Updated at: 25-04-2023 - By: Leo Hall
You need a new central processing unit, but the model names leave you scratching your head. The letter meanings for Intel processors are explained below in a quick and easy to understand manner.

The central processing unit (CPU) is a crucial part of any gaming PC, but it can be difficult to select for those unfamiliar with computer hardware.

It’s not as easy to judge a CPU’s performance as it is with GPUs, and all the numbers and labels can be overwhelming.

This article will hopefully make it easier for you to find the Intel Core CPU that best suits your needs by demystifying the Intel Core CPU naming scheme.

Annotated Contents Show

Intel Core CPU Naming Scheme

Intel Core processors have names with six parts:

  • Corporate monicker
  • Product identifier
  • Modifier of Brand
  • The measure of production output
  • Number of the model
  • The final letter designation

Company Name

The name of the company doesn’t need much explanation; it’s Intel, and that means that Intel made the CPU.

How to identify the code for Intel Core™ CPU? | AORUS

Brand Name

Intel’s CPU lineup now spans a variety of brands, each optimized for a specific task. Here are some of the most common ones you might come across today:

  1. Core, designed for regular desktop computers like those used for gaming or office work.
  2. Xeon is an extremely powerful CPU family designed for high-end workstations and servers. It has an unprecedented number of cores and threads.
  3. Pentium, low-cost processors suitable for occasional computer users.
  4. Celeron, inexpensive options for beginning computer users.
  5. Atom processors are low-power devices optimized for mobile devices.

Intel also offers Movidius visual processing units (VPUs) and Quark microcontrollers in addition to the aforementioned five. Several of their earlier brands have also been discontinued.

Brand Modifier

Intel central processing units are further differentiated by their overall performance and price. Models based on the Intel Core microarchitecture are further broken down into four classes:

  1. i3 is the least expensive Core model and is recommended for low-cost gaming PCs.
  2. CPUs with an i5 designation are considered to be the sweet spot for the majority of gamers.
  3. i7 High-end processors that excel with both games and professional applications that require a lot of processing power.
  4. i9 — Extremely expensive but worth it for workstations only, enthusiast-grade CPUs.

Generation Indicator

A CPU’s generation is indicated by this relatively straightforward component of its name. The “12” in “Intel Core i5-12600K” refers to the fact that it is a processor from Intel’s 12th generation of desktop CPUs.

Each new generation of central processing units (CPUs) brings with it some improvements. Usually, it’s just a general improvement in performance, but sometimes, there are brand-new features introduced with a new generation. For instance, PCIe 4.0 was supported by 11th generation Core CPUs but not by their 10th generation predecessors.

Model/SKU Number

The model/SKU number is typically 3 digits; it is a generic number that does not reveal the specifics of the CPU’s specifications or capabilities but does reveal its relative standing within the generation to which it belongs.

For instance, Intel offers the i3-10100, the i5-10600, the i7-10700, and the i9-10900, each of which is a more potent central processing unit. Therefore, the more expensive models pack more processing power and may have access to features not available on the less expensive models.

However, if you are comparing processors from different generations, these numbers may not be meaningful. In other words, an i7 processor that was once considered top of the line can now be easily outperformed by the cheapest i3 model released this year.

The Letter Designations

The letter designations, or product line suffixes, come last. These typically distinguish a specific CPU from the base model that does not include a letter designation and are located at the end of the name of the processor after the model number.

Today’s Intel desktop CPUs carry the following letter designations:

  • K is the most common letter designation for desktop central processing units. It means the CPU’s multiplier is unlocked and can be increased overclocked  freely.
  • F – Requires a separate graphics card as the CPU does not have integrated graphics like those found in Intel CPUs. KF also denotes unlocked status and the absence of built-in graphics on some models.

In terms of mobile central processing units, you may run into the following terms:

  • U – Low thermal design power (TDP) model.
  • Y – Denotes an ultra low-power model with an even lower thermal design power (TDP) than U-designated models.
  • T – Denotes yet another power-efficient model that sacrifices functionality for battery life.
  • Integrated graphics performance on the CPU is rated on a scale from G1 to G7.
  • An H-marked CPU is a high-performance one. When you see the letters “HK” next to a model’s name, you know it’s powerful and can be overclocked.

