At $319, the Intel Core i5-14600K is the most affordable 14th gen Raptor Lake refresh CPU to launch this week, and it costs less than both the Ryzen 7 7700X and Ryzen 7 7800X3D. However, unlike the Core i7-14700K, it doesn’t offer a core count increase over its predecessor and has only a modest clock speed increase, making it a hard sell in the currently highly competitive gaming CPU market.
We’ve been impressed with quite a few generations of Core i5 K-series CPUs from Intel, especially those since its gradual core count increases from the 8th gen series. However, it was the Core i5-12600K that really stepped up to the challenge of taking on AMD’s mid-range Ryzen CPUs, which often offered better content creation and multi-threaded performance for similar or less cash. In addition, it was also a capable gaming CPU and a good match for mid-range and high-end graphics cards.
Under the hood of the 14600K, then, is a refreshed version of Intel’s Raptor Lake architecture, which is the successor to the original Alder Lake architecture in the company’s 12th gen CPUs. It brought increased core counts to the 13th gen series, but for the 14th gen products Intel has only increased the core count of the Core i7-14700K. As such, the Core i5-14600K has exactly the same core count and makeup of P-cores and E-cores as the Core i5-13600K with six of the former and eight of the latter, bringing a total of 20 threads.
In lightly-threaded workloads you’ll see a peak boost frequency of 5.3GHz while the Core i5-13600K could only hit 5.1GHz, with a 100MHz being added to the E-core boost frequency too. Underneath the heatspreader is a CPU die featuring the Intel 7 manufacturing process, which is essentially 10nm – a far cry from the 5nm of AMD Zen 4 chips. Intel quotes a maximum turbo power of 181W, which is 70W less than the Core i9-14900K, but in reality the CPU draws significantly less power than that chip under load.
The Core i5-14600K is backwards compatible with 600 and 700-series LGA1700 motherboards as well as being compatible with DDR4 and DDR5 memory, so owners of 12th gen CPUs are in luck given the lifespan of LGA1700 was due to end with the 13th gen launch. However, Intel cancelled its plans to launch a desktop version of its Meteor Lake architecture this year, instead offering a third generation of CPUs for the socket and moving to the Arrow Lake architecture in 2024 along with a new CPU socket and DDR5 memory requirement.
You’ll be able to transplant DDR4 memory from older Intel or AMD systems and LGA1700 motherboards are generally cheaper than their AMD Socket AM5 equivalents, but it has at least a couple of generations to come and a longer life span. Still, if you need an upgrade now and don’t intend to splash out on a new CPU for three or four years, LGA1700 and a 14th gen CPU are potentially worth considering.
At Custom PC, we’ve been reviewing the latest CPUs since 2003, and we’ve tested and overclocked hundreds of CPUs, going right back to the Pentium 4 and Athlon XP era. We’ve developed an expert testing methodology that covers all the key areas of performance, including single-threaded and multi-threaded performance, as well as gaming.
Our benchmarks include our very own RealBench suite, which has a Handbrake H.264 video encoding test to gauge multi-threaded performance, as well as multi-tasking tests. We also now run an Adobe Photoshop benchmark using Procyon, which also tests with Lightroom.
We also use the single and multi-threaded tests in Cinebench, and we test gaming performance with Far Cry 6, Forza Horizon 5, and Watch Dogs: Legion. For our game tests, we record the 99th percentile and average frame rates, and finally, we also measure the idle and load total system power draw at the wall while running Prime95’s smallest FFT test with AVX disabled. For a full rundown of our CPU testing procedure, check out our How we test page.
The 14600K’s handbrake video encoding score of 1,060,803 is only just ahead of the Core i5-13600K’s score of 1,007,394, so it’s definitely not worth upgrading from that CPU for this sort of usage. However, it is 40% faster than the Core i5-12600K thanks to additional cores and higher frequencies. It was also enough to beat the Ryzen 7 7700X and Ryzen 7 7800X3D convincingly and even enough to better the Core i9-12900K.
AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs were all quicker in the Procyon combined Lightroom and Photoshop test, but again the Core i5-14600K was able to outperform the Core i9-12900K.
