Intel Processors Buyers Guide

What is an Intel CPU / Processor ?

Serving as the brain of any PC, the Central Processing Unit, or the CPU, is one of the most important components to consider when buying or building a new DESKTOP COMPUTER. Intel is undoubtedly the biggest player in this market and in this buyer's guide we'll provide an overview of the key Intel desktop CPU families with suggestions of which to choose depending on your needs and usage – from simple web browsing right through to content creation and gaming Another thing to consider when choosing the right CPU is making sure you choose a compatible motherboard and we'll indicate this for each processor family as we go through them. Intel is constantly updating their product range which could make it confusing to know if you're buying the latest and greatest version.

The easiest way to tell is to look at what architecture the processor is, this essentially refers to the generation of that product which you'll always find in the product description and in this buyers guide we'll highlight which is the latest architecture for each processor family.

Intel Desktop Processors

To help consumers pick an Intel processor, their chips are split into unique families whose characteristics best represent.

Core i7 and Core i9
High End
Core i3 and Core i5
Mid Range
Pentium and Celeron
Entry Level

You’ll also see some Core i9 X-series CPUs listed on our website. These are legacy processors from an earlier generation, so for the best performance and latest features make sure to choose a Core i9 processor instead.

Key Key Key

Intel Core i9 Processors

Intel Core i9 Processors

You really can’t go wrong with a Core i9 processor, as these are Intel’s fastest and most advanced desktop processors. The latest 12th generation CPUs feature a hybrid architecture with eight P-cores and eight E-cores for superb performance in games, intensive content creation applications and are also great for multitasking.

Gaming 10
Streaming 10
Content Creation 10
Multitasking 10
0 5 10

Latest generation12th gen, Alder Lake architecture

Compatible motherboard chipsetsIntel Z690, H670, B660, H610

3XS recommendsIntel Core i9 12900K

VIEW LATEST CORE I9 PROCESSORS

Intel Core i7 Processors

Intel Core i7 Processors

Moving down the range to Core i7, these processors still provide high-end performance and features. Compared to the more powerful Core i9 CPUs, Core i7s have the same hybrid architecture with eight P-cores, but only have four E-cores so aren’t quite as capable for content creation workloads or when multitasking.

Gaming 8
Streaming 8
Content Creation 8
Multitasking 8
0 5 10

Latest generation12th gen, Alder Lake architecture

Compatible motherboard chipsetsIntel Z690, H670, B660, H610

3XS recommendsIntel Core i7 12700K

VIEW LATEST CORE I7 PROCESSORS

Intel Core i5 Processors

Intel Core i5 Processors

Core i5 is Intel’s brand for its mid-range processors. Confusingly, there are two distinct types of the latest 12th generation Core i5. Both types have six P-cores, two less than a Core i7. However, while the only the Core i5s with a K on the end of the name also have four E-cores, the modules without a K having no E-cores. This means Core i5 K CPUs are much faster for intensive tasks such as content creation and multitasking. All Core i5 CPUs are a great choice for a gaming PC.

Gaming 6
Streaming 6
Content Creation 6
Multitasking 6
0 5 10

Latest generation12th gen, Alder Lake architecture

Compatible motherboard chipsetsIntel Z690, H670, B660, H610

3XS recommendsIntel Core i5 12600K

VIEW LATEST CORE I5 PROCESSORS

Intel Core i3 Processors

Intel Core i3 Processors

Core i3 is Intel’s brand for its lower spec mid-range processors. The latest 12th generation Core i3s have the same P-cores as Core i5, but only four of them. They also lack E-cores, so are significantly slower for intensive tasks such as content creation and multitasking. However, Core i3 CPUs are still a good choice for an entry-level gaming PC.

Gaming 4
Streaming 4
Content Creation 4
Multitasking 4
0 5 10

Latest generation12th gen, Alder Lake architecture

Compatible motherboard chipsetsIntel Z690, H670, B660, H610

3XS recommendsIntel Core i3 12100

View LATEST Core i3 Processors

Intel Pentium Processors

Intel Pentium Processors

Pentium is Intel’s brand for one its entry-level processors. The latest 12th generation Pentiums have the same P-cores as Core i3, but only two of them. Like, Core i3s, Pentiums also lack E-cores, so are not optimal for intensive tasks such as gaming, content creation and multitasking. However, Pentium CPUs are still a good choice for every day office applications.

