Understanding Intel’s convoluted CPU lineup

Intel is the major suppler of CPU chips to computer manufacturers, so understanding what chips are available and their differences is important if you are buying a new computer. It is also important if you are building a new computer. In this article by Andrew Cunningham we get some help understanding the branding efforts by Intel. It can be confusing and difficult to understand, but this might help you figure out the facts you might need.

The Celeron, Pentium, and various Core labels tell you most of what you need to know about a given CPU, but the model number suffix is important too. Here’s what these suffixes mean (and note that some CPUs have more than one letter attached).

No suffix: These are “mainstream” CPUs with no particularly special properties.

T-series: These are low-power desktop chips with lower TDP values, which generally (but not always) translates into lower power consumption. These power savings are usually realized by reducing the CPUs’ maximum clock speed. For example, a Core i7-6700 has a TDP of 65W, a base frequency of 3.4GHz, and a Turbo frequency of 4.0GHz. A Core i7-6700T has a TDP of 35W, a base frequency of 2.8GHz, and a max clock speed of 3.6GHz.

K-series: This relatively rare suffix denotes a multiplier-unlocked CPU that can be overclocked when paired with a high-end Intel Z170 chipset. The chips also have a higher 91W TDP, relative to the standard 65W for a quad-core CPU.

E-series: E is for “embedded,” which implies that these are mostly going to come with pre-built systems or soldered to motherboards. System builders can mostly ignore this one.

P-series: Back in the Core 2 days, a P-series chip didn’t include an integrated GPU. Now, P-series chips just include slower integrated GPUs. Go figure.

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