Is Intel’s i5-10600K CPU still worth buying now that AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X is here? I’ve compared both in games and applications to show you the differences. Both processors have 6 cores and 12 threads.
CPU spec differences
The 10600K can reach higher clock speeds, but the 5600X has more cache. The 5600X costs $25 more, but it also comes with a cooler in the box.
Both processors were tested in the same system, but I’ve had to change motherboards. For the 10600K I’m testing with the MSI Z490 ACE motherboard, and for the 5600X I’m using the ASRock X570 Taichi. The rest of the components were otherwise the same, I’ve tested with 32gb of DDR4-3200 memory running in dual channel at CL14 and with MSI’s GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio graphics card to minimize bottlenecks.
Although the 5600X does come with a cooler, I’ve used my Fractal S36 with Noctua NT-H2 thermal paste on both for comparable results.
I’ve tested both CPUs at stock, and with the following all core overclocks applied, 5GHz on the 10600K and 4.7GHz on the 5600X. The Intel system also had MCE disabled with no power limits. With that in mind we’ll first check out the differences in various applications, as well as power draw and thermals, followed by gaming tests afterwards, then finish up by comparing some performance per dollar metrics.
Starting out with Cinebench R20 we can see the 5600X is 21% faster than the 10600K in single core, an excellent result given this is an area where Intel has traditionally had the lead. When it comes to multicore performance, the 5600X was around 25% faster than the Intel chip, again a great result considering both have the same core and thread count.
I’ve also tested the older Cinebench R15 as a lot of people still use it so you can compare my results, the margins were quite similar to R20 so let’s move on. I’ve tested Blender with the BMW and Classroom benchmarks. This test makes use of all cores, and the 5600X was completing the task 19% faster when both processors are at stock, then once both are overclocked the 5600X’s lead lowers to 12%. Ryzen is still winning, but the 10600K has more overclocking headroom available so the gap narrows. The V-Ray benchmark is another rendering workload, at stock the 5600X was 25% faster than the 10600K, then when both are overclocked the 5600X is still able to score 20% higher. The Corona benchmark also uses the processor to render out a scene, the 5600X was 19% faster than the 10600K in this one at stock, then 13% faster with both overclocked, again the 10600K overclocks better which closes the gap a bit. Handbrake was used to convert one of my 4K laptop review videos to 1080p. With both at stock the 5600X was completing the export around 20% faster than the 10600K, then again when both are overclocked the gap lowers a bit to the 5600X now 17% ahead. Adobe Premiere was used to export one of my laptop review videos at 4K. I’ve tested with both VBR 1 pass, which should make use of Intel’s quicksync on the 10600K, and 2 pass which shouldn’t. At stock the 5600X was completing the 1 pass export 14% faster than the 10600K, but the 2 pass test was 19% faster, so regardless the Ryzen chip is doing better. I’ve also tested Adobe Premiere but with the Puget Systems benchmark tool, as this tests for more things like live playback rather than just raw video export times. The 5600X was scoring 13% higher than the 10600K at stock in this test, and 10% faster with both overclocked. Adobe Photoshop was also tested with the Puget Systems benchmark tool. This test tends to benefit from higher single core performance, which explains why the 5600X was scoring 20% higher at stock and 16% higher with both overclocked. I’ve used 7-Zip to test compression and decompression speeds, and Ryzen chips have always had a huge advantage over Intel in this test which continues here. At stock the 5600X was 36% faster in compression, and then 46% faster in decompression, the biggest difference out of all applications tested at stock. On the other hand, VeraCrypt was used to test AES encryption and decryption, and the differences between the two processors here were the smallest out of all applications tested. The 5600X was around 10% faster at stock and 6 to 7% faster with both overclocked. Microsoft Excel was tested using the Hardware Unboxed large number crunch test, and the 5600X was completing the task over 45% faster than the 10600K, which I suspect is due to the 5600X having much more cache. The differences in geekbench were similar to what was noted in Cinebench, the 5600X was scoring around 21% higher both for single core and multicore performance at stock, then the 5600X was scoring 15% higher once both were overclocked.
Here’s how AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X compares against Intel’s i5-10600K with both processors at stock in all of the applications just tested. The 5600X was faster in all instances, though as we can see results vary by workload. I was honestly surprised how much ahead the 5600X was in the single core tests, just for comparison the 3600X from last generation was behind the 10600K. The 5600X is still on top in all tests once both processors have been overclocked as far as I could push them, though overclocked results will of course vary based on factors like silicon lottery. The performance gap does narrow in here as the 10600K has more overclocking headroom, but it still can’t catch the 5600X.
