Best i5 Processor Comparison: The Midrange CPU to Get for 2020

Posted on
3D Insider is ad supported and earns money from clicks and other ways.

Choosing the right processor for your system can be tricky. However, if you are looking for the one that is going to provide you with the best value, look no further than the Intel Core i5 line. These are the most budget-friendly processors in the market that are capable of offering you maximum performance.

These chips can do some heavy lifting like play graphics intensive Triple-A game titles provided you have a decent graphics card. But it is definitely going to give you the best framerates at a fraction of the price of more expensive options like the Core i7 and Core i9.

If you are also into some creative and content creation work, the Core i5 is going to be your top budget-friendly choice. It can handle software like PhotoShop, Premiere Pro, and AutoCAD so you can get started on a hobby or career.

The Intel Core i5 family of processors is definitely one of the best midrange options out there. It can handle a lot of different types of workloads and still going to give you some future-proofing. This way, you don’t upgrade to a more powerful and more expensive one after a few months.

These are all solid processor options, whether you are looking for a desktop computer or a laptop that you can bring with you to school, work, or even LAN parties.

Intel Core i5 Processor Comparison

Let’s take a look at the best Intel Core i5 on the market and see how they compare with each other to see which one is going to be the best one for your needs. These are all midrange processors and have roughly similar performance levels. Still, there are some that shine with a particular type of workload.

10th Generation Intel Core i5 Desktop Processors

Core i5-
10600K
Core i5-
10600KF
Core i5-
10600
Core i5-
10500
Core i5-
10400
Core i5-
10400F
Fabrication
Architecture
14nm++14nm++14nm++14nm++14nm++14nm++
Cores6 Cores6 Cores6 Cores6 Cores6 Cores6 Cores
Threads12 Threads12 Threads12 Threads12 Threads12 Threads12 Threads
Base Clock4.1 GHz4.1 GHz3.3 GHz3.1 GHz2.9 GHz2.9 GHz
Boost Clock4.8 GHz4.8 GHz4.8 GHz4.5 GHz4.3 GHz4.3 GHz
L3 Cache12 MB Total12 MB Total12 MB Total12 MB Total12 MB Total12 MB Total
OverclockingYESYESNONONONO
SocketLGA 1200LGA 1200LGA 1200LGA 1200LGA 1200LGA 1200
GPUUHD 630NONEUHD 630UHD 630UHD 630NONE
GPU Clock
Rate
1.20 GHzN/A1.20 GHz1.15 GHz1.10 GHzN/A
PCIe Lanes161616161616
Max
Memory Size
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Memory
Support
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
CPU Power
(TDP)
125 W125 W65 W65 W65 W65 W
Stock CoolerNONENONENONENONENONENONE
Price$299
CHECK
PRICE
N/A$280
CHECK
PRICE
$220
CHECK
PRICE
$180
CHECK
PRICE
$215
CHECK
PRICE

9th Generation Intel Core i5 Desktop Processors

Core i5-
9600K
Core i5-
9600
Core i5-
9500
Core i5-
9500F
Core i5-
9400
Core i5-
9400F
Fabrication
Architecture
14nm++14nm++14nm++14nm++14nm++14nm++
Cores6 Cores6 Cores6 Cores6 Cores6 Cores6 Cores
Threads6 Threads6 Threads6 Threads6 Threads6 Threads6 Threads
Base Clock3.7 GHz3.1 GHz3.0 GHz3.0 GHz2.9 GHz2.9 GHz
Boost Clock4.6 GHz4.6 GHz4.4 GHz4.4 GHz4.1 GHz4.1 GHz
L3 Cache9 MB Total9 MB Total9 MB Total9 MB Total9 MB Total9 MB Total
OverclockingYESNONONONONO
SocketFCLGA1151FCLGA1151FCLGA1151FCLGA1151FCLGA1151FCLGA1151
GPUUHD 630UHD 630UHD 630NONEUHD 630NONE
GPU Clock
Rate
1.15 GHz1.15 GHz1.10 GHzN/A1.05 GHzN/A
PCIe Lanes161616161616
Max
Memory Size
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Up to 128
GB
Memory
Support
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual
Channel
CPU Power
(TDP)
95 W65 W65 W65 W65 W65 W
Stock CoolerNONENONENONENONENONENONE
Price$260
CHECK
PRICE
$230
CHECK
PRICE
$205
CHECK
PRICE
$245
CHECK
PRICE
$155
CHECK
PRICE
$145
CHECK
PRICE

Best Overall Intel Core i5 Processor

INTEL CORE i5-10600K 10TH GENERATION PROCESSOR

INTEL CORE i5-10600K 10TH GENERATION PROCESSOR

Retail Price: $299

We all know that Intel’s Core i5 processors are not necessarily the fastest in the market. However, there are specific uses for them where they truly shine. The Intel Core i5-10600K is one of their 10th generation chips that absolutely packs a big punch. This six-core, 12-thread CPU nicely slots in the midrange category and can arguably be a better pick than their Core i9-10900K flagship.

