We have with us for review the Intel Core i5-10400F 10th generation six-core processor. The i5-10400F joins a line of popular sub-$200 processors from Intel, such as the i5-9400 and i5-8400. They offer hardware similar to the $250 Core i5 part at lower pricing, with slightly lower clock speeds. With the 9th generation, Intel began rolling out the "F" brand extension that denotes a lack of integrated graphics, beginning with the popular $160 Core i5-9400F. The lack of iGPU lets Intel harvest silicon dies with defective graphics cores. The i5-10400F is a direct successor to this chip and is launching at $160.
The Core i5-10400F in this review is a juicy lure for gamers as it offers 6 cores, 12 threads, and 12 MB of shared L3 cache—identical to the Core i7-8700, but with lower clock speeds at less than half its price. With the advent of the 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" triggered by AMD "Zen," game developers were finally motivated to optimize their game engines to take advantage of more than four cores. AAA titles such as "Battlefield 5", among others, are built to take advantage of six cores. The Core i5-10400F cannot simply waltz into this segment as the $180-ish AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is found to be trading blows with the much pricier i5-10600K.
The Intel Core i5-10400F is based on Intel's new "Comet Lake" microarchitecture that enables HyperThreading, increased L3 cache, and higher clock speeds across the entire 10th generation Core product stack, and debuts new boosting algorithms, although just for the Core i7 and Core i9 SKUs. Our tested Core i5-10400F ticks at the same 2.90 GHz as its predecessor, but has an increased maximum Turbo Boost frequency of 4.30 GHz, double the threads, and 50% more L3 cache. The increase in clocks is necessitated as the underlying CPU cores are of the same design as the nearly five-year-old "Skylake" microarchitecture.
The Core i5-10400F is a "locked" processor, which means you cannot overclock it using the base-clock multiplier. However, there are alternatives, such as tweaking the base clock itself. As an "F" SKU, you also lose out on the integrated graphics, particularly its awesome Quick Sync media encoder. However, if you don't care about the iGPU, you get to save around $30 over the i5-10400 that's going for around $200 these days.
In our Core i5-10400F review, we take a close look at the processor across our large selection of CPU and gaming performance benchmarks to figure out if you can potentially save yourself at least $100 by opting for this chip over the i5-10600K, or if the AMD 3600 can thwart it with its aggressive price and unlocked multiplier. We also take a look at what "overclocking" options exist on this multiplier-locked processor.