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Intel’s 13th Generation processors are here and looking to make a splash in the market. The new i9 13900K, the company’s flagship model, is a beastly CPU, but the Intel Core i5–13600K CPU offers fantastic value, especially for people looking to improve their current rig. Featuring many of the best features of its bigger brother but with fewer cores and a more svelte price tag, the 13600K feels like a chip tailor-made for gamers looking to buy the best computer possible that won’t break the bank.

The Intel Core i9–13600K CPU is an impressive mid-range offering, with 14 cores, 20 threads, and clock speeds of up to 5.1GHz. It is built on Intel’s 7 nm process and its x86 performance hybrid architecture and offers best-in-class performance thanks to the combination of P-cores and E-cores. In addition, the Thread Director inside the CPU ensures that all threads run on the correct cores for optimal performance.

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Last year, Intel employed a similar strategy for its 12th Gen chips. This approach is not too dissimilar from what we see in the ARM mobile SoC space from Qualcomm and Apple. Rather than overcrowding new chips with power-hungry cores, this P-core/E-core split is more efficient.

However, it is worth noting that these 13th Gen chips now consume more power in max turbo mode than their Alder Lake predecessors, although thankfully, the Core i5–13600K is not quite as power-hungry as its bigger brother. While it still has the TDP of 125 W, it only sees it hit 181 W at the top speeds, this is compared to the 240+ W of the i9–13900K.

Much like the Intel Core i9–13900K CPU, the Core i5–13600K benefits from the new features the 13th Gen processors bring to the table, including PCIe Gen 5.0, which allows for up to 16 lanes to be utilized off the processor. This is a much higher number than in previous generations. Additionally, there is support for DDR5–5600 and DDR5–5200. These are, again, both huge improvements. And for those who want to stay with DDR4 for now, that’s still an option — compatibility for DDR4 is still maintained by Intel. Finally, L3 and L2 cache have both been increased, giving you even more speed and power.

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Intel is targeting all types of PC builders with its pricing for the 13th Gen range of processors, from enthusiasts to those just looking for an upgrade. Things are a bit pricier compared to last year’s range, with everything under the 13900K getting slightly higher prices than their 12th Gen counterparts. The top-of-the-line Core i9–13900K has an MSRP of $589 USD, while the mid-range Core i5–13600K costs $319 USD.

Even though this is not cheap by any stretch, Intel has managed to be slightly cheaper than the flagship Ryzen 9 7950X at $699, and with the performance boost Intel has brought to this generation, it is an exciting time to be a PC gamer or content creator. The 13th Gen also can use the same motherboards as Alder Lake, so they are an easy upgrade path should you want to get extra frames in your games or creative software of choice.

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As we did with the i9–13900K, we ran every test on our current test bench featuring an ASUS ROG Maximus Hero Z690 mainboard, 850 Watt Gigabyte PSU, 64GB DDR5 SK hynix 4800 RAM for stability and speed, Seagate FireCuda 530 1TB SSD, and the ASUS ROG Strix AMD Radeon RX 6700 GPU. The system is running Windows 11 with all the latest patches in all tests, and all games and software are updated to the latest version before any benchmarks are run.

Starting things off with our CPU-Z tests, we see the Core i5–13600K trails the Core i9–13900K, and still beat out most other chips in our tests for single-core performance. It also beat out the 7700X in multicore and even compares very well to last year’s flagship from intel, the i9–12900K, making it an impressive offering, especially at the affordable entry price. As we said in our Intel Core i9–13900K CPU review, synthetic benchmarks only tell part of the story, but give a solid baseline to start with.

Jumping over to our Cinebench r23 tests, the Core i5–13600K manages to show incredibly impressive results, beating out the AMD Ryzen 7700X by almost 4000 points, making it extremely impressive, considering how well we viewed the AMD offering not even a month ago. It is even in striking distance from last year’s flagship, the i9–12900K, and decimates the 13,010 seen with Intel’s Core i5–12600K, a chip we found to be an amazing value at the time.

In our gaming tests, this CPU manages to do incredibly well, especially in games that are not dependent on multi-core workloads to perform at their best. Everything from Fortnite to Civilization VI demonstrated fantastic results, delivering significant improvements year-over-year compared to 12th Gen, and even managed to deal a major blow to the mid-range offerings from AMD Ryzen. As with the Core i9–13900K, there are a few outliers, but that is due to the video card, and not the CPU, with the AMD RX 6700 XT being the bottleneck for performance.

The i9–13600K performed better in our blender tests than the i9–12600K from last year, and scored much higher than the mid-range offerings from AMD. In all Adobe software tests, the i9–13600K delivered great results, exceeding our expectations for an iterative year from Intel. Raptor Lake is a clear improvement from previous offerings and is sure to be a popular choice for anyone looking to upgrade their equipment.

If you are like me, you want the best possible part no matter the downside, but with the 13th Gen, Intel has made a real case for sticking with the mid-range unless you really need the power. With a top out of the box speed of 5.1GHz and a max power draw of 181 W, the Core i5–13600K is a CPU that delivers performance without hurting the power bill or the cooler. The chip managed to be much less demanding on our system in our tests while still delivering incredible performance.

The Intel Core i5–13600K CPU is the perfect chip to pair with a new Nvidia 4080 or 4090, bringing the needed CPU power while saving the headroom for your CPU and saving some money in the process. With the top speed, and Intel’s new 7 nm process and hybrid architecture, there are very few things you can’t achieve with a CPU that costs half what AMD is asking for their flagship 7950X. Intel has outdone themselves, giving gamers more ways to achieve amazing performance without breaking the bank.

This content was originally published here.



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Brendan Frye

EIC at CGMagazine (@CGMagonline), Veteran of the field with more then 10 years experience. Also Publisher at Nuada Press.