Since AMD exceeded everyone’s expectations with their latest Ryzen chips, Intel was forced to push their 10th generation processors to the next level. The results are their more midrange selections, such as the Core i5s have drastically improved. The return of Hyperthreading means that each process now has double the computing threads allowing them to go toe to toe with their more expensive siblings.

The result of all these makes the 10600K the mainstream gaming and productivity champ. It especially shines in gaming with its 4.8 GHz boost clock making it faster than most high-end AMD chips and just a bit short compared to the latest Core i7 and Core i9 chips. It might cost you a few frames per second short on the most demanding games, but you will be able to enjoy them at insane framerates for only a fraction of the price.

The overclocking capabilities of the 10600K is definitely a plus and fit the needs of most enthusiasts who want to push every last bit of performance from their hardware. Doing it right will allow you to hit up to 5.0 GHz getting just a hair short of the performance of the best Core i7 and Core i9.

The Intel Core i5-10600K is an excellent pick for a dedicated gaming machine. The added threads also make it a good productivity CPU able to make quick work of even the most intense rendering or compiling tasks. As long as you do not use it for 3D work, you should be able to get a lot out of your machine.

Affordability and performance are highlight features of this chip. That perfect mix between the two makes the Core i5-10600K one of the best processors in the market. It may lack the core count, but it certainly has the power that can match even the most powerful ones out there.

CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockTDP
6 Cores12 Threads4.1 GHz4.8 GHz125 W

Best Intel Core i5 Processor for Gaming

INTEL CORE i5-10600 10TH GENERATION PROCESSOR

INTEL CORE i5-10600 10TH GENERATION PROCESSOR

Retail Price: $280

If you are looking for the best CPU for your gaming machine, the Intel Core i5-10600 is one of the best ones out there. It is as close as you can get to the i5-10600K in terms of performance, with the extra savings.

The only difference between these two chips is that this one does not have overclocking support. As long as you are not an enthusiast, who loves to tinker every aspect of your system, then this should not be a problem for you. Just by looking at the clock speeds, you can definitely get the same performance on this chip than the K version. The only time where the i5-10600K exceeds this is when you overclock it.

If you are the type of user who simply wants to turn on your PC and start playing your favorite games, this is the processor for you. It can also handle just about any type of productivity task, all thanks to its Hyperthreading feature, giving it a total of 12 computing threads.

So, whether you are using the i5-10600 as an exclusive gaming computer or an all-around machine, you will find it more than enough for your needs. It is also relatively more affordable compared to the i5-10600K, and if you are the type to make the most out of your budget, this is the best processor for your build.

The Intel Core i5-10600 is a powerful chip that excels in gaming-related tasks. Pair it with an excellent midrange GPU, you should be playing your favorite games in no time. Doing some productivity work on a computer with this CPU will also give you the responsiveness that you expect. It’s definitely not the fastest, but it will do the job without wasting your time.

CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockTDP
6 Cores12 Threads3.3 GHz4.8 GHz65 W

Best Intel Core i5 Processor for All-Around Computing

INTEL CORE i5-10500 10TH GENERATION PROCESSOR

INTEL CORE i5-10500 10TH GENERATION PROCESSOR

Retail Price: $220

Intel’s 10th generation Core i5 line of processors comes in a few different variations. The top end ones will surely offer you the ultimate gaming performance in this category. Still, there are also processors that are excellent for just about any task. This is what the Core i5-10500 is all about.

Similar to its more powerful siblings, it comes with six cores and 12 threads giving you a good amount of flexibility in what it can do. It does have a significantly lower base clock at 3.1 GHz, which you will notice in games, but for all other tasks, it should be sufficient.
Boost clocks are also much lower at 4.5 GHz, causing your system to lose out on a few frames when gaming, but it should be nothing to worry about. The primary reason to get an i5-10500 is its value. It is incredibly affordable as it can provide you with reliable performance for a fraction of what an i5-10600K costs.

This chip is not unlocked, so it does not support overclocking, which is something you do not really need if you are choosing to go for this processor anyway. Still, it’s a robust CPU that can pretty much do anything from gaming to productivity tasks like video editing and rendering. It is not the fastest in any of those, but if you want a good mix, this is something that you should consider getting for your system.