The best Intel processors for 2022

Intel Core i5-12600K


  • Excellent cost-effectiveness.
  • Abundant gaming potential
  • Its hybrid design makes it a capable multitasking device.


  • It’s not Intel’s top-of-the-line processor.

Reasons to make this purchase: The current market leader among Intel processors.

It’s designed for gamers who could use some extra speed.

The Intel Core i5-12600k, in our opinion:

There is currently no better central processing unit than the Core i5-12600K. It’s the best processor period, not just the best Intel processor or the best gaming processor. For its low price of $300, you get 10 cores (6 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores). Games run smoothly on the performance cores, while the extra efficient cores free up bandwidth for serious computing.

The Core i5-12600K is a great example of the advantages of Intel’s 12th-generation single-core processors. Even the nearly three times more expensive AMD Ryzen 9 5950X can sometimes be outperformed by it in games. In the grand scheme of things, it manages to be the best gaming processor available, coming in second place only to Intel’s more expensive 12th-generation processors.

The hybrid 12th-generation architecture is an added bonus. Typically, a CPU of this class is ideal for devoted gaming use. In most cases, we advise upgrading for gaming and streaming. The Core i5-12600K, however, is not the case. Because of its 10 cores, this $300 processor has more than enough processing power for games and streaming services.

What Do Intel® Processor Numbers Mean?

Intel Core i5-11600K


  • Average performance for a CPU of this class
  • sufficient for most gaming needs
  • Inexpensive compared to modern CPUs


  • Its age means that newer processors can outperform it.

The benefits of purchasing this: It is still a reliable midrange CPU and is often discounted.

It’s intended audience is bargain-hunting gamers.

Here is our verdict on the Intel Core i5-11600K:

The Core i5-11600K is a respectable processor despite the shortcomings of Intel’s 11th-generation Rocket Lake platform. It’s a lot slower than the Core i5-12600K, but if you can find one for a good price, you can free up some cash to put toward a top-tier graphics card.

The 11600K typically has a slight but discernible advantage over the 10600K, though this varies from game to game. The 11600K can match the performance of the 10900K and can even outperform it in some games like Death Stranding. The 11600K may not be the generational improvement Intel fans were hoping for, but it demonstrates that a powerful CPU is not necessary for playing modern games.

The generational gains in non-gaming tasks stand out more clearly. When it comes to productivity tasks, the 11600K easily outperforms Intel’s previous generation offerings and provides stronger competition to AMD’s mid-range processors by making excellent use of application-specific accelerators. There is no significant drop in multi-core performance while simultaneously improving single-core performance.

When it comes to gaming performance, the 11600K is unmatched. It has enough juice for gaming and offers decent power for productivity tasks, which is unusual to find in a $300 laptop. However, the 12600K is the superior choice, so the 11600K should be considered only if it is extremely cheap.

Intel Core i5-10400F


  • Extremely cheap
  • Appropriate for casual gamers
  • suitable for work and multitasking


  • A dedicated graphics processor is needed.
  • A weak central processing unit

Reasons to make a purchase: It’s a good value and continues to deliver respectable performance in 2022.

PC builders on a tight budget who don’t require many cores will benefit the most from this product.

Opinions on the Intel Core i5-10400F:

The 10400F is not a Core i3 processor, but it is still one of Intel’s more reasonably priced options. At a price of around $150, it offers incredible value with its six cores and twelve threads, base clock of 2.9GHz, and boost clock of 4.3GHz. It has similar performance to the 10600K but costs about $80 less. The “F” at the end of the model number indicates that the 10400F lacks built-in graphics and instead calls for a dedicated graphics processor.

The 10400F’s solid performance belies its low cost. The 10400F can keep up with the 9700K in rendering while outperforming AMD’s budget Ryzen 3000 processors. While the 10400F isn’t up to the task of handling the majority of CPU-intensive tasks, it does a great job with things like web browsing, light image editing, and office applications.

