Intel Core i5 10600K, review: the king of games

The presentation of the Comet Lake-S architecture marked the arrival of the new generation of high performance processors of the chip giant, and the Intel Core i5 10600K It has undoubtedly been one of the great stars of this generation, not only for its specifications, but also for the price range in which it is located.

The Intel Core i5 10600K can currently be found for a variable price depending on the retailer we are looking for, but round between 280 and 305 euros. That range is the most popular for gaming lovers, and also for those who want to build an off-road PC without spending a large amount of money.

If we look at the competition, we see that AMD has the Ryzen 5 3600, which costs 190 euros; the Ryzen 5 3600X, which is priced at 220 euros; and the Ryzen 5 3600XT, which stands at 270 euros. All three have six cores and twelve threads, but they have different working frequencies, which “justifies” the difference in price that exists between them. We have quoted them because, basically, we can buy a Ryzen 5 3600 and overclock it, which makes the other two models practically meaningless.

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Returning to the Intel Core i5 10600K we find a similar approach, since it has six cores and twelve threads, but thanks to the monolithic core architecture that Intel uses is capable of operating at much higher working frequencies, and reaches peak levels with overclocking that are literally impossible for any current Ryzen.

Intel Core i5 10600K, a technical look

To better understand the context in which we operate, it is necessary to remember that the gross performance of a processor is not determined solely by the working frequencies and the number of cores. Each architecture has a specific IPC, uses a specific manufacturing process, and has a set of technologies that can substantially affect its performance. Intel and AMD use different architectures, and these have their advantages and disadvantages.

The Intel Core i5 10600K uses the Comet Lake-S architecture, it is manufactured in a 14 nm ++ process, the same one that the Coffee Lake Refresh series used, but it presents small modifications at the silicon level and that of encapsulation that represent a significant improvement compared to previous generations. In this specific case, Intel has reduced the thickness of the silicon so that the heat generated have a shorter route and slimmer packaging, and has significantly improved the IHS by using solder instead of thermal paste. By having thinner and welded silicon matrices at the IHS we should have, in theory, much more reasonable working temperatures.

Intel Core i5 10600K

In the attached image we can see the interior of the Intel Core i5 10600K, the silicon tablet that gives life to this processor. In the central part we have a total of six cores, divided into two rows of three cores in each one next to its corresponding L3 cache block. On the right side we find the integrated GPU, and the “northbridge” on the left. At the top we have the 128-bit memory controller. A Ringbus interconnection system is in charge of establishing the communication of all the silicon elements.

Unlike what happens with AMD Zen 2 processors, which use an MCM design in which each core block can only access the assigned L3 cache, in the Intel Core i5 10600K we have a monolithic core design that allows all available cache is accessible by each of those six cores. This processor adds 12 MB of L3 in total.

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In the «northbridge» we find a large number of elements, such as the PCIE Gen3 complex, the DMI interface and dual-channel (128-bit) memory controller. The integrated GPU is, as we said, a solution based on the Gen9.5 architecture, which means that it is far from the most current versions that we have seen in Intel Ice Lake processors, which use GPUs based on the Gen11 architecture.

The Intel Core i5 10600K doesn’t mount a high-performance integrated GPU, but it doesn’t need one either. It is a processor designed mainly for games, and it is evident that to get the most out of it we will need a dedicated graphics card. At the specifications level, the GPU that this processor mounts has 24 execution unitsSufficient to move previous generation games and current undemanding titles, it can work with 4K multimedia content and works seamlessly with DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 connectors. It is compatible with HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

Intel Core i5 10600K

As we have indicated, the Core i5 10600K has six cores and twelve threads, thanks to Intel’s HyperThreading technology. Each kernel deals with a process, and can also work with a thread (thread), which leaves us with two threads per core. This technology greatly improves performance in multi-threaded environments, provided that the applications and the operating system are able to correctly distribute the workload. The most important tasks should be assigned as a process, and the least demanding tasks as a thread.

