Is Intel I5 Good For Gaming?

When building a PC, the choice of processor will be the most important decision you make as the choice of processor influences how well your computer performs specific tasks. The type of processor you pick will have massive effects on your gaming performance, this mainly depends on the processor’s specifications and whether it has sufficient single-core performance.

Single-core performance is the most important aspect of a CPU when picking a processor for gaming, this is because most games are coded to be single-core users. This means the more cores you have won’t increase the FPS, it will only make multitasking better, this means background tasks will run more effectively when gaming.

Answer: I5 processors are great gaming processors because they’re made to be affordable and provide great single-core performance. The I5 lineup of processors has gamers in mind because they understand gamers aren’t looking for multi-core CPUs but rather CPUs with decent single-core performance. This means the overall price will be lower as these types of CPUs generally fall in the mid-tier category.

The Type Of I5 Matters

i5 for gaming

There are different types of I5 processors, not all are made the same and some will have vastly different features. I5 processors will come with varying microarchitectures, different features such as overclockability, and power consumption. In general, you will want to select the latest generation of I5s as they usually feature IPC and clock speed improvements over the previous generations.

For the best single-core performance you will want to stay away from the low TDP models as they tend to have lower single-core performance compared to the standard i5s. The most important thing when picking up a CPU for gaming is the single-core Performance so always keep that in mind. Typically, the K and non K variants of the i5s are great selections such as the i5 12600 and the i5 12600K

There are many generations of I5s as well as their counterparts (I3, I7, I9), Intel CPU generations will usually be stated in the CPUs name. For example, the I5 12600K processors are part of the Intel 12th generation processors, and the I5 11600K is part of the 11th generation. Focus on the latest generations are previously stated, but we will list all the generations and their single-core performance.

CPUCore Count(Threads)Clock Speed(Boost)Cinebench Single-Core ScorePassmark Single-Core Score
Core i5-7600K4(4)3.8GHz(4.2GHz)2561
Core i5-8600K6(6)3.6GHz(4.3GHz)12412612
Core i5-9600K6(6)3.7GHz(4.6GHz)11712773
Core i5-10600K6(12)4.1GHz(4.8GHz)13752937
Core i5-116006(12)2.8GHz(4.8GHz)15943297
Core i5-11600K6(12)3.9GHz(4.9GHz)15553379
Core i5-11600KF6(12)3.9GHz(4.9GHz)15563354
Core i5-126006(12)3.3GHz(4.8GHz)3837
Core i5-12600KF6(12)3.7GHz(4.9GHz)18673977
Core i5-12600K6(12)3.7GHz(4.9GHz)18653979

Single-Core Performance Vs Multicore Performance

Single-Core performance is the more advantageous metric when it comes to gaming performance, this is because games will see more cores as redundant. 60% of games are actually coded in such a way that they use a single-core, it’s pretty hard to code games to use multiple cores. Higher clock speeds generally mean more frame rate, but it isn’t this simple as there are more factors to consider when it comes to single-core performance.

The single-core performance is actually a combination of two metrics, this being clock speed, and IPC, you don’t hear about IPC as it isn’t a popular metric to follow, but it has a huge impact on the single-core performance. IPC stands for instructions per clock, and it refers to how many instructions a core can execute per clock cycle. So higher IPC is better as each clock cycle will complete more work, comparing a 5GHz processor with a 5GHz processor with a 10% IPC increase will show the latter processor produces more frame rates.

This is why it isn’t recommended to go for older processors even though they have higher clock speeds, processors always make IPC increases per generation. IPC increases are a product of the processor’s architecture becoming more efficient, architecture improvements are a collective result of small differences and techniques being implemented.

Just because single-core performance is the most important factor when considering a processor for gaming, it doesn’t mean you can do with just one core. You need multiple cores to handle crucial system operations such as handling the operating system. Even though you really need one core, applications running in the background will suffer if you don’t have enough cores, and this can be a huge problem if you’re into streaming.

You’ve probably noticed that I5 processors now come with hyperthreading, this technology used to be exclusive to the high-end processors such as i7s and I9s. Hyperthreading is an impressive piece of technology and it’s a form of SMT proprietary to Intel processors, it effectively splits a single physical core into two logical cores in an attempt to increase the efficiency of each core. While most applications can experience up to 30% more performance due to hyperthreading, gaming won’t benefit from this as games are single-core coded.

The best way to get more performance out of your processor is to overclock, this is quite easy as motherboards nowadays have streamlined the overclocking process. When overclocking, ensure that your I5 processor is capable, the I5s denoted with a “K” at the end means they’re unlocked and ready for overclocking. Overclocking your I5 will immediately result in higher frame rates in games as it reduces the bottleneck the CPU has on the GPU, but before overclocking, ensure you have sufficient cooling.

Is I5 Good For Gaming & Streaming?

To understand whether your I5 is good enough for streaming, we need to understand how streaming works. Streaming is a multithreaded application which means it benefits from having more processing cores, this mainly depends on the encoder. Software encoders such as the X264 encoder will work better with more cores, that’s why streaming PCs require at least 6 cores to run effectively.

Many i5 processors come with 6 physical cores and 12 logical cores which is enough for streaming, the logical cores will help due to the extra efficiency. Most streamers use the OBS software to stream, and the OBS software uses the x264 encoder. Running on the default settings in OBS should be the perfect combination for beginners as it mixes quality and CPU usage. Many users will prefer to go for a Ryzen 5 setup for streaming, this is because Ryzen processors are superior for multicore operations.

