Every generation, AMD changes up its naming scheme for its processors, which brings us to its current classification and naming system for the Ryzen 7000 series. It’s perplexing and will no doubt remind people of their bittersweet memories with high school algebra, especially with that cryptic number-letter combo. That’s why we’re here to explain the new AMD CPU model naming scheme.
Because buying an AMD CPU both for laptops and desktops have now become a more confounding affair. Such is the case for the mobile CPU segment, which is AMD’s laptop processor line.
CPU Tiers – 3/5/7/9
This is the most straightforward way to tell the strength and power of an AMD CPU.
Like Intel, AMD Ryzen uses a numbered tier system divided into odd numerals, 3, 5, 7, and 9. So the tiers would be:
- Ryzen 3 – Usually budget CPUs. Not ideal for work.
- Ryzen 5 – Mid-range CPUs. Good for a mix of gaming and work, but is most ideal for the average gamer.
- Ryzen 7 – High-end CPUs. Great for both gaming and work.
- Ryzen 9 – Top-of-the-line CPUs. Ideal for heavy digital work. Diminishing returns for gaming.
Higher numbers of course, mean the CPU is more powerful. The same tier system is applied to laptops followed by the CPU’s model number which indicates yet another classification.
CPU Model Number
You’ll usually find AMD Ryzen CPUs named as Ryzen 3/5/7/9/ – XXXX where X is the CPU model number. This is the CPU’s identity since in each tier, there might be several CPU models with varying power and pricing.
This is the part that’s confusing as each digit corresponds to a designation. Let’s break it down starting with the desktop CPU since that’s simpler.
Desktop CPU model numbers
The Ryzen 7000 series comes in four digits, as expected. Some models have a letter at the end, we’ll explain that as well.
- The first number, ‘7’ in Ryzen 7000 indicates the generation so that’s constant.
- The second number indicates the CPU’s market segment which is directly correlated to its CPU tier. For example, ‘Ryzen 5 7600’ belongs in tier Ryzen 5 which is mid-range and its second model digit is ‘6’ means it belongs in the mid-range market segment.
- Numbers 3-4 fall in the Ryzen 3 tier, numbers 5-6 are in the Ryzen 5 tier, numbers 7-8 fall in the Ryzen 7 tier, and the number 9 falls in the Ryzen 9 tier.
- The third and fourth digits are irrelevant for desktop CPUs as most of them are just ‘0.’
And some desktop CPU variants have the ‘x’ in their name, such as Ryzen 5 7600x. The ‘x’ indicates that the CPU model is unlocked and can be overclocked to marginally boost its performance. Some people just prefer that capability to squeeze more lifespan in the event that their CPU starts becoming outdated. Unlocked or ‘x’ CPUs are also slightly more expensive.
Laptop CPU model numbers
Now, the confusing part and the basis of this article.
Let’s draw an example again straight from AMD’s official explanation:
You can see that it has similarities with the desktop CPU classification, particularly in the first two digits. That should ease the confusion a bit. It’s the third and fourth digit along with the additional letter that muddles up the naming scheme.
Because now, you can have a Ryzen 5 76XXHX model that’s actually different and not as powerful as another Ryzen 5 76XXU model with different third and fourth digit modifiers. Thus, we’re listing what the third and fourth digit numbers mean and what the letter at the end means for the laptop segment of the AMD CPU model naming scheme.
Third digit legend:
This indicates the architecture. Higher numbers mean a more advanced architecture so naturally, you’d want a mobile Ryzen 7000 CPU with at least Zen4 or Zen5 architecture for a more efficient power usage and better app compatibility or performance.
- 1 – stands for Zen1 architecture or Zen+
- 2 – stands for Zen2 architecture
- 3 – stands for Zen3 architecture
- 4 – stands for Zen4 architecture
- 5 – stands for Zen5 architecture
Fourth digit legend:
To further differentiate the many versions of AMD mobile CPUs for this generation, the fourth digit is there to indicate another performance tier from 0 and 5 with 5 being the more powerful though the variations between these models aren’t that big. They’re just slight variations in the frequency or speed, something OEM manufacturers can adjust for better battery efficiency or pricing.
- 0 – stands for base performance
- 5 – stands for slightly higher performance and price
The letter suffix
The letters at the end of a mobile AMD CPU indicate their power or energy consumption. As stated in that image above. But in case it’s hard to read:
- HX – Usually 55W or higher. Offers maximum performance for just about any task.
- HS – Usually 35W or higher. Good for gaming.
- U – Usually 15-28W. Dedicated for thin laptops.
- C – Usually 15-28W. Dedicated to Chromebooks.
- E – Usually 9W. They’re weaker, fanless versions of the ‘U’ variant.
As you can expect, higher CPU wattage correlates to its performance.
When in doubt, look for higher numbers and these letters
For desktop CPUs, you shouldn’t have much of a problem discerning which ones are better. The Ryzen 3/5/7/9 tier system does its job well enough to indicate performance and price segments.
For laptop CPUs, you’ll need additional pointers. When picking a laptop with a good AMD CPU, look for the following numbers on top of the Ryzen 3/5/7/9 tier and the first two digits.
- 4 or 5 in the third digit
- Look for 5 in the fourth digit
- Look for HX or HS as suffixes if you want gaming or heavy work models
And you can thank AMD for that sweet new classification system.