The actual performance is not the same as we would get with a 12 core processor, but represents a considerable improvement, and far exceeds what we would get with a processor limited to six cores and six threads.

We now turn to see the working frequencies of the Core i5 10600K. This chip comes with a base value of 4.1 GHz, a fairly high level since, as many of our readers will know, it is usual to find values ​​between 3.6 and 3.8 GHz within this range. Thanks to the turbo mode this processor reaches 4.8 GHz with a single active core. Intel uses a turbo mode that scales frequencies dynamically based on workload, number of active cores, power, and temperatures. It’s not up to the Core i9 10900K, though, which uses Turbo Boost Max 3.0 and Thermal Velocity Boost to fine tune frequency scaling.

Although Intel lists a 125 Watt TDP (is what is known as PL1) the Core i5 10600K has a 182 watt PL2. This second value is the one that represents the maximum processor consumption in the short term when turbo mode comes into play, and is therefore a much more realistic value. As we have said, the turbo mode scales according to the working temperatures, and also according to the active cores. Here is a breakdown of the working frequencies of the Core i5 10600K in its different modes:

  • Base frequency: 4.1 GHz.
  • Turbo mode with an active core: 4.8 GHz.
  • Turbo mode with two cores and four active wires: 4.7 GHz.
  • Turbo mode with all cores and threads active: 4.5 GHz.

The letter “K” confirms, on the other hand, that we are dealing with a processor ready to overclock, and it comes without a heatsink. This means that, to the selling price of the chip, we must add the cost of an appropriate cooling system to keep its working temperatures under control.

Intel Core i5 10600K

Here is a summary with the basic specifications of the Intel Core i5 10600K:

  • Comet Lake-S architecture in process of 14 nm ++.
  • Six cores and twelve threads at 4.1 GHz-4.8 GHz, normal and turbo mode.
  • Unlocked multiplier (supports overclocking).
  • 12 MB of L3 cache.
  • 125 Watt TDP.
  • Compatible with LGA 1200 socket and 400 series chipsets.

As our regular readers will know, the arrival of the tenth generation Core processors marked the debut of a new generation of motherboards, grouped around the 400 series chipsets and equipped with the LGA 1200 socket. This means that the Core i5 10600K is not compatible with LGA 1151 motherboards with 300 series chipset and earlier.

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To get the most out of the 10th generation Core “K” series processors we need a Z490 chipset motherboard. We can find a wide variety of motherboards equipped with said chipset and their differences are not limited to the design, they extend to the quality of construction and to aspects as important as VRM and the dissipation of its key components. This means that not all motherboards with this chipset are at the same level in terms of power and amperage, so keep that in mind,

In the attached image you can find all the keys of the Z490 chipset, used in the high-end motherboards for the new Intel Comet Lake-S processors. Broadly speaking it is very similar to the Z390 chipsetAs it has 24 PCIe Gen 3 lines, six SATA III ports, six USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, ten USB 3.2 gen 1 ports and fourteen USB 2.0 ports. Items marked in light blue are optional.

Intel Core i5 10600K Test and Results Kit

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We already have a clearer idea of ​​the Core i5 10600K and Intel’s LGA 1200 platform. We have seen your most important keys, so we are ready to check what can this processor give in terms of performance, and also efficiency.

Before entering to see the results of each of the tests I leave you the summary of components we have used on the test equipment:

  • Core i5 10600K processor with six cores and twelve threads at 4.1 GHz-4.8 GHz.
  • 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) of Corsair DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB WHITE DDR4 3.6 GHz CL18 RAM.
  • MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK motherboard.
  • Corsair H100i RGB PRO XT as a liquid cooling system (AIO).
  • RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card with 11 GB of GDDR6 memory.
  • Samsung Evo 850 500 GB SSD (operating system).
  • 960 GB Corsair Force Series MP510 NVMe PCIE SSD.
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.
  • Corsair AX1000 80 Plus Titanium power supply with 80 Plus Titanium certification.

