Is Intel Core i5 Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i5 processors are generally considered the golden standard for gamers. In terms of performance, they sit right in the middle echelon of Intel’s performance hierarchy, but they have just the correct type of specs that most contemporary AAA games use.

As such, as far as the question of value for money goes for gaming PC builds, Intel Core i5s are considered the reigning kings. So the answer to the question” “is Intel Core i5 good for gaming”?” is a resounding yes.

The reason is simple. They have just the right amount of cores, threads, and clock speed that most contemporary games demand.

Whereas an Intel Core i3 can produce potential bottlenecks for a high-end graphics card with its quad-core configuration and an Intel Core i7 is overkill for most games, the Intel Core i5 is positioned perfectly in the gaming market.

In the following article, I will explore this topic in detail and discuss why the Intel Core i5 is great for gaming.

Intel Core i5 and Its Position in the Intel Hierarchy

Intel Core i5 sits conveniently right in the middle of Intel’s performance hierarchy:

  • Intel Celeron – The Weakest
  • Intel Pentium
  • Intel Core i3
  • Intel Core i5
  • Intel Core i7
  • Intel Core i9 – The Strongest

While the Intel Core i7 and Core i9 are often designated for high-performance computing for professional work, the i5 in the center offers the best value and performance.

It should be noted, however, that the difference between i3, i5, i7, and i9 is often just the number of cores. The performance PER core is generally the same across the series.

Meaning the multi-core performance scales with the number of cores the processors has, which brings us to the following point:

Single-Core vs. Multi-Core Performance

Single-core and Multi-core scores are essential metrics to gauge a given CPU’s performance.

These are generally determined by popular benchmarks such as the Passmark or the Cinebench R15, R20, and R23.

Core i7 vs Core i5 single core r20
i5 vs. i7 Single Core Performance Scores

You can see here that single-core performance in any given generation for Intel Core i5 and Core i7 is almost the same, indicating that for the application highly reliant on single-core performance, the i5 is practically the same as the Core i7s.

Most editing apps, as well as many eSports titles, are highly reliant on the Single-Core performance of a CPU.

Core i7 vs Core i5 multi core r20 w
i5 vs. i7 Multi-Core Performance Scores

The i7s have the edge over the i5s because i7s have more cores in any given generation.

Multi-core performance only matters for apps and games that do utilize a high number of cores.

Game streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube live is a task that requires a high number of cores.

So unless you are a game streamer, you would not benefit from many cores.

I talk about how many cores games generally need below, but for more details, I recommend a separate article:

Read: Do Games Use Multiple Cores?

How Many Cores Does an Intel Core i5 Have?

The number of CPU cores isn’t precisely a measure of a CPU’s performance. However, it can give you an insight into where it stands within a given generation. For instance, when gauging the arrangement between an Intel Core i5-12600K and an Intel Core i5-12700K, the number of cores would be deciding factor.

The following table shows the number of cores in the FLAGSHIP CPUs of different Intel series and their generation.

12th Gen
11th Gen
10th Gen
Intel Celeron2/2NA2/2
Intel Pentium2/4NA2/4
Intel Core i34/8NA4/8
Intel Core i510/166/126/12
Intel Core i712/208/168/16
Intel Core i916/248/1610/20

You can see from the table above that the flagship Intel Core i5 from the 12th Generation, the Core i5 12600K, has whopping 10 cores and 16 threads.

While lower than the core count on i7 and i9s, the number of cores in i5 is still overkill for MOST AAA games.

Also Read:

Latest Intel Core i5 Models and Their Performance / Dollar Value

The following table lists the 12th Gen Intel Core i5 CPUs and compares them with the 12th Gen Core i3 and i7 CPUs regarding their corresponding Passmark scores, MSRP, and performance/dollar value.

CPU Passmark Score
Intel Core i3
(4c/8t) | 4.3 GHz
14531 $122 119
Intel Core i3
(4/8t) | 4.4 GHz
14955 $143 104
Intel Core i5
(6c/12t) | 4.9 GHz
19550 $192 101
Intel Core i5
(10c/16t) | 4.9 GHz
27546 $289 95
Intel Core i7
(12c/20t) | 4.9 GHz
31389 $339 92
Intel Core i7
(12c/20t) | 5.0 GHz
34450 $419 82

You can see from the table above that the Intel Core i5 sits conveniently in the middle in terms of performance.

Also Read: Is Intel Core i3 Good for Gaming?

Note: The Generation of the i5 Processor Matters At Any Given Time

It should be noted that when considering whether the Intel Core i5 is good for gaming, you must also consider the CPU’s generation.

There is a world of difference in performance between a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 and a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 despite being only a generation apart.

For instance, the Intel Core i5 10600K, the flagship i5 CPU from the 10th Gen, has a Passmark score of 14,531, and the 12th gen flagship CPU, the Intel Core i5 12600K, has a score of a whopping 27,546.

