Intel K vs KF Processors: What Makes Them Different?

Lindsay Hayes

An Intel K CPU is one that is unlocked for overclocking, which means you can tweak it for more performance. KF CPUs are similar in that they have a K which means they can be overclocked, but the F suffix means that they do not have an integrated graphics card.

When building an Intel system, it is important to know which processor model you're going for. I've used both these types of processors in my builds and have had varying experiences with each of them.

So, if you're interested in knowing what the differences between Intel K and Intel KF processors are, this is the guide for you. Let's get right into it.


What is the Difference Between Intel K and KF Models?

Intel processors have letters at the end of the model number that gives you more information about them. It is important to look at these suffixes mean before deciding on any particular Intel CPU.

Some Intel CPUs have two letters, such as the Intel KF processors. In these cases, they have the properties of each suffix.

Technician Holding an Intel CPU

What Does the K Suffix Mean for Intel CPUs?

Intel K Series processors are those which have overclocking capabilities. Any Intel CPU without a K in the model number does not support overclocking.

This means that if you have an Intel K CPU, you'll be able to squeeze a lot of extra performance out of them, which simply isn't an option if you go for any other Intel processor.

Most power users will aim for Intel K processors for their builds. Besides overclocking capabilities, they usually have a higher base clock speed than other Intel CPUs with the same model number.

For instance, the i7-13700 has a base clock speed of 2.1 GHz on performance cores, but the i7-13700K pushes that to 3.4 GHz.

Just keep in mind that you will need to pair Intel K Series processors with a motherboard that supports overclocking.

What Does the KF Suffix Mean for Intel Processors?

An Intel KF CPU has two suffixes: K and F.

As mentioned earlier, this means that it has the properties of the Intel K Series CPUs, which means it can be overclocked. But it also falls into the family of F processors, so what does that indicate?

Intel Core processors with an F suffix do not come with an integrated graphics card.

This means that you will absolutely need to have a dedicated graphics card in your computer if you have an Intel processor with an F designation. That, of course, includes an Intel KF CPU.

Intel K vs KF: Which One is the Better Choice for Me?

Now you know the major difference between an Intel K CPU and a KF CPU. While they can both be overclocked, a K CPU has an integrated graphics card but a KF processor doesn't.

Why Go for Intel K CPUs?

If you're looking to build a high-performance computer without spending too much, it might be better to opt for an Intel K CPU, especially if you're not a heavy gamer.

This is because the integrated graphics card of an Intel K processor will save you from needing to purchase a dedicated graphics card.

Sure, F series processors are cheaper because they don't need to worry about putting an integrated graphics card into the chip, but the savings are minimal at best.

The difference in price between K processors and KF series processors tends to be nothing more than a couple of tens of dollars.

For instance, take a look at the price difference between an Intel Core i9-13900K and an Intel Core i9-13900KF. Even if you go for a KF CPU to spend less, your savings are nowhere close to getting you any new dedicated graphics card.

Also, an integrated graphics card can come in useful if anything goes wrong with your AMD or Nvidia graphics card since it will give you a fallback option.

Intel Core i9 Processor on the AMD Crossfire Motherboard

Why Go For Intel KF Series Processors?

An Intel Core processor with the KF suffix is the cheaper option and works well if you want to save some money when building a new computer. However, I only recommend this if you already have a dedicated GPU on hand.

If you're not building a gaming PC, attempting to save money on a KF processor will backfire if you don't have a discrete graphics card yet. This is because you'll need to buy a graphics card even if you're not going to do any gaming!

Though, if you have some reason to absolutely not want integrated graphics in your build, KF is the way to go for you.

Is an Intel CPU with No Integrated Graphics Faster?

When it comes to Intel K vs KF CPUs, the expectation is that by getting rid of the integrated graphics on the KF Series CPUs, you should get better performance. After all, there's no extra heat being produced by the integrated GPU.

However, this really isn't the case.

Intel Core processors with the same model number, whether they are KF or K processors, have essentially the same performance. The clock speed, core count, and even the same boost clocks will usually attest to this.

For instance, you can take a look at a comparison between the Intel Core i9-13900K and 13900KF. You'll see that even without integrated graphics, the KF model doesn't outpace the K CPU.

Do All Motherboards Support Overclocking?

If you grab the first K series CPU you find, you might be ready to start overclocking it. But are there any other components that need to be compatible, like your mobo?

Well, yes. Not all motherboards allow for overclocking. Without a compatible board, you won't be able to take full advantage of your K series chip.

Is KF Better Than K for Overclocking?

The absence of integrated graphics cards in KF chips makes a lot of us look for some kind of advantage with this series.

However, when it comes to the performance of these unlocked processors, there still isn't any noticeable difference in the maximum performance that you can push them to attain.

K chips will essentially function the same as KF ones when it comes to overclocking.

Is KF Better for Gaming?

Performance-wise, KF and K processors are on the same playing field.

If you're building a gaming PC, you might want to opt for a KF CPU because you'll have a dedicated graphics processor to take care of video output. It is slightly cheaper, so you can spend the difference on some other part of your build.

However, you're not going to see any real advantage in gaming performance if you choose any KF model over the K CPUs that are available.

Core i9 Processor with Graphic Cards

What is An Intel KS Processor?

There are a lot of processor types that Intel offers and one that might catch your eye is the KS type. We know that the K suffix relates to overclocking, but what about the S?

Intel says the S stands for "Special Edition". During CPU production, the resulting CPUs are not always identical. Some may perform much better or much worse than others.

The ones that do a lot better are said to be higher-binned, and when this happens to a K chip, Intel can choose to give it the "S" suffix.

So, in the case of the Intel Core i9-12900K, you'll find that the i9-12900KS adds 0.2 GHz to the base clock of its performance cores, and 0.1 GHz to the base clock of the efficiency cores.

So, a KS CPU is the right choice if you want to get the very best performance and clock speeds no matter what.

Final Words

The only difference between Intel KF vs K CPUs is that while both chips are unlocked for overclocking, a KF CPU does not have integrated graphics. You can plug a K processor in and get to using it right away, but you're going to need a dedicated GPU with a KF series processor.

While a KF processor is a bit cheaper than a K one, the price difference is not huge, so for most people, it is not worth choosing one over the other solely to save money. However, if you're building a gaming PC and have or are going to get a dedicated GPU anyway, you can use the savings on something else in the build.

Was this article able to show you the difference between KF vs K processor from Intel? If so, take a look at our related articles to learn a lot more.

Lindsay Hayes

Hi, I’m Lindsay, a techie from Kansas City. That’s right; I’m a born and bred Midwesterner. I learned to take electronics apart at my dad’s GameStop way back when, and I haven’t stopped since. I spend most of my time checking out new gadgets.
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