Intel's new $196 16-thread Core i5 is an awesome reason to upgrade from an older CPU

Intel's Core i5 13600K on a promotional box with the Raptor Lake die displayed on it
(Image credit: Future)
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The new Intel Core i5 13400F looks to be a mighty processor for the money. Coming with 10 cores and 16 threads, I'm actually wondering why I should spend any more on my next CPU upgrade than the relatively paltry $196 Intel's asking for with this chip. From the specs announced at CES 2023 alone, this could be a budget gamer's dream.

Let's get right into this chip's more than impressive spec. Like I mentioned, the Core i5 13400 comes with 10 cores, and those 10 cores are made up of six Performance-cores (P-cores) and four Efficient-cores (E-cores).

Those six P-cores are of a speedy ilk designed to accelerate your gaming experience. They're capable of running up to 4.6GHz Max Turbo on the Core i5 13400F, which, while low next to say the Core i9 13900K's 5.8GHz Max Turbo speed, is absolutely quick enough for fast-paced gaming. 

That's also a big P-core clock speed bump over the Core i5 12400F from the last generation. The 12th Gen chip operates at a more modest 4.4GHz, though admittedly even that sort of speed was enough to win Dave over in his Core i5 12400 review (opens in new tab).

The Core i5 13400F's four E-cores are more focused on background tasks and taking the strain off of the P-cores. There's only a handful here, but their mere inclusion is cause for celebration—the Core i5 12400F didn't come with any.

That makes for a 16-thread chip overall in the Core i5 13400. That's a whole lot for this sort of cash, and should be handy for even more CPU intensive workloads beyond gaming.

In terms of cache, the Core i5 13400F comes with 20MB of L3 and 9.5MB of L2—another improvement over its 12th Gen counterpart. It supports both DDR4 and DDR5 across both 600-series and 700-series motherboards, which means you should be able to pick up a cheap board and get off to a good start. You could even go as cheap as ASRock's B660M Pro RS, which is only $120 on Newegg (opens in new tab) right now.

What that all means is the Core i5 13400F will arrive with a similar recommended price tag to the Core i5 12400F but with four extra cores, all the benefits of Intel's hybrid architecture, and run up to 200MHz faster. Not to mention the other Raptor Lake-based upgrades I've spoken about in more depth in my Core i9 13900K review (opens in new tab). Only downside is it consumes a bit more power.

The 'F' at the end of the Core i5 13400F denotes this chip's lack of integrated graphics, however. You won't really miss the Intel UHD Graphics 730 chip you'll find on the Core i5 13400, though if that processor is more readily available then it's only a touch more expensive at $221.

Just bear in mind, these are Intel's recommended customer prices. While we tend to see chips float around these sorts of prices once the initial launch day fervour has settled, right now the 13th Gen is a bit pricier than we'd like. These chips may take a little while to filter out into the market, too, so just keep an eye out for the best price as they come in.

The Core i5 12400 scored 95% in our review. (Image credit: Future)

Neither the Core i5 13400 or 13400F are overclockable the traditional way. There's a slim chance some motherboard manufacturers may allow some sneaky BCLK overclocking on the side with these locked chips, as this was the case with some of Intel's 12th Gen processors (and we loved the Core i5 12400 for that). Yet so far it appears as though BCLK overclocking in this way doesn't play nicely with the 13th Gen, so we'll have to wait and test for ourselves to be sure either way.

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13th Gen Core i5 versus 12th Gen Core i5
ProcessorCores (P+E)ThreadsMax P-core Turbo (GHz)Processor Base Power/Max Turbo Power (W)Price
Core i5 134006+4164.665/148$221
Core i5 13400F6+4164.665/148$196
Core i5 124006+0124.465/117$211–221
Core i5 12400F6+0124.465/117$184–194
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(Image credit: Future)

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For any PC gamer still rocking an Intel Core i7 6700K or a chip of a similar four-core design (I have a build with one such chip in it still to this day), it's tough to deny the Core i5 13400F as a huge upgrade. Heck, it's a pretty awesome upgrade even if you've got a more recent CPU than that, but then again I'm not a big proponent of needlessly changing CPUs for the sake of it. 

There's no denying that CPUs really have come on leaps and bounds as of late, and it's that firm competition between Intel and AMD that's fuelling the fire. There's no better example of that in my mind than the Core i5 13400F's impressive spec—a big improvement on what was already a mighty mid-range offering in the Core i5 12400. 

In terms of competition, the Core i5 13400F should be quite a bit cheaper than AMD's latest Ryzen 5 7600X, which sells for around $299, meaning there's no real opposite number from the red team—yet. AMD does have a keynote at CES 2023 tomorrow, however, and rumour has it we could hear more about its more entry-level desktop CPU plans then or some time this month.

In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to get this chip in the PC Gamer test bench and see what it's really able to deliver. Though I don't foresee it being anything other than awesome.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.