AMD Ryzen 5 5600 vs Intel Core i5-12400F
With the launch of the Ryzen 5 5600, AMD has finally lowered the price of Zen 3 to just $200. By dropping the X, AMD has also knocked 200MHz off the boost clock, so as things stand, the 5600X $230 and the newer non-X version comes in at $200 MSRP which is 13% off.
On the Intel front, the Core i5-12400F currently sells for $180, so it’s cheaper than the 5600, but we’ll be looking at motherboard prices towards the end of this GPU scaling benchmark test.
Since the 5600 is an unlocked CPU, it should be able to achieve 5600X-like performance via overclocking, and we’re talking about a 5% difference in clock frequency out of the box anyway. That said, we won’t go into overclocking in this review.
The idea here is to compare the Ryzen 5 5600 and Core i5-12400F in a range of games at 1080p and 1440p using four GPU layers. To keep it simple, we chose the GeForce RTX 3060, RTX 3070, RTX 3080 12GB and RTX 3090 Ti.
Both CPUs were tested in their default configuration, the only exception being XMP, which is loaded, and we enabled Resizable BAR on both platforms. Furthermore, the same 32 GB DDR4-3200 CL14 dual-rank memory is used for both platforms and the exact same graphics cards are used. Now let’s get to the results…
Starting with God of War at 1080p, we find that both CPUs allow for the same level of performance with all four GeForce GPUs. The game has a frame cap of 160 fps and this was achieved with the RTX 3070 and above while the RTX 3060 was good at around 100 fps and this was with the highest quality settings enabled so this is a well optimized title that looks great .
Jumping to 1440p makes God of War more GPU-bound, so while we can’t quite hit the 160fps cap with the RTX 3080 12GB, there’s still no real difference in performance between these two budget CPUs as the game is now heavily GPU bound.
Next up we have Cyberpunk 2077. The Core i5 enjoys a slight performance advantage in this title, beating the R5 5600 by a margin of up to 11% at 1080p when using the RTX 3090 Ti and RTX 3080 12GB.
The average frame rate margin was reduced to just 3% with the 3070, but the Intel CPU was 12% faster when looking at the 1% lows. Falling back to the 3060, the game becomes heavily GPU-limited and now both CPUs are limited to the same level of performance.
Increasing the resolution increases the GPU bottleneck and now we’re looking at comparable performance up to the RTX 3080 with identical performance to the 3070 and 3060. The 12400F stretched its legs a bit with the RTX 3090 Ti, by up to 8% better performance as it pushed up to 105 fps.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider shows up to 10% performance advantage over the 12400F, seen with the RTX 3080. Oddly, the margin has been reduced to 6% with the RTX 3090 Ti, but I wonder if we’ll run into an Ampere architectural bottleneck at this low resolution. Anyway, the Intel CPU was faster with these high-end GPUs, while we saw the exact same performance with the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060.
Of course increasing the resolution increases the GPU load and thus shifts performance more towards the GPU, so frame rates are identical with the RTX 3080, 3070 and 3060. The 12400F was up to 7% faster with the RTX 3090 Ti, seen when looking at the 1% lows, but you can’t expect a difference between these two CPUs at 4K, even with the 3090 Ti.
Hitman 3 even runs into a hard CPU bottleneck at 1080p with the RTX 3070. The Zen 3 architecture is limited to about 154 fps and Alder Lake 158 fps. Interestingly, even with the RTX 3060, we find that Alder Lake is a few frames faster and this was seen consistently in our Hitman 3 tests.
The move to 1440p increases the GPU bottleneck and now we see virtually no difference between these two CPUs, even with the RTX 3090 Ti.
The Riftbreaker has turned out to be a terrible title for AMD. We see a pretty strong CPU bottleneck here with the Ryzen 5 5600, even with the RTX 3070, where the 12400F was up to 27% faster when looking at the 1% low data. That margin grew with the 3080 and 3090 Ti, and the Intel CPU was up to 34% faster, which is a huge performance margin.
Even at 1440p, the 12400F had a commanding lead, although this was only seen with the RTX 3080 and 3090 Ti, it was still up to 33% faster, which is a significant margin.
Moving on to Horizon Zero Dawn, when using the RTX 3060 and 3070, we find that the game is heavily CPU constrained and delivers the same performance with the Core i5 or Ryzen 5 processor. With the faster 3080 and 3090 Ti, the 5600 is 9-10% faster than the Core i5 competition, so a decent performance advantage for AMD.
That margin shrunk to 5% at 1440p on the RTX 3090 Ti, while we see virtually no difference on the 3080 and not really on the 3070 and 3060 either.
Then we have F1 2021, where the 12400F delivered stronger performance with the more expensive GPUs. For example, the RTX 3090 Ti saw a 16% improvement to 1% lows with the Core i5 portion and a 7% increase over the average frame rate.
That margin was reduced to 10% for the 1% lows with the RTX 3080 and just 4% for the average frame rate. Then we look at basically identical performance with the RTX 3070 and 3060.
