Shopping for a new CPU can be confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with all the different models and designations or what exactly they mean.
In this quick guide, we’ll go over the letters that you’re bound to see accompanying many of Intel’s processors, explaining what each of them means and what they represent.
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Letters by Generation
As you surely know, Intel releases a new generation of CPUs every year, introducing new technologies and optimizations with each new generation.
Yet, it is not merely the technology and performance that changes. The letter designations differ from generation to generation as well, which is why we will be taking a look at each generation’s particular letter designations separately, going back to generation six.
9th Generation Letters
In the latest 9th generation of Intel Coffee Lake CPUs, there are only two letters to take note of.
- K means that the CPU is unlocked and can be overclocked to squeeze extra performance out of it at the cost of additional power consumption and heat generation, such as the Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor.
- F means that the CPU has no integrated graphics, and therefore you will need a discrete graphics card to connect the PC to a display. An example of this would be the Intel® Core™ i9-9900KF processor.
8th Generation Letters
For the 8th generation of Intel Coffee Lake CPUs, there are only three letters to take note of:
- K means that the CPU is unlocked and can be overclocked to squeeze extra performance out of it at the cost of additional power consumption and heat generation.
- G means that the CPU has more advanced integrated graphics than what Intel usually offers. For now, it comes down solely to Radeon’s Vega M GPUs.
- U signifies that the CPU has “ultra-low” power consumption. These are reserved for laptops and are optimized to offer the best battery life possible. In turn, their performance suffers compared to the regular models.
7th Generation Letters
The 7th generation Kaby Lake CPUs has quite a few letters more, but it shares the K and U designations with the 8th.
- T is similar to U in the regard that it signifies that a CPU is optimized for power-efficiency, but still consumes more power than the U-designated models.
- H indicates that the CPU is equipped with more powerful graphics. However, these are still Intel’s integrated chips that are not as powerful as those found in the G-designated 8th generation processors. HK and HQ denote that the CPU is also either unlocked or has four physical cores, respectively, in addition to having a more advanced graphics chip.
- Y is also a letter indicating lower power consumption. Only, the Y-designated CPUs take this even lower than the U-designated models do. As a result, they are the most power-efficient but also have the worst performance. They are generally reserved only for the slimmest and lightest of laptops.
6th Generation Letters
The 6th generation Skylake CPUs share all the designations with the 7th, the only difference being that there are no Y-designated models in this generation.
The Intel Core brand also includes a handful of CPUs branded as m3, m5, and m7. These are all Y-designated processors designed for maximum power efficiency. Just like other Y models, they are reserved for the thinnest and most lightweight laptops, such as the 2017 MacBook.
The Final Word
And that would be all the letter designations to keep in mind when shopping for a new CPU.
You’ll notice that we didn’t cover any of the 5th generation or older models, and this is mainly because we advise against buying such dated CPUs in the first place.
In any case, you can always check out Intel’s official page on this subject if you’re interested in the designations of some of the older models.