Intel's ditching the 'i' in 'Core i5/i7/i9' and will stop calling out chip generations

Intel new Core Ultra branding on a laptop badge.
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel is making big branding changes to its CPUs from its next-gen Meteor Lake chips onwards. From that generation onward, there'll no longer be an 'i' in 'Core i5' or 'Core i7', etc, and instead there'll also be a new 'Ultra' brand to signify the most advanced chips of the generation.

The 'i' is being dropped "to highlight significant shift in architecture and design" from its Meteor Lake generation chips onwards. This isn't entirely a surprise, as word leaked out last month that Intel was thinking of making the change.

The new 'Ultra' branding will also apply to any chips that are deemed worthy, and Intel says it'll be used to differentiate its "leadership" products from its mainstream ones. Thus, I imagine, meaning the priciest chips will always sit as its Ultra offerings. The difficulty here is how easy it'll be to determine which is better, a non-Ultra Core 7 or an Ultra Core 5, and I look forward to getting that squared away in my brain closer to Meteor Lake's launch.

The company has also said it intends to remove "generational messaging", which means you'll likely see less of '13th Gen Core i9' and instead just 'Core 9'. Though Intel does promise to keep the generation of a chip noted in the codename, i.e. 'Core 9 15900K'. This might help prevent confusion with what's currently a bit of an issue in Intel's multi-architecture chip line-ups. For example, the Core i5 13400F I reviewed earlier in the year is often an Alder Lake chip, not a Raptor Lake one, and calling it '13th Gen' could be misconstrued as meaning it's also a Raptor Lake chip, when it's not. 

Though in removing the generational branding, Intel's only really making it less confusing to those already in the know, and not actually any clearer which architecture is in which chip.

New badges will begin to roll out with the new branding changes, so expect to see these plastered on laptops from Meteor Lake onwards. These 14th Gen chips (though unlikely to be called that by Intel anymore) should begin rolling out in around Q3/Q4 this year. 

Intel is calling Meteor Lake an "inflection point for design, manufacturing, and architecture." However, this generation is likely to be all mobile chips, and it's not until 2024 that we're expecting any new-fangled designs to hit the desktop. When they do arrive for gaming PCs, we're expecting Arrow Lake chips rather than Meteor Lake.

Don't be surprised if you're buying a laptop later this year or next and it looks a little, off, however. It's just Intel's big new marketing push, and we'll see how well it plays out later this year in laptops.

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Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.