Computing

Intel Core i5 12400F vs. AMD Ryzen 5 5600X: Comparing Affordable CPUs for Gaming

As technology advances, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding high-end processors like the Intel Alder Lake 12600K and 12900K. But for most gamers, these powerful CPUs are more than they need. The real stars of the show are the more affordable models, like the Intel Core i5-12400F, which offer excellent performance at a lower price point. In this article, we’ll compare the Core i5-12400F with AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X, two budget-friendly options that deliver exceptional value in early 2022.

Specs

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the specifications of these CPUs.

Pricing and Availability

Before we dive into the details, it’s important to consider the pricing and availability of both processors.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900x pins
Image: Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X was released on November 5, 2020, with a suggested retail price of $299. Since then, it has remained relatively stable in price, dropping slightly to around $280-$290 after the release of Intel’s Alder Lake processors. Although it was initially difficult to find in stock, it has become widely available throughout 2021 and into 2022.

On the other hand, the Intel Core i5-12400F hit the market on January 4, 2022, with an enticing price tag of just $190. While its availability varies among retailers, it is generally not too difficult to find shortly after release. However, it’s worth noting that entry-level motherboards for the Intel CPU are priced $70 higher compared to the options available for AMD Ryzen buyers.

Performance

Now, let’s assess the performance of these CPUs.

Intel Core i5-1200F CPU box
Image: Intel

The Intel Core i5-12400F, like other non-K designs in the Alder Lake generation, lacks the efficiency (E) cores found in higher-power performance (P) cores. However, this doesn’t hinder its performance when compared core to core with the Ryzen 5600X. In fact, in most games, the 12400F is extremely competitive and even surpasses the 5600X by a small margin in some instances. While it may fall slightly behind in certain games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Age of Empires 4, and Rainbow Six Siege, the difference is minimal and never reaches double digits.

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In terms of productivity tasks such as photo and video editing, the 12400F is a solid performer, particularly when the tasks primarily rely on single-threaded performance. However, it doesn’t quite match the 5600X when all the cores of the AMD chip are fully utilized. Overall, these CPUs trade blows, with the 5600X slightly edging out as the more capable option.

Considering the price, the 12400F presents a compelling choice for those seeking an affordable mid-range system for work or play. Additionally, both the 12400F and 5600X have a comfortable 65W TDP, ensuring low heat generation and power consumption, making them suitable for compact builds.

PCIExpress and Memory Support

There are some differences in features between the Intel and AMD platforms, particularly in terms of PCIExpress and memory support.

While higher-end Intel 600-series motherboards offer PCIExpress 5 slots and DDR5 memory support, these features may not be essential for mid-range systems. AMD’s compatible 400 and 500 series motherboards already provide up to PCIExpress 4 support and exclusively support DDR4 memory.

As of early 2022, there is little practical advantage in investing in a high-end motherboard to pair with the 12400F CPU. These motherboards are expensive, and the full potential of PCIExpress 5 and DDR5 memory is yet to be realized due to limited availability and higher costs. In reality, the real-world performance gains would be negligible.

Even though the Intel platform appears to have better features on paper, leveraging these features would significantly increase the overall cost, negating any potential cost savings associated with choosing Alder Lake over Ryzen.

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Buy the 12400F New, but the 5600X is a Solid Upgrade

If you’re in the market for a brand-new PC, the Intel Core i5-12400F is an excellent option. It offers mid-range performance for gaming and productivity tasks at an affordable price. However, it’s worth noting that motherboard prices are higher for the 12400F, so budgeting for that is necessary. Despite this, the 12400F outperforms most higher-end CPUs and is highly competitive with AMD’s more expensive 5600X across the board.

That being said, if you currently have an AMD PC with an older Ryzen CPU that is compatible with the 5000 series, the Ryzen 5 5600X remains a solid choice for an upgrade. Although its price could be more appealing at this point, considering the release of the 12600K and 12700K, it’s still an excellent processor for gaming, photo editing, and video editing. While the 12400F is intriguing for new PC buyers, the 5600X can serve as a worthwhile upgrade. However, it’s worth noting that AMD’s Zen 4 processors are on the horizon, so it may be worth waiting if you’re looking for the latest and greatest.

OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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