What Am I Buying? Understanding Intel® Generations - Mega IT Stores

What Am I Buying? Understanding Intel® Generations

You might have looked at the products on this website and others and wondered what this means Intel® i5-8550. The processor or CPU is the brain of a computer. Unfortunately, Intel®’s naming system can be confusing. So, what is the difference between i3, i5 and i7 processors, which one should I buy?


Don’t worry – Mega IT Stores is here to help!


An Intel® Core™ i7 is better than a Core™ i5, which in turn is better than a Core™ i3. The trouble is knowing what to expect within each tier. Core™ i7 does not mean a seven-core processor! These are just names to indicate performance.


Firstly, let’s address the misconception: many people believe that Core™ i3, i5, and i7 are the processor generations but these are models or brands of processors from Intel®.

Here is a list of all the major processor models released by Intel® :

  • Pentium 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Celeron
  • Pentium M and Celeron M for mobile devices
  • Pentium Dual Core™
  • Core™ Solo
  • Core™ Duo
  • Core™ 2 Duo
  • Core™ 2 Quad
  • Core™ i3, i5, i7, i9

The concept of generations mostly comes after the release of the Core™ i series.



Let’s look at this example:


Intel® Core™ i7-1065 G7 processor

Brand: Intel® Core™

Brand Modified – i7

Generation Indicator – 10

SKU Numeric Digits – 65

Product Line Suffix – G7




The Intel® naming scheme starts with the processor’s brand or the product line that the CPU was created for. You’ll recognize some more common Intel® names, such as: Intel® Core™, Intel® Pentium®, and Intel® Celeron®. The Intel® Core™ processors have overall faster performance and better features that you will not see in the Intel® Pentium® and Intel® Celeron® versions.


Brand Modifier

The Intel® Core™ CPUs will have the brand modifier before the model number. You will not see this with Intel® Pentium® and Intel® Celeron® processors. Currently, the Intel® Core™ series has i3, i5, i7, and i9 CPUs in the range. The higher the brand modifier – the higher the level of performance and these higher numbers offer additional features like, in some cases Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology.


Generation Indicator

After the brand and brand modifier you will see the CPU’s generation indicator. In a four-digit processor number, the first number will usually show you the generation. For example, in a CPU number like: i5-9800 is a 9th gen processor, while i7-8800 is 8th gen technology.


SKU Numeric Digits

For most Intel® processors. The final three numbers are considered the SKU. SKUs will generally show in which order the CPUs were developed. A higher SKU will generally have more features. However, using SKU numbers for comparison is not recommended.


Product Line Suffix

This suffix is a key indicator of the CPUs features and capabilities. Within the Intel® Core™ series, U indicates a processor that has been designed for power-efficient laptops or 2 in 1s. While XE indicates an “extreme edition” processor for desktops designed for maximum performance.



Generations in more detail:


Simply put, different Intel® generations have an enhanced feature set and speed compared to previous generations.


1st Generation Intel®  Processors – Nehalem
2nd Generation Intel®  Processors – Sandy Bridge
3rd Generation Intel®  Processors – Ivy Bridge
4th Generation Intel®  Processors – Haswell
5th Generation Intel®  Processors – Broadwell
6th Generation Intel®  Processors – Skylake
7th Generation Intel®  Processors – Kaby Lake
8th Generation Intel®  Processors – Kaby Lake R
9th Generation Intel®  Processors – Coffee Lake
10th Generation Intel®  Processors – Cannon Lake/Ice Lake
11th Generation Intel®  Processors – Tiger Lake
12th Generation Intel®  Processors – Alder Lake
13th Generation Intel®  Processors – Raptor Lake


To set it in simplified terms, here’s how to make your decision:

Intel® Core™ i3: Best for basic users. The economic choice. Good for browsing the web, using Microsoft Office, making video calls, and social networking. Not for gamers or professionals.

Intel® Core™ i5: Intermediate users. Those who want a balance between performance and price. Good for gaming if you buy a G processor or a Q processor with a dedicated graphics processor.

Intel® Core™ i7: Power users. You multi-task with several windows open at the same time, you run apps that require a lot of power, and you hate waiting for anything to load.

Intel® Core™ i9: The extreme performance tier is marketed for those that demand the best and fastest performance in every area of their machine.

Back to blog