The 10400F is the superior option for gamers. The 10400F’s many cores and high boost clock speed make it competitive with CPUs costing three times as much. With a powerful graphics card, it can compete with Core i7 and even Core i9 processors for gaming performance.

Intel has hit a home run with the 10400F. Below it, you’ll see a precipitous decline in performance without any appreciable savings in cost, and above it, you’ll see a rapid increase in both. The 10400F is an excellent general-purpose central processing unit (CPU), capable of handling basic office work and casual gaming with ease.

The next-generation 11400F is a more expensive but viable alternative. It’s slightly faster and costs more than this model, though.

Intel Core i9-12900K


  • In most situations, it is superior to the Ryzen 9 5950X.
  • Much more affordable than the Ryzen 9 5950X
  • Allows for DDR5 memory
  • Good margin for overclocking
  • PCIe 5.0 on boards that allow it


  • High energy consumption
  • Overheats a bit

The benefits of purchasing this: Currently, it is the fastest and most powerful Intel processor on the market.

Anyone in need of the best of the best can benefit from this.

Our verdict on the Intel Core i9-12900K:

The Core i9-12900K is an improvement over the previous two generations of Intel’s flagship processors. This device is the pinnacle of smartphones, with 16 processing cores and single-core boost speeds of up to 5.2GHz. It’s superior to everything else available and would work wonderfully for any type of content creation or gaming.

Based on our testing, the Core i9-12900K has the potential to outperform the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X by as much as 30 percent. Keep in mind that the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X can cost an extra $100-200. While the Core i9-12900K is unrivaled in gaming performance, it truly comes into its own when it comes to content creation workloads.

It consumes a lot of power, but so do most modern Intel processors. With its high core count and ample bandwidth for multitasking, the Core i9-12900K is a clear demonstration of what Alder Lake’s hybrid architecture can do for personal computers. The Core i9-12900KS may be marginally superior, but it is also significantly more expensive.

Intel Core i9-12900KS


  • Superior to anything else available
  • Easily masters any challenge or activity
  • Lasts for a long time.


  • Extremely wasteful

Reasons to make this purchase: It has the highest performance of any available processor.

Users who care only about having the best possible experience, regardless of cost, are the target audience.

The Intel Core i9-12900KS, as reviewed by us:

The Intel Core i9-12900K has been the market’s top-tier processor for quite some time, but it now has to contend with other iterations of the same chip. Intel has released the Core i9-12900KS, an overclocked and custom-binned version of the 12900K that pushes the limits even further. Compared to the 12900K, it isn’t a huge improvement, but it is an improvement nonetheless, making it the fastest CPU money can buy in 2022.

It shares the 12900K’s eight performance cores, eight efficiency cores, 24 threads, and blazing fast clock speeds. The main distinction lies in the slightly increased clock speeds of these high-end models. It has a slight advantage over the 12900K in most games and applications thanks to its ability to run at 5.5GHz on a couple of cores at once and 5.2GHz on all of them simultaneously. For the next half a year, at least, this chip will be the best option, and it will continue to be useful for years after that.

Although it is a fantastic desktop processor, it does have some drawbacks. Although it is Intel’s fastest processor at the moment, it is not its best value. It’s pricey when compared to the Core i9-12900K and even more so when compared to mid-tier alternatives. There isn’t a significant enough increase in performance to warrant the additional cost, and the TDP requirements are even greater. You should consider purchasing the Core i9-12900KS if speed is more important to you than cost, but you should look elsewhere if cost is a concern.

Intel Core i3-12100F


  • More advanced than the Core i3-10100F.
  • Moderate gaming and general purpose use.
  • Value for money is quite high.


  • Dedicated graphics hardware is required.

The benefits of purchasing this: It’s a good, low-cost processor from the current generation.

Who is it for: those on a tighter budget who require a flexible central processing unit.

The Intel Core i3-12100F, as reviewed by us:

As the 12th-generation Intel Alder Lake processors have recently been released, many of the slightly older CPUs on this list have been dethroned. There is no denying that Intel has had success with this processor line, and it shows in models that cost less than $100 like the Core i3-12100F.

