Similar to CPUs, GPUs or graphics cards have their own GPU model naming scheme that you can expect from electronics. They’re usually algebraic combinations of letters or numbers that are thankfully less confusing compared to CPUs and their increasingly convoluted naming system.
Still, we’ve reached a point where the two biggest GPU manufacturers have named their creations a little too similarly in a way that a person who’s not tech-savvy might get confused. So we’re here to help those people and help anyone else explain the differences between GPU tiers, model names, and brands.
Let’s start with Nvidia, the more common and popular among the two GPU brands and manufacturers.
Nvidia GPU Model Naming Scheme
It’s important to note that every generation might change abruptly with their naming system depending on the whims or the developments in the manufacturer’s office.
That said, Nvidia has stayed with its RTX naming scheme for five years now and counting. An example name based on Nvidia’s most recent GPU generation is the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti.
We’ll explain each element of that naming scheme below.
GeForce is merely the brand of the GPU that Nvidia owns and calls its graphics cards. It’s like Intel’s ‘Core’ name and designation for its products and it has withstood the test of time.
Nvidia first used this name back in 1999 after it won a contest held by the company to name their new graphics cards. The rest is history.
Not too long ago, Nvidia GeForce GPUs were actually called GTX instead of RTX. GTX stood for Gita Texel Shader eXtreme which indicated the specialized circuitry that became the basis for Nvidia’s GPUs.
This changed in 2018 after Nvidia incorporated ray tracing technology in their GPUs which allowed a more lifelike digital rendering and simulation of light sources. Since then, new Nvidia GPUs have been called RTX which means Ray Tracing Texel eXtreme instead of GTX.
It’s a clear classification that the GPU is capable of handling ray tracing technology.
This is the model name and it’s loaded with information more so compared to GeForce and RTX.
Thankfully, it’s not as confusing as CPU naming schemes. Only two digits are essential and the letter suffix means what you usually assumed it meant.
The first digit, ‘4’ corresponds to the generation, meaning it belongs in the RTX 4000 series of GPUs. This changes every generation.
The second digit is irrelevant for this current naming scheme and is just there to differentiate it from the past naming schemes.
The third digit, ‘6’ corresponds to the GPU tier. 5 is low-end or budget, 6 is mid-range, 7 is mid-high-end, 8 is high-end, and 9 is top-of-the-line.
The fourth digit, like the second digit, is also irrelevant.
As for the ‘Ti’ suffix, not all GPUs have this, but those that do mean they’re a step or a tier higher compared to their non-Ti counterparts, which means that the RTX 4060 Ti is more powerful compared to the RTX 4060 but weaker compared to the RTX 4070.
As with GPUs, higher numbers and letter suffixes are common indicators of higher power or performance. It’s simple and straightforward enough in Nvidia’s case.
What about AMD?
AMD GPU Model Naming Scheme
AMD and its new RX series GPUs have been sharing a similar naming scheme with Nvidia’s RTX series so it’s easy to mix up the two.
In fact, you’d be better off just determining whether it’s AMD or Nvidia by their packaging color as AMD assumed red while Nvidia assumed green as its brand.
As for the naming scheme, we’ll be using the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT as an example.
Radeon is practically AMD’s own version of the ‘GeForce’ brand and it’s what it calls its GPUs. Radeon also wasn’t always owned by AMD as the Radeon brand was launched back in 2000 by ATI Technologies.
AMD, dominantly a CPU manufacturer, acquired ATI back in 2006 and officially retired the ATI branding in 2010, introducing the new AMD Radeon brand from that point on.
RX is a little less technical compared to Nvidia’s lineup naming scheme. It simply means Radeon Experience.
It doesn’t stand for any architecture or engineering indication so there’s really no deeper meaning here. Or it could AMD is just trying to throw shade at Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards, which is why they made it sound similar.
Still, this might change further down the line when AMD introduces a new lineup or generation of Radeon GPUs.
Like with Nvidia GPUs, some digits have a meaning that indicates or classifies the specific model. Thankfully, most tier naming systems for GPUs are nearly identical with 4 or 5 being considered low-end, 6 being considered mid-range, 7 and 8 being considered high-end, and 9 being top-of-the-line or flagship.
Here’s what each digit or suffix means for AMD GPUs:
The first digit, ‘7’ corresponds to the generation, as always. That means the Radeon RX is now in its 7th generation, namely the Radeon 7000 series of cards.
The second digit, ‘8’ is the most important piece of information here since it’s the indicator of the GPU’s tier as we mentioned above. In this case, ‘8’ in 7800 means it’s a high-end GPU that’s usually meant for 4K gaming.
The third and fourth digits are irrelevant and are just there to make the GPU sound more advanced.
The ‘XT’ suffix, just like Nvidia’s ‘Ti’ suffix specifies that the GPU is more powerful compared to its non-XT counterpart. Hence, the Radeon RX 7800 XT is more powerful than the RX 7800 but less powerful than the RX 7900.
The big difference between AMD Radeon and Nvidia’s naming system is that each digit emphasizes the tier list to which the GPU belongs, apart from the additional names and suffixes. Of course, there’s also the color branding between the two, and it’s up to you and your due diligence to see whether you belong in team red or in team green.