Greg Dolley’s Weblog

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Archive for December 16th, 2007

How to Find Which OpenGL Version You’re Running

Posted by gregd1024 on December 16, 2007

Have you ever needed to check which OpenGL version you’re running? Ever need to see which OpenGL extensions are supported by your card and/or video driver? Well, look no further! This post has the answers along with how to get some very useful information about your video driver.

Start by downloading an application called GL View by Realtech VR. You can get it from the following link:

I’ve used this program forever on many different cards / configurations and it’s never failed. Not only will it give you information on what OpenGL version you’re running, it can also give you information on the generic software emulation driver.

When you run the program your screen may do some weird things (go blank, flash, etc.). Don’t worry, this is completely normal – it will stop after about 15 seconds. After this auto-detect cycle is complete, you’ll see a dialog similar to the one below:


The first tab shows you some system information and a list of all OpenGL versions. For each version it shows how many functions are supported by your card’s driver. Look for the highest version number with “100%” support that also has “100%” marked for all versions prior to it. Whichever version you found was greatest is the actual OpenGL version installed on your machine. It’s possible to have “gaps” in your OpenGL support where the driver doesn’t implement all the functions of one version but does implement everything in a higher version. For drivers written by ATI and Nvidia, this would be very unlikely. In fact, I don’t see any reason it would happen. However, for third-party drivers, it’s definitely possible. See one of my previous articles: Certain Notebook ATI Video Card Drivers Not Supporting OpenGL 2.0.

Next, there is the “Extensions” tab:


The “extensions” tab gives you a list of extensions supported by your driver along with capabilities and limitations of your video card. The prefixes of each extension tell you which company originally created it:

  1. ATI – ATI (now AMD)
  2. NV – Nvidia
  3. ARB – Architecture Review Board (the group that maintains the OpenGL specification)
  4. EXT – vendor neutral extensions approved by the ARB
  5. HP – Hewlett-Packard
  6. IBM – International Business Machines
  7. KTX – Kinetix (original maker of 3D Studio Max)
  8. INTEL – Intel
  9. MESA – Mesa OpenGL project
  10. SGI/SGIS – Silicon Graphics
  11. SIGX – experimental Silicon Graphics extensions
  12. SUN – Sun Microsystems
  13. WIN – Microsoft

The next three tabs are pretty self-explanatory. “Display Modes” lists all the different video modes your card supports. “Pixel formats” shows the available pixel formats you can choose when programming with OpenGL. “Report” allows you to print out some of the pertinent information you’ve seen in the other tabs.

You can use the Test tab to run actual OpenGL rendering tests and benchmarks. This is useful if you want to check performance of your card or you suspect a hardware malfunction. Note: for benchmarking, be sure to click the “benchmark” box near the bottom of the dialog:


The final tab worth mentioning is the Registry tab:


This tab lists experimental OpenGL extensions that are turned off by default. Use this tab to turn them back on. Beware, these extensions are turned off for a reason – use them at your own risk!

The last part you should check out is the “Renderer” menu option. This menu lists the OpenGL driver(s) installed on your machine. It should show two options, 1) “GDI Generic” and 2) the name of your video card and/or driver. If it only shows “GDI Generic” then something is wrong with your driver installation. “OpenGL Generic” is Microsoft’s generic software emulation driver. It’s only used when no real OpenGL driver is installed on a system.

-Greg Dolley


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