If you have an MDF file laying around and you don’t know what version is, how can you determine the version, preferably without altering the file? You could try to attach it to a SQL Server instance, but if you’re not careful the operation may end up upgrading the MDF file to that instance’s current version. Even if it doesn’t upgrade it because it happens to be the same version as the one supported by that instance, it can still run recovery on the database and thus alter the file. Is there a way to determine the version in a non destructive fashion?
Lets look into a database and dump a page. Not any page, but page 9 of the primary filegroup. This page happens to be the database boot page: