Is AM4 Backwards Compatible With AM3+?

AMD is well known for its long-term support of both CPUs and graphics cards, and backward compatibility between different generations of CPUs and motherboards.

If for whatever reason you were wondering if AM4 is backwards compatible with AM3+, the answer is: No, AM4 is not backwards compatible with AM3+ as the sockets are physically different.

We’ll walk you through the major differences between the two sockets below; and why they don’t share compatibility with each other.

AM4 vs AM3+

AM4 Motherboard

While sharing the same pin-grid array style (pins are on the CPU instead of the motherboard), AM4 and AM3+ are wildly different. The main differences are;

Socket layout: The number of pinholes in the socket is different between AM4 and AM3+. AM4 has 1331 holes, while AM3+ has only 942. This makes CPUs for AM3+ incompatible with AM4 motherboards, and likewise, AM4 CPUs are incompatible with AM3+ motherboards.

RAM Type: AM4 exclusively uses faster and more efficient DDR4, while AM3+ is limited to only DDR3. If you’re looking to upgrade from AM3+ to AM4, you’ll need new RAM as well.

I/O and Expansion Slots: The AM4 platform and its chipsets offer better, faster, and more I/O than AM3+. These include, but aren’t limited to; USB 3.2 gen 2 ports, Thunderbolt 3 ports, M.2 slots featuring M.2 SSDs, NVMe compatibility, Wi-Fi 6, and USB-C.

PCI-e 4.0: One of the main new features that AM4 has recently adopted is PCI-e 4.0. It offers double the bandwidth of PCI-e 3.0. This enables you to use superspeed M.2 or PCI-e SSDs, and take advantage of new and upcoming technologies like Smart Access Memory.

AM4 is the newer tech out of the two, but how long will AM4 last before a newer alternative comes along? This report will clear this question up.


Having gone over the key differences between the two platforms, we can confidently say that AM4 is not backward compatible with AM3+ as the sockets are physically different.

AM3+ is also a much older socket, and AMD could no longer make it compatible with the newer technological requirements of Ryzen CPUs.

Likewise, AM4 is a more advanced platform, and adding support for much older CPUs would hinder the platform’s potential too much for it to be worthwhile. We hope with this, we have answered your questions.

Now that you know the differences between the two and that AM4 is far superior, here is a report on the very best AM4 motherboards for sale right now.

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