Intel Core i5 12600K Review

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The Core i5 is the most important CPU for the vast majority of gamers. Although it is less expensive than a Core i7 or Core i9, it retains the essential features that make those processors excellent for gaming. That’s not any different with the Intel Core i5 12600K, the first Core i5 of the Alder Lake generation, but that may be underestimating its capabilities.

This is due to the Intel Core i5 12600K even greater accomplishment: it offers the same performance as the top previous-generation CPU in a package that costs over 50% less.

Yes, in less than a year and a generation, Intel was able to deliver Core i9 performance in a Core i5 package. Because it isn’t pushing Alder Lake to its absolute limits on a single die, the Intel Core i5 12600K is a more power-conscious design than the Core i9 12900K, making it a more flexible CPU for high-end and midrange tasks.

The Intel Core i5 12600K is shown to be the true star of the 12th Generation when you learn more about its capabilities. Or, at the very least, until the last of the Alder Lake desktop chips show up somewhere in the first quarter of the next year.

Intel Core i5 12600K Specifications

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The Alder Lake architecture is baked inside the Intel Core i5-12600K CPU, which is a member of the new 12th Generation of Intel Core chips.

The hybrid design that enables Intel to have two different types of cores in the chip—Performance Cores (P-Cores) and Efficient Cores—means that it gains many of the same improvements as the i9-12900K. (E-Cores).

Particularly geared toward single-core tasks like gaming are P-Cores. E-Cores, on the other hand, are better suited to managing less demanding background tasks, improving the multi-threaded performance.

With just two less P-cores than its i9 sister but half as many E-cores, the i5-12600K has a balance of 6 P-cores and 4 E-cores. This quickly demonstrates that the processor prioritizes gaming workloads over content development, which is not surprising.

But why does a hybrid design outperform a conventional one? By allocating workloads to the most appropriate core, the Intel Thread Director effectively increases the CPU’s efficiency. This could stop the workload of a core that is already under stress from being increased by unimportant background processes (such running video recording software) while a game is still running at a high frame rate.

Although the new “hybrid architecture” is indeed amazing, Alder Lake offers other advantages as well. A significant improvement in single-core performance of 19% over the 11th Gen is also seen, which will benefit gamers greatly.

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The performance ceiling for memory has been greatly increased thanks to support for DDR5 RAM. Additionally compatible with PCIe 5.0, Intel Alder Lake can double the bandwidth of supported SSDs, which can reduce loading times for video games.

This Intel CPU is future-proofed for years to come thanks to support for these next-generation technologies, and it also provides backwards compatibility so you don’t have to make all the updates right away if the price is growing prohibitive.

Unfortunately, in order to use the Intel Core i5 12600K, you’ll need to purchase a new motherboard with a Z690 chipset. You will need to consider much more than just the cost of the Intel CPU when upgrading as a result of this additional cost.

Intel Core i5 12600K Essential Information

Product Collection12th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processors
Code NameProducts formerly Alder Lake
Vertical SegmentDesktop
Processor Numberi5-12600K
Launch DateQ4’21
LithographyIntel 7
Recommended Customer Price$318.00 – $328.00
Use ConditionsPC/Client/Tablet/Workstation

Intel Core i5 12600K Specs

Total Cores10
# of Performance-cores6
# of Efficient-cores4
Total Threads16
Max Turbo Frequency4.90 GHz
Performance-core Max Turbo Frequency4.90 GHz
Efficient-core Max Turbo Frequency3.60 GHz
Performance-core Base Frequency3.70 GHz
Efficient-core Base Frequency2.80 GHz
Cache20 MB Intel® Smart Cache
Total L2 Cache9.5 MB
Processor Base Power125 W
Maximum Turbo Power150 W

Intel Core i5 12600K Performance & Tests

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Starting with Cinebench R23, we discover that the Intel Core i5 12600K performs astronomically better than the 5600X, outperforming it by 63% and even surpassing the 5800X. Additionally, the 11600K has been improved by 61%, which is still rather amazing even when the price rise of 23% is taken into account. A significant generational improvement, the single-core performance was also outstanding, outperforming the 5600X and 11600K by a margin of 26%. It also implies that for both multi-core and single-core workloads, the Intel Core i5 12600K should easily defeat the 5600X.

The 7-zip file manager compression test shows that the Intel Core i5 12600K and 5600X are evenly matched, despite the fact that this is one of the 12th-worse gen’s performances when compared to the 12700KF and 12900K. The new Core i5 processor was 23% slower than the 12700KF in terms of decompression performance because the 12600K and 5600X are also tied.

It took exactly 86 seconds for the render to be finished on the Ryzen 5 5600X, but the Intel Core i5 12600K shows that it’s in an entirely other league, providing 48% more performance. You indeed get next tier performance with the 12600K, as we have stated.

The 12600K was able to equal the 5800X and was 11% faster than the 5600X in Adobe Photoshop. The Intel Core i5 component was only 7% slower than the 12700KF, and the 12600K is shaping up to be the sweet spot for the 12th-generation Intel lineup’s price to performance.

We can see that the Intel Core i5 12600K continues to outperform the 5600X in After Effects, outperforming it by 17% and defeating the 5800X by a 5% margin. The performance we’re looking at puts the 12600K among the quickest desktop CPUs for our application.

Intel Core i5 12600K Conclusion

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If you’re even remotely rational, the Core i5 12600K is the greatest CPU for gaming right now. The Intel Core i5 12600K is the chip to have if you actually compare price to performance, performance per watt, and sense for a moment. I’m not a sensible person, so I’d prefer the Core i9 12900K or Ryzen 9 5950X just because, but if you do, the Core i5 12600K comes out on top.

Since it should be the less expensive of the two, my choice for today’s best CPU for gaming may really be the Core i5 12600KF. However, you wouldn’t be doing anything wrong if you choose to buy one of the two, probably whichever you can locate for less. is an affiliate. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Intel Core i5 12600K
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