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Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU?
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Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU?

by May 20, 2020
Overview
Highlights

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.

Warranty

3-year warranty

Price

US: $262 (SRP)

Positives

+ 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

Negatives

- Productivity performance is falling behind the competition
- Binning may have affected overclocking headroom
- Power consumption is quite significantly higher than the competition

Pokde Scoreboard
Pokde Rating
Efficiency
7.5
Features
8.2
Materials
8.5
Performance
8.2
Value
8.0
Bottom Line

If you are going to get a new board anyways, the Intel Core i5-10600K is a worthy consideration for a gaming system.

8.1
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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 Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU? 22

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.

Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU? 23

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 / Threads6C/12T
Base Clock / Max Boost4.1 / 4.8 GHz
All Core Boost4.5 GHz
Cache12MB L3 cache
MemoryUp to 128GB, 2-channel, DDR4-2666
Integrated GraphicsYes, UHD Graphics 630 up to 1.2 GHz
PCIe16 lanes, PCIe 3.0
TDP125W
Process14nm
SocketLGA 1200

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.

Test System

CPUIntel Core i5-10600K
CoolerCooler Master ML240R
MotherboardASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula
GPUASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER
Memory2 x 8GB T-FORCE XTREEM ARGB DDR4-3600 CL14
StorageKingston UV400 120GB
Kingston UV500 1TB
Seagate FireCuda SSHD 1TB
Power SupplyCooler 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.

Performance

Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU? 24

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.

Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU? 25

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.

Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU? 26

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.

Gaming

Intel Core i5-10600K Gaming

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.

Power

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.

Intel Core i5-10600K stock Realbench thermal power

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.

Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU? 27

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.

Overclocking

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.

Conclusion

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.

Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU? 28

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.

Intel Core i5-10600K Review — the de facto gaming CPU? 29

Our thanks to Intel for sending us the Intel Core i5-10600K for review.

About The Author
Vyncent Chan
Technology enthusiast, casual gamer, pharmacy graduate. Strongly opposes proprietary standards and always on the look out for incredible bang-for-buck.