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Rohin Jains profile image
By: Rohin Jain
July 16, 2018

What Letters at End of Intel CPU Model Numbers Stand For

By: Rohin Jain
July 16, 2018
Rohin Jains profile image
By: Rohin Jain
July 16, 2018
Have you ever thought about what those random letters are at the end of your Intel CPU model name and wondered why they are there? Intel is one of the leading CPU-making companies. Also, it is the most guilty for throwing seemingly random letters at the end of a product name, so it might not be too hard to understand the difference between a Core i3 and a Core i5. You know, as a general rule, bigger numbers are better! If you've ever looked at a product page or a specification sheet for a laptop or even some desktops, you've probably noticed that sometimes, there are letters attached at the end of the CPU Model numbers too.

What are Those Letters for?

Well, these letters aren't just random characters that Intel threw in; they actually have some real meanings that tell you something about the processor. Unfortunately, there are so many that it feels like you are trying to crack The Da Vinci Code just to figure out what your CPU was designed to do! But fear not, I'm here to explain them ;). So let's start with the most familiar ones:

  • CPUs with letter K:K means that the chips multiplier is unlocked, meaning that it can be easily overclocked if you have a similarly enabled motherboard. Non-K chips have very limited overclocking functionality, so make sure you look for that K if you want to tweak your system.
  • CPUs with letter HK:Intel doesn't talk about it as much, but the K in HK CPUs that you occasionally see in high-end laptops also means the same thing as the letter K referenced above.
  • CPUs with letter H:H stands for High Performance Graphics and is used to designate Intel's higher-end offerings in the mobile segment that consumes more power.
  • CPUs with letter HQ:This designation is the same as that of the letter H in H CPUs. It is another mobile-specific letter denotation. Many of those higher power chips also have a Q on the end that stands for Quad Core, which is why you'll often see HQ on more expensive laptops.
  • CPUs with letters U and Y:U stands for Ultra Low Power, and Y represents Extremely Low Power.

    But why not use E to represent extremely low power?

    Because E was used to designate chips that support ECC Memory. So for better or for worse, U and Y chips are what you see in laptops and other mobile devices where the focus is more on saving battery life than on performance, with some Y series CPUs having TDP (Thermal Design Power) under 5 watts. Now, it bears noting that Intel has an M suffix to make it clear that a chip is mobile, but currently, it's only being used on Xeon chips for mobile workstations.
  • CPUs with letter T:These processors still fit in a standard LGA Desktop socket, but they are low-power, so you'll often see them in small form factor or all-in-one computers that are designed with smaller power supplies or less aggressive cooling.
  • CPUs with letter P:These have some interesting graphics options, so if you see a chip with a P on the end, this indicates a desktop processor without integrated graphics, which can save you a few bucks if you're planning to use a discreet video card.
  • CPUs with letter G:The newer G CPUs feature Radeon rx Vega graphics that are built from Intel's biggest non-competitor: AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), specifically its division Radeon Technologies Group, which is a totally different company.
  • CPUs with letters R and C: Now of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't give a quick shout out to R and C, which we last saw on the now several generations old Broadway line to designate a soldered-on CPU and then an unlocked desktop CPU, respectively. R stands for High-end Mobile, similar to "H." C stands for Unlocked, same as "K" in other generations.
  • CPUs with letter X: This indicates a very high-end unlocked consumer CPU with the most cores and the highest prices. It's sitting atop the pile in the Core i9 7980XE for Extreme Edition (not to be confused with E for ECC memory like I mentioned earlier)

Closing Remarks

So in summary, maybe Intel could do a better job of making these letter denotations simpler and more consistent for consumers. However, at least to Intel's credit, someone over there recognized the problem and spearheaded the creation of this lengthy website to help people decipher the denotations' ever-shifting meanings.

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