The Intel Core i5-10500 is a processor that will make you realize that you do not really need to spend a fortune to get excellent overall performance. Yes, you will suffer a few frames per second with your favorite games, and a couple of minutes in rendering time, but it will get the job done. It’s an excellent middle of the road choice so you can save money and investing it in other components such as memory or high-speed storage.

CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockTDP
6 Cores12 Threads3.1 GHz4.5 GHz65 W

Intel Core i5 Processor that Offers the Best Value

INTEL CORE i5-9600K 9TH GENERATION PROCESSOR

INTEL CORE i5-9600K 9TH GENERATION PROCESSOR

Retail Price: $260

The Core i5-9600K is not precisely the latest processor Intel has to offer. However, you can still get it and even provides excellent levels of performance at a more affordable price than that of the 10th generation chips.

The i5-9600K excels in gaming with a high boost clock and overclocking potential. One of its downsides, why it could not make the transition to productivity tasks quickly, is its lack of Hyperthreading. It does have six cores but is only limited to six computing threads compared to 12 in the 10th generation chips.

If your day requires you to run software that requires multi-threaded operations like video editing, the i5-9600K may not be the perfect fit. It’s better to look at some 10th generation options since those can quickly double your performance for a small bump in price. However, if you are planning to build a system that’s solely for gaming, browsing the internet, and media playback, the i5-9600K is an excellent choice.

Capable of boosting up to 4.6 GHz, it will squeeze every last frame of your favorite game, offering you the smoothest gaming experience on a budget. Back in its time, it is absolutely one of the fastest in terms of gaming, and it still shows. If you find it hard to justify spending an extra $30 or $40 to get the latest generation Core i5 chips, you will not regret sticking to an i5-9600K.

Getting the Intel Core i5-9600K is all about your workload and the software that you run regularly. If you are a gamer that wants the best experience, this is the processor for you. However, if you are someone working with threaded workloads like content creation, you might want to check out the latest Core i5 chips.

CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockTDP
6 Cores6 Threads3.7 GHz4.6 GHz95 W

Intel Core i5 Mobile Processor Comparison

Laptop processors have improved over the years and now offer performance that’s close to their desktop counterparts. The 10th generation Intel Core i5 definitely proves that with all of their chips able to provide the right amount of power.

Mobile chips do have some features that they need to prioritize over clock speeds, such as energy efficiency. The latest low-power processors can definitely give users added hours of battery life.

Let’s take a look at the different mobile processors that the Intel Core i5 family has to offer so you can check out which ones fit your needs the best. They do come with a variety of configurations such as high-performance ones to ultra-low power.

10th Generation Intel Core i5 High Performance Mobile Processors

Core i5-10400HCore i5-10300H
Fabrication
Architecture
14nm++14nm++
Cores4 Cores4 Cores
Threads8 Threads8 Threads
Base Clock2.6 GHz2.5 GHz
Boost Clock4.6 GHz4.5 GHz
L3 Cache8 MB Total8 MB Total
OverclockingNONO
GPUUHD 630UHD 630
GPU Clock Rate1.10 GHz1.05 GHz
PCIe Lanes1616
Max Memory
Size
Up to 128 GBUp to 128 GB
Memory
Support
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
CPU Power
(TDP)
45 W45 W

10th Generation Intel Core i5 Low Power Mobile Processors

Core i5-10210UCore i5-10210YCore i5-10310Y
Fabrication
Architecture
14nm++14nm++14nm++
Cores4 Cores4 Cores4 Cores
Threads8 Threads8 Threads8 Threads
Base Clock1.6 GHz1.0 GHz1.1 GHz
Boost Clock4.2 GHz4.0 GHz4.1 GHz
L3 Cache6 MB Total6 MB Total6 MB Total
OverclockingNONONO
GPUUHD 620UHD 620UHD 620
GPU Clock Rate1.10 GHz1.05 GHz1.05 GHz
PCIe SupportPCIe 3.0PCIe 3.0PCIe 3.0
Max Memory
Size
Up to 128 GBUp to 128 GBUp to 128 GB
Memory
Support
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
CPU Power
(TDP)
15 W7 W7 W

