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What is the Intel Core i9 K series?

What is the Intel Core i9 K series? Let's find out

Updated: Feb 14, 2023 10:52 am
What is the Intel Core i9 K series?

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Intel is a major player in the PC industry, and it has several processor lineups available for consumers. Understanding these lineups and how they differ from each other can be a bit technical. Today, we’re looking at the “K” variants of the Core i9 CPUs. This article aims to answer the question: What is the Intel Core i9 K series?

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What is the Intel Core i9?

The Core i9 series features Intel’s best processors. These are powerful CPUs with industry-leading specs and cutting-edge technology built to offer unparalleled performance in all types of workloads. 

Some examples of Intel Core i9 processors are the Core i9-11900, the i9-12900, and, most recently, the i9-13900. 

K stands for “Unlocked”

Core i9 “K” edition CPUs are a variation of their standard namesakes. The K stands for “unlocked,” which means that the processor has an unlocked clock multiplier.

Intel’s standard processors, such as the three I mentioned above, cannot be overclocked. Only processors that have a K as a suffix support overclocking. 

But that’s not all. In addition to being overclockable, K edition processors typically feature higher core clock speeds than their default counterparts. In other words, K edition processors are faster than their default editions, even at stock values. 

K series CPUs also consume more power and tend to be a bit more expensive. 

Intel Core i9-13900 vs. 13900K

To help you better understand the differences between standard and K edition processors, let’s use the latest Core i9, the 13900, as an example. 


  • Cores: P-cores 8 / E-cores 16
  • Threads: 32
  • Base clock frequency: P-cores 2 GHz / E-cores 1.5 GHz
  • Boost clock frequency: P-cores 5.6 GHz / E-cores 4.2 GHz
  • L3 cache: 36MB
  • Default TDP: 65 W / 219 W boost.


  • Cores: P-cores 8 / E-cores 16
  • Threads: 32
  • Base clock frequency: P-cores 3 GHz / E-cores 2.2 GHz
  • Boost clock frequency: P-cores 5.8 GHz / E-cores 4.3 GHz
  • L3 cache: 36MB
  • Default TDP: 125 W / 253 W boost.

The differences explained

The most noteworthy difference lies in the clock speeds. While the base clock speeds for both P.cores and E.cores go up considerably, that’s not really all that important. What we’re concerned with is the boost frequency since that’s what determines performance. 

The 13900K has a 5.8GHz boost clock compared to the 13900’s 5.6GHz. The former is also overclockable, so you can increase that difference even further. 

We also see the processor’s power requirements increase quite dramatically. From a 65-watt to a 125-watt base TDP, and from a 219-watt to a 253-watt max TDP. 

What are KS processors?

The S stands for “special edition.” KS processors are therefore unlocked, special edition processors. 

These processors use Intel’s finest binned silicon and offer yet another tiny upgrade over their no-suffix and K variants. We can continue our above example with the Intel Core i9-13900KS, currently the world’s fastest desktop. 

It has pretty much the same specs as the 13900K, but with a boost clock of 6GHz. 

We have a detailed comparison of the three 13900 variants if you’re interested in learning more. 

Jack is a Tech and News Writer who has a vast and proficient knowledge of CPUs, Motherboards, and Computer technology.

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