Power draw, thermals, clock speeds
When we look at the total system power draw from the wall with the blender test running, the 5600X system is using less power than the 10600K system. This is quite impressive when we remember that the 5600X was also completing the blender test 19% faster than the 10600K, and although the 10600K can overclock better, it uses more power to achieve this. Higher power draw typically results in more heat, and that was the case here where the 10600K was running 5 degrees Celsius warmer than the 5600X both at stock or when overclocked. These are the clockspeeds being reached during these same tests, so at stock both were averaging 4.5GHz on all 6 cores, granted this isn’t directly comparable, but we can see with the overclocks applied that the 10600K is now able to get higher. It also indicates that the Ryzen chip has superior IPC, given the 5600X was outperforming the 10600K at stock by fair margins.
Let’s get into the gaming results next, I’ve tested 9 games at 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolutions. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the games benchmark tool. At 1080p down the bottom of the graph, the 5600X was around 17% higher in terms of average FPS, 10% faster at 1440p, then no difference at 4K, as the difference between the processors typically matters less at higher resolutions. Microsoft Flight Simulator was tested in the Sydney landing challenge. At 1080p even the 1% low from the 5600X was ahead of the average FPS from the 10600K. The 5600X was 23% faster at 1080p, 18% faster at 1440p, then at 4K the differences were negligible. Death Stranding was tested by running through the same part of the game on both systems. The 5600X saw nice gains at lower resolutions here too, hitting average FPS 13% higher than the 10600K, and while still ahead at 1440p and 4K, the margins are lower. Battlefield V was tested in campaign mode, and there were no major differences between the two, which were around 1 FPS different either way regardless of resolution, both were hitting the 200 FPS cap at 1080p. I just had to put CS:GO to the test as AMD were claiming some pretty big gains with Zen 3, and I was seeing big improvements with the 5600X. At 1080p the 5600X was 34% faster in average FPS over the 10600K, 14% faster at 1440p, and still 12% faster at 4K. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested with the games benchmark. Again the 5600X was faster in all instances, with an 18% lead over the 10600K at 1080p, 7% faster at 1440p, and just 1.5% at 4K, so basically no real difference. Rainbow Six Siege was doing slightly better on the 10600K in average frame rate at 4K and 1440p, I double checked these results and the Ryzen chip was consistently slightly behind at higher resolutions, but at 1080p, the 5600X was 18% faster than the 10600K. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was also tested using the games built in benchmark tool, and there were basically no differences in average FPS regardless of resolution, all within one to two FPS of each other. Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the games benchmark too, and the 5600X was doing better both in 1% lows and average FPS at all three resolutions.
Over all 9 games tested, the 5600X was 15.5% faster than the 10600K in average FPS. It’s worth noting that Battlefield 5 only saw no difference because both chips were capable of reaching the 200 FPS cap, so that may be holding the average back a little.
At the same time though, the big CS:GO gains are definitely helping, but even without cs:go the 5600x still has a 13% lead.
When we step up to 1440p the 5600X is now under 7% faster on average. Higher resolutions start becoming more GPU bound, so the difference in processor starts to matter less, but still, depending on the game the 5600X was still able to offer nice double digit improvements.
This trend continues at 4K, where the 5600X was now under 2% faster than the 10600K on average, and realistically it’s only being held up by CS:GO. Without that outlier the 5600X was just 0.5% faster, so basically the same.
Cost per frame value
When we look at cost per frame, the 5600X is the winner at 1080p. The extra performance from the 5600X is able to make up for the fact that it costs $25 more than the 10600K, and this isn’t considering the fact that you can use the 5600X with the stock cooler that comes in the box. You’re going to have to add more money to add a cooler to the 10600K if you don’t have one.
At 1440p and 4K, the 10600K was a little better in terms of dollar per frame, and this is because at higher resolutions we become more GPU dependent, so the processor choice matters less and the 10600K being cheaper gives it an edge when frame rates are closer together, but again this is before factoring in cooling for the 10600K, so the 5600X is probably still better.
It’s also worth considering that these price differences are for the CPU only, the percentage differences become less in the context of say a new $1500 system for instance.
All things considered, personally I’d go for Ryzen 5 5600X, to me it’s the clear winner. Yeah it costs $25 more, but it does come with a cooler and it performs a fair bit better in all applications tested and it also offers some nice gains in gaming too, particularly at 1080p. I think the 5600X will also be easier for people to upgrade to, as many existing AM4 motherboards are going to support it.
The 10600K on the other hand requires a current gen motherboard, so not too big of a difference if you’re buying a completely new system, but those perhaps on an older Ryzen system may be well positioned to upgrade to the 5600X.
I’ll show you how the 5600X compares against the older 3600 from last generation in an upcoming comparison.