Not Just Laptops is supported by readers like you. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.
Usually, by “laptop’s generation” we mean the generation of the CPU. But what does a generation mean anyway? What difference does it make if you get a fifth or sixth-generation laptop?
You don’t need to tell us how confusing it can all get.
This article will help you better understand how laptop gens are connected to the CPUs. We’ll also go over the most common CPUs and how they differ in terms of performance, price, and overall use.
So without further ado, let’s explore.
Table of Contents
Now, this is where it gets confusing. Some laptop manufacturers have their own generations, also called series by some brands.
Take the Lenovo Legion 7i Gen. 7, for example. At first glance, you may think it comes with a 7th-generation CPU, right? Well, not exactly. This laptop is powered by either a 12th Gen. Intel Core processor or an equivalent AMD Ryzen CPU.
But others like this Acer Predator Helios 300 we tested is an “11th gen gaming laptop”.
The point is, in some cases, the word Gen in a laptop’s name might be misleading. Before choosing your laptop, make sure to check its configuration. And laptop generation has nothing to do with CPU generation.
So when most people ask about “laptop generation” they actually mean CPU generation.
Laptop generations entail changes in the body, look and feel, or any other major components inside or outside.
CPU generation refers only to the processor. So let’s unpack these below.
Intel Core CPU Generations
When it comes to making CPUs, Intel is the biggest fish in the pond, with AMD coming in as a close second.
Nowadays, the Intel Core CPUs are the most common ones in laptops, but there are other series, like Pentium, Celeron, and Xeon.
Intel launched its first generation of Core “i” processors back in 2008, under the “Nehalem” codename.
Three years later, they released “Sandy Bridge”, the second generation with a smaller circuit. The new generation brought more processing power and lower power consumption.
Following the success of these chips, Intel continued to release new Core processors. We are currently at the 12th Gen. Intel Core CPUs for laptops (aka mobile processors) and the 13th Gen. for desktops. In terms of performance, newer generations translate into more power and better efficiency.
Let’s see what the additional letters and numbers on the Intel Core CPU models mean.
Intel Core Suffixes
The last letter in Intel’s processor names is used to describe their capabilities and features.
Here is a list of what these mean:
|G1-G7||Graphics level – for CPUs with integrated graphics processors (higher number means better graphics performance)|
|F||High-performance CPU (no integrated graphics)|
|G||A dedicated GPU is included in the package|
|H||High-performance graphics (mobile)|
|HQ||High-performance (optimized for mobile) – quad-core|
|K||Unlocked for overclocking|
|S||Performance-optimized – sacrifices a little performance for lower power consumption|
|T||Power-optimized (for desktops)|
|U||Ultra-low power (for laptops)|
|X/Xe||Extreme performance (for desktops)|
|Y||Extremely low power (for laptops)|
Differences between i3, i5, i7 and i9
Besides generations and suffixes, there are also differences between the i3, i5, i7, and i9 models of Intel Core processors. What a nice way to make things even more confusing, right?
Simply put, the higher the number, the better the performance — with a higher price tag.
Check out the table for more details:
What’s the Best Current Intel Core Processor?
The Intel Core i9-13900K is the king of desktop CPUs at the moment. It blows its competition out of the water with heavy workloads like gaming and productivity tasks.
As for laptops, the current best laptop CPU is the Intel Core i9 13950HX.
AMD Ryzen CPU Generations
This article wouldn’t be complete without a few words about AMD processors.
AMD has some pretty confusing names for their products too. Their CPU generations range from the 1000s to the latest 7000 series.
Here is a short overview of their best chipsets (all these are available for laptops and desktops):
|Ryzen 3||up to 4 cores|
|Ryzen 5||up to 6 cores|
|Ryzen 7||up to 8 cores|
|Ryzen 9||up to 16 cores|
|Threadripper||up to 64 cores|
More cores translate to better performance.
What’s the Best Current AMD Ryzen Processor?
The latest and the best Ryzen processor at the moment is undoubtedly the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D, which is a desktop CPU. This CPU beats the Ryzen Threadripper PRO 5955WX by roughly 20%.
The fastest AMD Ryzen CPU comes with 4.2Ghz clock speed and 5.7Ghz turbo speed, with 16 cores and 32 threads.
The Ryzen 9 7950X3D was introduced at the beginning of 2023. It’s mostly intended for pro gamers and content creators looking for exceptional performance.
Apple M Chip Generations
As of 2020, Apple cut the cord with Intel and started making its own chips.
Their first chip was named the M1 (we could call this the first generation). After the base M1, Apple delivered the improved M1 Pro and M1 Max versions. Then there is also the Ultra version, a combination of two M1 Max chips in one.
In June 2022, Apple unveiled the M2. It is the second generation of Apple’s unified chips, which is an improved version of the M1.
Which Processor Should You Get?
It all comes down to your personal requirements and how you intend to use your computer.
For basic day-to-day activities, cheaper (Intel’s i3 or Ryzen 3) CPUs would suffice.
For light productivity or creative tasks, chips with a 5 attached to their name should get the job done.
But if you’re looking for serious computing power for high-end gaming and other heavy workloads, the i7 or i9 chips (or the AMD Ryzen equivalent) are recommended.
If you want a PC and you’re worried about overspending, starting out with a less expensive CPU is probably a good idea. You can always upgrade the CPU on your desktop later on. But that’s not the case with laptops.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of laptop generations and CPUs and what all those numbers and letters in their names mean.
Keep in mind that the latest and most expensive CPU isn’t always necessary and can be overkill.
If you have any other questions that we didn’t already cover here, let us know in the comment section.