Direct3d vs. OpenGL vs. Directx

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Difference between Direct 3D, OpenGL and Direct X

Along with new developments in the software arena, a need for smart interfaces has arisen to facilitate the interaction between different types of programs. They do not need to satisfy only technology requirements, but also be easy to use and to allow further extensions. Application programming interfaces known in the developers’ world by the short name API contain a set of instructions which can be specific as to resolve a given issue or general to address more functionalities. API’s can also support advanced game programming and 3D video rendition. They are constantly improved as to respond to the market’s needs of reliable and smart technology.

Direct X


Direct3D is compatible with Windows versions from 95 and above. This API is part of the DirectX suite and addresses the objectives of 3D games performance. DirectX is a specifically designed collection for Windows including APIs such as DirectSound, Direct3D, DirectPlay, DirectDraw and many others. OpenGL is designed to work on different operating systems like Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. This ensures the versatility of the product and sets the bases for further options exploring for developers all around the world.


Direct3D is mainly used for increased 3D gaming experience especially on the Microsoft original Xbox and Xbox 360. The choice is fully justified as both technologies pertain to Microsoft. OpenGL can support 2D as well as 3D visual displays and targets the professional graphics market, not just the gaming industry. Being a cross-platform API it allows a greater degree of freedom to developers to write the necessary procedure and adapt their product to various compatibility needs. The DirectX suite is used on all Windows systems and on the Xbox Consoles. Aside its most known component – Direct3D – DirectX comprises of APIs which render visuals through Direct2D, DirectWrite; sound through DirectSound and DirectMusic; media through DirectX Media and Direct Media Objects.

Hardware Acceleration

At first, Direct3D was not designed to allocate hardware resources. Developers included in the 7th version of Direct3D support for hardware acceleration to improve hardware response to more elaborate games requiring an extra boost to run smoothly. OpenGL featured from the very beginning a 3D accelerated hardware thus leading the way to a development process which focuses on managing hardware resources for the ultimate gaming experience. The task is much harder for developers in such a scenario, but once the implementation is performing well it is much easier to build on an existing structure.


  • OpenGL runs on most operating systems, while Direct 3D, as part of the DirectX suite is specifically designed for Windows platforms (PC and consoles)
  • Direct3D addresses game performance; DirectX targets also this market, but its other APIs enhance sound rendering and provide media support too; OpenGL is a more general API which is mainly targeted at professional graphics first, but also computer games;
  • OpenGL featured from the early start a hardware accelerator, while Direct3D responded to this need with its 7th version.

Which one is best?
  • Direct 3D
  • OpenGL
  • Direct X

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