Learning OpenGL 3, since video card won't support 4

Hello all :slight_smile:

I am new to this board, as I am just about to embark on learning OpenGL. If my question will sound noobish, it is because I am a noob. I know close to nothing about OpenGL at the moment.

I am attempting a purchase of a laptop computer that has a Radeon video card, that supports only OpenGL up to 3.2
I was checking online for learning materials and found a book called OpenGL SuperBible: Comprehensive Tutorial and Reference (6th Edition) , that seems to be promising.
The problem of course is, that the video card won’t support latest OpenGL version, although I would like to learn it to be on track with current development, and not lag a century behind.

My question is, what do you recommend me to do ? Is there a big difference between OpenGL 4 and OpenGL 3 ? Are there many changes and features in OpenGL 4 that deprecate older ones, that a modern developer should know about ? Thank you.


if you learn OpenGL 3.2 Core profile and avoid the compatibility stuff (glBegin, the matix stack etc) you are quite future proof. OpenGL 4 adds new features but 3.2 core is a good way to start. Any OpenGL 3.2 capable card should also support 3.3 btw.


Thank you for your reply. May I please also ask about what learning materials you would suggest me given my situation ? I looked up OpenGL superbible 6th edition, but clearly that won’t do much good since it’s about OGL 4.3 , besides none of the supplied code complied for me. I am using Code::Blocks IDE and write software in C++. I intend to write a simulation software, that would pretty much seem like a game, although it wouldn’t really be a game. From my internet researches I believe I will use GLFW / SFML and GLEW / gl3w ( I am not yet sure what to use, any hints would be appreciated ). Finding a suitable learning material so far has been a nightmare, most things I found were either outdated, they didn’t focus on core functionality or didn’t use the tools that I intend to use ( but instead used GLUT, FreeGLUT, SDL… ). As a beginner I am totally stuck in this situation now, so I would really need some help on this, if I am not asking too much.

Thank you.

The OpenGL SuperBible 6th Edition is still the book you should be looking at. Yes, it’s about OpenGL 4.3, however, that’s pretty much the only good book I know about that explicitly talking about modern OpenGL only (i.e. core profile), and most of the stuff you learn from it is applicable to GL 3.x as well, you just have to avoid using features that are GL 4.x only.