Intel Core i5-13600K: the best everyday CPU around

The Intel Core i5-13600K is as good a processor as you’re going to find at this price

An Intel Core i5-13600K
(Image: © Future / John Loeffler)

TechRadar Verdict

The Intel Core i5-13600K puts up some truly impressive numbers against the best competing chipmakers have to offer, making this the best processor for general users, though it is still more expensive and soaks up power like a sponge.


  • +

    Great overall performance

  • +

    Excellent price

  • +

    DDR4 and DDR5 support


  • -

    Power hungry

  • -

    Price increase over previous generation

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Intel Core i5-13600K: Two-minute review

The Intel Core i5-13600K follows up one of the top budget chips ever and manages to improve on just about everything across the board, except for the price.

When Intel announced its Raptor Lake processors, a lot of us were a bit dismayed that the price of the Core i5 went up by nearly 15% over the Intel Core i5-12600K that preceded it. That chip was arguably the best processor ever made for budget gaming PCs and those who need good performance without a whole lot of extras at a fair price.

At $329 (about £280 / AU$475), the Intel Core i5-13600K puts itself just outside of the budget class of processors. And that's a shame because otherwise, this is the best processor for the vast majority of people and even for a lot of those who tell themselves that they absolutely must have something more powerful like the Intel Core i7-13700K.

Across the general lineup of performance tests I threw at this chip, it pretty much came out on top in every one of them, beating out the competing AMD Ryzen 5 7600X and substantially outperforming the Core i5-12600K. Getting into the nitty-gritty, the Ryzen 5 7600X puts up a much better fight against the i5-13600K than I was expecting, beating the 13600K to a rough draw by the end.

That does mean that if you're looking for a budget gaming CPU, you're probably going to be better off with the Ryzen 5 7600X since you can save a bit of money in the process. But that savings can easily be gobbled up and then some by the extra cost to upgrade to DDR5 RAM, which the i5-13600K still lets you skip in favor of the aging DDR4 RAM that most people still have. So there is definitely a trade-off to be made in either case.

Ultimately though, there's just no denying that the Intel Core i5-13600K has better specs and performance at this price range, give or take a little spare change. So this is a very easy processor to recommend to just about anybody who isn't a gamer or creative professional.

Intel Core i5-13600K: Price & availability

An Intel Core i5-13600K

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • MSRP: $329 (about £280 / AU$475)
  • More expensive than competing Ryzen 5 7600X

The Intel Core i5-13600K is on sale now for $329 (about £280 / AU$475). This puts it at about 10% more expensive than the competing AMD Ryzen 5 7600X and about 14% more expensive than the Core i5-12600K.

Considering that the Intel Core i9-13900K didn't get a price increase over its 12th-gen counterpart, the price hike here is probably the biggest disappointment with this chip. Enthusiast users are used to spending the extra money to have the best right out the gate, so they could absorb some of the price inflation rather than let it fall squarely on the one chip that most people are going to use.

This is especially bad considering that AMD's competing chip is right there for a good bit less. There are performance considerations here, obviously, and we'll get to those soon. Still, at this level, the performance difference is not so great as to really justify taking the best Intel processor in the budget class and pushing it into the lower mid-range for a few extra bucks.

  • Price score: 3.5 / 5

Intel Core i5-13600K: Chipset & features

An Intel Core i5-13600K

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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Intel Core i7-13700K specs
Header Cell - Column 0 Intel Core i5-13600KAMD Ryzen 5 7600XIntel Core i5-12600K
Performance cores666
Efficiency cores804
Base Frequency (GHz)3.504.703.70
Boost Frequency (GHz)5.105.304.90
L3 Cache (MB)443829.5
TDP (W)125105125
  • Overclockable
  • Supports DDR4 and DDR5

The Intel Core i5-13600K is Intel's second-gen hybrid-core mainstream processor, following up the i5-12600K, and there have been some big improvements on the architecture side.

My test bench specs

These are the systems I used to test desktop CPU performance for both AMD and Intel systems in this review:

CPU Cooler: Cougar Poseidon GT 360 AIO
Graphics card:
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
Samsung 980 Pro SSD @ 1TB
Power Supply:
Corsair AX1000 80-Plus Titanium (1000W)
Praxis Wetbench

Intel motherboard and RAM:
MSI MPG Z690 Carbon Wifi
DDR5 RAM: 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum @ 5,200MHz & 32GB Kingston Fury Beast @ 5,200MHz 

AMD motherboard and RAM:
ASRock X670E Taichi
DDR5 RAM: 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum @ 5,200MHz & 32GB G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo @ 5,200MHz

While Intel Meteor Lake chips still use the same 10nm "Intel 7" process as the previous 12th-gen Alder Lake chips, the 13th-gen chips improve on the previous architecture in a number of key ways. 

