Rendering Paths

Unity supports different Rendering Paths. You shouldchoose which one you use depending on your game content and targetplatform / hardware. Different rendering paths have differentfeatures and performance characteristics that mostly affect Lightsand Shadows.

The rendering Path used by your project is chosenin Player Settings.Additionally, you can override it foreach Camera.

If the graphics card can’t handle a selected rendering path, Unitywill automatically use a lower fidelity one. So on a GPU that can’thandle Deferred Lighting, Forward Rendering will be used. IfForward Rendering is not supported, Vertex Lit will be used.

Deferred Lighting

DeferredLighting is the rendering path with themost lighting and shadow fidelity. It is best used if you have manyrealtime lights. It requires a certain level of hardware support,is for UnityPro only.

For more details see the Deferred Lightingpage.

Forward Rendering

Forward is ashader-based rendering path. It supports per-pixel lighting(including normal maps & light Cookies) and realtime shadowsfrom one directional light. In the default settings, a small numberof the brightest lights are rendered in per-pixel lighting mode.The rest of the lights are calculated at object vertices.

For more details see the Forward Renderingpage.

Vertex Lit

VertexLit is the rendering path with the lowestlighting fidelity and no support for realtime shadows. It is bestused on old machines or limited mobile platforms.

For more details see the Vertex Lit page.

Rendering Paths Comparison

  Deferred Lighting Forward Rendering Vertex Lit
Features
Per-pixel lighting (normal maps, light cookies) Yes Yes -
Realtime shadows Yes 1 Directional Light -
Dual Lightmaps Yes - -
Depth&Normals Buffers Yes Additional render passes -
Soft Particles Yes - -
Semitransparent objects - Yes Yes
Anti-Aliasing - Yes Yes
Light Culling Masks Limited Yes Yes
Lighting Fidelity All per-pixel Some per-pixel All per-vertex
Performance
Cost of a per-pixel Light Number of pixels it illuminates Number of pixels * Number of objects it illuminates -
Platform Support
PC (Windows/Mac) Shader Model 3.0+ Shader Model 2.0+ Anything
Mobile (iOS/Android) OpenGL ES 2.0 OpenGL ES 2.0 OpenGL ES 2.0 & 1.1
Consoles 360, PS3 360, PS3 -
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