Intel Core i5 11400F Review: The Best Mainstream Gaming CPU

The Core i5 11400F has emerged as an unlikely champion in the wake of the launch of Intel’s Rocket Lake S. The top end of Intel’s new lineup is certainly effective, but for many buyers the value just isn’t there while discounted 10th-gen equivalents are still available (especially when the extra 10K cores give it an absolute edge over its successor for content creation workloads). ). So it was the low- and mid-range part of the stack that got the most positive press, where Intel’s roughly 10900 percent performance gains and more feature-rich B20 motherboards created some pretty unreal value.

Intel Core i5 11400F

The argument here is pretty simple: the Core i5 11400F costs around £150 / $175, yet its six-core, twelve-thread design still hits the current sweet spot for gaming and casual content creation. It’s only 400 MHz slower than the Core i5 11600K (4.2 GHz versus 4.6 GHz for maximum core turbo), and each of its cores should be quite powerful, given its modern Cypress Cove design. At best, it wouldn’t be outrageous to expect performance in line with the Ryzen 5000 series, but at a considerably lower price than AMD. £260 / $300 entry-level Ryzen 5 5600X. That sounds like the recipe for a value champion, so we were eager to put it to the test.

Since we’re just adding a CPU to our graphics, we’ll keep this intro page short; after all, you can read our full 11900K and 11600K review for a more detailed look at the new features coming with Intel’s 11th Gen desktop chips and 500 series motherboards.

The Intel Core i5 11400F is one of the best newer 11th Gen desktop processors, and it’s also one of the cheapest six-core, 12-thread processors you’ll find. For half the price of the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, equivalent to a happy core, you certainly don’t get half the gaming performance.

So yes, it really has happened; Bizarro CPU World has come to pass. This strange new reality is one where the dominant processor is AMD, with the most expensive and powerful chips available to PC gamers, and Intel is the one providing the cheap alternatives that punch well above its weight class.

That ‘F’ suffix on the Core i5 11400F denotes a lack of iGPU in the processor package, which isn’t bad for a budget gaming CPU and usually means a cheaper chip. The timings are weird though, and the Core i5 11400 is the exact same CPU but with those integrated GPU cores enabled. It should be more expensive, but it’s actually available for much less right now.

The performance should be pretty much the same between the two, so you can pretty much pick and choose which of those two versions of the 11400 silicon is cheaper and be happy with your choice. Because the Core i5 11400/F is a big budget gaming CPU.

However, as a CPU generation itself, Rocket Lake has felt a bit lackluster. The high-end Core i9 11900K is a chip only your parents would love. It offers fewer cores than its old Core i9 compatriot and features the bastardized Cypress Cove core architecture that pushed the 10nm Sunny Cove core into the arms of 14nm manufacturing.

This backport resulted in a larger slice of silicon and meant you couldn’t fit the previous generation’s maximum of ten cores on the top Rocket Lake chip, and at least that made it feel like a tangibly worse value.

But what Cypress Cove does deliver is a higher IPC, and that has led to higher gaming performance across the board compared to previous Intel desktop chips. Although superior, considering what you’re missing out on compared to the Core i9 10900K or Ryzen 9 5900X, the higher performance advantage in games doesn’t make up for the genuine lack of multi-threaded grunt.

However, further down the stack, it’s a different matter. The Core i5 11600K is a great little chip, much cheaper and at least as effective as a gaming chip like the popular Ryzen 5 5600X. Take off the power shackles in your BIOS, forgetting what a dire situation we’ve put the planet in, and you can squeeze even more performance out of the chip.

The Core i5 11400F takes it a step further. It’s even cheaper, has the same six-core, 12-thread design, thanks to Intel finally lifting the artificial Hyper-Threading embargo, and can still hit a healthy 4.2GHz Turbo clock speed across all cores. If you stick to Intel’s recommended limits, it’ll only last a few seconds, but most motherboards give you the option to let the silicon work at its limit.

However, letting our Asus test board deal with the power limits means a constant 4.2 GHz at full load. That beats the old Core i5 10400F in multi-threaded performance and means it’s not too far behind the 11600K or 5600X.

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