Intel Core i5 10600K: performance in synthetic tests

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At stock frequencies the Intel Core i5 10600K is imposed in almost all tests to the Ryzen 5 3600X from AMD, a processor that we can consider as its direct rival, a victory by the minimum that is a direct consequence of its highest clock frequencies since, as we have said, the Intel Core i5 10600K reaches 4.5 GHz with all the active cores in turbo mode.

It is curious, however, to see that in Cinebench R20 achieves a clear advantage in single-threaded but loses in multi-threaded.

Intel Core i5 10600K: gaming performance

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In games, things change, and in a remarkable way. At stock frequencies the Intel Core i5 10600K beats in all tests the Ryzen 5 3600X, and in some cases the difference becomes quite large (Battlefield V, for example), and that we have not overclocked.

I remind you that at higher resolution less dependence on the processor and greater impact of the graphics card in gaming performance. That is why I have used 1080p resolution in most of the tests, although I have also accompanied results in 1440p and 2160p so that you have a clearer view of the value offered by the Intel Core i5 10600K.

Intel Core i5 10600K: overclock

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Overclocking the Intel Core i5 10600K is sewing and singing, especially if we use the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility tool. With the unit provided by Intel, I have been able to achieve 5 GHz, but overcoming the 1.4 volt barrier, a value that, in general, we must consider as the “optimal” maximum.

With the unit provided by Intel I was only able to get stable at 4.9 GHz without exceeding that voltage. The difference is barely 100 MHz, and in return we move to safer values, both in terms of voltage and temperatures, two values ​​that, as our most advanced values ​​will know, can reduce the useful life of the chip when they are simultaneously present. in very high bands.

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As we can see in the performance results when overclocking the Intel Core i5 10600K moves further away from the Ryzen 5 3600X, although the differences are minimal as we increase the resolution. We have already explained why in the previous section.

Intel Core i5 10600K: temperatures

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The Corsair H100i RGB PRO XT cooling kit fulfills perfectly and maintains very good temperatures.

Both at stock frequencies and with overclock we move in totally safe values. Keep in mind that with an air cooling system those values ​​would be very different, unless we opt for high-performance models from well-known and reliable manufacturers such as Noctua, for example.

Endnotes: the king in games comes at a price, and it’s high

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The Intel Core i5 10600K is a processor Very powerful, There’s no doubt. Even at stock frequencies it demonstrates great performance, outperforms its direct rivals, and maintains excellent working temperatures.

We can (and should) overclock it, although the margin we have is a little more limited than we would like. In this case, maintaining an optimal voltage, we have been limited to 4.9 GHz, but it is what has silicon lottery, not all chips come out the same and therefore not all have the same overclock margin. There are units of the Intel Core i5 10600K that can reach 5.1 GHz in a stable way and with safe voltages, and others even reach 5.2 GHz, but it is not normal.

All in all, raise the frequencies to 4.9 GHz gives us a boost that, in some games, is considerable, and temperatures don’t skyrocket unless we’re faced with very intense and unrealistic workloads.

During the tests the stability of the Intel Core i5 10600K has been totalOverclocking has been like taking a walk in the park, and it has shown that in terms of gross performance it is unrivaled in its class, especially in games. However, it has an important counterpart, which is that It has a high price.

It is more powerful than a Ryzen 5 3600X, and it also outperforms the Ryzen 5 3600 XT, but it is also more expensive. If you’re aiming for the best performance possible and you’re going to play in 1080p resolutions with very high refresh rates The Intel Core i5 10600K is an option to consider, but if your priority is price-performance value, the Ryzen 5 3600 is the best option. Don’t overlook the Intel Core i5 10600KF, a version without integrated GPU that can be found for around 270 euros, and that offers a much more interesting value.

Final assessment


The Core i5 10600K is a very powerful processor that does its best in games. Even at stock frequencies it shows great potential, outperforms its direct rivals, and maintains excellent working temperatures, but unfortunately it is priced high and sits on a platform that lacks the latest industry advancements.

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