Intel GMA HD and OpenGL


I would like to know what’s going on. Everywhere on the Internet (Intel’s website, Wikipedia, etc) it says that Intel HD supports OpenGL. When I run any OpenGL-based application (tried 3D Studio Max 2011 Student Edition, game Amnesia, OpenGL tests) they crash or the graphics don’t work properly.

Here is my observations:

I am using this driver downloaded from Intel website:

Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator Driver for Windows 7* 64 and Windows Vista* 64 (exe)

Installs graphics driver version ( for Intel® integrated graphics.


Lenovo ThinkPad - Core i3, 4GB DDR3 RAM, Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

I downloaded OpenGL Extensions Viewer ( ) and here is my problem: When I run “Rendering tests” Extension Viewer asks me to chose a driver:

If I chose “no acceleration” or “forward context” option, the tests are passed, but the only thing I see in renderer window is this:

If I chose the “regular” “Intel HD graphics” driver from the list, the tests RUN JUST FINE and are passed. This means that OpenGL CAN BE RAN on my system, right?

When I run 3DS Max with OpenGL driver selected, here’s what happens:

BUT once every 100 runs it runs normally and viewports work fine, I can add objects and lights in OpenGL mode, so again IT IS POSSIBLE to run OpenGL in 3ds max.

My questions:

  1. Why were the advanced OpenGL options removed from the new Intel HD driver?

  2. Why OpenGL works only occasionally?

  3. Is there a way to manually set the normal “Intel HD Graphics” display driver for all applications instead of the “no acceleration” or “forward context” drivers that probably crash them?

Help would be greatly appreciated.

I posted same thread on Intel forums but they won’t answer…

Hmm I see this forum is as helpful as Intel’s… nice.

Intel graphics and OpenGL really should be a FAQ entry, but anyway, short answer is that OpenGL support on Intel is known-bad and - in general terms - unless an application is specifically coded to take account of this, it’s not unreasonable to expect problems.

There are plenty of examples in the drivers section of this forum where people are having problems with Intel, and no real solutions exist.

The real solution I’m afraid is to ditch Intel and go for something with a real GPU. I know that doesn’t help you because you’re on a laptop, and it’s a double bummer if you’ve just bought it and can’t return it.

The only other option is that if an application has a Direct3D mode you should use that instead. Intel’s D3D support is far superior to their OpenGL support (still can’t touch a real GPU) and gives reliable and predictable behaviour.

Wow, thanks.

So this is probably why they aren’t answering me at Intel’s forums. :slight_smile:

But if in all manuals and technical papers they state that Intel HD GMA supports OpenGL, then isn’t this some sort of “non-compliance with the description”?

Yeah, OpenGL has conformance testing which in theory should pevent this kind of thing from happening, but in practice it doesn’t seem to be working (it’s not so long ago that ATI hardware was also seriously troublesome). Microsoft have driver certification, and it serves a similar purpose (at least for the purposes of this discussion) but it does seem more effective.

There are also differences in the architectures which make D3D drivers simpler to write (D3D only supports what’s actually on the hardware whereas OpenGL must expose the full API, a D3D driver is split in 2 and the manufacturer only provides half of it whereas the manufacturer must supply the full OpenGL driver), so if you’ve got a company that doesn’t seem to care much about quality 3D acceleration you can what their priority is going to be.

That does not mean Intel D3D support is perfect (far from it), just noticeably better than GL.

3D Studio Max use to support 3 renderers : Heidi, OpenGL and Direct3D. By default, it chooses GL. It would probably be in Option or Preferences. Weeb search it.

Quite true, and it is fair to mention that.

It’s also fair to mention that OpenGL’s architecture gives it advantages that D3D just cannot have, such as extensibility and better compatibility through different revisions of the API.

In 3DS Max Direct3D works fine except for wireframe objects so I tried OpenGL and it either crashes after startup or freezes when I add more objects to the scene.

It’s sad that Intel states that GMA HD supports OpenGL well and that they don’t help at their message boards.

I’m surprised the ARB don’t kick people out of OpenGL if they don’t take a reasonable effort to support OpenGL and be fully compliant.

