Should I buy an Intel Core i5 9400F?

Intel Core i5 9400F
(Image credit: Intel)

When it comes to the Intel Core i5 9400F, there should be a few bargains floating around over the deal season. With Amazon Prime Day now packed up and Black Friday on the way, plenty of us will be flocking to the interwebs to find the CPU of our dreams, and we might finally complete that build we’ve been pining over on PC Part Picker.

So, if you’re trying to establish whether an Intel Core i5 9400F would throw up bottlenecks for your new GPU, or are just perusing the wares, we at PC gamer have put together a simple, straightforward guide to help you make the important decisions when choosing components.

There are so many things the Intel Core i5 9400F is lacking, yet it still managed to make it into our best CPU for gaming list thanks to its affordable mid-range gaming performance. It’s one of those where considering a purchase really hinges on whether you’re looking toward the future of gaming or just want something to tide you over in the current gaming generation—we’ll get to why in a moment.

What is the Intel Core i5 9400F? 

Intel Core i5 9400F Specs

Cores - 6
Threads - 6
Base Clock - 2.9 GHz
Boost Clock - 4.1 GHz
TDP - 65 W
Socket - LGA1151
Overclocking - No
Launch Price - $182.00

The Core i5 9400F is built on Intel's Coffee Lake microarchitecture, and is a 6 core, 6 thread CPU—no Hyper Threading here. It throws up boosts of 4.10 GHz and a base clock of 2.9GHz, making it a hint faster than its predecessor, the Core i5 8400. However, the locked multiplier means no overclocking, and there are no integrated graphics with this model, (that’s what the F stands for), meaning you’ll be in need of a dedicated graphics card. Though, you should have one anyway if you’re looking to get any sort of gaming in. 

What are the alternatives to the Intel Core i5 9400F? 

At this point in time, with games about to become much more multithread aware, we highly recommend you find yourself a CPU with multi-threading capabilities, so you can be ready for the next wave of games. For a similar price that we’d expect to see the Intel Core i5 9400F going for around Black Friday, potentially less, you’re likely to be able to come away with a 4-core/8-thread Intel Core i3 10100, or potentially an AMD Ryzen 3 3300X. Both of these would just supersede the Core i5 9400F in terms of performance, and the AMD chip also offers overclocking potential, as well as simultaneous multithreading. But if you're upgrading from an existing 8th or 9th Gen chip, both of these alternatives would need to be paired with a different motherboard. You can, however, pick up a B550 or B460 board for pretty cheap nowadays, though.

Should I buy the Intel Core i5 9400F and at what price?

First off, if you're planning to do some overclocking, this is not the CPU you’re looking for. Also, due to the lack of multithreading capability, the Core i5 9400F may be limiting for the future of gaming, creating bottlenecks for next generation gaming with future GPUs like the RTX 3060 or 3060 Ti. For this reason, we’re not recommending it if you’re looking to put together a future-proof build.

That said, if you just need an upgrade to your current Intel setup, something to tide you over through the current gen climate, it should see you right. Before you buy, make sure these are compatible with your motherboard—B360, H310, H370, Q370, Z370, or Z390 models should all see you right. Though, we would recommend not paying more than $100-$120 for the Intel Core i5 9400F at this point in time.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.