Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU?
Intel doubled down on the mid-range, with the Intel Core i5-10600K now offering the exact same configuration as the Core i7-8700K of two years ago, but at a significantly lower cost. Is this the 10th Gen Intel Core processor to get? Well, it might very well be.
US: $262 (SRP)
+ Excellent gaming performance
+ Single-core performance is still quite impressive
+ Very easy to cool even when overclocking
+ Hits the sweet spot of value-for-performance
- Productivity performance is falling behind the competition
- Binning may have affected overclocking headroom
- Power consumption is quite significantly higher than the competition
The mid-range segment is where gamers will generally get the most value. Intel offers the Core i5, and AMD serves up the Ryzen 5 parts in this segment, and they make up the bulk of processor sales for both companies anyway, and Intel definitely needs to regain lost ground in this segment. Enter the Intel Core i5-10600K, a 6-core part that comes with HyperThreading too, unlike its predecessor. The extra threads allows it to compete on equal footing with the 6C/12T AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600X parts too, so which will it be?
Intel went with the new thin die STIM, although you won’t notice any differences from the outside. Intel still maintains cooler compatibility with the LGA115x processors, so you won’t need a new cooler with this. It also means that the entire CPU package is the same height despite a thinner die to improve thermal dissipation. Intel made up for the height difference of the unlocked K-series processors with a thicker IHS, although it looks exactly the same from the outside.
On the underside is the 1200 pads that will contact the 1200 pins in the LGA 1200 socket. Of course, we didn’t count them. There’s a significant amount of SMD components packed into the center area of the socket, similar to the Core i9-10900K.
Intel Core i5-10600K Specifications
|Cores / Threads||6C/12T|
|Base Clock / Max Boost||4.1 / 4.8 GHz|
|All Core Boost||4.5 GHz|
|Cache||12MB L3 cache|
|Memory||Up to 128GB, 2-channel, DDR4-2666|
|Integrated Graphics||Yes, UHD Graphics 630 up to 1.2 GHz|
|PCIe||16 lanes, PCIe 3.0|
One thing you might notice is that the Intel Core i5-10600K offers a lower officially support memory speed as compared to the higher-end 10th Gen Core i7 and Core i9 SKUs. While we didn’t test memory overclocking capability, we used our 3600 MHz CL14 RAM without a single hiccup, so it shouldn’t be too much of a limiting factor when it comes to RAM performance.
|CPU||Intel Core i5-10600K|
|Cooler||Cooler Master ML240R|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula|
|GPU||ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER|
|Memory||2 x 8GB T-FORCE XTREEM ARGB DDR4-3600 CL14|
|Storage||Kingston UV400 120GB
Kingston UV500 1TB
Seagate FireCuda SSHD 1TB
|Power Supply||Cooler Master V850|
For the stock settings, we set the BIOS to enforce all of Intel’s limits, and all the voltages are auto. The overclocked results are obtained by setting the multiplier to 49 and manually entering 1.350V for Vcore. Now, let’s take a look at the performance data.
Cinebench shows us that the Intel Core i5-10600K still has the lead in the mid-range segment, especially after getting an overclock to bump up the clocks a touch. At stock, it slots in below the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X and barely manages to beat the Ryzen 5 3600.
Realbench sees a pretty similar scenario, with it sandwiched between the Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 5 3600X at stock, before pulling ahead of the Ryzen 5 3600X once an overclock is applied. However taking a closer look at the scores, it only manages to really pull ahead in the Image Editing, where single-threaded CPU performance is the main contributor to the scores. In the more heavily threaded tests like the H.264 Video Encoding and Heavy Multitasking, it actually falls behind the Ryzen 5 3600, even when running at 4.9 GHz.
The Intel Core i5-10600K doesn’t too well here, despite the higher clocks. The AMD Ryzen 5 3600X maintains a lead at all times in the multi-threaded tests, although the AMD chips lose the lead in the single-threaded runs for some reason.
As Intel heavily markets the 10th Gen Intel Core processor towards gamers, you would expect it to deliver a strong showing here. It scores above both the AMD Ryzen 5 processors.
The Intel Core i5-10600K definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to gaming, coming extremely close to the Core i9-10900K, while handily besting both the AMD Ryzen 5 processors. Of course the gap is very minimal in more modern titles as compared to older titles like Rainbow Six Siege, but if you are a gamer, the Intel Core i5-10600K might just be the option to get.
We decided to test the power draw with Realbench v2.56’s stress test instead of synthetic workloads which pull unrealistic amounts of power. Realbench is somewhat more realistic, instead stressing the system with simultaneous image editing, video encoding and file compression.
Before we got about to overclocking, we ran the CPU with the stock settings. You can see that it pulls a rather manageable 97.47W on average. Since that’s below the 125W TDP the Intel Core i5-10600K is rated for, it doesn’t throttle down through out the run. Clocks are maintained at the 4.5 GHz all-core boost it is rated for. Thermals are extremely manageable, and you should be able to use the Intel Core i5-10600K without an issue with a 120mm AIO liquid cooler.
Once we slap on the overclock, the Intel Core i5-10600K draws 128.86W. This is still relatively low and temperatures are also a non-issue here with our MasterLiquid ML240R. The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 5 3600X draw 66.34W and 65.98W in the same test at stock settings, which is significantly less, although the Intel CPU does seem a lot easier to cool than the AMD Ryzen processors.
We went with a simple multiplier overclock, and the Intel Core i5-10600K ran at 4.9 GHz at 1.35V. Any higher was just no go, and we didn’t really want to risk our CPU at above 1.35V. You should be able to squeeze more performance out of the Intel Core i5-10600K with an AVX offset, but we managed to get the Intel Core i5-10600K to finish 15 minutes of Realbench’s stress test, at 4.9 GHz without an AVX offset, so I guess it is reasonably stable at this frequency and voltage. Intel seems to have binned the 10th Gen Intel Core rather effectively, as our sample of the Intel Core i9-10900K managed to do 5.1 GHz at 1.355V, while the Intel Core i5-10600K didn’t even manage 5.0 GHz at the same voltage.
With better gaming performance and a poorer showing when it comes to productivity workloads than the competition, it seems that the Intel Core i5-10600K is destined for the gaming market. The Intel Core i5-10600K is definitely worth considering if you are upgrading from a much older system. Priced at $262 (~RM1141), it’s significantly more affordable than the Core i9-10900K, while offering pretty similar gaming performance. You could even pair it with a more affordable motherboard as the power draw of this 6-core part won’t really tax the overkill VRM on most of the Intel Z490 motherboards.
Against the competition, the Intel Core i5-10600K might have a harder time justifying itself, especially if you do a fair share of productivity as well. But if you mainly play esports titles or older, CPU-bound games, then you can surely opt for the Intel Core i5-10600K over AMD’s offerings. More modern games will give you less of a benefit, but one extra FPS is still one FPS more, and the Intel Core i5-10600K will be able to deliver more than that in most cases.
Our thanks to Intel for sending us the Intel Core i5-10600K for review.