Although it sits squarely in the entry-level category, the Intel Core i3-12100F provides great value for the money and a surprising amount of functionality for the price. While it does cost a little bit more than the previous budget king (Intel Core i3-10100F, which can be found below), the difference in performance between the two should be minimal. The performance of your computer will increase by two generations and $20 if you upgrade your processor.

This processor is a bit of an outlier in the Alder Lake family; while it shares the hybrid architecture of its more expensive siblings, it only provides P-cores and has a maximum clock speed of 4.3GHz across its four cores and eight threads. Despite this, it is perfectly serviceable and can hold its own in games and other activities. If you’re looking for something truly powerful, this probably isn’t it, but if you want to keep costs down in 2022, this is your best bet.

Intel Core i7-11375H


  • The best Intel mobile processor to date
  • Provides for hassle-free gaming and work.
  • High-Performance Features with Minimal Power Drain


  • Intel’s Alder Lake processor will soon overtake it.

Reasons to make a purchase: It’s the most powerful Intel mobile chip until the 12th generation of mobile chips becomes widely available.

Users who need more processing power on the go than a standard mobile CPU will provide.

This is our review of the Intel Core i7-11375H.

There may be issues with a brand-new Intel desktop processor, but the Tiger Lake mobile processors are top-notch. The i7-11375H is a great choice if you’re looking for a middle ground between power and performance. It uses only 35 watts of power despite having four cores and eight threads, a base clock of 3.3 GHz, and a staggering boost clock of 5 GHz. The i7-11375H is the most powerful of Intel’s new Tiger Lake H35 processors, which are designed for 14-inch mobile gaming laptops.

Many manufacturers are still distributing notebooks with last-gen CPUs, but laptops like MSI’s Stealth 15M feature the processor. The i7-11375H has similar specifications to the top Tiger Lake processors, but its increased power budget gives it the edge. That means you can expect a slight boost in single-core performance. However, with the same fundamental architecture, the speedup in multithreaded operations should be greater.

However, making definite statements about a mobile CPU is challenging. Even the most powerful processors can look ineffective with the wrong configuration, while weaker CPUs can shine with a well-thought-out setup. While the i7-11375H is unquestionably the most powerful mobile Intel CPU, it is still important to research specific laptops before making a purchase. As an excellent gaming laptop, the MSI Stealth 15M is a perfect match for this processor.

Intel also offers the Core i9-11980HK in high-end gaming laptops if you’re looking for more raw power. With its eight cores, sixteen threads, and 5GHz turbo frequency, it easily outperforms the i7-11375H. However, it is only found in very expensive gaming consoles, so it is out of reach for most people.

Intel Core i3-10100F


  • Excellent cost-effectiveness ratio
  • Under $100 in price
  • Ideal for laid-back physiques


  • It lags behind by two generations.
  • There are no on-board graphics

The benefits of purchasing this: It is a respectable CPU that can be purchased for well under $100.

Who it’s for: Less picky users on a tighter budget who want to feel like they’re in the loop.

The Intel Core i3-10100F, as reviewed by us:

Putting together a powerful computer without breaking the bank can seem impossible, so it’s great when you find parts that fit your budget without sacrificing performance. Even though it is a member of Intel’s 10th generation of processors, the Intel Core i3-10100F is still a mainstream model. Although it costs around $100, it offers a lot and is one of the best budget processors available.

The Core i3-10100F has a frequency of up to 4.30GHz in turbo mode and features four cores and eight threads, neither of which should be sneered at. These technical specs are more than adequate for regular use, including work, play, and even some casual gaming if your requirements aren’t too high. Spending the extra money on a better CPU, like the Core i5-10400F or a newer 12th generation model if you can afford it, is a good idea for resource-intensive tasks like video editing or CPU-intensive games.

This CPU does not require a significant increase in power consumption, so you can keep using your current power supply. It’s suitable for low- to mid-end computer systems. Keep in mind that the Core i3-10100F lacks integrated graphics, so if you plan on purchasing this processor, you’ll also need to purchase a discrete graphics card.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between K and F Intel processors?

