CPUs are the brain of any computer. While planning for a new PC or a new laptop choosing the correct processor is a very crucial decision. And if done incorrectly you may end up getting under rated performance from your new system. To be honest, companies CPU naming scheme can be confusing.
Well good news is there are only 2 main CPU manufacturing companies in the market namely: Intel and AMD and thus choosing a side is not a very hard decision. But these companies offer a huge variety of CPU models for general consumers as well as enterprise users. These CPU models use a combination of different numbers and letters and often lead to confusion among users, as to what is best for them.
Today we will be discussing different CPU naming schemes used by the company Intel. And our main focus of discussion will be on general desktops and laptops processors and not on CPUs made for different enterprise solutions. So what do the Intel processor names, letters and numbers really mean?
Going forward into the article one general rule of thumb to remember by readers is, the higher the number, the better the performance.
Intel CPUs numbers are divided into 4 parts:
Intel offers processors under different brand names, Intel Core, Intel Pentium, Intel Celeron, Intel Xeon, Intel Atom etc. Pentium and Celeron processors are economical products lines created for price-conscious consumers. Intel Core models are modern processors which bring faster performance and additional features which are not available on Intel Pentium and Intel Celeron models. On the other hand Intel Xeon processors offer the highest performance among all and are mainly focused on servers and workstations. There are also Intel Atom brand processors which are essentially made for smaller inexpensive devices having low power requirements. An Atom processor performs at a level about half that of an equivalent Pentium chip.
The second part of the naming scheme used is the Brand Modifier. Intel Core processor series uses brand modifiers such as i3, i5, i7 and the latest i9. Higher brand modifier number offers a higher level of performance and additional features such as Intel Hyper-Threading Technology. Therefore an i7 is better than an i5 which itself will outperform an i3.
Now comes the generation indicator part. For each Intel CPU brand there are 1 or 2 digits numbers representing CPU generations which are then followed by 2 or 3 digits SKU numeric digits. At present Intel latest offering is its 11th Generation CPUs.
SKU (Stock Keeping Units) Numeric Digits
After the CPU gen numbers comes the SKU digits. Till 9th gen CPUs, SKU numbers are 3 digits and for the current 10th gen CPUs, SKU numbers are 2 digits numbers. As per Intel, a higher SKU number will generally have more features in same processor brands and these numbers are not recommended for comparison across different gen CPUs or product lines.
Product Line Suffix
These letters are used in the end as a suffix and are an important indicator of the processor’s capabilities. However there is a catch here. For modern 2 in 1 laptops which are thin, light and for everyday usage have 10th Gen CPUs installed in them, Intel uses the letter “G” as a suffix then followed by a number from 1 to 7. Thus a suffix G1 to G7 indicates the level of graphics offered by the processor with higher number G7 showing greater graphics capability over lower numbers such as G1.
Now that we have discussed the different parts of CPU naming conventions used by the company Intel, we can discuss different suffixes that appear at the end of the processor name.
|G1-G7||Graphics level (processors with new integrated graphics technology only)||These suffixes are used with modern 10th gen thin and light laptops with higher numbers denoting greater graphics capability.||Intel Core i7-1060G7|
|E||Embedded||Embedded Options Available indicates products that offer extended purchase availability for intelligent systems and embedded solutions.||Intel Core i7-9700E|
|F||Requires discrete graphics||CPUs with ‘F’ suffix require a separate Graphics card to work and produce a display output.||Intel Core i7-9700F|
|G||Includes discrete graphics on package||CPU numbers with a suffix “G” can operate without a discrete graphics card since graphics capability are inbuilt within the processor.||Intel Core i7-8705G|
|H||High performance optimized for mobile||“H” suffix denotes CPUs for mobile devices and are often used in gaming or high performance laptops.||Intel Core i7-9850H|
|K||Unlocked||Found in desktops, “K” letter denotes that Intel offers manual overclocking of those CPUs.||Intel Core i7-7700K|
|HK||High performance optimized for mobile, unlocked||These are high performance mobile processors which offer overclocking capability as well.||Intel Core i7-6820HK|
|HQ||High performance optimized for mobile, quad core||These are high performance quad core CPUs optimized for mobile devices.||Intel Core i7-7700HQ|
|XE||Xtreme Edition||These processors indicate an “extreme edition” processor for desktops designed for maximum performance.||Core i9-9980XE|
|S||Special edition||From time to time Intel launches special edition CPUs and the letter “S” is used as a suffix at the end of processor numbers.||Intel i9-9900KS|
|T||Power-optimized lifestyle||CPUs with suffix “T” are designed to use less power while also having less performance than the standard chips without any letters.||Intel Core i7-10700T|
|U||Mobile power efficient||These “Ultra-low power” CPUs draw very low power to operate and are mainly used mainly in thin and light laptops.||Intel Core i7-10610U|
|Y||Mobile extremely low power||Similar to the “U” suffix, “Y” letter denotes that these CPUs operate on even less power like in ultrabook or tablets and can draw as low as 5 Watts of power in a mobile device.||Intel Core i7-10510Y|
Intel Pentium Processors naming schemes
- Intel Pentium Sliver processors include a single-letter prefix, followed by a 4 digit SKU number.
- Intel Pentium Gold processors have no letter prefix and contain a SKU followed by a suffix.
Pentium and Gold processors are distinguished by the overall CPU performance, where Gold processors are optimized for performance and Silver processors are optimized for cost. Again using the general rule, higher the numbers within the processor class or family generally indicate improved features and benchmarks.
E.g. of Intel Pentium Processors:
Intel Pentium Processor D1508, Intel Pentium Gold G6500T, Intel Pentium Silver J5040.
Intel Celeron Processors
Intel Celeron CPU range focuses on mobile devices, notebooks and other portable hardware with low-spec requirements. Names for Intel Celeron processors have two different formats.
- Some Intel Celeron processors have a three-digit numerical SKU with no alphabetical prefix.
- Others include a single-letter prefix followed by a four-digit SKU.
Higher numbers within the processor class or family typically indicate improved features and benchmarks, including cache, clock speed, or front-side bus.
E.g. of Intel Celeron Processors:
Intel Celeron Processor G5900, Intel Celeron Processor G5920.
How to decide what processor to buy?
- First determine the level of performance you need and your daily usage requirements. You can choose an entry level i3, or a mid-performer i5, or even can go for i7 or i9 for ultra performance mode.
- Then look for the CPU generation number and the SKU digits which follows them.
- Examine the suffix at the end of processor name. This will determine the level of performance delivery with the power consumption value of the CPU.