Jumping to 1440p narrowed the margins and it’s only the RTX 3090 Ti data where we see a fair difference in performance, the average frame rate was similar but the 12400F was 14% faster when looking at the 1% lows.
In Rainbow Six Extraction, both CPUs are competitive and offer basically the same gaming experience. By the time we got to the RTX 3080, the game was fully CPU bound, hitting 300 fps. As you’d expect, the 1440p data is very similar, although we’re completely GPU bound this time around.
Far Cry 6 is a big supporter of the Intel i5-12400F, delivering up to 13-14% more performance, seen with the RTX 3080 and 3090 Ti. When using the slower GPUs there is little to no performance difference.
Increasing the resolution to 1440p narrows the margin with the RTX 3080 and 3090 Ti to 7%-8%, and of course we’re looking at no change in performance when using the RTX 3070 and 3060.
9 game average
Here’s a look at the average frame rates, calculated using the geometric. We’ll start with the 1080p results where the 12400F was 8% faster when comparing 1% lows and 5% faster for the average frame rate. Not huge margins, but the Alder Lake CPU was generally faster. We’re also looking at similar margins with the RTX 3080, so for high frame rate gaming, the 12400F seems like the better option.
Falling back to the RTX 3070 narrowed the margins, especially for the average frame rate and for the 1% lows, the 12400F was 6% faster. Not a huge difference by any means, but for those using lower quality settings in an effort to maximize frame rates, perhaps for competitive gaming, the 12400F is the way to go.
With the RTX 3060, the performance is identical. That said, if you’re going to be gaming with an RTX 3060 or RX 6600 XT at 1080p with medium quality settings, the margin will open in Intel’s favor, albeit by a very small margin.
Moving to 1440p shows that there is not a huge difference between these two CPUs when diving below 140 fps, and at about 100 fps there is no difference. The 12400F doesn’t jump forward by a remarkable margin until you start pushing over 140fps, and even then it was only up to 9% faster with the RTX 3090 Ti.
That’s how the Ryzen 5 5600 and Core i5-12400F compare in 9 games at 1080p and 1440p using four tiers of GeForce GPUs. As you’d expect, they’re mostly even, though the Intel CPU is a bit faster, and it’s worth noting that of the 9 games tested, AMD took the lead in Horizon Zero Dawn only.
The 12400F dominated on games that rely heavily on the primary thread and that doesn’t just mean games like Far Cry 6. The Riftbreaker, for example, makes heavy use of modern CPUs, spreading the load across many cores, but like most games, it’s still relies heavily on single core performance as the primary thread is hit the hardest, and this can give the 12400F a significant performance advantage.
Usually, the best result for the Ryzen 5 5600 will be the same or similar performance as what was seen in Rainbow Six Extraction and God of War. How much performance difference depends of course on the game and the quality settings used. If you’re going to be using the highest quality settings your GPU can handle with a 60-90 fps target, there won’t be a noticeable difference between these CPUs, and probably will be well into the future.
However, if you’re more interested in high refresh rate gaming — 144+ fps — then the 12400F will often prove to be the better option, with up to 33% more performance seen in The Riftbreaker in the most extreme cases.
In short, for casual gamers, it doesn’t matter which of these CPUs you choose. For competitive gamers, we recommend the Core i5-12400F… but before we get too deep into recommendations, let’s take a look at the prices.
As noted earlier, the Ryzen 5 5600 costs $200, while the Core i5-12400F is slightly more affordable at $180. The other factor to consider is the motherboard price.
The best value B660 board in my opinion is the MSI B660M-A Pro, which currently costs $150 for the Wi-Fi version, $140 for the non-WiFi model, and the equivalent AMD B550 board would be the B550. -A Pro, which also costs $150, although that board doesn’t have a Wi-Fi option. That means if you want to pair one of these processors with a decent spec board, the price will be about the same at ~$150.
If you want the absolute cheapest motherboard available for the corresponding platforms, we’d buy the MSI B660M-A Pro on the front of the B660 for $140. For AMD B550, however, you can go as low as the Gigabyte B550M DS3H for $ 100. It’s certainly not a great board, but it works. The MSI B550M Pro-VDH WiFi is also decent at $120. Those small savings mean Intel or AMD costs relatively the same in this price segment.
In that scenario, the Core i5-12400F with a decent B660 board seems like the best choice for those upgrading their platform or building a new PC. The most ideal path for the Ryzen 5 5600 would be if you already have a solid AM4 board, meaning the 5600 would be a drop-in CPU upgrade.
The advantage of the Intel LGA 1700 platform is that it will support a different CPU generation, so if you were to buy the 12400F now, it’s conceivable that upgrading to a Raptor Lake Core i7 would be beneficial in the future, provided that you have a decent B660. board now. The R5 5600 is limited this generation to the Zen 3 CPUs we already have, and the upcoming Ryzen 5 5800X3D.