While glancing through the marketing page of High Sierra, I read from the first footnote that:

[…] The playback of 4K HEVC content requires a Mac with a sixth‑generation Intel Core processor or newer.

I don't know which nth generation my iMac's CPU is. How do I find this information?

About this Mac says "Processor 2,8 GHz Intel Core i5", but no mention of a "generation".

  • We need to know precisely what model too - line above, inc (year)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 12:56
  • So there's no way to get the info from the Mac itself? If the answer has to involve some cross-referencing then (1) what data one needs to gather from the Mac and (2) where one can find the "generation" with the gathered data? Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 13:05
  • 1
    5th generation is the latest a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i5 iMac has. Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 13:06
  • Apparently it's a matter of finding out the processor number: intel.com/content/www/us/en/processors/processor-numbers.html but that seems to be hidden somewhere Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 13:06
  • @user3439894 thanks for helping me but I think a canonical answer would be more appropriate Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


You can get the processor generation by running the following command in Terminal:

sysctl machdep.cpu.brand_string

If the output contains a dash and a number after your "iX"-Core model, the first digit after the slash is the processor generation. See: Intel® Processor Numbers: Laptop, Desktop, and Mobile Device


  • 2nd Generation : Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2760QM
  • 5th Generation : Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-5257U CPU @ 2.70GHz
  • 6th Generation : Intel(R) Core(TM) m3-6Y30
  • 8th Generation : Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-8350U

If the dash is missing, it's first generation (or a different CPU altogether), e.g.:

  • 1st Generation : Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU 750 @ 2.67GHz

Different approach:

sysctl machdep.cpu

Gives you detailed CPU information.

From machdep.cpu.extmodel:

  • 0 for a "Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU T7400 @ 2.16GHz"
  • 1 for a late 2009 iMac-i5 "Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU 750 @ 2.67GHz"
  • 1 for a Mac Pro (Mid 2010) "Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU W3530 @ 2.80GHz"
  • 4 for a 2015 macbook pro (4th generation)
  • 4 for a "Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4770HQ CPU @ 2.20GHz" (4th generation)

Although it's inconsistent:

  • 4 for a 2016 macbook "Intel(R) Core(TM) m3-6Y30" (6th generation)
  • 5 for a "Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6820HQ CPU @ 2.70GHz" (6th generation)

From fsb's comment below:

According to Intel, the generation is the first number after the "-" (in machdep.cpu.brand_string)

  • 3
    When I do this on my MBP I get machdep.cpu.brand_string: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4770HQ CPU @ 2.20GHz. According to Intel, the generation is the first number after the -. My number is 4770HQ so I have a 4th gen processor.
    – fsb
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 13:39
  • Oh that sounds good ;) Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 13:40
  • Nice wrap up, thanks! The brand_string method seems to be the most straightforward. And, dang, my cpu is from "1st generation", but I had my suspicions as the computer is 7+ years of age 😄 feels old only on paper. We'll see if "6th generation" is really a requirement or merely a strong recommendation. IIRC h.264 4k videos play fine, although HEVC is a different beast. Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 17:57
  • Well it surely does play HEVC in HD (mine does :), 4k is a different question, true. Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 18:06

In case you don't have access to the computer to run the commands from the accepted answer (but know the model), Every Mac has a comprehensive list of all Mac processors. You can drill down to the specific device to then see the details, including processor specifications.

For your scenario, the path would look something like this:

Core i5
-> iMac 21.5-Inch "Core i5" 2.8 (Late 2015)
---> Processor Type: Core i5 (I5-5575R)

Based on this data (and referencing the Intel chart from the accepted answer), this machine appears to use a 5th generation processor.

More info: Macworld: How to check the specs of your Mac: find out processor and RAM

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