you will be able to choose the best one for your game. I hope you find this article useful.

I hope this article will be useful to you in your game creation.

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