How to Find Your Mac’s Exact CPU Model

When buying a new Mac, Apple gives you just enough information about the system’s hardware to make a good comparative choice between the different models, but the company keeps the exact hardware details hidden.

How to Find Your Mac's Exact CPU Model

For example, when shopping for a new MacBook Air, Apple tells you in the specs that the base CPU is a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, with 4MB L3 cache, but doesn’t reveal the specific model.

Indeed, even after you’ve purchased a Mac, the information about the exact CPU model is hidden from the “About this Mac” system report. This is fine for most users, but power users or those looking to compare there Mac’s performance to an equivalent PC may want to know exactly which CPU is powering their computer.

How to Find Your CPU Model Using the Terminal

Every Mac has a Terminal in which you can type various commands to receive an output. Even if you’re looking at a Mac in the store, you can use this command to find the exact CPU model. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Use Finder to tap on Applications and then Utilities
  2. Click on Terminal at the bottom
  3. Type the CPU command: sysctl -a | grep brand and hit Enter

The information displayed will be the exact CPU model of your Mac. It should look something like this:

How to Find the CPU Model – External

Thankfully, third-party resources, such as the excellent, have stepped in to provide a wealth of details about every Mac ever released. But to use that information, you’ll first need to know your specific Mac model and then take the time to browse the EveryMac website.

Mac hardware overview

What if you just quickly want to verify your Mac’s CPU model? Or what if you’re working to repair or troubleshoot someone else’s Mac and don’t have all the info about the system immediately available? Well, you’re probably not surprised to learn that there’s a Terminal command that can show your Mac’s CPU model. Here’s how to use it.

First, launch Terminal, which you can find going to the Applications folder then the Utilities folder (or by searching for Terminal with Spotlight).

Open Terminal then enter the following command at the command prompt:

$ sysctl -n machdep.cpu.brand_string

You’ll immediately see a new line of text with the exact make and model of your Mac’s CPU. On my MacBook, this command returned the following line:

Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-8210Y CPU @ 1.60GHz provides a summary of the MacBook Pro using this processor, including details about the processor and all of the rest of the hardware that came with this model.

A Google search for i5-8120Y CPU reveals its complete details listed at Intel’s website, including important information such as TDP and recommended price.

Intel has kept the same Core-series naming scheme for several years, meaning that lots of CPUs share similar frequency characteristics even though they offer far different performance levels.

By identifying your Mac’s specific CPU, you’ll be able to more accurately compare your Mac to other Macs and PCs, helping you either make an initial purchase or decide if it’s worth it to upgrade.

If you’re a Mac user and enjoyed this article, you might want to check out some more TechJunkie articles, including How to Change the Default Downloads Folder on Your Mac and macOS Mojave: Turn Off Recent Applications to Remove Extra Dock Icons.

Do you have any suggestions on the best way to find details on a Mac’s processor? If so, please leave us a comment below!

3 thoughts on “How to Find Your Mac’s Exact CPU Model”

Agua Caliente says:
Really cool tip. Could come in handy when buying a Mac, too. I always have a terminal window open. Apple really ought to include this information in System Report > Processor.
Barry Green says:
nice one, thanks.
DanialThom says:
sysctl -a | grep brand
Rob says:

Comments are closed.

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