Intel is dropping the ‘i’ in Core i3, but there’s more to it. Here’s how you make sure you don’t buy the wrong chip

Leonard Sengere Avatar

When one is looking for a Windows, most times the enquiry starts with, ‘iCore i chii?’ Which Core i version is it? It’s been this way since 2008 when Intel adopted the i.

Well, Intel is dropping the i from its names now. What we used to call an Intel Core i3 processor will just be an Intel Core 3 processor.

From now on, these will be the new names:

  • Intel Core 3
  • Intel Core 5
  • Intel Core 7
  • Intel Cure Ultra 5
  • Intel Core Ultra 7
  • Intel Core Ultra 9

Below the above chips are the ones that used to be called Pentium and Celeron chips. So the hierarchy now goes Intel, Intel Core and then Intel Core Ultra.

The difference between Core and Core Ultra is that the latter has a larger feature set. It’s not necessarily that the Ultras are more powerful/faster.

This seems like a minor change but Intel says it was necessary because their brand was getting shortchanged on the market. When people refer to their processors as just ‘i5’ for example, one does not readily associate that with Intel.

I totally agree with that assessment. I have talked to many people who had no idea what Intel was even though they were familiar with Core i5’s etc.

Across the world, people associate Apple with the ‘i’ and so it made no sense for Intel for their processors to be simply known as i3’s.

Even Apple is ditching the ‘i’

It’s interesting to note that Apple themselves are moving away from the ‘i’. It’s too late to change the iPhone’s name but none of the new products have an ‘i’ in them. After the iPod, iPhone and iPad, these are some of the names we have seen;

  • It’s not iWatch, it’s Apple Watch
  • It’s not iPencil, it’s Apple Pencil
  • It’s not iVision Pro, it’s Apple Vision Pro

You will notice that all the new names have Apple in them. You can’t say I have the Watch, you are forced to say Apple Watch for example. That’s good for the Apple brand. Intel is hoping for the same with their processors.

It might not work for Intel

I foresee people still calling the Core 3, the Core i3. It would be the same if the iPhone became the Apple Phone in my opinion, we would still call it the iPhone.

However, for lower-end chips, Intel may have won. They dropped Celeron and Pentium branding last year and those chips are now simply called Intel processors. You have to use their name now.

Where it sucks for buyers

It is not just the ‘i’ that’s being dropped. Intel won’t be calling the chips “14th Gen Core 5” and so retailers probably won’t either.

That’s a problem because that’s how people buy processors. “I want an 11th Gen Core i5 or newer,” goes the conversation. Now you won’t be seeing the “12th Gen” or similar branding.

This could lead to people buying the wrong generation processors. Intel is okay with that, they actually want it that way. Said Intel to The Verge,

Our customers, OEMs, they have to sell a lot of older products… screaming ‘13th Gen’ highlights what’s new, but it also screams what’s old. We want to make it a little bit more flexible

Intel knows that not explicitly telling people which generation a chip is may cause confusion but they want that so they can help companies like HP and Dell push computers with older chips.

This means everyone is going to have to learn to look at Intel processors’ full names. I know many of you guys already know this but there are also multitudes that don’t.

An example of a full name is “Intel Core Ultra 9 processor 1090H“. The gibberish-to-many numbers at the end need to be explained.

  • Intel Core Ultra – brand
  • 9 – brand modifier (tells you which particular chip it is)
  • We split the 1090H into 3 parts
  • 10 – indicates the generation, in this case, it’s a 10th Gen processor. So look out for the first two numbers, that’s how you find out the generation.
  • 90 – you don’t need to worry about it too much, although a higher number when it’s the same generation indicates it was developed later and may have more features.
  • H – there is more to this letter than many think. The following table might be information overload but refer back to it when you next need to purchase a laptop.

The Intel letters

Form/Function Type/SegmentSuffixOptimised/Designed For
DesktopKHigh performance, unlocked
FRequires discrete graphics
SSpecial edition
TPower-optimized lifestyle
X/XEHighest performance, unlocked
Mobile (Laptop2, 2 in 1)HXHighest performance, all SKUs unlocked
HKHigh performance, unlocked
HHigh performance
PPerformance for thin & light
UPower efficient
YExtremely low-power efficient
G1-G7Graphics level (processors with newer integrated graphics technology)
UEPower efficient
HEHigh performance
ULPower efficient, in LGA package
HLHigh performance, in LGA package
You can read more about this here.

I think we all understand the table. If you’re looking for a laptop to use primarily for text editing and web browsing you might want a chip with Y or U at the end. That will give you the best battery life, which you might need in Zimbabwe.

So that’s it. You won’t accidentally buy the wrong generation chip when you are armed with this knowledge.

Also read:

Intel Arc GPUs bringing the fight to Nvidia

Interesting tech news this week, Friday 28 April


  1. Nerd

    Very good article! Thank you

  2. Mickey

    Guys which Laptop should i buy with a budget of 150us? im new to this

    1. Tight

      What are you planning to use it for? That’s an incredibly restrictive budget.

    2. Dred

      Intel is wrong here and they will lose market share to AMD if they go along with this. Their naming structure for their CPU’s was a selling point for most PC’s manufacturers particularly for laptops. In fact the removal of only the “i” suffix from the cpu’s name is proof that even they are aware of this. If one has to look up what each suffix means in their CPU’s names chances are they going to buy something else that is easier to understand.

  3. Tight

    The just ‘Intel’ branding had me scratching my head when I heard about it. Did Intels customers become too smart to buy their old stock? Coz that felt like an attempt to make it harder for buyers to make the most basically informed purchase.

    1. Aby

      It’s about money. Processors are like shoes made for different feet.
      HX chips for instance are for gaming machines which require more power while the U chips are battery efficient as the article indicates.
      Since people have different needs, Intel makes chips to accommodate those needs.
      Nothing wrong with this approach as it makes them money.

  4. 20

    I have to say I’m computer literate buy this naming scheme not good
    Now you have carry a table with you

    1. Anonymous

      Great article… Well done techzim I live the new look

    2. THHN

      Great article, very informative and helpful in the long term

  5. Aby

    Surprisingly good article. Well done.

  6. Pride

    I bunned in what’s app @meta how to unbunned this app.

  7. John

    Even as a long time techy who has bought hardware for decades you have to dig deep into specs to understand what you are buying these days. Any attempt of Intel or AMD to simplify these choices have completely vanished. What’s worse is any attempt to build your own PC and try and pick the right combinations of hardware. Then you have the complete lack of focus on performance with low powered CPU’s in laptops that have mostly been replaced by a need for more efficient chips to satisfy battery life. As a person who used to always buy U series CPU laptops. I have recognized that you have to be careful about what models to buy. Some just don’t have enough punch to run a ever more complex OS in Windows and applications. I am at a point to say you need to buy a higher tier CPU to get what you need in a laptop. Unless you absolutely need light and thin for travel.

  8. John

    I personally have not been convinced that Intel’s new hybrid approach is any better then just all performance cores. I think there are too many models anyway with only incremental differences between models in same family. Especially with low powered mobile CPU’s which don’t have a whole lot of separation in specs anymore.

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