Unlike the ones from Intel, AMD processors have complicated and unclear names. What's more, for years the company's been known for their less than stellar products that one could find in some cheap, budget computers. Everything changed in 2017 with the introduction of Ryzen laptop processors. They were good enough to compete with Intel's processors intended for ultrabooks (Core i5, i9 with the letter U at the end), which was confirmed in various tests.
But a lot has changed since then, and now, in 2020, only processors from this and last year are worth talking about: third generation Ryzens based on Dali architecture (e.g. Ryzen 3 3200U, Ryzen 7 3750H) and the latest Ryzen 4000 series based on Renoir architecture, first introduced in 2020, which has since become Intel's main competition.
How to read the names?
Ryzens have started appearing in laptops only since their second generation, the 2xxx. More recent generations can be identified by the first number in their name: 3xxx and 4xxx. The second digit tells us which model of the processor we're dealing with, so for example 4900H is a Ryzen 9 processor, 2500U - Ryzen 5. But you can also find a Ryzen 7 coded... 4800H.
Just like in Intel's case, the higher the number we have, the better the CPU. But we need to keep in mind that the weakest Ryzen 3 comes in two versions - 2300U and 2200U. On top of that we've got the Pro variations of those processors. They use different security standards (e.g. TPM 2.0), which isn't that important when talking about home-use, but becomes very important if we're to use them in a corporate environment.
What's more, we can also find processors named A6-9220, or A9-9420, that represent the Bristol Ridge family from 2017. Processors named A10, A 12, and AMD FX (the best of the three) are even older, as they were introduced in 2016.
But understanding the naming patterns of AMD is only one thing. The other is knowing how they compare to Intel's CPUs. If we look at comparisons, we'll see that: AMD Ryzen 9 4900H, 4900HS, and 4800H rank respectively one after another. Only Intel Core i9-10885H and i9-10980HK score above them! Ryzen 7 4800HS places right between Intel's Core i7-10875H, and i9-9880H. Ryzen 5 4600H, and 4600HS also fare relatively well, ranking higher than a lot of 9th and 10th generation Intel units.
When decoding AMD processors' names, we can make things easier for ourselves by remembering that they have:
- Ryzen3 – up to 4 cores.
- Ryzen 5 – up to 6 cores.
- Ryzen 7 – up to 8 cores.
- Ryzen 9 – up to 16 cores.
Ryzen 4000 laptop processors come in four variations:
- U series has the lowest cTDP, somewhere between 15-28 W. cTDP means Configurable Thermal Design Power. It dictates how much heat a processor can generate. In practice it means longer battery life when compared to the other variants.
- H series has cTDP of 45 W
- HS series - 35 W (S = slim)
- Pro is meant for business use, as it offers additional security (like encryption), so important in the world of gigantic corporations.
CPUs performance level
The second digit, for example 4900H describes the CPUs performance level, or, to put it simply, how advanced the model is:
- 1,2,3 = low end
- 4,5,6 = high performance
- 7,8,9 = enthusiast level
SmartShift is a new technology that debuted together with AMD's fourth generation of CPUs. It helps computer users to get more out of their AMD ecosystem, which includes Ryzen 4000 processors, Radeon graphics cards, and the latest Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020. Thanks to its dynamic shifting of power between the CPU and the GPU, it can offer around 10% greater performance in games, and 12% better results when working with CPU-intensive programs.