10th Generation Intel Core i5 Mobile Processors with Discrete Graphics

Core i5-
1035G7
Core i5-
1035G4
Core i5-
1035G1
Core i5-
1030G7
Core i5-
1030G4
Fabrication
Architecture
10nm++10nm++10nm++10nm++10nm++
Cores4 Cores4 Cores4 Cores4 Cores4 Cores
Threads8 Threads8 Threads8 Threads8 Threads8 Threads
Base Clock1.2 GHz1.1 GHz1.0 GHz0.8 GHz0.7 GHz
Boost Clock3.7 GHz3.7 GHz3.7 GHz3.5 GHz3.5 GHz
L3 Cache6 MB Total6 MB Total6 MB Total6 MB Total6 MB Total
OverclockingNONONONONO
GPUIntel Iris PlusIntel Iris PlusIntel UHDIntel Iris PlusIntel Iris Plus
GPU Clock
Rate
1.05 GHz1.05 GHz1.05 GHz1.05 GHz1.05 GHz
PCIe SupportPCIe 3.0PCIe 3.0PCIe 3.0PCIe 3.0PCIe 3.0
Max Memory
Size
Up to 64 GBUp to 64 GBUp to 64 GBUp to 32 GBUp to 32 GB
Memory
Support
DDR4-3200
Dual Channel
DDR4-3200
Dual Channel
DDR4-3200
Dual Channel
LPDDR4-3733
Dual Channel
LPDDR4-3733
Dual Channel
CPU Power
(TDP)
15 W15 W15 W9 W9 W

Best Mobile Intel Core i5 Processor for Gaming

INTEL CORE i5-10400H

CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockTDP
4 Cores8 Threads2.6 GHz4.6 GHz45 W

As processor technology improves, mobile chips are now getting to a point where they can go toe to toe with their desktop counterparts. Now, there’s still going to be a slight performance dip, but it’s not that significant anymore. Even with a midrange high-performance chip such as the Intel Core i5-10400H, playing your favorite game is not going to be a problem.

It does come with slightly fewer computing cores, but Intel’s Hyperthreading technology is activated on the i5-10400H allowing you to enjoy added power out of the box. Clocks are somewhat less, but with boosts that can go up to 4.6 GHz, it can easily match the performance of desktop chips on games.

If you are looking for a laptop that’s going to give you enough power to play your favorite games and doing some light work, getting one that comes with the i5-10400H is your best bet. It has the speed to give you more than decent framerates and coupled with a suitable graphics chip, you should be able to play games in high detail.

Work tasks like checking your email, typing documents, browsing the web, and graphics editing should not tax the processor. It can even handle some quick video renders if you are on the go. It’s not going to be the fastest way to do it, but for something portable, it’s only going to add a few minutes to your workflow.

The i5-10400H does have an integrated GPU for basic display tasks and light gaming. Although gaming laptops with this chip will usually have dedicated graphics to go with it. The integrated GPU is excellent as it’s going to lengthen the lifespan of your discrete graphics since the system is set to not use if for non-gaming tasks.

Overall, the Intel Core i5-10400H is one of the best mobile gaming chips on the market. It’s going to offer you near desktop-like performance in a portable package allowing you to play your favorite games and even use it for work.

Laptops with this Processor

Best Mobile Intel Core i5 Processor for Everyday Productivity

INTEL CORE i5-10210U

CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockTDP
4 Cores8 Threads1.6 GHz4.2 GHz15 W

Mobile processors have these suffixes that might confuse consumers, in the case of the Intel Core i5-10210U, the ‘U’ stands for ultra-low power. Rated at 15W, it is definitely one of the most efficient chips on the market, making it perfect for midrange mainstream laptops. It also means that notebook manufacturers can create thin and light machines that are both powerful and affordable.

This 4-core, 8-thread CPU ensures an absolutely smooth experience when it comes to daily tasks like surfing the web and watching videos. It can also handle light workloads such as graphics editing and coding without any problem. You will not even notice any performance dip when you compare the i5-10210U to other, more powerful processors, even desktop ones.

If you do need a device that can handle video editing and professional graphics design, it is also a decent chip. It will not really give you an optimum experience since it’s not a workstation-grade processor, but it can certainly perform to a level where you are comfortable in relying on it.

Most laptops that come with the i5-10210U will usually rely on its integrated GPU for its graphics solution. So, gaming may not be optimal since you will be bottlenecked by graphics performance. If you can find a configuration that offers this processor with a discrete GPU, you should be able to play your favorite games with decent performance.

Do not expect the highest of framerates or ultra smooth graphics, since the processor is meant for thin and light laptops, which could not withstand high temperatures. So, performance is generally limited, but you will still be able to enjoy your favorite titles.

The Intel i5-10210U is an excellent all-around processor for your everyday needs. It’s affordable and efficient, making it the perfect chip for thin and light laptops that do not cost an arm and leg.

