My "Apple menu > About This Mac" screen

How to Find Your Mac’s Exact CPU Model (Easy)

Would you like to compare your CPU’s performance to that of a newer, potentially more performant model? Or perhaps you’re considering upgrading your computer, but first need to evaluate if you should using online CPU performance benchmarks.

This was my issue, and here’s how I solved it.

The Problem I Was Trying to Solve

I have an older MacBook Pro, from mid-2018. It was terribly expensive as I went with all the bells and whistles when I bought it back in 2018.

I started thinking about upgrading my laptop because my fan always seemed to be running and my applications weren’t running as quickly as they used to.

So the first thing I wanted to do was to compare my CPU’s performance with that of newer models. But to do so, I’d need to know it (the exact model).

Easy, right?

When I clicked the menu option “About This Mac,” which appears under the Apple icon at the top left of your screen, it said that I’ve got 32GB of RAM and a 2.9 GHz 6-core Intel Core i9.

Great! That’s wonderful!

But what’s the exact CPU model? You’d think information like this would appear in right under the processor’s specs.

If I didn’t know this (the CPU’s model), how could I compare the performance of my CPU against the newer M1 Ultra and/or M1 Max chips?

How to Get Your Mac’s Exact CPU Model

So I did some digging online, and here’s what I found.

Go to your terminal and type the following command:

[email protected]:~$ sysctl -a | grep brand

And here’s what mine returned:

machdep.cpu.brand_string: Intel(R) Core(TM) i9-8950HK CPU @ 2.90GHz
machdep.cpu.brand: 0

And there you have it! My exact CPU model is: “Intel(R) Core(TM) i9-8950HK CPU @ 2.90GHz”

Something so simple shouldn’t take such effort!

Once I had this information, I browsed to Passmark’s CPU benchmark page to determine for myself whether an upgrade was warranted.

Spoiler: for my needs, it wasn’t! And that’s good news, because for a new state-of-the-art MacBook Pro, I’d need to spend over $4k. Yikes!

What I did instead was to replace the fan and to re-install the OS, which appears to have at least temporarily bought me some time.

Identifying an Intel Processor Model Number on a Mac (Video)

Additional Resource

By the way, this (the below image) was really helpful for me. Below are the benchmarks for Apple multi-core CPUs:

Apple CPU benchmarks
Apple CPU benchmarks (circa Fall 2022)

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