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Should I buy an Intel Core i5-9500 CPU?

Intel CPU
(Image credit: Intel)

Sitting between the cheaper, slower Intel Core i5 9400 and the overclockable but pricier Core i5 9600K, the Core i5 9500 represents the true middle ground in Intel’s ninth generation of desktop processors. 

Like the other 9th-gen i5 CPUs, it has six cores and six threads (no HyperThreading here, sorry) along with the same 9MB Intel Smart Cache.

The i5 9500 is a solid processor, with a similar price-to-performance proposition to the i5 9400; a little more expensive, but with slightly better performance—about 5%, for your pricing comparison purposes over the new couple of weeks. It also has the exact same 65W thermal design power rating, although overall power draw is likely to be a little higher as Z370 and later motherboards don’t necessarily constrain CPUs to those parameters. The inclusion of a stock Intel air cooler is a pleasant bonus too, even if the cooler itself is a bit puny.

What is the Intel Core i5 9500?

Intel Core i5 9500 Spec

Base Clock: 3.0GHz
Max Boost Clock: 4.4GHz
Cores/Threads: 6/6
TDP: 65W
Cache: 9MB
Memory Support: 128GB DDR4-2666
Bus Speed: 8GT/s
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
Lithography: 14nm
Release Date: 23/04/2019
Release RRP: $192

The i5-9500 doesn’t exactly push the envelope, sitting comfortably in the i5-9000 range with all the expected features and no real surprises for any experienced system builder. Intel’s UHD 630 integrated graphics work well for general use, but this CPU will definitely need a separate GPU if you’re planning on using it for gaming or 3D rendering purposes.

The base clock is only marginally faster than the 9400, but the Intel Turbo Boost clock jumps all the way up to an impressive 4.4GHz, making this chip nice and speedy in single-core tasks. Multi-core clockspeeds sit around 4.1GHz, and the graphics frequency is a bit higher too. As you’ll notice, it lacks the ‘K’ suffix, meaning that this CPU cannot be manually overclocked.

What are the alternatives to the Intel Core i5 9500?

If you’re looking to save some cash on your budget gaming rig, the Core i5-9400 and i5-9400F are both cheaper than the 9500. Alternatively, the i5-9600K is definitely a better option for the PC gamer who likes to overclock, and is typically available for around the same price as the 9500 anyway.

Over with Team Red, the Ryzen 5 2600X outperforms the i5-9500 in pretty much every area except gaming, where it only trails by a small amount, then the Ryzen 5 3600 pushes that even further. The older Ryzen chip is significantly cheaper, though, dropping as low as $120 on Amazon. It also comes with a far superior stock cooler, the AMD Wraith Stealth.

Should I buy the Core i5 9500 and at what price? 

Ultimately, it seems more likely that sales on the i5-9400, i5-9600K, and Ryzen 5 3600 will outstrip this chip in terms of value. If you’re considering snapping up an i5-9500 this Black Friday, be sure to check the pricing of those chips before committing to a purchase. We’d say that $170 or less would be a reasonable price for this CPU, but unless we see some massive discounts, other processors are likely to be better value.