Determine Your DirectX Version and Shader Model

DirectX Shader Models tie to specific versions of DirectX

Microsoft DirectX is a set of APIs for programming video games on Microsoft operating systems—Windows and Xbox. Introduced in 1995, shortly after the release of Windows 95, it has since been bundled in every version of Windows since Windows 98.

With the release of DirectX 12 in 2015, Microsoft introduced several new programming features such as low-level APIs that allow developers more control over what commands are sent to the graphics processing unit.

Since the release of DirectX 8.0, graphics cards have used instructions called Shader Models to interpret instructions about rendering graphics sent from the CPU to the graphics card. However, these shader versions are tied to the version of DirectX that you have installed on your computer, which is then in turn tied to your graphics card.

How to Determine the DirectX Version

A simple diagnostic utility presents the DirectX version.

  1. Press Win+R and in the box type dxdiag then press Enter on your keyboard to run the command.

  2. In the System tab, listed under the System Information heading, the tool returns your current DirectX version.

    directx diagnostic tool
  3. Match your DirectX version with the Shader version listed below.

Once you've determined the version of DirectX running on your PC you can use the below chart to determine what Shader Model version is supported.

DirectX and Shader Model Versions

The Diagnostic Tool doesn't share the Shader Model version. Your version of DirectX determines your Shader Model version, as follows:

  • DirectX 8.0 - Shader Model 1.0 & 1.1
  • DirectX 8.0a - Shader Model 1.3
  • DirectX 8.1 - Shader Model 1.4
  • DirectX 9.0 - Shader Model 2.0
  • DirectX 9.0a - Shader Model 2.0a
  • DirectX 9.0b - Shader Model 2.0b
  • DirectX 9.0c - Shader Model 3.0
  • DirectX 10.0* - Shader Model 4.0
  • DirectX 10.1* - Shader Model 4.1
  • DirectX 11.0† - Shader Model 5.0
  • DirectX 11.1† - Shader Model 5.0
  • DirectX 11.2‡ - Shader Model 5.0
  • DirectX 12** - Shader Model 5.1

Support for Shader Models began with DirectX 8.0. Windows XP does not support DirectX 10.0 and higher, and Windows Vista and Windows 7 (before Service Pack 1) do not support DirectX 11.0 or higher. HOwever, Vista supports DirextX 11.0 after a platform update. Windows 7 SP1 supports v11.1 but not 11.2 or newer. You can learn more in our guide to downloading and installing DirectX.

DirectX 12 is available only for Windows 10 and Xbox One.

What Games Support DirectX 12?

Most PC games developed prior to the release of DirectX 12 were most likely developed using an earlier version of DirectX. These games are compatible on PCs with DirectX 12 installed because of their backward compatibility.

If by chance your game is not compatible under a new version of DirectX—mainly games running on DirectX 9 or earlier—Microsoft provides DirectX End-User Runtime that fixes many runtime errors with DLLs installed from the older versions of DirectX.

How to Install the Latest Version of DirectX?

Installation of the latest version of DirectX is only necessary when you're trying to play a game that has been developed with that latest version. Microsoft offers updates through the standard Windows Update and through manual download and installation. Since the release of DirectX 11.2 for Windows 8.1, however, DirectX 11.2 is no longer available as a standalone download and must be downloaded through Windows Update.

In addition to Windows Update, most games will check your system on installation to see if you meet the DirectX requirements, if you don't you will be prompted to download and install it prior to installing the game.