Intel fights back against AMD with a price cut for its popular Core i5-9400F budget CPU

Intel Comet Lake
(Image credit: Intel)

We’ve seen Intel respond to AMD’s highly competitive high-end desktop chips recently with pricing truly slashed on Cascade Lake-X processors, but there’s also been a response in the budget arena, with Intel dropping the prices of its 9th-generation F and KF-Series chips.

That includes the popular Core i5-9400F which is a tempting choice to build a budget gaming PC around, being a nicely affordable CPU with six-cores (six-threads) capable of turbo to 4.1GHz.

It drops the inclusion of integrated graphics – or rather disables the iGPU, which obviously isn’t a problem if you have a discrete graphics card anyway – and is thus sold a bit more cheaply than the standard i5-9400 by retailers.

And it should become even cheaper, now, with Intel dropping the recommended price in the US from $182 to $157. Online pricing is already less than Intel’s recommendation, and generally pitched around the $140 to $150 mark in the US (and about the same in UK pounds) – so hopefully we will see the results of this 14% price cut filter through to online retailers in short order, making the Core i5-9400F even more tempting.

And indeed boosting its appeal in the face of budget CPU challengers from AMD, namely the AMD Ryzen 5 3500X and 3500 which are allegedly set to be released imminently.

Cuts through the range

Of course, as we mentioned at the outset, the price cuts apply not just to this popular model, but to all 9th-Generation F and KF-Series processors – F-Series meaning there are no integrated graphics, and KF being the same deal except these processors are unlocked (so they can be overclocked).

At the top-end, this means that Intel’s Core i9-9900KF 8-core CPU capable of 5GHz boost will be reduced slightly from a recommended price of $488 to $463, a somewhat less impressive discount – but still something.

Want to see all the relevant 9th-gen CPUs in a handy-dandy table? Oh, go on then – the following list shows the chips in question with their old price, followed by the new (obviously reduced) price:

  • Core i9-9900KF: $488 - $463
  • Core i7-9700KF: $374 - $349
  • Core i5-9600KF: $262 - $237
  • Core i3-9350KF: $173 - $148
  • Core i7-9700F: $323 - $298
  • Core i5-9500F: $192 - $167
  • Core i5-9400F: $182 - $157
  • Core i3-9100F: $122 - $97

Theoretically (and stingily), Intel never applied a discount to these CPUs which ditch integrated graphics, but retailers have done so. These chips weren’t designed to be a value proposition, but rather to help Intel deal with stock shortages, by making use of chips which would otherwise have been binned (and we mean literally binned) due to having faulty integrated GPUs.

By disabling the GPU, Intel can then sell these processors, which work otherwise identically to the functional GPU models.

However, these chips have proved popular enough – or indeed perhaps needed enough – to be adopted into Intel’s long-term strategy, because as Tom’s Hardware reports, the plan is to produce F-Series processors going forward. So we will see these products with 10th-gen desktop CPUs which are set to be released next year.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).