Multiple suffixes, including “K” and “F”, are used by Intel to indicate various features. Overclocking is possible with a “K” processor and a “K” motherboard. You will need a separate graphics card because “F” processors do not feature built-in graphics. A “KF” processor, denoting unlocking and the need for discrete graphics, is also possible.

Intel’s top-tier i9, i7, and i5 processors typically come in variants with both of these suffixes. You can save some money if you buy the “F” variant of a processor when constructing a gaming PC. However, “K” processors with overclocking capabilities are more expensive. To learn more about the ins and outs of Intel’s naming scheme, check out our CPU buying guide.

Intel Processor Letter Meanings [2023 Guide] - GamingScan

How good are AMD Ryzen processors compared to Intel?

There is no clear winner between Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors because both brands provide high-quality hardware albeit at different price points and in varying forms. However, if you’re looking to upgrade your desktop computer’s processing power in 2022, AMD’s Ryzen CPUs are currently behind Intel’s, albeit not by very much. You may be able to find a newer AMD Ryzen processor for less money than Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake CPUs, despite the fact that both are very capable CPUs.

Intel once held a near-monopoly in the mobile industry. You can now find machines with the powerful AMD Ryzen processor. However, the vast majority of computers still feature Intel processors, and they perform admirably when compared to their AMD counterparts.

Simply put, Intel desktop processors are superior, and mobile Intel and AMD processors are competitive but Intel offers more variety. Although Intel is currently superior, this may not always be the case as the power balance between Intel and AMD shifts with each new processor release. Keep in mind that if you choose AMD instead of Intel for your processor, you’ll need a different motherboard.

How do you know which processor is best for your needs?

You should think about the programs you intend to run before deciding on a processor. For example, if you like to play video games, you should look for a processor with good single-core performance because most games only use a small subset of available processor cores. However, a processor with a large number of cores is preferable for content creation programs like Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve.

That’s a solid set of guidelines. Games prefer a fast processor to one with many cores, while content creation programs prefer many cores to those that are faster. The Intel Core i9-12900K and the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X are two examples of processors that provide both. Any modern processor with four or more cores should be fine for casual web use and simple app functionality.

How can you tell if a PC processor is any good?

Looking at individual benchmarks is the best way to determine the quality of a PC processor. Specifications like core count and clock speed only reveal the processor’s capabilities within its own product line. You can tell where the processor falls within the range of your chosen brand or series by looking at its core count and clock speed.

There are many options for testing your own processor. While Cinebench is excellent for gauging the performance of the processor alone, PCMark 10 is useful for getting a general idea of how well your computer handles a variety of common tasks.

Where can you find a full breakdown on Intel’s naming scheme?

Intel’s naming scheme can be difficult to follow at first, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll know which processor does what just by looking at its name.

Assume the name “Intel Core i9-12900KS” for the processor you’re researching. Intel Core is the processor brand, so that’s the first part. Some of Intel’s other product lines, such as the Pentium and Celeron, are much more affordable than Intel Core.

The second component is a modifier brand. This is significant because it indicates the CPU’s relative strength within its generation. Intel’s processor lineup ranges from the entry-level i3 to the high-end i9. The i5 and i7 families are considered mid- to high-end, while the i9 is the pinnacle of Intel’s processor lineup.

The first two digits of the model number indicate the processor’s generation. For instance, all Intel Alder Lake 12th generation processors begin with the number 12. The following three digits identify the precise model and increase in value depending on the quality of the model you’re dealing with.


This is a brief summary of the Intel Core CPU naming scheme and the letter designations you’ll see when researching and purchasing a new CPU.

Note that we omitted some of the letter designations that were only found in some older, discontinued models; however, we will continue to update the article in the event that any of those designations return or if Intel adds new designations to the mix in the future.

Also, if you’re in the market for a new central processing unit, have a look at our recommendations for the top CPUs for gaming in 2022. A more detailed guide, as well as several CPUs that may serve your purposes perfectly, can be found at the aforementioned location.