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

Six cores and 12 threads serve up a gaming stunner.

Intel Core i5-10600K
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Rendering on Intel Core i5-10600K

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

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

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

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

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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Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.