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The Best Intel Core i5 Processors

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The Best Intel Core i5 Processors

The Intel Core i5 series is among the most popular of the Intel Core line, thanks to its excellent overall price/performance ratio. i5 processors are especially popular among gamers, who don’t typically need things like i7s to push the highest framerates in their games, which generally are more GPU-dependent.

If the i3 series is the entry to the mid-range, the i5 goes from midrange to entry-level high-range, depending on the generation and the specific processor you’re buying. Generally boasting four or more cores, integrated graphics, and overall better performance than their i3 counterparts, the i5 series is great for mid-range gaming PCs.

Below, we’ll dive into more detail and tell you everything you need to know.

Where does the Intel Core i5 excel?

The Intel Core i5 series tend to flourish in the following scenarios:

  • Hardcore gaming. The i5 processors serve as great companions to GPUs from the GTX 1060 and onward. You don’t really have to worry about CPU bottlenecking all that much, especially if you’re using an unlocked i5 capable of overclocking. While the i7 and i9 may have marginally better performance in games, it’s just that: marginal.
  • Light Twitch streaming. Want to stream occasionally? You may need to turn down your game settings and resolution, but i5s can handle that workload just fine, especially if you have a dedicated GPU for the games and use integrated graphics to help with rendering. It won’t be enough for a pro streamer, but it should be fine as a hobby.
  • Semi-frequent video rendering. Want to make a video or two each week and upload it to YouTube? The i5 should work great for that purpose. It won’t render nearly as fast as an i7 or i9 due to the lack of hyperthreading in i5 processors, but your average 5-minute 1080p video should render in an hour or two at worst.
  • General productivity, media playing, etc. If all you’re doing is browsing the web, listening to music, watching Netflix, etc., don’t worry: the i5 will easily handle all those tasks. Although, we recommend opting for an i3 if that’s all you’ll be doing.

Is the Intel Core i5 enough for my usage scenarios?

Meanwhile, the i5 may fall short in the following scenarios:

  • Frequent Twitch streaming. If you want to be a full-time Twitch streamer, then an i5 simply won’t cut it. The compromises you’ll have to make to your gaming experience will create a worse experience for your users, especially if you’re an eSports player, where maximum performance matters more than anything else. We recommend at least an i7 for this purpose.
  • Daily or every-other-day video rendering. If you’re a career YouTuber or something of the sort, an i5 also won’t cut it. The time spent rendering, editing, and uploading video is precious, not to mention the time actually getting the footage you need. If you’re doing content creation as a career, you need an i7.
  • High-end productivity tasks. This refers to things like data mining, compiling, rendering, financial modeling, etc. An i7, i9, or Xeon processor is needed for these tasks.

01 Intel Core i5-12600K

The Intel Core i5-12600K will be an excellent option if you need a processor capable of elevating your gaming experience. This 12th Generation processor has a total of ten cores, six of which are performance cores, while the other four are efficiency cores. It also has sixteen threads. You can rest assured that the CPU can handle many popular games and will also be powerful enough for those who like multitasking. Your games will run smoothly thanks to the CPU’s hyper-threading architecture. You won’t have to do any soldering when putting the processor on the PCB because of its LGA-1700 socket. The Intel Core i5-12600K features a base speed of 3.7 GHz, but its maximum boost clock reaches 4.9 GHz. Its total Intel Smart Cache is 20MB, its L2 Cache is 9.5MB, and its processor base power is 125W. The processor is power-efficient because of the Intel 7 Architecture, which features enhanced microarchitecture and performance per watt. People who value graphics and visual quality will like this CPU because of its built-in Intel UHD graphics. The CPU supports DDR5 and PCIe Gen 5 for those who are fond of top-notch graphics ad memory.


  • Fantastic value
  • Excellent for gamers
  • 10 cores and 16 threads
  • Hyper-threading architecture
  • 4.9 GHz maximum boost clock
  • Built-in Intel UHD graphics


  • Overall performance could be better


  • Price $277.99
  • Processor Intel® Core® i5 Deca-core (10 Core)
  • Motherboard compatibility 600 series(3)
  • Single P-core Max/Base Speed 4.9/3.7 GHz
  • Single E-core Max/Base Speed 3.6/2.8 GHz
Intel Core i5-12600K

02 Intel Core i5-11600K

If you find the Intel Core i5-12600K too pricey, the Intel Core i5-11600K would be your next best option. It is an eleventh Generation Intel Core processor which was initially released in 2021. It features six cores and twelve threads. The processor’s base frequency is 3.90 GHz, while its maximum turbo frequency is 4.90 GHz. The CPU has a 12 MB Intel Smart Cache, and its bus speed is around 8 GT/s. It supports DDR4-3200 memory and can accommodate up to 128GB. The processor comes with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 750, with a base frequency of 350 MHz and a maximum graphics dynamic frequency of 1.30 GHz. Those who like high-quality gaming will benefit from this CPU because it supports 4K at 60Hz. The Intel Core i5-11600K features technologies like Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, Thermal Monitoring Technologies, and Intel Identity Protection Technology. A thermal solution for the CPU isn’t included yet, so you will have to invest in your own cooler since it can get really hot. Customers should also be aware that this processor isn’t the most power-efficient option on the market.