Laptops with this Processor

Best Mobile Intel Core i5 Processor for Ultrabooks

INTEL CORE i5-1035G7

CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockTDP
4 Cores8 Threads1.2 GHz3.7 GHz15 W

The Intel Core i5-1035G7 is a mid-tier mobile processor from their 10th generation family. The most significant difference between this chip and the others like their H-series and U-series is that it uses a 10nm process making it more energy efficient. Also, these G-series chips come with a more powerful integrated graphics processor, the Intel Iris Plus, which is significantly more powerful than the older UHD iGPUs.

The mix of power efficiency with better graphics capabilities, make this the perfect processor for thin and light premium ultrabooks like the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. It packs significantly more power and operates a lot cooler than the i5-10210U, making it an excellent choice for premium devices.

The i5-1035G7 is the perfect processor for professionals, students, and content creators who are looking for powerful devices that they take with them wherever they go. The improved power efficiency also means better battery consumption giving users more usage time on a single charge.

It can effortlessly handle your usual daily computing tasks, and gaming should be no problem for the more powerful integrated GPU. Of course, the performance will not match that of discrete graphics chips. Still, you will definitely have much smoother gaming experience.

The processor is also capable of doing heavier tasks such as video editing and rendering. It will offer you decent speeds and is an excellent alternative to your workstation, especially during times when you are on the go.

Overall, the Intel Core i5-1035G7 is an excellent chip for premium thin and light ultrabooks. It is energy efficient enough heat dissipation in limited spaces should be no problem and packs a punch to allow you to continue your work wherever you are.

Laptops with this Processor

Which Intel Core i5 Processor Do You Get

Intel’s Core i5 family of processors are impressive midrange chips that could handle just about any type of task you throw at them. Whether it’s gaming, creative, or just everyday computing, you can be sure that they are capable of performing splendidly.

They are certainly not the fastest, as there are much more powerful processors like the Core i7s and i9s. But if you are looking for an affordable and reliable chip for your computer, they are an excellent choice.

Gaming Performance

Being in the middle of the pack is not always a bad thing, and the Core i5s show it. They mainly shine in gaming, matching even the more powerful ones. Gaming, after all, only relies on single core performance, and the i5-10600K has plenty of it with some overclocking headroom.

An excellent alternative to the 10th generation Core i5s is an older one, particularly the i5-9600K. It may be a generation earlier, but it still packs a punch and can match the performance of its newer siblings. One of the downsides, though, is that it does not have Hyperthreading so, it is going to lag behind on multi-core workloads.

On the mobile front, any Core i5 with the ‘H’ suffix will definitely do. These are rated for high-performance machines and come with clock speeds comparable to that of their desktop counterparts. Now, even when you are playing on a midrange laptop, you can be sure that you are getting the best gaming experience. Just make sure that you have a high refresh rate display since you will surely reach three digits easily on your framerates.

Content Creation

Since Intel included Hyperthreading in their latest generation of Core i5s, they are now excellent choices for a decent video editing and rendering rig. With six cores and 12 threads, the latest processors can effortlessly shred intensive processes. Some excellent options here are the i5-10600K and the i5-10600.

If you are looking at maximizing multi-threaded operations on mobile, processors like the i5-10400H and i5-10300H are outstanding choices. Their high clock speeds allow you to save time on rendering and give you a lot of performance headroom with different types of editing software.

Even though the mobile processors lack a few cores and threads than their desktop counterparts, they are still capable of giving you a fast and responsive experience.

Everyday Productivity

Apart from gaming, another type of task where Core i5s shine is in your usual daily productivity workloads. These include browsing the web, writing up emails, working with spreadsheets, and shopping online.

One of the best ones to get if your workload is mostly made up of these is the i5-10500. It is an excellent midrange processor that can do all of these tasks without giving you problems. It even comes with some room so you can do some occasional graphics editing and also video rendering. It’s not going to be the fastest, but it will get the job done.

When it comes to mobile, you do have a lot more options since the Core i5 is the processor of choice for most midrange laptops. They all excel in everyday computing tasks, so any, especially in the 10th generation family, will be an outstanding choice. All come with Hyperthreading, so multitasking should not be much of a problem.

All Core i5 U-, Y-, and G-series are excellent chips here, and you could never go wrong with them. Additionally, they are all energy efficient, allowing the machines to last five to eight hours of battery life on a single charge.

Wrap Up

The Intel Core i5 line of processors is those that are likely to give you the best value for your money for both desktop and mobile computers. This is definitely a good thing since that frees up your budget to look at other components that you might want to get to improve your overall experience. Getting a Core i5 means that you have extra to spend on getting better graphics, storage, and memory without sacrificing too much on processing power.

So, if you are on a budget but still want a machine that can provide you performance that is close to the top, a Core i5 is undoubtedly going to give that to you.