If you have decided to mount a PC, or to update your equipment, with an Intel processor waiting, do not rush. Before launching it is important that you take into account some basic considerations to help you avoid mistakes that, due to their relevance, they will make you spend an unnecessary amount of money and that can also end up being a problem in the medium or long term.
I know you may have given it a lot of spinning, and you probably have a great setup on your mind, but stop for a moment and give it one last turn to confirm that you have not made any of the five mistakes that we are going to review next. It will only take a few minutes, and it can save you more than one major upset.
On the other hand, with this guide we also want to help you overcome some of the most important myths that still exist and that they continue to do a lot of damage to less experienced users, since they are the most likely to get carried away by them.
In case you plan to build a computer with an AMD Ryzen 3000 processor I invite you to review this guide We published a few weeks ago, where you will also find five important mistakes to avoid. As always, if you have any questions you can leave them in the comments and we will be happy to help you solve them. Without further ado, we begin.
1.-Intel processor and cooling system
Many of the processors that Intel markets do not include a cooling system, and the model that comes standard with some chips offers limited dissipation capacity, which means that it is not capable of maintaining really good working temperatures when used with mid-to-high-end processors, let alone with high-end processors.
However, this does not mean that the dissipation system provided by Intel not good for nothingactually happens quite the opposite, But it is true that we must be aware of its limitations and the reality of the workloads that we will face every day. If we are only going to play games and use applications that will never load 100% the processor, the dissipation system will have less heat to dissipate, and vice versa.
Don’t be obsessed with buying a better dissipation system than the one included by the chip giant in some of its processors, since in most cases it complies without problems. For example, the Core i5 10400F reaches maximum temperatures of 77 degrees in a total stress situation with the stock fan, which means that in normal environments where the workload is not so high it easily positions below 70 degrees .
As you can see it is not bad, especially considering that it is a 6 cores and 12 threads. However, if we plan to mount a more powerful Intel processor, we should consider buying a higher quality air heatsink, or a 120mm AIO liquid cooling.
Obvious to say that if we want to mount an Intel K series processor and we are going to overclock we will have to be very careful with the choice of the cooling system. For reference I can confirm that the Core i5 10600K and Core i7 10700K work perfectly with a system of 240mm AIO liquid cooling of quality, but to “tame” the Core i9 10900K with overclock and to maintain acceptable temperatures we are going to need a kit of 360mm AIO liquid cooling, since with a 240 mm kit we move in the 85-90 degree range when the workload is intense.
In summary, it is not essential to change the stock sink in many casesIn fact, we can hold it perfectly until we reach the level of a Core i5 10400F, but if you are going to mount a more powerful Intel processor, don’t skimp on the cooling system.
2.-The speed of RAM memory matters
True, any Intel processor has less dependency on the speed of RAM than equivalent Ryzen processors. This has a logical explanation that we tell you about in this article, and that is that the former use a monolithic core in which all the nuclei lie within the same silicon tablet, while the latter are based on a multi-chip module architecture, in which the cores are divided into two interconnected silicon pads using an Infinity Fabric system.
However, this does not mean that the performance of an Intel processor does not depend on the working frequency of RAM. Let’s take the Core i5 10400F as an example, a chip that I have had the opportunity to test for quite some time and that has left a good taste in my mouth for its good value for money. This chip is limited to memory 2,666 MHz DDR4 unless we mount it on a Z490 motherboard.
When using this chip with memory at 2,666 MHz, its performance in some games is lower than that obtained when configuring it with DDR4 memory at 3,200 MHz, but it manages to surpass, in many cases, a Ryzen 5 3600 with DDR4 memory at 3,200 MHz. says something very important, and that is that the fact that it prevails over Ryzen even when using slower memory is a clear indication of that less dependency of the speed of the RAM to which we have made reference. If we use both processors with 2,666 MHz DDR4 memory, the Core i5 10400F clearly prevails.
We must make it clear from all this that the speed of RAM memory matters even if we are going to mount an Intel processor, and that we must look for optimal values in relation price-performance. It does not make sense to mount a Core i5 10600K with DDR4 RAM at 4,333 MHz because the performance improvement will be negligible compared to a configuration at 3,200 MHz, and we should not mount a Core i5 10400F with DDR4 memory at 2,133 MHz, because we will be losing performance at change of almost zero savings.
