The Industry Standard for High Performance Graphics



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  • Latest Version

    OpenGL 4.6 LATEST

  • Review by

    Marian Marinescu

  • Operating System

    Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7

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  • Author / Product

    Khronos Group Inc. / External Link

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OpenGL is a cross-platform application programming interface (API) that facilitates communication between the operating system and modern graphic cards, managing commands for the hardware-accelerated rendering of 2D and 3D vector graphics.

Originally developed in the early 1990s, this popular APU platform has (together with DirectX) become an industry-standard solution for providing hardware-accelerated GPU processing for an incredible variety of Windows PC software solutions, including computer-aided design (CAD), video games, virtual reality, scientific and visual information, flight simulation and much more.

After decades on the market, it has been superseded in 2016 by the newer API product called Vulkan - a low-level API that enables developers to access GPU rendering hardware in a much more granular way and take advantage of many new rendering technologies that are not supported by Open GL, such as rendering of raytraced graphics and utilizing modern anti-aliasing's algorithms such as Nvidia DLSS and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution.

As one of the key technologies that power the rendering of modern video games and other apps that feature 3D rendering capabilities, OpenGL API represents a very important part of any modern Windows PC configuration, enabling users to take full advantage of their GPU hardware and facilitate stable, fast, and reliable access to hardware-accelerated gaming and 3D visualization.

While OpenGL is usually delivered to every PC user as a standard part of their Windows OS installation, a standalone version of the app is also distributed online, enabling users to access all versions of this important graphics API.

The most up-to-date version of OpenGL was released in the summer of 2017. OpenGL v4.6 has introduced many new rendering features, such as optimized geometry processing, SPIR-V shaders, improved anisotropic filtering, higher rendering performance, and more.


OpenGL is a constantly evolving open-source graphics library, regularly updated with the latest features and extensions by graphics card manufacturers. Its stability, availability, and open-source nature make it one of the most up-to-date graphics standards globally. However, if you're searching for an alternative, DirectX may be worth exploring.


What is OpenGL?

OpenGL is a specification that defines the API for a rasterization-based rendering system. It allows client applications to control this system and is carefully specified to allow hardware implementations.

What is NOT OpenGL?

OpenGL is only concerned with rendering graphics and does not provide functions for other tasks such as animations, timing, or GUI.

Who maintains the OpenGL specification?

The OpenGL specification is maintained by the Khronos Group committee called the OpenGL Architectural Review Board (ARB).

Is OpenGL Open Source?

No, OpenGL is a specification and does not have any source code. However, Mesa3D is an open-source software implementation of the OpenGL specification.

Is there an OpenGL SDK?

There is no official OpenGL SDK, but NVIDIA and AMD have their own SDKs with example code for OpenGL.

OpenGL with x64 Windows does not work - what to do?

If you have a 64-bit Windows system, it is recommended that you install the 64-bit version of the Nvidia OpenGL Driver.

OpenGL is 100% free and can be used on all modern and legacy versions of Windows OS. This versatile API is also ported to every other operating system imaginable, including macOS, Linux, Android, and others.

  • Widely available and free graphics standard
  • Compatible with most operating systems
  • Regularly updated with new features and improvements
  • The way it's implemented may differ