At a minimum they should ban the advertisement of a GPU stating it supports OpenGL if it is not compliant to the spec (within reason).

Not understanding personally why laptops are shipping with monster processors, oodles of RAM and a rubbish graphics card. I bought this laptop because it was about all I could afford. I don’t care for dual core or 3Gb, give me a 9400M at least. Not this HD4250 pile of rubbish that can’t run Unreal 3 or Oblivion at an acceptable framerate on bottom settings whilst the processor and RAM idle at under 60% usage.

And don’t get me started on modern screens… gone are the crystal clear, matte, high-res displays that look perfect from any angle, everything ships with this reflective junk that has no perfect viewing angle - the black is blue from one spot and whites are grey from another. And there’s your silhouette squinting back at you.

At least some of them are pretty cheap but I totally agree with you.

Such laptops are great for basic computer graphics and other processor and ram-eating applications but my problem is why Intel lie to users. It’s like saying “hey our graphics card supports 1080p HD resolution, 32bit colour depth and pixel shaders” and after you buy it they say “oh it only supports VGA resolution, 256 colours and can only handle DOS games, sorry”. But yeah, you can still run 3ds max and photoshop pretty smooth… with those settings.

The thing is though that those laptops aren’t really meant for intensive graphical usage. Playing some DVDs, running some simplistic games, and accelerating the Vista/Win7 desktop is about all the 3D chips are good for. And in total fairness there is plenty of evidence available online to those who do their research in advance of purchasing.

Wow, I am so glad to have come across this discussion as I believe that my sons Toshiba laptop is suffering from exactly the same problems.

A week after getting the laptop for his birthday, he went out at bought a game called ‘Minecraft’ but was really disappointed when it wouldn’t run. It won’t even start due to java erroring out, complaining about bad display drivers.

I have done my research and found that the processor in his computer, i3-380M ‘supports’ OpenGL 2.1 (well, according to Intel documentation), which is enough to run the game. I have installed the latest Intel Generic Display Driver and it doesn’t help. OpenGL Extension viewer tells us that it is still running the Microsoft Generic driver, OpenGL 1.1.0

The laptop is running Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit. So far I have not found a way of preventing the Microsoft Generic Display driver from being loaded. There was a post to the Minecraft forums to a hack to the registry to stop the Microsoft driver being loaded but the poster said not to do this if it was onboard video for some reason.

Unfortunately I am three days over the date where I would have been able to return the laptop for a full refund.

If anyone knows how to stop the Microsoft driver being loaded I would love to hear from them.

So far as I’m aware Intel only supports OpenGL on 32-bit Windows. Another rung up the ladder of suck. :frowning:

seems like it’s going from bad to worse. What are Intel playing at?

I didn’t buy the laptop for gaming, but my son isn’t really asking for much when he says he would like to play Minecraft on it. From what I have seen in youtube videos of the game, it should not be pushing the 3D capabilities of the i3.

I find the Intel marking hype for the i3 and their ‘HD video’ extremely misleading/deceiving.

For my son’s laptop, I don’t suppose he really cares if it’s running 64 or 32bit, so maybe I can use the Toshiba restore disks to change it to running 32bit.

Before I do that though, I am going to wait for Toshiba technical support to get back to me. They have escalated the problem to tier3 support. I think they are taking the problem seriously and would like to see a resolution themselves. To be honest, before I got on the phone to them, I don’t think they were aware that there was any problem with running OpenGL on their laptops.

32bit only?


Highly unlikely.
Where did you read that?

I managed to get my sons laptop swapped for another Toshiba. The new one has i5-480M CPU, but more importantly it has ATI graphics! (ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470). I was very fortunate as it was past the official max number of days I had to return it for refund.

The new laptop (L635-07N) worked out of the box. OpenGl extension viewer confirms that it is running version 3.2. My son is very happy now that he can play Minecraft.

If Toshiba get back to me with a workaround for my original laptop (the one with just the i3, but no ATI graphics) I will update this thread.

Intel does support OpenGL 3 on 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, VIsta, 7.
You can always download recent drivers at support pages of