Last Updated on November 6, 2020
Running on an Intel Core system unit? So what generation is your CPU? For the uninitiated, here are a few guidelines on how to check Intel processor generation.
If you’re rocking a processor from the Intel Core product line, then, it’s quite straightforward. All you need to do is to look at the generation indicator, which is the first number of the processor number (e.g. 9900) that follows the brand modifier (i3, i5, i7 and i9). Thereby, it can be easily deduced that i9-9900 is of the 9th generation since 9 (in 9900) immediately follows the brand modifier i9.
Bear in mind that in the 10th generation Intel Core chips, the generation indicator is a two-digit one. This is quite unique since the preceding generations used a single-digit generation indicator followed by a three-digit SKU number (the 900 in 9900), which makes up for the latter half of the processor number.
The Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium product lines do not follow the same naming scheme as the Intel Core brand. Both the Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium are, as per Intel’s description, economical product lines; ones for budget-conscious consumers. On the other hand, Intel Core processors are faster and offer more features.
Aside from the consumer and enthusiast market, Intel also has a product array for servers and workstations, which is better known as the Intel Xeon product line. As with Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium, Intel Xeon’s naming scheme does not share the same naming scheme as the Intel Core processors.[lwptoc]
How to Check Intel Processor Generation?
As shown in figure 1, an Intel Core processor’s name is composed of the brand, brand modifier, processor number (composed of the generation indicator and SKU numeric digits) and product line suffix.
In the illustrated example shows the dissected and labeled name of the Intel Core i7-1065 G7 processor. Intel Core is the brand, i7 the brand modifier, 1065 is the processor number and G7 is the product line suffix.
The processor number (1065) is further broken down into the generation indicator (10) and SKU numeric digits (65).
Following the above-stated explanation, the Intel Core i7-1065 G7 processor is a 10th generation processor; a generation primarily geared for 2-in-1s and laptops.
As a general rule of thumb, a higher brand modifier in an Intel Core processor family usually translates to better performance (higher number of cores) and, in some cases, more features.
Hence, an i3 will get outperformed by an i5, which gets outperformed by an i7 so long as they’re of the same processor family.
The SKU numeric digits and the product line suffix also reveals a lot of information. Note that Intel does not recommend the comparison of the SKUs between processors of different product lines and generations.
The assigned SKU generally coincides at the order at which the processors in the same product line and generation are developed. Generally, this means that processors with higher SKUs, granted the same product line and generation, have more features.
The product line suffix is an essential indicator of the CPU’s capabilities. In the illustrated example, the suffix is G7, which is the highest of all graphics-level suffixes; from G1 to G7.
For the enthusiasts seeking performance, however, K, which indicates unlocked, S, which indicates special edition and XE, which indicates extreme edition, are the suffixes that should be most-appealing.
Also Read: How to Check CPU Speed After Overclocking
Intel Pentium and Intel Celeron
The recent Intel Pentium product line releases are mostly categorized into either Pentium Gold or Pentium Silver. The former is for Intel Pentium chips that were designed for performance while the latter is for price-conscious consumers.
A chip from the Intel Pentium Gold line will have a single-letter prefix and an SKU followed by an alphabetical suffix. Take for instance, Intel Pentium Gold G6500T. The single letter prefix is G, the SKU is 6500 and the suffix is T, which denotes power optimization.
Intel Pentium Silver processors also have a single-letter prefix and an SKU. However, there is no suffix that follows. Intel Pentium Silver J5040 is a good example.
The Intel Celeron product line has two naming formats. Some Celeron chips have a three-digit SKU without a prefix while others have a single-letter prefix that precedes a four-digit SKU.
For both the Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium product lines, higher numbers appearing within the processor’s name generally indicates better benchmarks and features, which include the front-side bus, clock speed and cache.
Also Read: How To Tell if Motherboard is Dead?
Intel Xeon chips, as stated in the preceding text, are designed for workstations and servers. Thus, they can withstand extended hours of heavy loads. Of course, given the target market, Intel Xeon processors cost a hefty sum with the lowest having almost the same price as a high-end Intel Core processor.
As discussed, the Intel Xeon naming scheme differs from the Intel Core product line. While the Intel Core has the I-series brand modifier (i3, i5, i7 and i9), Intel Xeon has the E-series (E, E3, E5, E7). For instance, the Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5, which is for LGA 1151 socket.
In general, Xeon processors with an E modifier either has 4 cores or 8 cores. For E3, it’s typically 4 cores while E5 can have processors with 4 to 22 cores. The E7 Xeon chips have at least 24 cores. The given example (Intel Xeon E3-1270 v5) is a quad-core with 8 threads.
While the given example does not have a suffix, some Intel Xeon processors do. Some have L, which indicates low-power. Others have W, which means workstation processor, and M, which translates to mobile.
The four-digit combination that follows the suffix is the product family. Unlike Intel Core chips, however, the first digit does not denote the generation. What it indicates is the maximum number of processors in a node.
The closest that Intel Xeons have to a generation indicator is the v that follows after the four-digit combination. The v, in this case, stands for version. In the given example, it should be easily understood that the processor is version 5.
How to Get Processor Information?
There are various ways to get the processor’s information. Be it via physical examination of the chip, the BIOS or operating system utilities, all of them will give out the same information regarding the chip.
Physical examination of the processor and the packaging
Details regarding a particular processor are usually etched at its back.
As per the example in figure below, an Intel Core processor will usually have copyright marks, the processor family, processor name and number and spec code/ processor speed and finished process order/batch number (FPO) etched on its back. The full (2D matrix) and partial serial numbers are found at the back of the processor.
The packaging for each processor also holds substantial information.
In fact, the packaging should have the full serial number alongside the finished process order/batch number (FPO). More detailed specifications regarding the processor should be in the packaging.
If you’ve already booted up your computer and are currently on your desktop, do the following to find out your processor information.
For Microsoft Windows 7-10 users:
- Right-click on the start menu.
- Select Run.
- Type in “DXDIAG” (without quotes) and hit enter.
The window that pops up should be the DirectX Diagnostic Tool.
In the system tab, which should be the default tab selected upon launching the utility, is the system information that lists processor details alongside the RAM and operating system details.
Alternatively, you can right click on ‘This PC” and then click “Properties”.
For macOS users:
- Click on the Apple icon, which is usually at the top-left corner of the desktop. This should bring about a drop-down menu.
- Choose “About this Mac” from the drop-down menu.
The window that gets generated contains the processor information alongside the Mac’s other components such as RAM and storage.
Information regarding the processor is usually highlighted within the default page of the BIOS.
If not, navigate the BIOS and find either of these options: Advanced Features, Advanced Chip Set Features and CPU configuration.
The processor’s product line, brand modifier and number should be listed alongside its other details such as the clock speed (GHz) and cache (MB).
Intel has had a plethora of processor releases since it was founded in 1971. Therefore, it should not be surprising that its naming schemes for each product line can be very convoluted.
Nonetheless, the aforementioned details should give you a general idea not only on how to check Intel processor generation but what the digits and letters in a processor name actually mean.
Hopefully, the details discussed on this write-up can assist you in choosing the right Intel processor for your future builds.
Detailed specs regarding the Intel processor, including the SRP, can be found on Intel’s portal.