The meaning behind AMD GPU numbers?


Jul 25, 2010
Normally, when looking at AMD Graphics Card, I simply refer to 2 front numbers, for most of the time.

I understand that the first digit is for series indication, such as 4870 is the 4th series. The higher, the newer.

The second number, to me, is a rough idea for strength of the card. The higher number here indicates that the card is more powerful. 6990, for instance, is basically the strongest muscle for the 6th series.

But the third number, what is it for?

If I make any mistake here, please feel free to correct me. :)


Nov 24, 2008
the 2nd and third numbers together are a good indication for the card. instead of rating something on a scale of 1-9, rank on a scale of 11-99. Same principle. you were just not applying valuation to both digits.
The Way I see it is,
the First digit is the Series.
The second digit is the revision or generation ( Not necessarily meaning 8th generation or 7th generation but 7th means 1st gen, 8th means 2nd gen and 9th means 3rd (FINAL) gen).
And the last two digits are the power for that particular series range, 90 being the maximum and 00 being the Basic reference Design Performance for that Series.
I would clasify it like this:

First Number: Generation of the GPU
Second Number: Performance class of the GPU
Third Number: Sub class of the GPU or Inner class performance
Forth Number: Used to inflate the 'awesomeness' of the product with the masses. In example, HD6950 is larger than GTX580 and therfore must be more awesome right :sarcastic:
I'd say
First number: Shows the generation of the card ( eg: HD 6xxx gives you an idea of which generation the card belongs to )
Second number: Shows the part/division of performance of the card ( eg: 69xx gives you an idea that it's the high end model )
Third number: Distinguishes the model of the card from the card's performance division [ eg: HD 695x (or the HD 6950).
Fourth number: well, not much, but it just puts in that '0' to finish it all up. :)

This seems the most accurate of what I read so far.

I'd also add that much of the time, cards of the same 1st and 2nd number usually use the same chip, and the 3rd number lets you know if it had shaders disabled and defaulted at a lower clock rate.
Can't find the original nomenclature thread where we cleaned this up due to all the changes in the forum over the years, but this thread addresses the issue again:

Essential the guidance is;
IHV/Mfr .... Family ... Generation .... Series .... Refresh ... Suffix ... additional OEM Partner Suffix

Series Numbering going: 0,1,2,3,4 - 5,6,7 - 8,9 (Low - Med -High), this only applies within a generations bloodline and does not apply across generations.

Always has and always will be confusing to people who don't educate themselves, and for whatever reason in the launch of the R6K series of cards this suddenly became a sticking point despite the next to no traction previous similar (exactly the same) issues got and zero ink, unlike recently, as if reviewers should hand-hold GPU purchasers instead of them taking the time to research (all of 30 mins worth of 5 reviews would do). [:thegreatgrapeape:5]

How does that do that since there has been 4 digits in the numbering since the Radeon series launched (except for the 10-series which became the X##0 during the whole PCI-Ex swap R 9###->X### as in R9600->RX600 [nV was PCX#### instead of FX####]) and when those cards were launching, they were alongside another 4 digit competitor (only nV and Matrox had less digits and they were not the leader), so how is that their fault for inflating versus the other company doing whatever going from 4 digits to 3?

Can't blame them for something that the other company did, although I'm not surprised some would try to. :sarcastic:



Simple, there is a 4870 and a 4850, 3rd number shows that the 4870 is better than a 4850.

Well I guess we found your source of confusion, perhaps this source instead...

There were also a some 55 and 25s in the past too to replace the SE/LE type distinctions, but they are kinda rare and usually OEMs.

Still doesn't show it as being anything than the established norm for the market, and seriously the move from 3->4 digits and 4->3 by another company garnered far less ink than simply moving the 50,70,80,90 around. Almost all reviewers were distracted by that BS and did horrible sub-par reviews because of that distraction.

Like I said in the past, there's no pleasing everyone because if you name it their codenames then people would say it's confusing them based on words/letters, and if you made it equivalent to a measure like their 3Dmark scores or W.E.I., then once again generation to generation would be borked.
People just need to edjumakate themselves about the chosen system of the chosen vendor and then go from there.
Yes, well, it seems I ran out of beer before making it to the Mobile HD5k Section :(
Still, the HD5145 and HD5165 are more the exception rather than the rule.

In any case, it is a much better practice to rely on reviews and benchmark data than model number generalizations.
Going by the model number alone is not enough information to properly determine the actual performance of a GPU.