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Intel Core i5-10600K Review: The Mainstream Gaming Champ

Six cores and 12 threads serve up a gaming stunner.

Intel Core i5-10600K
Editor's Choice
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Rendering on Intel Core i5-10600K

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Ryzen processors are apex predators in the realm of threaded workloads, but the Core i5-10600K marks a massive improvement for Intel's Core i5 series in these types of heavy applications. The 10600K scores big gains with its twelve threads relative to the 9600K's six threads, often beating the overclocked 9600K by substantial margins, even at stock settings. 

The Ryzen 5 3600X and 3600 still maintain their lead over the stock 10600K in threaded productivity applications, but the margins are far slimmer than we witnessed in the past. This time around, the Intel chip takes the lead after overclocking, marking a shift in the productivity landscape in this price range. The Core i5-10600K largely lags the Core i7-9700K, but again, by a slim margin. 

Moving on to the single-core rendering workloads, the Intel processors maintain a solid lead, particularly after overclocking. 

Encoding on Intel Core i5-10600K

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The single-threaded LAME and FLAC encoding tests respond well to per-core performance, giving Intel convincing wins in these tests. 

The threaded HandBrake x264 and x265 tests really speak to the AVX performance improvements AMD made to the Zen 2 architecture. The stock Core i5-10600K lags the price-comparable Ryzen processors, but Intel has significantly reduced the deltas. Overclocking swings the HandBrake tests in Intel's favor. 

Web Browsing on Intel Core i5-10600K

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Browsers tend to be impacted more by the recent security mitigations than other types of applications, so Intel has generally taken a haircut (pre-COVID lockdown) in these benchmarks on fully-patched systems.

Single-threaded performance still reigns supreme in these tests, making it hard to beat the overclocked Core i5-10600K. The chip is equally adept at stock settings, often beating its predecessor by solid margins. AMD's Ryzen processors are competitive, too, particularly in the Edge browser test that relies more on threading.

Office and Productivity on Intel Core i5-10600K

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Clock rates benefit the majority of our GIMP image processing tests, but the Ryzen 3 3300X posts surprisingly strong performance borne of its design that leverages a single CCX. As expected, the Intel processors lead in the majority of the PCMark 10 tests, but the chips pick up a few wins at stock settings in the threaded rendering and visualization and video processing tasks. 

Compression and AVX on Intel Core i5-10600K

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The 7zip and Zlib compression/decompression benchmarks also rely heavily upon threading and work directly from system memory, thus avoiding the traditional storage bottleneck in these types of tasks. At stock settings, the price-comparable Ryzen processors sweep the 10600K on the 7zip compression side of these tests, but overclocking improves Intel's standing considerably. 

The heavily-threaded y-cruncher benchmark, which computes pi using the taxing AVX instruction set, highlights the performance of the overclocked Core i5-10600K with its AVX offset clock rate of 4.9 GHz. The 10600K's extra helping of threads help boost performance significantly over the previous-gen 9600K in the threaded portion of the test. 

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  • Diddly
    I would still rather get the 3700X than the 10600K
    Reply
  • sizzling
    Great review but a big shame PBO is only recorded against the 3600X when based on price the alternative is the 3700X or 3800X.
    Reply
  • vov4ik_il
    That seems to be the 8700k overclocked in a new package and a new price tag. 🙃
    Reply
  • lastmessiah
    Too bad you can't actually buy it anywhere.
    Reply
  • thGe17
    lastmessiah said:
    Too bad you can't actually buy it anywhere.

    Why not? For example the two biggest online shops in DE alread sell them and also have the 10400, 10500, 10600 and 10700K available. Only the 10900 models seem to be rare.
    Reply
  • waltc3
    Yawn...Wake me when Intel finally launches a new architecture on a decent process node...ZZZZz-z-z-z-zzz
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    I assume in the "Against" column you mean "No PCIe 4.0"? Pretty sure this has 3.0.
    Reply
  • Chris Fetters
    It's official then I guess... Paul has completely lost the plot at this point. Don't get me wrong, it's a really solid chip, but the pricing (ESPECIALLY if you consider the entire platform, ala board+CPU+cooler) is absolutely freaking TERRIBLE!

    If you're building a gaming rig, going with a Ryzen 5 3600 & B450 (to save as much as possible, but you could spring the +$20 for B550 if you wanted) saves you enough money to go up an entire GPU tier (meaning better gaming performance!!!), and if you're building it for ANYTHING else, a Ryzen 7 3700X machine absolutely roflstomps it AND is cheaper (cheaper board + free cooler).

    The only situation where this i5K makes any sense is if you're building a flagship gaming rig w/ an RTX 2080 Ti (where there's no point to saving money on the CPU for a better GPU), but at that point, why the hell are you buying an i5? You're building a mondo expensive flagship machine with 8c/16t consoles imminent, put a damn i9 in there.

    TL;DR - The only kinds of builds that would benefit from buying this chip are the same kinds of builds that no sane person would ever put an i5 in...
    Reply
  • seanwebster
    I'm just shocked at how an i5 now costs $300...and without a cooler. Wow, go Intel.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Chris Fetters said:
    It's official then I guess... Paul has completely lost the plot at this point. Don't get me wrong, it's a really solid chip, but the pricing (ESPECIALLY if you consider the entire platform, ala board+CPU+cooler) is absolutely freaking TERRIBLE!

    If you're building a gaming rig, going with a Ryzen 5 3600 & B450 (to save as much as possible, but you could spring the +$20 for B550 if you wanted) saves you enough money to go up an entire GPU tier (meaning better gaming performance!!!), and if you're building it for ANYTHING else, a Ryzen 7 3700X machine absolutely roflstomps it AND is cheaper (cheaper board + free cooler).

    The only situation where this i5K makes any sense is if you're building a flagship gaming rig w/ an RTX 2080 Ti (where there's no point to saving money on the CPU for a better GPU), but at that point, why the hell are you buying an i5? You're building a mondo expensive flagship machine with 8c/16t consoles imminent, put a damn i9 in there.

    TL;DR - The only kinds of builds that would benefit from buying this chip are the same kinds of builds that no sane person would ever put an i5 in...

    Generally agreed, EXCEPT for the "lost the plot" part. This is supposed to mostly be testing the performance of the CPU itself.

    Don't get me wrong, I agree that the cost of the motherboard, cooler, etc., are definitely important considerations, but, as yo usaid, the CPU is solid.

    It's a great chip with some lousy baggage in terms of cooler and motherboard. Uh, and it does run hot.
    Reply