Serious gamers and enthusiasts are always on the lookout for the best gaming CPU. They want a processor that provides them excellent framerate and does not cost as much as a flagship. Intel’s Core i5 processors have been winning the best gaming CPU battle for quite a few years. However, AMD’s Ryzen 5 3600 took the crown from Intel in the last generation of processors. The launch of Intel’s 10th Gen desktop CPUs has heated the gaming landscape again.

Intel Core i5-10600K: The Best Gaming CPU for Mainstream Gamers In Short

Mainstream Gaming CPU segment includes desktop processors priced between $200 to $300.

The Contenders:

  • Ryzen 5 3600
  • Ryzen 7 3700X
  • Intel Core i5-9600K
  • Intel Core i7-9700K
  • Intel Core i5-10600K

Intel Core i5-10600K Specifications:

  • Is a 6-core, 12-thread CPU with 4.1GHz base clock and 4.8GHz boost clock.
  • Has a base price of $262.
  • Ideal for gaming builds as games rarely scale significantly beyond 6-cores.

Intel Core i5-10600K Performance:

  • 8 to 9% faster on average than the Ryzen 5 3600
  • 6-7% faster than the Ryzen 7 3700X
  • 5 to 6% faster than the 9600K
  • Edges out the 9700K in quite a few games
  • Can be overclocked to match a stock Core i9-10900K


  • Intel Core i5-10600K is the best performing CPU in $200 to $300 range.
  • It can be used with even high-end graphics cards like 2080 and 2080Ti.
  • Intel Core i5-10600K is ideal for serious gamers and enthusiasts.
  • Ryzen 5 3600 is significantly cheaper but more suitable for value-oriented builds with mid-range graphics cards.

Verdict: Intel Core i5-10600K CPU is the best gaming CPU for Mainstream Gamers

The Best Gaming CPU for Mainstream Gamers – In Detail

A mainstream gaming CPU can be defined as one that performs really well while being reasonably priced. Mainstream gaming CPUs are ideally priced between $200 to $300. On the other hand, a value-oriented CPU gives more weightage to price tag while ensuring that the performance is reasonable. These CPUs are generally priced around $150 to $200 mark.

Previously, Ryzen 5 3600 was deemed as the best mainstream gaming CPU. Its performance in games was within 3% of the Intel Core i5-9600K, but it had a major lead in non-gaming tasks. The lack of HyperThreading hampered Intel’s Core i5-9600K. Ryzen 5 3600 has six cores and twelve threads, whereas Intel Core i5-9600K only comes with six cores and no HyperThreading. It gave the Ryzen 5 3600 an edge, and it was cheaper at $224 while Intel’s Core i5-9600K had a base price of $262.  Intel’s Core i7-9700K beat AMD’s 3000 Series CPUs with its eight cores, but it was a high-end offering priced at $374. Mainstream gamers are not willing to shell out such a large sum of money.

CPURyzen 5 3600Ryzen 7 3700XIntel Core i5-9600KIntel Core i7-9700KIntel Core i5-10600KFIntel Core i5-10600K
Base Clock (GHz)
Boost Clock (GHz)
Price (USD)$199$275$262$374$237$262

The launch of Intel’s 10th Gen desktop CPUs has changed the landscape of the gaming processor market. It has reintroduced HyperThreading on all of its 10th Gen processors while retaining the same prices. Its Core i5-10600K is a serious contender for the best gaming CPU. AMD at the moment offers the Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600X CPUs in the mainstream segment. While it has announced its 3000XT processors, they won’t be available until next month. Also, the XT CPUs have only slightly higher boost clocks (100-200MHz), and we don’t expect them to gain significant performance over the 3000X CPUs.

Intel Core i5-10600K – Specifications

Intel Core i5-10600K has six cores and twelve threads. It comes with a base clock of up to 4.1GHz, a boost clock of up to 4.8GHz, and an all-core turbo of 4.5GHz. The CPU has a TDP of 125W and can be overclocked when used with a Z490 motherboard. Intel i5-10600K comes with a base price of $262. In comparison, Intel’s 9th Gen Core i5-9600K has a base clock of 3.7GHz and a boost clock of 4.6GHz with a TDP rating of 95W. It is a 6-core and 6-thread CPU with no HyperThreading and costs the same.

Intel 10th Gen Desktop CPU Core i5 and i3 Specifications

AMD’s Ryzen 5 3600 generally sells for $199 but is available right now for $166 as a limited period offer. It has 6-cores and 12-threads with a TDP rating of 65W. The CPU has a base clock of 3.6GHz and a Max Boost Clock of up to 4.2GHz. AMD also sells the  Ryzen 5 3600X for $219, which is a higher-clocked variant of the Ryzen 5 3600. Its base and boost clocks are 200MHz higher. However, users can overclock their Ryzen 5 3600 to get similar performance.

