The chip-maker will pay $48 per share in cash, a 60 per cent premium on McAfee’s closing price.
The purchase, which marries a hardware and software maker, gives Intel a direct route to cross sell its new security products to PC retailers.
Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said: “Everywhere we sell a microprocessor there’s an opportunity for a security software sale to go with it.”
However, some analysts have questioned the timing of the deal, with McAfee’s core business focused on the shrinking desktop PC market.
Intel said that McAfee would become a wholly owned subsidiary, maintaining all of its current business lines, but that any “deep collaboration” between the two companies was likely about two years away.
Intel was advised by Goldman Sachs and Morrison & Foerster while McAfee’s advisers were Morgan Stanley and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
The deal follows Dell’s $1.3bn purchase of storage company 3PAR earlier this week and IBM’s acquisition of software rival Unica for $480m.