The Intel Core i5 13600K is another powerful mid-range chip from Intel, and you can expect a significant boost in core counts even with this more parsimoniously priced Raptor Lake chip. Fine-tuned to deliver high gaming frame rates, this is ultimately the chip that most gamers should consider first for their next gaming PC.
Core i5 13600K specs
Cores (P+E): 6+8
L3 Cache (Smart Cache): 24MB
L2 Cache: 20MB
Maximum P-core turbo frequency (GHz): 5.1
Maximum E-core turbo frequency (GHz): 3.9
P-core base frequency (GHz): 3.5
E-core base frequency (GHz): 2.6
Maximum PCIe lanes: 20
Graphics: UHD Graphics 770
Memory support (up to): DDR5 5600MT/s, DDR4 3200MT/s
Basic processor power (W): 125
Maximum Turbo Power (W): 181
The fundamental hybrid architecture found in the Core i5 13600K is a continuation of that introduced with Alder Lake and the 12th Gen, but with Raptor Lake there have been some key improvements. I go into those in more detail in our Core i9 13900K review (opens in a new tab)but this is the headline update: more cores.
The Core i5 13600K is a 14-core processor, consisting of six Hyper-Threaded Performance cores (P-cores) and eight Efficient cores (E-cores), for a total of 20 threads. That’s four more E-cores than this chip’s predecessor, the Core i5 12600K (opens in a new tab), but don’t be fooled by the tiny name and silicon footprint of the E-cores. Those four extra cores make for a significant increase in multi-threaded performance.
The chip makes light work of Blender’s Junk Shop benchmark, putting down significantly faster samples per minute than the Core i5 12600K it replaces. The Core i5 13600K is also 37% faster than the Core i5 12600K in the synthetic Cinebench R23 benchmark. But the even more surprising statistic is that the Core i5 13600K is just 12% shy of the Intel Core i9 12900K’s multithreading score. (opens in a new tab).
The Core i5 13600K’s single-threaded Cinebench score? Exactly the same as a Core i9 12900K, actually.
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Okay, real-world performance won’t see the Core i5 13600K match the Core i9 12900K in every respect, but it really delivers something similar in gaming for a lot less money.
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Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi
Storage: 2TB Sabrent Rocket 4.0 Plus
Cooler: Asus ROG Ryujin II
PSU: Gigabyte Aorus P1200W
Motherboard: ASRock X670E Taichi
Storage: 1TB WD Black SN850
Cooler: Corsair H100i RGB
PSU: NZXT 850W
Memory: G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo DDR5-6000 CL30 2x 16GB
Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 3080 10GB
In three out of six games I tested, the Core i5 13600K matched the pace of the Core i9 12900K. In one of those three, it actually outperforms the Core i9 chip. That’s Civ 6, which has definitely become a bit of a stepping stone for the latest generation of processors from Intel and AMD. But it’s no less great showing for the much cheaper CPU.
Speaking of AMD, the Core i5 13600K looks increasingly impressive against the competition. The Core i5 13600K beats the AMD Ryzen 7 7700X (opens in a new tab) in all but a single game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and it doesn’t stop more productivity/creative workloads, like Blender and x264. The mix of P-cores and E-cores seems to be a joy against even the homogenous, and still powerful, core design of Zen 4.
Even when it comes to power efficiency, which isn’t usually Intel’s forte, the Core i5 13600K’s more sensible clock speeds and core counts make for a much more efficient chip. It’s relatively similar in terms of power draw in our x264 benchmark to the Ryzen 7 7700X, and it generally doesn’t run as hot as the competition for that performance. That said, it pulls more from the wall than its predecessor, the Core i5 12600K. Compared to the Core i9 13900K, however, it’s almost in constant eco-mode.
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The Core i5 13600K is much better for its price against the competition and against the 12th Gen. It is listed with a $319.00—$329.00 suggested retail price. Now, that’s a great price for this kind of performance, but I should mention that it may or may not exactly materialize on launch day. The shelf price may be higher than that. But the thing to consider is that AMD seems to have very little answer to this chip with the existing Ryzen 7000 series lineup on either side.
It would take a significant price cut to make the Ryzen 7 7700X the chip to buy at this price, and if the 7700X can’t do it, the Ryzen 5 7600X can’t either. Although the Ryzen 5 7600X is cheaper at $299, and so far there isn’t a Raptor Lake chip under $300, so I’m not ruling out the cheaper option entirely here.
Intel also has the holistically cheaper chip in the Core i5 13600K. I suspect some builders will find a way to spend a lot of cash on their motherboard and RAM, instead of taking the cheap 600 series/DDR4 option, but if you wanted to, you could save a lot of money on Intel’s 600 series. chipsets and more affordable RAM versus AMD’s newer and generally more expensive AM5 chipsets and DDR5 memory.
That price difference may not remain for the lifetime of these chips, but at launch it’s certainly a factor to consider. Both companies should have cheaper CPUs and chipsets available early next year to make life easier for budget builders, anyway.
We see again that the best gaming chip comes from the lower rungs of the stack with Raptor Lake. The Core i5 13600K delivers exceptional gaming in a reasonably priced package, delivering just a handful of frames less than the processors that fetch twice the asking price. For a gaming PC built in 2022/23, this is absolutely the chip I would recommend to most.
But I would go one more than that. The inclusion of four additional E-cores turns this processor into a 14-core chip with the multi-threaded performance to deliver in high-demand applications, making it great for streaming, content creation, editing and more. The Core i5 13600K is much more of an all-around powerhouse than I expected it to be.
So, if the supply remains constant and the price sticks to the recommended figure, this is a shoe-in for the overall best CPU in 2022, and probably a good part of 2023 as well.