The first thing we look for when buying a new laptop or desktop is the CPU. Intel processors are the most common and widely used processors.
Intel CPU Processors are named using certain letters and numbers that are confusing to say the least. What is the real meaning behind these numbers and letters?
In this article, I’ll explain in detail the meaning of these numbers and letters used in the naming scheme of Intel processors. I’ll also cover the naming convention of the two most widely used Intel processors which are the Intel Core I series and the Intel Xeon processors.
Here is the Ultimate guide on Intel CPU naming scheme.
Intel Core Processors Naming Scheme
Intel Core Processors are the most widely used CPUs today. These Core Processors are available to the consumer market and are used in both Windows and Mac Computers.
Before picking a laptop or desktop it is of utmost importance that you understand the meaning behind these numbers and letters. They indicate the real power of the Intel processor.
Intel Core I-Series Names
The Core I-Series Intel processors are the most commonly used processors in laptops and desktops. The Core-I series has four major models which are Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9.
The Core i3 processors have the lowest processing power among all other processors in the Core-I series. That is why they are used in cheap and budget laptops. The low clock speed and processing power make them a good fit for every day tasks like browsing the Internet, watching movies, etc. They are not fit for resource-intensive tasks like Gaming, 3D Modeling, and Rendering, etc.
The Core i5 processors have higher clock speeds and are more powerful than Core i3 processors. These processors are much better in handling tasks that require higher processing power. They are used in mid-end laptops and in some cheap gaming laptops. They are good for playing games like Minecraft that doesn’t require a lot of graphics power.
The Core i7 processors have very high clock speeds and processing power. They are more powerful than Core i3 and Core i5 processors. These processors are perfect for heavy resource-intensive tasks like playing AAA title games, 3D Rendering, and VFX Design. These processors are used in high-end laptops and desktops.
The Core i9 processors have the highest clock speed and processing power among all other Core I series processors. These processors are the most powerful processors developed by Intel for the consumer market. They are a great fit for very demanding resource-intensive tasks.
Meaning Of The Letters in Intel Core Processor
The Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 processors have models with different letters in the suffix. These letters in the suffix are used to express the processing power of the processor. The meaning of these letters in the suffix is explained below.
The “U” letter in Intel processors means they are Ultra Low Power Processors. These processors have very low clock speeds and they consume very less power but they can have high temperatures.
U processors are found in laptops that are slim, thin, and lightweight. U processors are used in these slim and lightweight laptops because they consume very little power and don’t produce a lot of heat. If you use U processors for demanding tasks then they can get to very high temperatures.
Examples of Laptops with Intel U processors – MSI Prestige 13, Dell XPS 13 7390.
The “H” letter in Intel Processors means they are High-Performance Processors that have high processing power with very high clock speeds. These processors consume a lot of power and can achieve high temperatures during heavy demanding tasks.
The H processors are generally Quad-Core(4 cores) or Hexa-Core(6 cores). The Core i5 processors with letter H means they are Quad-Core while the Core i7 processors with letter H means they are Hexa-Core.
There are three versions of H processors – H, HQ, and HK. The HK letters in processors mean they are Unlocked and can be Overclocked to run at higher clock speeds. The HQ letters mean they are High-Performance Quad-Core processors.
All Core I series laptops with letters H, HK, or HQ in the suffix means they are High-Performance processors which can be overclocked for increased performance. The H processors always have a discrete NVIDIA graphics card as the GPU.
Examples of laptops with Intel H processors – Alienware 17 R5, MSI GT83 VR.
The letter “G” means they are High-performance processors with very high processing power with high clock speeds. These processors also consume a lot of power and can achieve high temperatures during intense use. These processors are also Unlocked which means they can be Overclocked.
The only difference between H and G processors is the GPU they use with the processor. The G processors use AMD Graphics Card as the GPU whereas the H processors use the NVIDIA Graphics card as the GPU. Most G processors used AMD Radeon Vega GPU.
Examples of Laptops with Intel G processors – Dell XPS 15, HP Spectre x360.
The letter “Y” means they are Ultra-Low Power processors that consume lower power than Intel U processors. The Y processors are power efficient and don’t produce a lot of heat. These processors are found in slim, thin, and lightweight laptops.
The Y processors have low clock speeds and they are not high performing processors. They are good for normal everyday tasks.
Examples of laptops with Intel Y processors – ASUS Zenbook 3, Acer Spinbook 7.
The letter “T” means these processors are Power efficient processors but consume more power than U and Y processors. They also have higher clock speeds than Y and U processors. They fit in the middle of U and H processors.
The T processors are not so common an are found in very few laptops.
The letter “M” means these are Mobile Processors. There is another version of the M processor known as MQ. The MQ processors are Quad-Core Mobile processors.
Examples of laptops with Intel M processors – HP Split x2, ASUS Zenbook UX305.
The letter “X” means they are the most powerful Intel Core processors. There is another version of the X processor known as XE that denotes Extreme. They are Desktop processors.
The X processors have the highest clock speeds and are considered as the highest performing Intel Core processors. They can run any AAA game in the highest graphic setting with ease, run any 3D Modeling and Designing software, run any VFX Design, Music Production, and 4K Video Editing software.
Basically, the Intel X can run any software or game that requires very high processing power. These are the most expensive processors among all the Intel Core processor models.
Meaning Of The Numbers in Intel Core Processors
Every Intel Core i3, i5, i7 and i9 processors have four numbers or digits before the suffix letter.
The first digit represents the Generation and the last three digits represent the Stock Keeping Unit(SKU) number. The SKU also provides some information about the Processing Power of the processor.
