Intel is the biggest, and the most popular computer chip maker in the world. You think that with their experience in the market Intel’s team have everything figured out. Products, specifications, and names that are easily understood by the consumers. Wrong! There are plenty of options among Intel’s portfolio, some of which even cannibalize each other’s market. But don’t worry, we are here to help. Let’s go beyond the simple Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 and pay attention together to the letters and numbers.
The structure of the name
Intel’s naming scheme has the following structure.
The name has 5 main parts – Brand, Brand Modifier, Generation Indicator, SKU Numeric Digits, and Product Line Suffix.
Example: Intel Core i9 – 9900K
Let’s see what exactly each of the parts means.
There are many different sub-brands that Intel has. You are probably familiar with the Intel Core family. If you check your computer, the chances are that it has a sticker displaying i5 or i7.
Another important sub-brand is Intel Xeon – used in servers, workstations and some laptops for cloud computing, big data, real-time analytics and more. These processors are made for work.
Intel Atom – for small devices where the power efficiency is essential. These processors didn’t get very popular, but you can still find them on some tablets and ultra-portable devices.
Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium. Currently, they are used for low-end devices. They are less power demanding than the Core family, but have worse performance.
Intel Itanium is another family of processors developed for heavy duty work – enterprise servers and high-performance systems. They use a different architecture – AI-64, and can execute six instructions per cycle.
Let’s take a look at the Core family again. The weakest of any generation is the Core i3, followed by Core i5, Core i7 and recently – Core i9. In Intel’s naming scheme, there are different modifiers depending on the sub-brand.
Check the first number, the 9 in the 9900. It shows that it is part of the 9th generation. It is the current generation on the market. We are expecting the 10th gen. at the end of 2019. The new generation, based on 10nm technology, will bring improved performance.
SKU Numeric Digits
These digits show the exact model from the family and generation. In general, the bigger number will have better performance when comparing the same generation of processors.
Product Line Suffix
And this is where the fun part begins. There are plenty of letters, each with a different meaning. Let’s see what some of them mean.
K – unlocked multiplier. If you have an appropriate motherboard, you will be able to overclock these processors.
H – High-Performance Graphics. These processors consume more power and provide better results in comparison with the non-H ones. You can see it on some laptops.
HK – unlocked multiplier and high-performance graphics.
Q – Quad-core processor. There are some quad-core processors which don’t have this letter. You may also find HQ – high-performance graphics and quad-core.
U – Ultra low power. You can see it on modern laptops and ultrabooks. They have around 15W TDP.
Y – Extremely low power. For super thin devices. You can see it on the lightest ultrabooks and some tablets. The TDP can be as low as 4.5 W
M – mobile. It is used only on Xeon chips for mobile workstations
T – Power-optimized lifestyle. You can see such models on All-in-one computers.
P – no integrated graphics. If you are planning on buying a beefy Nvidia RTX 2080, you will probably be just fine without an integrated one.
G – built-in Radeon Vega Graphics. Superior performance to Intel’s integrated graphics.
C – the same as K, but in some older generations.
X – Extreme. High-end unlocked and very expensive CPU.
R – high-performance graphics based on BGA1364 (mobile)
Now that you understand better Intel’s naming scheme, here are some practical tips.
If you want a high performing desktop device for intense work, video/photo editing or gaming, get either an HK or a K processor.
Check out the G series when looking for a laptop for work or casual gaming. Good performance at an affordable price.
If you want an ultra-portable device, yet with somewhat good performance, avoid the Y and M from the Core family. You will be better off with a U processor.
Try to avoid the 7th gen if you are buying i5 or i7. or lower processors from the U series. Starting from the 8th, they have more than two cores – 8th gen i5 and i7 have 4 core.
Now that you’re well prepared, you can go and buy a new Intel processor with ease!