For streaming, we’re going to focus on the multi-core performance of the i5 processors and measure them against popular Ryzen 5 processors which are i5’s AMD counterparts. Ryzen is known for their great multi-core performance, so if I5 processors can hold up against them, then it’s a great choice when it comes to software encoding. As you can see in the benchmark compilation down below, the I5 processors can hold up against the Ryzen 5 5600x processors, keep in mind the Ryzen 5 5600x CPUs are meant to compete against Intel 10th gen chips

CPUCore Count(Threads)Clock Speed(Boost)Passmark Multi-Core ScoreCinebench Multi-Core Score
Ryzen 5 36006(12)3.6GHz(4.2GHz)178279383
Ryzen 5 3600X6(12)3.8GHz(4.4GHz)182949458
Ryzen 5 5600X6(12)3.7GHz(4.6GHz)2213511735
Core i5-116006(12)2.8GHz(4.8GHz)1836411118
Core i5-11600K6(12)3.9GHz(4.9GHz)1990911252
Core i5-11600KF6(12)3.9GHz(4.9GHz)1979811156
Core i5-12600KF6(12)3.7GHz(4.9GHz)2713517558
Core i5-12600K6(12)3.7GHz(4.9GHz)2704417246

Are Laptop I5s Good For Gaming?

i5 laptop for gaming

Laptops that have the right i5 processors can be a formidable gaming machine thanks to their single-core performance, however, there are certain mobile i5 processors you should stay away from. I5 processors denoted with a “u” at the end are CPUs that focus mainly on battery life, this means the overall performance will be lower compared to a non “u” variant.

When buying a laptop for gaming, purchase a laptop that has an i5 with “h” denoted at the end, this is because these processors are more focused on performance. More performance should be prioritised over battery life as low FPS can really ruin the immersiveness of gaming. The processors with “u” at the end may be great options for casual gaming, and the chances are that they won’t come with a dedicated GPU.

The H CPUs aren’t overclockable which means there are no chances that you can increase the single-core performance beyond stock speed. The limitations laptops have usually turn gamers away as many gamers like to tinker with their hardware parameters. Just remember, when going with a laptop for gaming, ensure that you’re playing in a cool room so your processor doesn’t throttle from heat, this can cause a reduction in clock speed and lower FPS.

Intel I5 Vs Ryzen 5 For Gaming

The direct competitor to the I5 lineup of processors are the Ryzen 5 processors made by AMD, and they’re pretty awesome processors in their own right. AMD processors are usually more affordable and offer more balanced options between single-core and multi-core performance. Both Intel and AMD processors feature similar features such as overclocking which can be used to increase the single-core performance. When overclocking, Intel processors are usually better with their OC potential.

Single-core wise Intel processors beat Ryzen processors, this is due to Intel processors focusing more on single-core than multi-core performance. This is the reason why many gamers will go for Intel over AMD however, Intel processors are usually slightly more expensive making it less friendly for budget seekers. Ryzen processors could be a good choice for streaming as their multi-core performance is often superior to that of Intel processors.

Multicore-wise, Ryzen 5 will beat the Intel generation they’re competing with, so a Ryzen 5 5000 series CPU will outperform an Intel 5 10th generation processor in multicore tests. This is why many content creators will purchase Ryzen CPUs over Intel processors when it comes to streaming, video editing, and 3D modelling. The benchmark scores below will show the Ryzen 5 5600x outperforming certain 11th generation processors, so it will definitely beat the 10th generation processors in single-core tests.

CPUCore Count(Threads)Clock Speed(Boost)Passmark Single-Core ScoreCinebench Single-Core Score
Ryzen 5 36006(12)3.6GHz(4.2GHz)25771278
Ryzen 5 3600X6(12)3.8GHz(4.4GHz)26711314
Ryzen 5 5600X6(12)3.7GHz(4.6GHz)33811522
Core i5-10600K6(12)4.1GHz(4.8GHz)29371375
Core i5-116006(12)2.8GHz(4.8GHz)32971594
Core i5-11600K6(12)3.9GHz(4.9GHz)33791555
Core i5-11600KF6(12)3.9GHz(4.9GHz)33541556
Core i5-12600KF6(12)3.7GHz(4.9GHz)39771867
Core i5-12600K6(12)3.7GHz(4.9GHz)39791865

Conclusion

In conclusion, the i5 processor is a great budget choice for gaming as it fits many requirements such as having sufficient single-core performance as well as having enough cores for streaming. In single-core tests, the i5 will beat the Ryzen 5 as i5s are made to be single-core beasts often marketed towards gamers.

If you’re building a gaming desktop, we recommend you focus on the latest generation of Intel I5 processors as these CPUs feature IPC and clock speed increase that benefit single-core performance. Older generations can still be decent choices if they’re affordable. I5 processors denoted with a K are usually overclockable meaning they’re able to provide more FPS if you’re willing to push the clock speeds past their rated limits.

If you’re purchasing a gaming laptop, it’s pretty easy to make a bad purchase as there are different types of intel I5 processors. The Intel i5 processors denoted with a “U” are meant for saving power and not performance, this isn’t advantageous for gamers. Instead, focus on Intel I5 processors with an “H” at the end which stands for high performance, these CPUs will generate the most FPS in hardcore gaming situations.