In addition to more cache memory, there have been some improved clock speeds on the high-end, so that the i5-13600K runs slightly slower at base frequency while boosts slightly higher than the 12600K — though both Intel chips have a lower base and boost frequency than the competing AMD Ryzen 5 7600X.

In terms of core counts, the i5-13600K doubles the efficiency cores over the i5-12600K, for a total of 14 cores and 20 threads to the i5-12600K's 10 cores and 16 thread. This is also substantially more than the Ryzen 5 7600X, which is a straight six-core/12-thread chip with all its cores being full-power performance cores.

And while the rated 125W TDP for the i5-13600K remains the same as with the 12600K, it pulls substantially more power under load than its predecessor in my tests, so plan your build accordingly.

Finally, like its predecessor, the Core i5-13600K supports both PCIe 5.0 and DDR4 and DDR5 RAM, so you can either upgrade to new DDR5 RAM or stick with the best RAM of the DDR4 generation, which definitely helps defray the cost of an upgrade.  

  • Chipset & features score: 4 / 5

Intel Core i5-13600K: Performance

An Intel Core i5-13600K

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
  • Fantastic all around performance
  • Decent gaming chip
  • Low performance per watt rating

The Intel Core i5-13600K is the best processor all-around for most people right now, though that does come with a number of caveats.

Generally, the Core i5-13600K outperforms both the Core i5-12600K and Ryzen 5 7600X by a substantial amount, and while the Ryzen 5 7600X holds its own against the i5-13600K, it's a qualified success rather than a straightforward win.

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Synthetic performance
Header Cell - Column 0 Intel Core i5-13600KAMD Ryzen 5 7600XIntel Core i5-12600K
Cinebench R23 Single Core1,9981,9541,887
Cinebench R23 Multi Core24,21915,34017,486
Geekbench 5 Single Core1,9992,1411,754
Geekbench 5 Multi Core16,50311,29612,861
3DMark Time Spy CPU Test17,55510,01413,368
PCMark 108,9659,2919,109
Single Core Average1,6001,6221,456
Multi Core Average17,04110,72312,749
Average Synthetic Performance11,8738,3399,411

When it comes to synthetic performance, the Intel Core i5-13600K simply overpowers both chips with a larger number of cores, faster clocks, and raw power wattage. Overall, the Core i5-13600K performs about 42% better than the Ryzen 5 7600X and about 26% better than the Core i5-12600K.

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Creative workload performance
Header Cell - Column 0 Intel Core i5-13600KAMD Ryzen 5 7600XIntel Core i5-12600K
PugetBench for Photoshop1,3841,2881,225
PugetBench for Premiere Pro1,2219171,156
Handbrake (4K to 1080p)785967
Blender 3.0 (Monster)170115118
Blender 3.0 (Junkshop)986766
Blender 3.0 (Classroom)795456
Average Creative Performance505417448

In creative workloads, the Core i5-13600K is a great option for folks on a budget who want to dabble in some creative work like 3D rendering or photo editing. But with only six performance cores, using the best graphics card possible will be far more determinative in most cases. That said, the Core i5-13600K outperforms the Ryzen 5 7600X by about 21% and the 12600K by about 12%.

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Gaming performance
Header Cell - Column 0 Intel Core i5-13600KAMD Ryzen 5 7600XIntel Core i5-12600K
Metro: Exodus256308213
F1 2022330410302
Total War: Warhammer III Battle408356337
Dirt 5335279250
Hitman 3 Dubai371371317
Cyberpunk 2077222184179
Tiny Tina's Wonderland365377308
Shadow of the Tomb Raider255272203
Average Gaming Performance318320264

In my gaming performance tests, the Ryzen 5 7600X actually scores a technical win here, chalking up an extra 2 fps on average over the 13600K, but this might as well be a wash. The 13600K does manage a very solid improvement over its predecessor though, getting as much as 34% higher fps, but landing a solid 20% average performance improvement.