Gaming 2
Streaming 2
Content Creation 2
Multitasking 2
0 5 10

Latest generation12th gen, Alder Lake architecture

Compatible motherboard chipsetsIntel Z690, H670, B660, H610

3XS recommendsIntel Pentium G7400

VIEW LATEST Pentium PROCESSORS

Intel Celeron Processors

Intel Pentium Processors

Celeron is Intel’s other brand for its entry-level processors. The latest 12th generation Celerons have the same P-cores as Pentium, but do not support HyperThreading so only really suited for basic office applications.

Gaming 1
Streaming 1
Content Creation 1
Multitasking 1
0 5 10

Latest generation:12th gen, Alder Lake architecture

Compatible motherboard chipsetsIntel Z690, H670, B660, H610

3XS recommendsIntel Celeron G6900

VIEW Celeron PROCESSORS

Summary

Still not sure which Intel CPU is right for you? This table shows the key characteristics, rated out of 10, of the main processor families.

CORE I9 CORE I7 CORE I5 CORE I3 PENTIUM CELERON
Gaming 10 8 6 4 2 1
Streaming 10 8 6 4 2 1
Content Creation 10 8 6 4 2 1
Multitasking 10 8 6 4 2 1

We hope you've found this buyers guide helpful. Don't hesitate to speak to one of our friendly advisors for more advice if you still have questions on how to select the perfect CPU for your needs.

How to understand the names of Intel CPUs

In addition, to the named ranges of CPU, i.e. Core i9, i7 etc, Intel uses a string of numbers and letters to differentiate individual CPUs. This illustration will help you to decipher this alphabet soup.

Pentium CPUs

The naming scheme for entry-level Pentium CPUs is a bit different as illustrated below.

For reference, here are the full specifications of all the latest Intel desktop CPUs.

Series
Model
Generation
Architecture
Socket
P-cores / Threads
E-cores / Threads
Base Frequency
Turbo Frequency
Cache
Memory Controller
Maximum Memory
DDR5 Memory Frequency
DDR4 Memory Frequency
PCIe 5.0 / 4.0 / 3.0 Lanes
Integrated GPU
TDP
Core i9 Core i7 Core i5 Core i3 Pentium Celeron
12900KS 12900K 12900KF 12900 12900F 12700K 12700KF 12700 12700F 12600K 12600KF 12600 12500 12400 12400F 12300 12100 12100F G7400 G6900
12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th 12th
Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake Alder Lake
S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700 S1700
128 / 16th 128 / 16th 8 / 16 8 / 16 8 / 16 8 / 16 8 / 16 8 / 16 8 / 16 6 / 12 6 / 12 6 / 12 6 / 12 6 / 12 6 / 12 4 / 8 4 / 8 4 / 8 2 / 4 2 / 2
8 / 8 8 / 8 8 / 8 8 / 8 8 / 8 4 / 4 4 / 4 4 / 4 4 / 4 4 / 4 4 / 4 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0
3.4GHz 3.2GHz 3.2GHz 2.4GHz 2.4GHz 3.6GHz 3.6GHz 2.1GHz 2.1GHz 3.7GHz 3.7GHz 3.3GHz 3.0GHz 2.5GHz 2.5GHz 3.5GHz 3.3GHz 3.3GHz 3.7GHz 3.4GHz
5.5GHz 5.1GHz 5.1GHz 5.1GHz 5.1GHz 4.9GHz 4.9GHz 4.9GHz 4.9GHz 4.9GHz 4.9GHz 4.8GHz 4.6GHz 4.4GHz 4.4GHz 4.4GHz 4.3GHz 4.3GHz
30MB 30MB 30MB 30MB 30MB 25MB 25MB 25MB 25MB 20MB 20MB 18MB 18MB 18MB 18MB 12MB 12MB 12MB 6MB 4MB
Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel
128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB
4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz 4,800MHz
3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz 3,200MHz
16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0 16 / 4 / 0
150W 125W 125W 65W 65W 125W 125W 65W 65W 125W 125W 65W 65W 65W 65W 65W 65W 65W 46W 46W