Intel Core i5-14600K Cinebench performance
Things swung back in Intel’s favour in Cinebench with the multi-threaded core score of 24,020 being higher than all AMD CPUs except the much more expensive Ryzen 9 models. It was a couple of thousand points Short of the Core i9-12900K, so easily outperforming the Core i5-12600K, but again it was only a small amount faster than the Core i5-13600K.
The single-thread score of 2,041 was higher than the Core i9-12900K and a little over the Core i5-13600K too, while matching AMD’s best result achieved with the Ryzen 9 7950X.
Intel Core i5-14600K gaming performance
In the majority of our game tests, the Core i5-14600K was more than a match for the Ryzen 7 7700X, beating it in Far Cry 6 and Forza Horizon 5, but the AMD CPU was quicker in Watch Dogs: Legion. The Core i5-14600K was also noticeably quicker overall than the Core i9-12900K.
The 14600K’s real nemesis, though, is the Ryzen 7 7800X3D, which while more expensive, does see its 3D V-Cache provide massive boosts to frame rates. It was faster than the Core i5-14600K in all our game tests with a particularly huge advantage in Watch Dogs: Legion with an average frame rate of 192fps compared to just 135fps for the Intel CPU, although this was admittedly an exceptional result that wasn’t mirrored elsewhere.
The massive power draw of the Core i9-14900K is thankfully not present with the Core i5-14900K. Instead, it sat at 312W for the whole system’s power consumption while running the Cinebench multi-threaded test.
Gamers will want to note the Ryzen 7 7800X3D draw just 193W in the same situation while the Ryzen 7 7700X was also more power frugal by nearly 40W.
Intel Core i5-14600K boosting and temperatures
The Core i5-14600K was relatively easy to cool at default settings with a 240mm liquid cooler, only just topping 80°C under sustained multi-threaded workloads of a minute or more then levelling off.
It was much cooler in games where it generally wasn’t taxed as much. We regularly saw the maximum 5.3GHz applied across all Performance cores too with the Efficient cores sitting at 4GHz.
- Good all-round performance
- Often quicker than Core i9-12900K in games and lightly-threaded tasks
- Faster than the Ryzen 7 7700X in most tests
- Ryzen 7 7800X3D is faster in games
- Not a worthwhile upgrade from the Core i5-13600K
- No upgrade path
|Base frequency||3.5GHz (P-Cores), 2.6GHz (E-Core)|
|Max boost frequency||5.3GHz (P-Cores), 4GHz (E-Cores)|
|Manufacturing process||Intel 7 (10nm)|
|Number of cores||6 P-Core, 8 E-Core|
|Number of threads||20|
|Memory controller||Dual-channel DDR5 and DDR4|
|Thermal design power (TDP)||125W (Max Turbo Power 181W)|
|Features||Application Performance Optimisation, Thread Director, AES, AVX, AVX2, AVX512, FMA3, MMX(+), SHA, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, SSE4A, SSSE3|
The Intel Core i5-14600K price is $319, making it much more affordable than the Core i9-14900K, and lower-price than the Ryzen 7 7700X and Ryzen 7 7800X3D. It’s also barely any more expensive than the Core i5-13600K, which is just as well as the difference between the two is minimal.
Price: Expect to pay $319 / £325
The main issue with the Core i5-14600K is that it barely offers any benefit over the Core i5-13600K. The differences are so small that you question its release at all. A core count increase would have been very welcome here if it were possible as would higher clock speeds, especially as the Core i7-14700K is so much more powerful with its E-core upgrade.
If the difference is only $20-30, we’d probably get the Core i5-14600K over the Core i5-13600K just because it is a little faster plus it likely has better resale value down the road.
However, that’s if you’re coming from a low to mid-range 12th Gen CPU of course. Owners of older Intel and AMD CPUs, while they’d be massively outclassed by the Core i5-14600K in most situations, should be aware of the non-existent upgrade path for Intel’s LGA1700.
Instead, consider the Ryzen 7 7800X3D for a gaming system, or hold on to your hardware until 2024 with new AMD and Intel CPUs on the horizon. If you’re desperate for a pre-Christmas upgrade, though, and want to be able to transplant your existing DDR4 memory and have found a cheap LGA1700 motherboard the 14600K is a decent option.
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A worthwhile option for low and mid-range 12th gen CPU owners, but unless you’re desperate for an affordable upgrade, we’d suggest looking to AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs or waiting to see what 2024 has in store.