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Thermals, power, and final performance
Header Cell - Column 0 Intel Core i5-13600KAMD Ryzen 5 7600XIntel Core i5-12600K
Min Temperature (°C)2436.518
Max Temperature (°C)878665
Min Power Draw (W)1.97312.9662.415
Max Power Draw (W)204.634111.481123.950
Final Performance Average4,2323,0253,374
Average Performance per MSRP12.8610.1211.68
Average Performance per Watt20.6827.1427.22

In the end, the Core i5-13600K outperforms the Ryzen 5 7600X by about 40%, while improving on the Core i5-12600K's performance by about 25%. As far as bottom line results go, this would make this processor a slam dunk, but one thing keeps this chip from true greatness: its power consumption.

While the 13600K has the lowest minimum power draw of the three chips tested with 1.973W (an 18% lower power consumption than the 12600K's minimum of 2.415W), it also maxes out at an astonishing 204.634W, which is about 83% more power to achieve a roughly 40% better performance.

This chip also draws 65% more power than the Core i5-12600K for a roughly 25% better performance. These are hardly signs of efficiency, and it continues the exact wrong trend we saw with Intel Alder Lake. For comparison, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X has a max power draw of 211.483W, and its 3D V-Cache variant has an incredibly tight 136.414W power draw in my AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D review

So yeah, it's not hard to put up the kind of numbers that the Core i5-13600K does when Intel turns the electron firehose to full on its processor. Considering how this is the ideal chip for a budget build, that build will now have to factor in a bigger PSU than it should account for a burst of power demand from a chip "rated" for 125W. 

Is this a dealbreaker? Not yet, but if Intel thinks it can keep the top spot by just keeping its foot on the gas while AMD is making real investments in power efficiency within a single generation of processors, this won't be good for Intel in the long run.

  • Performance: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Intel Core i5-13600K?

An Intel Core i5-13600K

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)
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Intel Core i7-13700K
ValueThe 13600K comes in at a higher price point than its competitors, but its tolerable given its performance, even if Intel is pushing it here.3.5 / 5
Chipset & featuresMore cores, faster clocks, and continued DDR4 compatibility make this one a winner.4 / 5
PerformanceWhile it's raw performance is exceptional, it comes at too great a cost in terms of power consumption.4 / 5
Final scoreRow 3 - Cell 1 3.84 / 5

Buy it if...

You want the best "cheap" processor around
The performance on the Core i5-13600K makes this processor an exception value by default.

You need to use DDR4 RAM
DDR5 RAM kits are coming down in price, but they're still expensive, and this chip gives you the opportunity to stick with DDR4 for a little while longer.

Don't buy it if...

You want a true budget processor
While this processor is still pretty cheap, expecially for it's performance, if you need a truly basic processor for cheap, there are better budget chips out there for that.

Also Consider

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Intel Core i5-13500K vs its competitors
Header Cell - Column 0 Intel Core i5-13600KAMD Ryzen 5 7600XIntel Core i5-12600K
Price$329 (about £280 / AU$480)$299 (about £255 / AU$435)$289 (about £245 / AU$420)
Performance cores666
Efficiency cores804
Base Frequency (GHz)3.504.703.70
Boost Frequency (GHz)5.105.304.90
L3 Cache (MB)443829.5
TDP (W)125105125

If my Intel Core i5-13600K review has you considering other options, here are two processors to consider... 


AMD Ryzen 5 7600X
The AMD Ryzen 5 7600X is a serious contender for the best budget gaming processor currently on the market, given its attractive low price and surprisingly solid gaming performance. 

Read the full <a href="" data-link-merchant=""">AMD Ryzen 5 7600X review


Intel Core i5-12600K
The Intel Core i5-12600K isn't as powerful as the Core i5-13600K, but it's lower price and still respectable performance makes it the best Intel processor you're going to find under $300 / £250 / AU$425.

Read the full <a href="" data-link-merchant=""">Intel Core i5-12600K review

How I tested the Intel Core i5-13600K

  • I spent nearly two weeks testing the Intel Core i5-13600K
  • I ran comparable benchmarks between this chip and rival processors
  • I gamed with this chip for several days

I spent an extensive amount of time testing the Core i5-13600K over the past two weeks, including using the processor in my primary work and gaming machine at home.

In addition to general work tasks and gaming, I used the processor extensively for content creation work like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Blender 3D modeling.

I also ran an extensive battery of benchmark tests on this chip and rival CPUs a customer might consider, using as close to identical hardware as possible in order to gather sufficient comparable data to determine how the chips performed in real-life and simulated workloads.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2023

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).