Are you wondering the difference between an Intel processor ending in K, such as the Intel Core i9 12900K, and a processor ending in KF, such as the Intel Core i9 12900KF?
This article will cover these common Intel processor name suffixes and suggest which processor type will better fit your needs.
|Processor Name Suffix||Meaning|
|K||"K" means it's an unlocked CPU. Unlocked CPUs have configurable frequencies and thus support overclocking. Your motherboard must support overclocking to overclock unlocked CPUs. Motherboards with Z-series chipsets (e.g., Z690) typically support overclocking.|
|F||"F" means it requires discrete graphics. In other words, it doesn't have integrated graphics (basically a GPU built into the processor), thus requiring a standalone graphics card.|
The suffixes can be combined. If a CPU's name ends in KF, it is both unlocked and doesn't include integrated graphics support in the processor.
Your motherboard must support video output capabilities to use the integrated graphics support of non-F suffixed CPUs.
Here are some examples:
|Example Processor||Unlocked||Integrated Graphics|
|Core i9 12900K||Yes||Yes|
|Core i9 12900KF||Yes||No|
|Core i9 11900F||No||No|
Want to learn about an exact Intel CPU model? Find it on TechReviewer:
The integrated graphics of non-F suffixed CPUs provides a few benefits:
- It allows you to use the computer for basic tasks without needing a graphics card
- It will enable you to connect additional monitors without competing with a separate graphics card's resources
- It allows you to troubleshoot your computer without needing to install a graphics card
- It includes support for Intel Quick Sync Video, which is dedicated hardware that can speed up the encoding and decoding of video content
Unlocked processors (K suffix) and processors with integrated graphics (non-F suffix) will theoretically have a higher price. However, depending on the available supply of each type of CPU, they may have a similar price.
Suppose you are planning to use a new computer for modern games. In that case, you should plan on getting a standalone graphics card rather than rely on integrated graphics. For the reasons listed above, you can still benefit from having support for integrated graphics (non-F suffix), even if you are using a separate graphics card.
Aside from potential price differences, there are no drawbacks to integrated graphics support (non-F suffix).
Are K Processors Better for Gaming?
Assuming an otherwise equivalent processor, the unlocked processors can be better for gaming if you plan to overclock your computer.
However, suppose you don't plan to take advantage of overclocking the processor. In that case, the unlocked processor will provide no benefits.
Are K or KF Processors Better for Gaming?
Assuming an otherwise equivalent processor, processors with and without discrete graphics support should perform about the same when using the same graphics card.
The only difference would be the addition of dedicated video encoding/decoding hardware (Intel Quick Sync). However, that is not something that many games would use. A dedicated graphics card can typically perform video encoding/decoding tasks just as well.
XMP, which helps set memory speeds and timings automatically, can be enabled even without an unlocked processor. Motherboard support is required for XMP, but you can make similar memory configurations manually.
This decision is typically made based on cost and features.
If all variations are at the same price point, go with a K processor, which supports the most features.
Processors with an F suffix (no integrated graphics) will typically have a lower price.
Processors with a K suffix (unlocked) will typically have a higher price.
Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles:
- CPU Coolers:
- Graphics Cards:
- Power Supplies: