All the Letters in AMD Ryzen CPU Names Explained

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Key Takeaways

  • The first number in a Ryzen CPU’s model name indicates its segment, with higher numbers indicating more powerful CPUs within the same series.
  • The other three numbers and suffixes provide additional information about the CPU’s generation, performance, and features, such as clock speeds, integrated graphics, and cache size.

Shopping for a new central processing unit (CPU) can quickly become confusing. However, naming schemes are something you just have to learn to make an educated purchase. Thankfully, AMD’s naming conventions are pretty straightforward.

Ryzen CPU Naming Conventions

After AMD launched the Ryzen line of processors in 2017, they refreshed their naming conventions. They took some inspiration from Intel’s lineup and came up with something similar to their Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 model names. Let’s break it down into a few sections to show you what I mean.

Zen

Zen is the term AMD uses to describe a processor’s microarchitecture. The microarchitecture is the processor’s design, and you don’t really need to know much about it as an end user, aside from the fabrication process. The fabrication process, measured in nanometers (nm), tells you the size of the processor’s transistors.

So far, AMD has released four Zen microarchitectures, along with a couple of plus variants that utilize a more advanced fabrication process. Here they are from oldest to newest:

Microarchitecture

Fabrication Process

Zen

14nm

Zen+

12nm

Zen 2

7nm

Zen 3

7nm

Zen 3+

6nm

Zen 4

5nm

The First Number/Word

Technically speaking, the first word in AMD’s CPUs is “Ryzen.” Ryzen is AMD’s main brand for consumer CPUs, but they also have Athlon. While there used to be a line of conventional Athlon CPUs, modern Athlon processors are accelerated processing units (APUs), which means they also have integrated graphics. New Athlons are OEM-only, which means you can only find them in pre-built computers and laptops.

With that out of the way, let’s talk Ryzen. The first number in a processor is the model name, but we can think of it more as a segment. These segments are one of the main differentiators in performance and what the CPU is designed for. A higher number typically indicates a more powerful CPU within the same series (more on that later).

With Ryzen CPUs specifically, it often indicates the number of cores. Ryzen 3 processors traditionally have four cores, whereas Ryzen 5 has six. This isn’t set in stone, though. For instance, you’ll occasionally come across a Ryzen 5 with only four cores because it also has integrated graphics.

Here’s a complete table to help you understand what that first number or word means:

Segment

Performance Level

Typical Use Cases

Ryzen 3

Entry-level

Basic tasks, web browsing, light gaming

Ryzen 5

Mid-range

Productivity tasks, demanding work apps, casual gaming

Ryzen 7

High-end

Enthusiasts, content creation, streaming, ultimate gaming

Ryzen 9

Premium high-end

Enthusiasts, content creation, streaming, ultimate gaming

Threadripper

Extreme high-end

Professional workstation, gaming

The Four Other Numbers

The four numbers after the first one may look intimidating at first, but they’re actually easy to understand. The first number indicates the series or generation, which roughly tells you when the processor was released and what Zen microarchitecture it uses.

The series number matters nearly as much as the segment because a processor from a newer generation is significantly more powerful than its predecessor. For example, a Ryzen 5 7000 Series CPU matches or outperforms a Ryzen 7 5000 Series CPU.

The series number isn’t strictly aligned with the microarchitecture generation — Ryzen 7000 Series chips use the Zen 4 architecture.

The second number indicates the performance level within the same series. It changes with the segment number, but it does indicate that a CPU is more powerful than another within the same segment. It’s usually nothing more than a marginal bump in the clock speed, though. For example, the Ryzen 5 5600 is slightly faster than the Ryzen 5 5500.

The third and fourth numbers are additional model number differentiators, mostly used for Ryzen 9 and Threadripper CPUs. They don’t sound significant, but they actually are. For example, a Ryzen 9 7900X has 12 cores, whereas a Ryzen 9 7950X has 16 cores and runs slightly faster.

The Letters

More formally known as suffixes, they indicate additional features or better performance. Here’s what each of them means (some are no longer used in newer models):

Suffix

Meaning

3D

V-cache (for significantly improved gaming performance)

X

Higher clock speeds and power consumption

WX

Workstation

PRO

Enterprise use; additional security and management features

F

No integrated graphics

G

Integrated graphics (5000 Series and older)

E

Efficiency

T

Higher boost clock speed

AF

Zen+ refresh of Zen models

While the suffixes matter, the clear outlier is the 3D V-cache. The larger cache size allows the CPU to store more information and perform better, especially in gaming. If a CPU has 3D in its name, it likely punches above its weight class in gaming.


Congratulations on getting through this mini-seminar! You now know how to read those strings of numbers and letters and are ready to make an educated purchasing decision. Remember, the most important information is the series and the segment. The two alone give you a good idea of the CPU’s power.


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