Example – In the Intel Core i5 9400H the 9 represents 9th Generation and 400 represents the SKU number.
If you compare the Intel Core i5 9400 H with the Intel Core i5 9300 H processor then you’ll find that the former has the higher SKU number. This means 9400 H has higher processing power than 9300 H.
Similarly, if you compare the Intel Core i7 9750 H with the Intel Core i7 9850 H you’ll find that the 9850 H has higher processing power than 9750 H.
You cannot find out the processing power level by comparing the SKU numbers of Two Different generations of Intel processors.
You should always compare two Intel processors of the same generation to figure out the level of processing power by comparing the SKU numbers.
Intel Core Processor Generations
The Generation of Intel Core processors is a great indicator of their quality, speed, and performance. The latest generation of Intel processors are much faster and show better performance than the previous generation Intel Core Processors.
Example – Intel Core i7-9700K is 6% faster than the previous generation Intel Core i7-8700K processor according to Userbenchmark. This means that you should always look for the latest generation processor when you’re purchasing a new computer. But how do you do that?
If you’re purchasing a computer online then the generation is already mentioned in the Specifications sheet. If you don’t find the generation then you can find it in another way which I have mentioned below.
Every Intel Core processor has four numbers as mentioned earlier. The First Digit in the four number sequence represents the Generation of the Intel Processor.
Example – Intel Core i7-7820HK processor is 7th Generation because the first digit in the four number sequence is 7. Intel Core i7-8650U processor is 8th Generation because the first digit is 8 while the Intel Core i9-9880H processor is 9th Generation because the first digit is 9.
How To Check Intel Core Processor Generation On Laptop
You can check the Intel processor generation on your Windows or Mac laptops using the following methods.
Step 1 – Press Windows key + R key together to open RUN window.
Step 2 – Type in dxdiag into the RUN window and click on OK.
Step 3 – You’ll get a notification from DirectX Diagnostic Tool. Just click on Yes.
That’s it you’ll get the Intel Processor details under System Information from where you can identify the generation using the first digit of the four number sequence.
Step 1 – Press Command Key + Space bar to Open Spotlight Search and then type in Terminal.
Step 2 – Inside Terminal, type in sysctl machdep.cpu.brand_string and then press Enter.
That’s it you will get the Intel Processor Model number from where you can find the Generation using the first digit of the four number sequence.
Intel Xeon Processors Naming Scheme
The Xeon Processors from Intel are designed specifically for big companies with huge servers. They are also used for Mobile Workstations, Non-Mobile Workstations, SAAS companies, and Cloud Computing Servers.
The Xeon Processors are not available to ordinary consumers. They are also a great fit for VFX Designing, 3D Modeling and Rendering, AI Design, and CAD software.
These processors are specifically designed to run heavy intensive tasks for long periods of time that require a lot of processing power. They are much more powerful than ordinary Intel processors.
If you use ordinary Intel processors for these tasks then they will overheat and cause Thermal Throttling of the CPU.
The Intel Xeon Processors also support Intel Optane Memory.
Meaning of Intel Xeon Processor Names
The naming convention of Intel Xeon Processors is different from that of the Intel Core processors. The Intel Core I-series have i3, i5, i7, and i9 but the Intel Xeon processors have E, E3, E5, and E7.
The Intel Xeon E processors come as Quad-Core (4 cores) or Hexa-Core (6 cores).
The Intel Xeon E3 processors are Quad-Core processors that have 4 cores.
Intel Xeon E5 processors come in the range of 4 Cores to 22 Cores. It can have any number of cores from 4 to 22.
Intel Xeon E7 processors can have 8 Cores to 24 Cores.
All of the Intel Xeon Processors mentioned above have very high processing power with high clock speeds. They can run very demanding resource-intensive tasks for long periods of time.
Meaning of Letters in Intel Xeon Processors
The Intel Xeon processors also use letters to identify the specific Xeon processor and differentiate between the Xeon processors of the same family.
The letter “L” means they are Low Power Xeon Processors. These processors consume the least amount of power and have the slowest clock speeds among all the Xeon processors.
The letter “W” means they are Workstation Processors. These processors have the highest clock speeds and processing power. These processors are used in big companies with huge servers that handle a lot of data every day. They are used in the workstation desktops.
The letter “M” means they are Mobile Processors. These processors have high clock speeds and performance but the speed is less than Xeon W processors. Their performance is between W and L processors. The W Xeon processors are used in Mobile Workstations that are used for 3D Modeling, Rendering, and VFX Designing.
Meaning of Numbers in Intel Xeon Processors
The number sequence has a slightly different meaning in Intel Xeon processors. Let us understand the naming convention with two different examples.
First example – Intel Xeon E-2276M. The four digit number represents the Xeon Family to which it belongs.
In this processor, the first digit 2 represents the Maximum Number of CPUs in a single Node. The second digit 2 represents the Socket Type. The last two digits 76 represent the Stock Keeping Unit(SKU) number.
Second Example – Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5
The first four digits represent the same things as in the first example. The only difference is the addition of v5. Here the “v” represents the Version similar to the Generations found in the Intel Core I-series. The 5 represents it is the 5th Version.
The numbers and letters in Intel Core I-series and Xeon Processors have a definite meaning. They are used to identify the type of processor and differentiate between the products of the same families of Intel processors.
This guide is the first and last thing you need to figure out the generation and the type of Intel processor. This will help you choose the perfect CPU for your next laptop or desktop.
2 thoughts on “Intel CPU Naming Scheme Guide”
Ironic that the “F” modifier is in the top picture yet it is not defined in the main article.
Well, it has been mentioned as the “Fn” key because it is not the same for every laptop brand.