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 VR 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
Celeron and Pentium
Entry Level

Intel Core i9 X-Series Processors

Intel Core i9 Processors

If you regularly juggle multiple CPU-intensive workloads at the same time such as rendering graphics and videos while crunching numbers then the top of the range Core i9 X-Series is for you.

These CPUs feature up to 18 cores and 36 threads, the most of any Intel desktop CPU, and so offer unmatched performance in content creation applications.

Core i9 X-Series processors are all overclockable, but lack integrated graphics so you have to buy a discrete graphics card.

Gaming 9
Streaming 9
Content Creation 10
Multitasking 10
0 5 10

Latest achitecture:Cascade Lake X

Compatible motherboardsIntel X299

View all Core i9 X-Series Processors

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 mainstream processors. They feature 10 cores and 20 threads for superb performance in games and all types of application.

Models with a K in the model number can be overclocked, while models with a F lack integrated graphics and so require a discrete graphics card.

Gaming 10
Streaming 10
Content Creation 9
Multitasking 8
0 5 10

Latest achitecture:Comet Lake

Compatible motherboardsH410 / B460 / H470 / Z490

View all Core i9 Processors

Intel Core i7 Processors

Intel Core i7 Processors

Moving up to Core i7, this is a great option for those seeking speed and responsiveness. In many ways the Core i7 is one of the best all-round processors to date and this is a chip for those who want to create and play with stunning visuals on a PC that can do it all. Core i7s provide excellent performance in all types of application and game.

Core i7 processors feature 8 cores and 16 threads, giving them more performance that Core i5s.

And again, if you're looking to overclock then look out a K-Series chip. Also keep an eye out for models with a F in the model number, these lack integrated graphics so are a great choice for a gaming PC or workstation with a discrete graphics card.

Gaming 9
Streaming 10
Content Creation 8
Multitasking 7
0 5 10

Latest achitecture: Comet Lake

Compatible motherboardsH410 / B460 / H470 / Z490

View all Core i7 Processors

Intel Core i5 Processors

Intel Core i5 Processors

A superb mid-range choice would be the Core i5 which offers enough power for effortless multi-tasking along with creating, editing and sharing 4K content and immersive experiences such as virtual reality.

The latest Core i5 processors offer 6 cores and 12 threads so will appeal to power users compared to the previous generation Core i5s which has 6 cores and were slower.

And if you're looking to overclock, which makes games and application to run faster, then look out a K-Series chip – this is indicated by a K on the end of model number.

Also keep an eye out for models with a F in the model number, these lack integrated graphics so are a great choice for a gaming PC or workstation with a discrete graphics card.

Gaming 7
Streaming 7
Content Creation 7
Multitasking 6
0 5 10

Latest achitecture: Comet Lake

Compatible motherboardsH410 / B460 / H470 / Z490

View all Core i5 Processors

Intel Core i3 Processors

Intel Core i3 Processors

Entering into the mid-range territory, the Intel Core i3 is a sizeable step up from Pentium because these CPUs are quad core. They offer a perfect solution for editing photos, creating videos, STREAMING 4K multimedia, multi-tasking and playing the latest games in VR.

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

Latest achitecture: Comet Lake

Compatible motherboardsH410 / B460 / H470 / Z490

View all Core i3 Processors

Intel Pentium Processors

Intel Pentium Processors

A big step up from Celeron, today's Intel Pentium processors are ideal for small, low-power desktops, and for managing photos, staying in touch with friends, enjoying high-quality multimedia, creating and editing documents as well as casual gaming.

They are dual-core CPUs but this time they support HyperThreading which is a technology which allows a CPU to do more at once, giving them more performance than their Celeron cousins.

Gaming 3
Streaming 0
Content Creation 4
Multitasking 4
0 5 10

Latest achitecture: Comet Lake

Compatible motherboardsH410 / B460 / H470 / Z490

View all Pentium Processors

Intel Celeron Processors

Intel Celeron Processors

At the entry-level end of the scale are the Intel Celeron processors which are priced from as little as £35 and these processors are best suited to light computing tasks such as web browsing, online communication, streaming multimedia content and word processing.

These dual-core CPUs work together with the included Intel HD graphics so you don't need to buy a graphics card.

Gaming 2
Streaming 0
Content Creation 3
Multitasking 3
0 5 10

Latest achitecture Comet Lake

Compatible motherboardsH410 / B460 / H470 / Z490

View all 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 X-SERIES Core i9 Core i7 Core i5 Core i3 Pentium Celeron
Gaming 9 10 9 7 5 3 2
Streaming 9 10 10 7 5 0 0
Content Creation 10 9 8 7 5 4 3
Multitasking 10 8 7 6 5 4 3

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.

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

Series
Model
Architecture
Socket
Cores / Threads
Base Frequency
Turbo Frequency
Cache
Memory Controller
Maximum Memory
Memory Frequency
PCIe 4.0 / 3.0 Lanes
Integrated GPU
TDP
Core i9 Core i7 Core i5 Core i3 Pentium Celeron
10980XE 10940X 10920X 10900X 10900K 10900KF 10900 10850K 10700K 10700KF 10700 10700F 10600K 10600KF 10600 10500 10400 10400F 10320 10300 10100 G6600 G6500 G6400 G5925 G5920 G5905 G5900
Cascade Lake-X Cascade Lake-X Cascade Lake-X Cascade Lake-X Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake Comet Lake
S2066 S2066 S2066 S2066 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200 S1200
18 / 36 14 / 28 12 / 24 10 / 20 10 / 20 10 / 20 10 / 20 10 / 20 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 / 4 2 / 4 2 / 2 2 / 2 2 / 2 2 / 2
3.0GHz 3.3GHz 3.5GHz 3.7GHz 3.7GHz 3.7GHz 2.8GHz 3.6GHz 3.8GHz 3.8GHz 2.9GHz 2.9GHz 4.1GHz 4.1GHz 3.3GHz 3.1GHz 2.9GHz 2.9GHz 3.8GHz 3.7GHz 3.6GHz 4.2GHz 4.1GHz 4.0GHz 3.6GHz 3.5GHz 3.5GHz 3.4GHz
4.6GHz 4.6GHz 4.6GHz 4.5GHz 5.3GHz 5.3GHz 5.2GHz 5.2GHz 5.1GHz 5.1GHz 4.8GHz 4.8GHz 4.8GHz 4.8GHz 4.8GHz 4.5GHz 4.3GHz 4.3GHz 4.6GHz 4.4GHz 4.3GHz
24.75MB 19.25MB 19.25MB 19.25MB 20MB 20MB 20MB 20MB 16MB 16MB 16MB 16MB 12MB 12MB 12MB 12MB 12MB 12MB 8MB 6MB 6MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB
Quad-channel Quad-channel Quad-channel Quad-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 Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel Dual-channel
256GB 256GB 256GB 256GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB
2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2933MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz 2666MHz
0 / 48 0 / 48 0 / 48 0 / 48 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16 0 / 16
165W 165W 165W 165W 125W 125W 65W 125W 125W 125W 65W 65W 125W 125W 65W 65W 65W 65W 65W 65W 65W 58W 58W 58W 58W 58W 58W 58W