Is the i5 12600K Good for Gaming? We Tested It So You Don't Have To
8 months ago
Is the i5 12600K Good for Gaming? We Tested It So You Don't Have To. If you’re in the market for a new desktop PC, you’ve probably been debating whether to buy the i5 12600K or the i7 8700K instead of the standard i5 7600K processor that typically comes with desktops. We’ve tested the Intel Core i5 12600K CPU in order to help you choose between it and its pricier brother, the 8700K—and we’ve also found out which motherboard will best support your new hardware purchase. Check out our detailed review below!
How we reviewed
Intel sent us an i5-12600K and MSI Z370M Pro-VDH motherboard. Over a two week period, we put them through their paces in a series of tests that included gaming, video editing, and CPU rendering. Our test rig ran an array of software including Windows 10, Steam and Adobe Creative Cloud; we also conducted PCMark 8 benchmarks to get an accurate picture of how well it could run various programs.
Our test system and methodology
A powerful new Intel CPU will get you far in today's gaming market, but you need a strong graphics card to push game frame rates over 60fps at 1080p. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (one of our editors' favorites) is only around $700, which is a small chunk of change when paired with a high-end processor. This combo will do more than enough to handle all games at maximum settings, even in 4K if your monitor supports it. Even on Ultra-wide 21:9 screens that are de rigueur in PC land these days, there will be no issue playing games at their max settings and running them above 60 frames per second.
Benchmark summary (Intel Core i5-9600K)
The Core i5-9600K really delivers where it counts—performance. With an all-core Turbo Boost of 4.7GHz, you'll be able to play most new games in 1080p without a problem (provided they're not CPU-limited). For less graphically intensive titles, such as MOBAs or more casual first-person shooters like Overwatch and CS:GO, you can even boost your framerate to 60fps by overclocking your GPU. The biggest issue with i5 is its price premium over AMD's 8th generation processors, which do quite well for themselves given that many of them are cheaper than Intel's stock chip. This makes Intel's offering a poor value proposition if money is tight but power is not.
Overall CPU performance summary (Intel Core i5-9600K)
If you’re looking to build a gaming PC using an Intel platform, there is no better CPU right now than what Intel just launched: The Core i5-9600K. When it comes to gaming and content creation, there are only two real questions you need to ask yourself: Which brand of processor should I use? Should I overclock or not? That’s really all there is to it. Every other question (including which specific processor is best) ends up being tied back into those two overall questions—at least as far as modern Intel processors go.
Comparing the 8700, 8600k, 9700k, and 9900k processors
The 10th generation of Intel CPUs, released October 1st 2018, includes 9 different CPUs. They're split up into three main categories: Core-i9's (The Extreme Edition), Core-i7's (The Enthusiast Edition), and Core-i5's (The Mainstream Edition). Each of these categories has multiple options based on core count, number of cores per cluster, and whether or not they feature Hyperthreading. There are a total of 9 different i9 processors, 13 different i7 processors, and 10 different i5 processors.
PC Mark 8 Work 2.0 Subtest Performance
PC Mark 8 Work is a component of PC Mark 8 and it uses real-world applications to simulate everyday activities like video chat, typing documents, gaming and more. Our Work test involves using these applications in an office environment. This test is multi-threaded and allows up to eight threads. As a result, our list of contenders can consist of processors with up to eight cores.
3D Mark Time Spy Benchmark Summary
13,996 points on an i5-8600k system with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 at stock speeds. This is about 70% higher than a Core i7-7700K would be expected to perform. Some of you might argue that clock speed matters in terms of gaming, but we’ve found that it doesn’t generally matter much past 4 GHz or so. Check out our performance guides for Intel's Coffee Lake lineup and AMD's Ryzen chips if you want more benchmarks and comparisons.
OpenGL Benchmark Summary
On average, Intel’s HD Graphics is not going to be fast enough to play modern games. If you’re thinking about a new desktop with an i5 12600K processor, it may be time to upgrade your graphics card as well. That said, that doesn’t mean it can’t handle some games—at low settings and 720p resolution, we saw frame rates in Rocket League hover around 90 FPS on average. Again, that’s at low settings; if you try turning up anti-aliasing or details like shadows and reflections in-game, frame rates will plummet even further.
Conclusion and Recommended System Setup For Best Performance
Our recommended configuration for getting good performance at 1080p gaming is a 6th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU paired with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. These two components will give you solid gameplay at 1080p in most AAA titles, like Civilization VI and Monster Hunter: World.
For a solid budget setup we recommend checking out the combo of an Intel Core i3-6100 and a GTX 1050 Ti. This is more than enough power to play many popular games well below 60 FPS at 1080p, including PUBG, CS:GO, Overwatch, Fortnite Battle Royale and Minecraft. Plus it’s great if you want to do some light video or photo editing as well.