In 2018, F-series CPUs were released for Intel Coffee Lake. These processors are the same as their non-F counterparts, but with one difference: they lack integrated graphics. Perhaps surprisingly, these F-series CPUs tended to overclock better than standard K-series processors, making them some of the best CPUs for gaming. And it now looks like the F-series CPUs might be making a return with Intel Comet Lake.
Informatica Cero (via Videocardz) recently released a slide from what looks like the same presentation that gave us the (unconfirmed) names, as well as core and thread counts, of upcoming Comet Lake CPUs. In this latest slide, various specs are listed alongside Intel F-series CPUs. The six iGPU-less CPUs that are listed run from the i9-10900KF all the way down to the i5-10400F.
Intel Coffee Lake F-series processors originally ran slightly cheaper than their non-F counterparts, and prices were dropped even lower in October 2019. Intel can charge less for these chips because they’re essentially K-series rejects – standard Coffee Lake (or, soon, Comet Lake) CPUs whose integrated graphics have suffered manufacturing defects.
The leaked slide shows the details of six of Intel’s Comet Lake F-series CPUs, each with the same core configuration and clock speed as its counterpart K-series processor.
|Frequency (base / boost)||Cores / threads|
|i9-10900KF||3.7GHz / 5.2GHz||10 / 20|
|i7-10700KF||3.8GHz / 5.1GHz||8 / 16|
|i5-10600KF||4.1GHz / 4.8GHz||6 / 12|
|i9-10900F||2.8GHz / 5.0GHz||10 / 20|
|i7-10700F||2.9GHz / 4.7GHz||8 / 16|
|i5-10400F||2.9GHz / 4.3GHz||6 / 12|
(The ‘K’ suffix indicates these chips are unlocked and available to be overclocked.)
Every batch of CPUs will yield some small amount of CPUs with defective silicon, from dodgy processor cores to botched integrated graphics. It makes sense for Intel to disable the defective integrated graphics on these processors and sell them at a reduced cost – it’s better than chucking them out, at least. It makes Intel some more money, and it lets us spend less money on what is, for gaming PCs, just as good of a CPU.
And let’s face it, the primary market for mid to high-end Intel CPUs of any generation is the humble PC gamer. And what does (almost) every PC gamer have in their machine? A discrete graphics card. This makes F-series cards much more alluring for many people than their non-F counterparts. If you have a discrete GPU, You get the same performance for less cost with no drawbacks.
OEMs and system builders will be keen to use these chips to lower upfront costs and pip their competition, too.
There are, admittedly, uses for integrated graphics in gaming even when you have a discrete GPU. For instance, streamers occasionally use Intel Quick Sync to encode their videos using onboard graphics. These uses are few and far between, however, and for most gamers with a discrete GPU, the lack of integrated graphics will go unnoticed.
So, if this leaked presentation slide is legitimate, we can look forward to some slightly cheaper Intel Comet Lake options which offer the same performance as its full price chips. For most of us gamers, these CPUs will be a nice way to save a few pennies on our new Comet Lake CPUs for no practical cost. God bless imperfect yields and manufacturing defects.