The Intel 11th Gen is here, and honestly, I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it feels like a return to form for Intel—giving a glimpse at a company looking to reclaim their dominance. On the other hand, the top tier is high-priced and, at times, loses out to last year’s more affordable offerings. But Intel has managed to release one of the most impressive and cost effective chips, with the i5 11600K—delivering stand out performance while undercutting AMD’s mid-range contender: the 5600X; making one of the best values for a new CPUs currently on the market.
The full 11th range is looking to push performance and speed; for anyone looking to invest in a new gaming rig this year—while many will suggest always looking to the high end to get the most from gaming, as GPU’s become a bigger part of the equation this can be an expensive endeavor. While the mid-range offers enough features and power, while still hitting the ideal price, this is no longer the case. The i5 has, over the years become a major contender in the Intel lineup for gaming machines, and now that Rocket Lake is here, the i5 11600K stands as an impressive six cores, 12-thread option that should be ready once graphics cards are obtainable for the common folk.
What makes the 11600K so impressive is the features it delivers at the incredible price. Coming in at $270 ($359.99 CAD), the high-end of the hex-core Rocket Lake lineup is a chip that brings with it fantastic clock speeds, HyperThreading, and can be overclocked thanks to the unlocked multipliers. Considering the price, this is an astonishing value for your hard-earned cash. Even when you match it up against the AMD Ryzen 5600X—which has an MSRP $299—the Intel i5 delivers more, and costs less.
|CPU||Suggest Retail Price||Cores / Threads||Base (GHz)||Peak Boost (Dual/All Core)||TDP||iGPU|
|Core i9-11900K||$539 (K) – $513 (KF)||8 / 16||3.5||5.3 / 4.8||125W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU|
|Core i7-11700K||$399 (K) – $374 (KF)||8 / 16||3.6||5.0 / 4.6||125W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU|
|Core i5-11600K||$262 (K) – $237(KF)||6 / 12||3.9||4.9 (TB2) / 4.6||125W||UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU|
It is interesting to look at how, compared to last year’s 10600K, this new chip feels like a major step forward in tech and value. It delivers more of everything, besides base clock speed (3.9GHz Vs 4.1GHz) and brings with it all the improvements that Rocket Lake allows—including PCIe 4.0 and the new Z590 chipset boards.
Rocket Lake also feels like a new platform, and not just a reskin of previous chips. As discussed in my i9 11900K review, Intel has taken its 10nm from Ice Lake, and combined it with the Xe GPU architecture. Put all of this on a 14nm chip, and you find yourself with a very impressive, feature rich CPU; that now features Intel’s PCIe 4.0 support, and is ready to take on the latest and greatest games, provided you can find a new GPU to really push some polygons.
As a mainstream CPU, the i5 11600K is primed to steal market share from Team Red—and with that, it takes a page out of AMD’s playbook when they first launched Ryzen—delivering comparable performance, and with all the new features, at a slighter more ruthless price.
Looking at the numbers, the i5 11600K is neck-in-neck with the AMD 5600X and despite being a few points off here and there; manages to be a very competitive piece of silicon. With it even matching some benchmarks seen in the i9 11900K, you have yourself a very impressive CPU that will not be a bottleneck in any new gaming rig.
One thing to note for anyone looking to build a new PC with the 11th gen i5 is that while the 5600X and the 11600K are similar in specs; the power hungry nature of the Intel Rocket Lake chips should be taken into consideration. While the 5600X will sip on just 76W; the 11600K will hit a peak of 130W, almost doubling the power needs compared to AMD’s mid-range powerhouse. That is the biggest compromise that needs to be made to offer this level of CPU on a 14nm platform.
For testing, much like with the i9 11900K, CGMagazine is using an NZXT Kraken X73 AIO Cooler for all benchmarks, with all 11th gen Intel testing done on the ASUS ROG Hero XIII motherboard, with an NVIDIA 2080 GPU, 32GB DDR4 HyperX RAM running in dual channel configuration, and a WD_Black SN750 for storage. The test rig was running a 700Watt Corsair power supply in an NZXT case. The system also had a fresh version of Windows 10 installed and had all new bios updated set up before any benchmarking was done.
Looking at the gaming benchmarks, you will see a CPU that fairs very well overall. It gives the 5600X a run for its money, even when looking at the games such as Total War: Three Kingdoms, Gears 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Dirt 5. But as with any CPU offering in 2021, the GPU will play a major role in what frame rates you can expect. But even with the NVIDIA 2080 we used for these tests, we see a system that should have no issues with any modern game, and should be able to tackle even the latest and greatest provided you pair it with a decent GPU offering.
In today’s CPU market, with any computer parts coming at a premium, the 11600K feels like an anomaly. While the 5600X is currently selling above MSRP—hitting close to $350 when you can find it in stock—the 11600K feels positively thrifty in comparison. Consider that those savings can also be invested in a slightly better GPU that will have better overall gaming performance.
With AMD dominating in the high-end of the market—with the Ryzen 9 5950X and the Ryzen 9 5900X—this has left some room for Intel to step into the mid-range and make things interesting. And that is exactly what they have done: delivered an exciting mid-range option that delivers power and performance, while still undercutting the competition. When two major players get aggressive with winning over consumers, things heat up in the best possible way.
It is hard not to recommend the Intel i5 11600K. It delivers notable improvements from last year’s offering, comes in at a great price, and will give a level of future proofing that should make any PC buyer feel assured they are ready for the latest and greatest. While it may not be the most powerful chip in the range, Intel has built the ideal chip for anyone looking for a new gaming experience, while they look for the ideal graphics card to make all their gaming dreams come true. Move over Ryzen 5600X, Intel is here to claim the midrange crown.