  • Great for gaming
  • Maximum turbo frequency of 4.90 GHz
  • Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 750


  • Gets pretty hot
  • No thermal solution
  • PCIe 4.0 support is weak
  • Consumes a lot of power


  • Price $219.95
  • Processor 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processors
  • Motherboard compatibility 400 and 500 series(2)
  • Single P-core Max/Base Speed 3.90 GHz
  • Single E-core Max/Base Speed 4.90 GHz
Intel Core i5-11600K

03 Intel Core i5-10600K

For those who don’t mind if they don’t have the latest processors available, you can opt for the Intel Core i5-10600K. This CPU, launched in 2020, will cost you around $203 in 2022, and you can get it bundled with a motherboard if you have extra cash to spare. The processor features six cores and twelve threads. It has a base frequency of 4.10 GHz, but its Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 brings its maximum turbo frequency to 4.80 GHz. It features a 12 MB Intel Smart Cache with a bus speed of 8 GT/s. The CPU supports up to 128GB DDR4-2666 memory and a maximum of two memory channels. Its maximum memory bandwidth, on the other hand, is 41.6 GB/s. The Intel Core i5-10600K comes with Intel UHD Graphics 630, and you can enjoy 4K gaming at 60Hz. It features Intel’s Quick Sync Video, InTru 3D Technology, Clear Video HD Technology, and Clear Video Technology. While some processors have limitations with how many displays you can use, this CPU would work for people with a triple display setup. The processor is compatible with Intel 400 series motherboards.


  • Decwent gaming performance
  • Maximum turbo frequency to 4.80 GHz
  • 12 MB Intel Smart Cache with a bus speed of 8 GT/s
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630


  • Lacks a bundled cooler
  • PCIe 3.0 seems outdated
  • Power hungry


  • Price $204.39
  • Processor 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processors
  • Motherboard compatibility 400 Series
  • Single P-core Max/Base Speed 4.10 GHz
  • Single E-core Max/Base Speed 4.80 GHz
Intel Core i5-10600K

04 Intel Core i5-10400

The Intel Core i5-10400 would be the best option for those with a tight budget. This CPU was released in May 2020, and you can get it for $159 in 2022. It’s ideal for gamers on a budget, but you can’t expect it to match the power you get from its more expensive rivals. The processor has six cores and twelve threads. Its base frequency is 2.9 GHz, while its turbo boost frequency reaches 4.3 GHz. It has a bus frequency of 100 MHz and an 8 GT/s bus bandwidth. It has Intel UHD Graphics 630 integrated, but you might still want a dedicated GPU if you prioritize your game’s visual performance. The CPU supports up to 128GB of DDR4-2666 memory, and its maximum memory bandwidth is 41.6 GB/s. What’s fantastic about this processor is that it already comes with a cooler. It supports Intel Optane Memory and will work with Intel 400 series motherboards. Sadly, this CPU still can’t match the speed offered by its counterparts from AMD.


  • Affordable
  • Decent performance for its price
  • Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • Turbo boost frequency of 4.3 GHz
  • Comes with a cooler


  • Slower than counterparts from AMD
  • Performance not enough for heavy gamers
  • Integrated graphics could be better


  • Price $119.99
  • Processor Intel Core i5-10400
  • Motherboard compatibility 400 Series
  • Single P-core Max/Base Speed 2.9 GHz
  • Single E-core Max/Base Speed 4.3 GHz
Intel Core i5-10400

05 Intel Core i5-9400

Another excellent option that’s on the more budget-friendly side is the Intel Core i5-9400. This processor has six cores and six threads. It comes with Intel UHD Graphics 630 and will work with Intel 300 Series chipsets. This chip was originally released in 2019 and has since been discontinued. You can still find stock of it on Amazon, and it will cost you about $183.85. The processor’s base frequency is 2.90 GHz, but it can reach 4.10 GHz thanks to its Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. It features a 9 MB Intel Smart Cache and a bus speed of 8 GT/s. The CPU is compatible with DDR4-2666 memory with a maximum size of 128 GB. It supports Intel Optane Memory, Clear Video Technology, Clear Video HD Technology, InTru 3D Technology, and Quick Sync Video. You can use this processor with up to three displays, and it supports a maximum resolution of 4K at 60 Hz.


  • Decent gaming performance
  • Not too pricey
  • Turbo boost frequency of 4.10 GHz


  • Many later models perform better
  • Not the best graphics


  • Price $196.74
  • Processor Intel Core i5-9400
  • Motherboard compatibility 300 Series
  • Single P-core Max/Base Speed 2.90 GHz
  • Single E-core Max/Base Speed 4.10 GHz
Intel Core i5-9400


Sep 19, 2022

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