If you’re building a gaming PC, then you have a close eye on the bottom line. The CCL customer service team hear the same questions on the run up to Christmas, when parents are looking to build a budget gaming PC. Most of the conversation is around graphics cards and specific games – Fortnite, PUBG etc – but more often than not, the difficult conversation is around processors.
Most online magazines will tell people that “AMD = affordable gaming”, and “Intel = expensive performance”. I’m paraphrasing, but this is generally how it goes. When somebody is looking to build a PC, AMD usually wins out on budget, and has performance to back it up. With the latest generation processors like the Ryzen 9 and Intel’s i9, there’s little other than budget to separate the two companies. When consumers do their research, they see this result and think they must buy an AMD gaming setup to get the best value for money. Is that the case, though? Not always, it turns out.
The truth is - truly budget conscious PC builders look to older processors and motherboards to get the best value and performance.
The Elusive Ryzen 5 3600
Another spanner in the works for this comparison is the fact that Ryzen 5 3600 is now an extremely hard to find processor. Worse still, the price of this processor has not come down as one would expect, and this is mainly due to brand loyalty among AMD fans, and the result of supply and demand for what is obviously a superb processor.
Price Trend Courtesy of PriceSpy
When compared to the Intel Core i5-10400F, we can see a much more predictable trend since June 2020:
Price Trend Courtesy of PriceSpy
The “Sweet Spot” CPU Paradox
The Ryzen 5 3600 is a superb processor, so when the Ryzen 5 5600X replaced it and could perform 24% faster on average at 1080p with cards like the RTX 3090, it was great to see pricing remain under £300… and keep on dropping.
Price Trend Courtesy of PriceSpy
Currently the Ryzen 5 5600X price sits at around £225. If you’re looking to build a rig that will play games at 1440p or 4K, then you’ll be focusing on buying a mutant GPU anyway, which will take over from the CPU at these kinds of resolutions. AMD and Intel will perform roughly the same under these conditions, as TechSpot found out during benchmarking of the 5600X.
However, the “sweet spot” price for a processor – with most people having GPU pricing in mind – is around £150 for a great value processor. This ruled out the last few processors from AMD and landed on the Ryzen 5 3600.
The logic is sound. If you can save £100 - £150 on a processor and still get excellent framerates on your favourite games, lightning-fast performance with spreadsheets and graphics programs – why bother with the latest CPU? Why not just opt for a high performing processor that will do the job.
Player 3 Has Joined The Game
In benchmarks, the Ryzen 9 5900X vs Ryzen 5 3600 performed roughly the same on some games - GTA V, PUBG, and Overwatch, as examples, all run at around the same FPS. Only Fortnite had an improvement in FPS.
Comparison Courtesy UserBenchmark
Anyone quibbling over 10 – 20 FPS and wanting to spend twice as much probably won’t be interested in this article.
There’s an argument for multi-core processors in there, too. However, in a gaming PC build, generally the CPU’s focus is on the game you’re playing. If you are planning on streaming and recording lots of footage etc. then multi-core juggling is going to be required. However, if you are just playing games – the Ryzen 5 3600 will suffice. That said, if you have at least 16GB of RAM, then you’ll have the option of streaming in 1080p without any issues, too. Stream encoding using NVidia’s NVENC has taken the burden away from the CPU, meaning multi-core is not always required for high quality streams.
So, if you are building a budget gaming PC, do you really need the latest CPU? The answer is, of course, no.
Ryzen 5 3600 - Out Of Stock
Sadly, being extremely difficult to find, and for the other reasons above, the Ryzen 5 3600 is way above the £150 sweet spot in most online stores (if you can find them in stock):
Prices from PCPartPicker
This is not uncommon. If you are lucky enough to find a Ryzen 5 3600 in stock, you will need to buy it from an Amazon/eBay seller and take your chances with warranty and returns. With an EOL processor, your warranty only lasts 3 years with the “AMD Processor in a Box” policy, too
Ryzen 5 3600 vs Intel Core i5-10400F
Before we look at how much value for money you can expect from an i5-10400F, let’s talk benchmarks.
Is The Intel Core i5-10400F Good For Gaming?
As you can see in the video above, there’s very little argument that the i5-10400F comes out on top in terms of performance.
YouTube channel, Testing Games, also showed a head to head for the two processors with a few games that truly put pressure on the CPU in terms of performance. Red Dead Redemption 2, for example, is a demanding open world game, and the i5 10400F managed a tasty average 122 FPS compared to the 3600’s 114 FPS. This was using GeForce RTX 2080 OC 8GB and 16Gb RAM 3600Mhz.
Is The Intel Core i5-10400F Good Value For Money?
Currently, you can purchase the Intel Core i5-10400F for under £160. That’s not too far off the sweet spot. In a gaming rig, you are saving money that can be put towards a graphics card and extra memory.
The i5-10400F offers great performance with most of the top games, as we saw in the benchmark videos, and when paired with 16GB+ RAM and a capable GPU, you will not have any problems playing games like Cyberpunk 2077 and CoD Warzone.
If you’re worried about CPU bottlenecking, then you can rest easy for the most part, though you’re still going to struggle (like the rest of us) to get a GPU. The i5-10400F will not bottleneck when used with NVidia graphics cards later than the GTX 1660 Super 6GB. These cards are easier to find right now, but come with a hefty price tag.
Just today the entire specs for the NVidia 3000 Super series were leaked, which might suggest some new blood in the market could affect pricing of older cards?
First Gaming PC? Why You Should Choose the Intel Core i5-10400F
It is definitely worth keeping the i5-10400F in your sights if you are build a PC coming up to Christmas. Capable of delivering excellent performance with most of the popular games, this CPU will not hurt your wallet if you’ve got to match it with a GPU that is not good value for money.
If you’re building your own gaming PC, an ideal spec (under £1000) would be: -
- CPU: Intel Core i5-10400F 2.9GHz
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 2666MHz
- Graphics: GeForce RTX 3060 12GB
- Storage: 500GB Kingston NV1 NVMe SSD
This gaming rig spec is also available as a pre-built PC from CCL for £989.99:
Horizon 5 Intel RTX 3060 Gaming PC
It’s food for thought, at least.
When it comes to the AMD vs Intel rivalry, we can absolutely cast some shade with comparisons like the Ryzen 5 3600 and Intel i5 10400F. Both are awesome processors but due to lack of stock and price difference, the Intel CPU is the clear winner. If we based the argument on performance alone, the 10400F benchmarks incredibly well with all of the current favourites; Fortnite, PUBG, Apex Legends etc. There are very few negatives here for Intel.
With Christmas around the corner, and with GPU prices still causing mayhem, it is definitely worth thinking about