What exactly is OpenGL, how do I install it, and how do I know if I already have it?

BNWilliams007

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Hello, I'm confused as to what exactly OpenGL is and how to use it. I understand that it is a graphics library used to help the GPU render 3D models but I'm confused as to why exactly I need it and how to install it. I thought it would be just a simple program that I install on my computer but after browsing the web, it seems that it's a very complicated process to get it to run on your computer.

I saw this tutorial but before I start digging into my Computer files and messing with stuff, I wanted to ask if there is a simpler way to install it first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCRzpNd5k3Y

The reason why I want to install OpenGL is because I want to run a program that requires OpenGL 4.0 or above. I think I may already have DirectX 11 on my PC though. However, I'm not completely sure. I just recently built my gaming PC a few months ago but none of the tutorials I read dealt with API's so this is completely new to me. @_@ Out of curiosity, does OpenGL improve game performance? (I'm not sure what API I have but all my games on Steam run fine).

Here are my PC specs if it will help: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/BNWilliams007/saved/Yg2CmG

Thank you for your time.
 
It doesn't work like that.
What you are downloading and installing, or trying to, is basically an SDK or, Software Development Kit.

Any programs which require certain portions of the OpenGL library will install them without any action on your part.

If you download a program coded in C++, you don't actually need C++ to run the program, it is all kind of wrapped up in there.

Very layman explanation, but again, you don't need to go installing OpenGL, it will happen automagically when you need it.
 

BNWilliams007

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Thank you for your response, so I'll be honest here, but I'm trying to install the new CEMU emulator which states that it requires OpenGL 4.0 or higher. When I install CEMU, will OpenGL automatically come with it? Is that how OpenGL works?
 
I agree with Greens.

When games need OpenGL, the basics are included in the program files of the game. Basically, OpenGL is a way of interfacing with the hardware on graphics cards.

Then there's the newer Vulkan, which is open source (again) and is somewhat based on OpenGL and is optimized for AMD technology, but Nvidia doesn't do a poor job of running it either.

Basically, if you install a transmission into a car, you need a hand to move the shifter when you want to get moving. However, you don't have to "install" a hand to use the transmission because the hand comes with the rest of the human body.

Same thing here, OpenGL is included in the game files and will run without user intervention.
 


Yes, that's how it works.

When it says "requires OpenGL 4.0 or later", it means that it requires hardware to support OpenGL 4.0 or later. The software will come bundled with the emulator and run without user intervention.
 


That is correct!
 
It will likely use the latest version of OpenGL that your hardware is compatible with.

Is there a significant difference? Not in the performance of the hardware, but in the way that applications can take advantage of said hardware.

Let's compare DirectX 9 (XP era) to DirectX 12 (present). DirectX 9 did a really good job of using a GT 430, but will not be able to take full advantage of a GTX 1080 because of the architectural differences between the two cards. DirectX 12 would have no problem properly maxing out a GTX 1080 because the 1080 was designed with DirectX 12 in mind.

You picking up what I'm writing down? Bad joke, moving on...

The more modern your hardware, the more effectively newer versions of OpenGL will be able to make use of it. Now, OpenGL 4 point whatever is compatible with older cards that were meant for OpenGL 2.0 but it lacks the full efficiency that OpenGL 2.0 had when it was in it's prime.

Because of these differences, different games that were developed at different times will come with different versions of OpenGL in order to better take advantage of the hardware that was available when they were developed.
 

BNWilliams007

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It will likely use the latest version of OpenGL that your hardware is compatible with.

Is there a significant difference? Not in the performance of the hardware, but in the way that applications can take advantage of said hardware.

Let's compare DirectX 9 (XP era) to DirectX 12 (present). DirectX 9 did a really good job of using a GT 430, but will not be able to take full advantage of a GTX 1080 because of the architectural differences between the two cards. DirectX 12 would have no problem properly maxing out a GTX 1080 because the 1080 was designed with DirectX 12 in mind.

You picking up what I'm writing down? Bad joke, moving on...

The more modern your hardware, the more effectively newer versions of OpenGL will be able to make use of it. Now, OpenGL 4 point whatever is compatible with older cards that were meant for OpenGL 2.0 but it lacks the full efficiency that OpenGL 2.0 had when it was in it's prime.

Because of these differences, different games that were developed at different times will come with different versions of OpenGL.

Oh ok this makes sense now, so is this how all API's work? E.g. OpenGL, DirectX, Vulkan, etc?
 

BNWilliams007

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Thank you so much Greens and weberdarren97 for your help if it weren't for you, I'd be spending all night messing around with computer files that I don't need to mess around with. I have a much better understanding of API's now. :)
 

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