Another AMD desktop CPU that lies in the $200 to $300 range is the Ryzen 7 3700X. The CPU is selling for around $275 right now and comes with eight cores and sixteen-threads. Ryzen 7 3700X has a base clock of 3.6GHz and a boost clock of up to 4.4GHz with a 65W TDP rating.

While Intel 9th Gen Core i5 processors are still available, we don’t recommend them as they lack HyperThreading and don’t feature significant price discounts.

Intel Core i5-10600K – Gaming Performance

The main competitors for Intel Core i5-10600K are the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 7 3700X CPUs. We recommend that gamers pair their Core i5-10600K CPU with a Z490 motherboard to extract maximum performance as B460 motherboards don’t support overclocking. AMD allows overclocking on their B450/550 and X570 Series of motherboards. Therefore, either motherboard will be suitable for these Ryzen processors. When it comes to memory, a 3200MHz DDR4 CL14 kit will benefit both platforms, although a 3600MHz CL16 kit will produce similar results. The comparisons below use the same configuration with a 2080Ti.

Intel Core i5 10600K Best Gaming CPU Mainstream Performance Graph

Intel Core i5-10600K vs. AMD Ryzen 5 3600 vs. Ryzen 7 3700X

When comparing the gaming performance of Intel Core i5-10600K against Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 7 3700X, the Intel CPU poses significant gains. In games, Core i5-10600K is 8 to 9% faster on average than the Ryzen 5 3600 and 6-7% faster than the Ryzen 7 3700X. It extends the lead of Intel’s previous-generation Core i5-9600K in games. While the performance difference may seem small for casual gamers, the gains will matter for serious gamers who play E-sports titles at low settings or AAA titles at high settings.

Intel Core i5-10600K vs. Core i5-9600K vs. Core i7-9700K – Gaming Performance

Against Intel’s 9th Gen offerings, the Core i3-10600K is 5 to 6% faster than the 9600K and even edges out the 9700K in quite a few games. Its HyperThreading boosts performance significantly. The Intel Core i5-10600K almost matches the performance of Intel’s 9th Gen flagship i9-9900K CPU in most games, both in stock and overclocked configurations.

Intel Core i5-10600K vs. Core i7-10700K vs. Core i9-10900K – Gaming Performance

When compared to the latest 10th Gen Core i7-10700K and Core i9-10900K, the Core i5-10600K CPU is behind by a negligible margin (less than 2%). It is because a majority of games don’t scale well beyond six cores. Therefore, a 6-core CPU is the ideal choice for a gaming PC today. Users who need to perform other tasks may consider going beyond six cores, but for gamers, this is the sweet spot.

Intel Core i5-10600K – Value Proposition

Intel Core i5-10600K CPU packs some serious punch. It not only outperforms Intel’s previous Gen Core i5-9600K desktop processor but also comes close to the performance of the latest Core i7-10700K and Core i9-10900K desktop processors. Considering that the Intel Core i5-10600K is significantly cheaper than the Intel Core i7-10700K and the Core i9-10900K, its value proposition is really good. It has a decent overclocking potential as well, provided you pair it with a high-end CPU cooler. The Core i5-10600K can be overclocked to match a stock Core i9-10900K’s gaming performance.

Intel Core i5-10600K is quite a bit faster than AMD’s offerings, including the Ryzen 5 3600 and the Ryzen 7 3700X. While the Ryzen 5 3600 costs about $75-100 less, it falls behind in gaming performance. Also, unlike Core i5-9600K, the latest Core i5-10600K comes with HyperThreading. It performs much better at non-gaming tasks as well. If we were to choose the best value gaming CPU, the Ryzen 5 3600 would have been the obvious choice. But as we are prioritizing performance more than value, the Intel Core i5-10600K CPU is the ideal product.

Conclusion – Intel Core i5-10600K, The Best Gaming CPU for Mainstream Gamers

Serious gamers and enthusiasts who want to maximize framerate but don’t want to spend money on a Core i7-10700K or Core i9-10900K will find the Intel Core i5-10600K to be the best gaming CPU for their requirements. You can pair the Core i5-10600K CPU with a high-end GPU such as a 2080 or even a 2080Ti without any issues.

Intel Core i5 10600K Best Gaming CPU Mainstream

While most modern games will do well with a 4-core CPU, an increasing number of titles have started to scale with 6-core CPUs. It will be beneficial to opt for a 6-core CPU if you are considering a mid or even a high-end GPU. For the average user, a 4-core processor will be the better choice if they are going to buy a low or mid-tier GPU. But for the mainstream gamer that wants the best performance at a reasonable price, the Intel Core i5-10600K is the perfect gaming CPU.

Buyers who are on a tight budget and are willing to sacrifice some performance can consider a Ryzen 5 3600 instead of an Intel Core i5-10600K, while those wanting a highly productive CPU can go for a Ryzen 7 3700X. People who want to save a few more bucks but want the same performance can consider an i5-10600KF processor. It has the exact same specifications but is void of the iGPU and carries a base price tag of $237.