That said, and for you to have a reference, we can say that an Intel K series processor mounted on a Z490 motherboard must be accompanied by memory 3,200 MHz DDR4 RAM, that is the optimal level in relation price-performance. On lower platforms we should never get off the 2,666 MHz.
3.-Obsess yourself with the «K» series
I know that the idea of bringing a processor up to 5 GHz is attractive, but it really isn’t a must. The performance offered today by processors as cheap as the Core i5 10400F is more than enough for any user, even if you plan to play demanding titles. Thanks to its high IPC, its 6 cores and 12 threads and its turbo mode of up to 4 GHz with all the active cores you can move anything without problem.
The «K» series processors carry a significant price increase, in fact we only have to see what the Core i5 10600KF costs and what the Core i5 10400F is worth. The first is available for about 270 euros, and the second costs around 172 euros. Both have 6 cores and 12 threads, and have the same IPC, but the first one works more frequently and supports overclocking, which means that we can bring it up to 4.9 GHz or 5 GHz with a little luck.
The price difference are 100 euros, and to that number we must add the cost of the cooling system, since the first comes without a heatsink as standard. If we do with a liquid cooling AIO of 240 mm the thing is already triggered, of that there is no doubt. So is it worth buying the Core i5 10600KF? For a user who wants to get the best performance possible and has a budget to spare, yes, it can be a good option, but for most users the Core i5 10400F is a much more balanced alternative and interesting.
Do not forget that Intel has integrated a fairly balanced turbo mode in its processors, and that thanks to it they adjust the working frequencies dynamically to achieve the best possible performance. If you buy an Intel Core i5 10400F this won’t work at 2.9 GHz, that’s its base frequency, but will be adjusted between 4.3 GHz and 4 GHz depending on workload that you are taking forward.
With what you save for that price difference you could buy, for example, a more powerful graphics card or a higher capacity SSD, so keep that in mind.
4.-Motherboard: in its proper measure
There are still many myths around the motherboard. Many users believe that if we are going to mount an Intel Core i9 10900K processor we have to buy, yes or yes, a motherboard of 400 euros. Nothing is further from reality, in fact that idea is a real nonsense, since we could perfectly cope with a motherboard of just over 200 euros like the MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, which has a 12 + 2 phase VRM Well-cooled, which means it’s capable of moving even a Core i9 10900K up a lap.
The choice of the motherboard will depend largely on the Intel processor that we are going to buy, but we can set a series of general rules that will serve as a starting point to get it right. If we are going to buy a «K» series processor, such as a Core i5 10600K or higher, we should not spend more than 200-250 euros on the motherboard.
For non-K series processors we do not need a Z490 series motherboard. In the case of economic models, such as Core i5 10400F and below, the ideal is not to spend more than 75-110 euros on the motherboard. This price range takes us directly to the models equipped with B460 and H470 chipsets.
As I said in the guide dedicated to the Ryzen 3000, the ideal is to look for motherboards that are priced at between a third and (maximum) half than the processor has cost us.
5.-Intel processor and cores: a realistic look
We have already seen that we should not be obsessed with overclocking, and nor should we do it with the nucleis. The minimum recommended today, if we plan to play and use demanding applications, is in a six-core and twelve-thread processor. Thus, an Intel processor like the Core i5 10400F has everything we will need in the short and medium term, and its price is very good.
If we have a high budget we could be tempted and jump for the Core i9 10900, but the truth is that we are not going to take advantage of it unless we work with applications that require a high degree of parallelization. Games have only just begun to take advantage of six-core processors, and most general-purpose apps work great in quad-core configurations, so mounting a 10-core, 20-thread processor is, for most users domestic, unnecessary.
I know what you are thinking, so should I not go beyond the six cores and twelve threads? If you have a very tight budget, no, you should not go beyond that range. In case your budget is higher and you want to mount a more powerful Intel processor with long-term views, the best option today is in the Core i7 10700, which has 8 cores and 16 threads and costs about 351 euros. Its turbo mode is quite generous, as it reaches 4.8 GHz with an active core.
In conclusion, it is not worth mounting a processor with more than 8 cores and 16 threads today. Keep in mind that with the arrival of PS5 and Xbox Series X it is likely that this type of processors will begin to have a higher degree of achievement in games, but this will not happen overnight.
If you want to play forget about the chips of 10 or more cores, and invest what you save on a more powerful graphics card.