Intel® Processor Names for Gaming Computers

In this article, you’ll learn about

  • Recent changes to processor naming and what it means for gaming CPUs.

  • How to distinguish naming elements such as generation, processor numbers—and the meaning behind special suffixes.



Intel processor names can tell you a lot.

Think of them as a key to understanding the attributes of a particular processor: the processor name contains information on a CPU’s capabilities—including performance, feature sets, and intended use, to help you quickly identify the perfect CPU for your game.

With this brief guide, you’ll understand the Intel CPU naming conventions to help you choose the right gaming processor for your laptop or desktop computer.

Intel gaming CPU names explained.

All CPUs within a given generation will follow the same naming structure. Many naming conventions carry over between generations with periodic variations, as new products are introduced and old ones are phased out.

Here’s how Intel gaming processor names work: as a rule, the brand will come first, followed by the processor family, then the processor number—which contains the processor’s generation and SKU numbers—and, in some cases, the product line suffix.

Let’s use the Intel® Core™ i9 processor 14900K as an example:

  • Brand: Intel® Core™
  • Brand modifier: i9
  • Processor number: 14900
  • Suffix: K
    • The first digit or two in the processor number denotes the architectural generation.
    • The digits following the generation number—900—comprise the SKU number.
    • The letter following the SKU designates the processor as part of a series—in this instance, the K-series, denoting an unlocked gaming processor that allows overclocking.

What’s new in naming

In addition to Intel® Core™ processor, we have also introduced Intel® Core™ Ultra processors. Designed for premium laptops, these advanced processors will usher in the age of the AI PC by featuring Intel’s first integrated neural processing unit, or NPU, for power-efficient AI acceleration and local inference on PC. These advanced processors also come with built-in graphics for stunning visual and audio effects while conserving battery power.

And finally, you will also see Intel® Core™ processors remove the “i” in the brand modifier, starting with introducing of the Intel® Core™ Ultra processors and Intel® Core™ processors (Series 1).

Understanding Intel brand names for gaming

Now that you understand the basics, let’s break down each element.

The brand indicates what type of application a processor is used for. Some brands that are currently in production include Intel® Xeon®, Intel® Core™, Pentium®, and Celeron® processors.

Intel® Core™ processors are ideal for managing 3D, advanced video, and photo editing, playing complex games, and powering 4K displays.

Intel® Core™ Ultra processors are a groundbreaking advancement in Intel chip innovation. With an all-new 3D performance hybrid design, they include NPUs (Neural Processing Units) and may also Intel® Arc™ Graphics4 for graphics and AI acceleration. So now, customers can enjoy exciting new AI capabilities—like real-time language translation, automation inferencing, and enhanced gaming environments—while conserving power.

Gaming brand modifier

The Intel® Core™ brand contains various CPUs with a range of capabilities for gaming. The processor family indicates relative performance. The brand comes in 3 tiers:

  • Intel® Core™ i5 processors for mid-level gaming performance
  • Intel® Core™ i7 processors for high-level gaming performance
  • Intel® Core™ i9 processors for top-level gaming performance

A higher tier may have higher maximum frequencies (GHz) for doing single-core tasks—for instance, maintaining a high frame rate while gaming. They may also have higher core counts, a larger cache size, and expanded feature sets, such as Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology (Intel® HT Technology), which allows your CPU to pool its resources to improve performance on a single core. Explore more product details here.

For example:

  • Intel® Core™ i5 processor 13600K (13th Gen) for desktop:
    • Up to 5.1 GHz P-core max frequency
    • 14 cores and 20 threads
  • Intel® Core™ i5 processor 12600K (12th Gen) for desktop:
    • Up to 4.90 GHz max frequency
    • 10 cores and 16 threads

Gaming processor generation

Back in 2010, Intel released the first generation of Intel® Core™ processors. As of 2023, Intel® Core™ processors transitioned from the 13th generation to the 14th generation, with new iterations delivering newer features.

For example:

  • Intel® Core™ i7 processor (12th Gen) for desktop has:
    • Up to 5.00 GHz max frequency
    • 12/20 cores/threads
    • A cache size of 25 MB
  • Intel® Core™ i7 processor (13th Gen) for desktop has:
    • Up to 5.3 GHz P-core max frequency
    • 16/24 cores/threads
    • A cache size of 30 MB
  • Intel® Core™ i7 processor (14th Gen) for desktop has:
    • Up to 5.5 GHz max P-core frequency
    • 20/28 cores/threads
    • A cache size of 33 MB

Additionally, a generational change can bring features like updated compatibility with the latest technologies.

Gaming SKU #

The processor number, which comes after the generation number, serves to differentiate between features within a processor family, including base clock speed, max frequency, cache size, core/thread counts, memory support, and more. These numbers do not cross over to different processor families.

  • Intel® Core™ i5 processor 8400 has:
    • Up to 4.00 GHz max frequency
    • 6/6 cores/threads
    • 9MB cache size
  • Intel® Core™ i5 processor 8600K has:
    • Up to 4.30 GHz max frequency
    • 6/6 cores/threads
    • 9MB cache size
  • Intel® Core™ i7 processor 8700 has:
    • Up to 4.60 GHz max frequency
    • 6/12 cores/threads
    • 12MB cache size

Gaming processor suffixes

While the family and generation indicate a core CPU’s level of performance, its capabilities and specifications are further detailed by Intel® CPU series names. The CPU series—indicated by the series suffix at the tail-end of the CPU name—signifies the type of systems the processor is tooled for. A suffix, or lack thereof, points out whether a CPU is designed for a desktop, laptop, mobile device, etc.

The following suffixes generally indicate a CPU that should be considered for gaming purposes:

No suffix, or S
CPUs that lack a suffix, or have an S suffix, belong to the S-series. These processors are made for desktops and offer a range of options for various budgets and needs.

CPUs with an H suffix belong to the H-series, a series of powerful mobile processors5 for laptop gaming.6 Those looking for a CPU for gaming should also be aware of a few other suffixes.

A K suffix denotes an unlocked desktop processor that allows for overclocking, while an “HK” suffix (H+K) denotes an unlocked, high-powered laptop processor that allows for overclocking. Overclocking enables you to potentially achieve CPU performance beyond specs by adjusting key stem values2.

An F suffix marks a CPU that doesn’t have integrated graphics. They must be paired with a discrete graphic card.

The G suffix designates a CPU with additional built-in integrated graphics.

Putting Intel gaming processor names to use

Intel® processor names are a helpful reference tool when selecting the right CPU for any application, gaming included. For a more in-depth explanation of how to choose a CPU, with the right level of performance, system compatibility, and features, read our guide on how to choose a CPU for gaming.