So if you ask me whether Intel Core i5s from the 7th generation or the 8th generation are good for gaming or not, the answer will most probably be no, they are not.

Also Read: How is Processor Speed Measured?

So Is Intel Core i5 Good for Gaming?

If talking about the newer generation, i.e., 10th, 11th, and particularly the 12th Core i5 CPUs, then yes, an Intel Core i5 is not just great but far exceeds the current gaming requirements.

I will reference some performance analysis charts detailing the amount of cores the latest AAA titles use. conducts these tests.

God of War

is intel core i5 good for gaming
God of War CPU Core Count Requirement Benchmarks. Source: DSOGaming

God of Wars’ optimal core requirement is 4 cores/8 threads. So basically, the newer i3. I5 is an overkill for this game.

Halo Infinite Core count benchmark
Halo Infinite Core Count Requirement benchmark. Source: DSOGaming

It works optimally at 4 cores / 8 threads and sees diminishing results with any higher core count.

Forza Horizon 5 Core count benchmark
Forza Horizon 5 Core Count Requirement Benchmark. Source:

Crysis 3 Remastered

Crysis 3 Remastered Core count benchmark
Crysis 3 Remastered Core Count Requirement Benchmark. Source:

Crysis 3 is a heavier game like the original release and demands 6 cores / 6 threads to work optimally.

So on and so forth. You will notice that most games still use 4 cores for optimal performance. They benefit from 6 cores by a reasonable margin, but anything beyond that is excessive and offers diminishing returns.

All this indicates that an i5 is more than capable of handling modern games.

The following video also shows how a 6-core CPU can give the best results in various games.

Here, 6 cores offer the best FPS on any game, and anything beyond that provides diminishing returns.

Also Read: Difference Between Intel Celeron vs. i7

Does Intel Core i5 Have Sufficient Cores for Gaming?

As clarified above, an Intel Core i5 has more cores than most AAA games need. In fact, given the current trend and gaming generation, the amount of cores a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 should be sufficient for years to come.

Look at some of the AAA games and their recommended CPU requirements. Pay attention to the Passmark scores of the CPUs.

Cyberpunk 2077 Intel Core i5-3570K
(4 Cores / 4 Threads)
Passmark: 4915
Intel Core i7-4790
(4 Cores / 8 Threads)
Passmark: 7213
Resident Evil Village Intel Core i5-7500
(4 Cores / 4 Threads)
Passmark: 6061
Intel Core i7-8700
(6 Cores / 12 Threads)
Passmark: 13080
Watch Dog Legions Intel Core i5-4460
(4 Cores / 4 Threads)
Passmark: 4796
Intel Core i7-7700
(4 Cores / 8 Threads)
Passmark: 8621
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Intel Core i5-4460
(4 Cores / 4 Threads)
Passmark: 4796
Intel Core i7-6700
(4 Cores / 8 Threads)
Passmark: 8056
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Intel Core i5-4460
(4 Cores / 4 ThreadsAssassin’s: 4796
Intel Core i5-8400
(6 Cores / 6 Threads)
Passmark: 9216 Ideal Spec Requirements: Intel Core i7-9800X (8c/16t) (Passmark: 18366)
Elden Ring Intel Core i5-8400
(6 Cores / 6 Threads)
Passmark: 9220
Intel Core i7-8700K
(6 Cores / 12 Threads)
Passmark: 13867

Of all the games listed above, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has the most robust Recommended Requirements for a CPU, i.e., Intel Core i7-9800X, with its Passmark score of 18,366.

But the newer 12th Gen Core i5-12600K beats it considerably with its Passmark score of 27,546.

Not that recommended requirements are often based on FHD resolution and high settings. For QHD, 4K resolution, higher than 60 FPS, and for Epic graphics settings, the requirement would be higher.

Also Read:

A Good CPU is NOT a Replacement for a Dedicated Graphics Cards

Take good note of the fact that you do need to have a good dedicated graphics card to play most games.

CPUs alone are NOT sufficient for gaming.

Final Words

So is Intel Core i5 good for gaming? From the discussion, it should be pretty clear that the Intel Core i5 is just the perfect series for gaming PCs.

Unless you have particular requirements, the i5 is considered the holy grail and generally purpose-built for gamers.

They are NOT as expensive as an i7 nor as underperforming as i3s.


1. Can We Play Games With Intel Core i5?

Yes, you can play games with intel Core i5, but you must ensure that you have a good quality dedicated graphics card. It is important to remember that the integrated graphics card in the Intel Core i5 is good for games like League of Legends or DOTA.

2. Should I Buy an i5 or i7 for Gaming?

The Intel Core i5 from the newer generation isn’t sufficient for recent game titles. Most games don’t even saturate the core count of an Intel Core i5, and therefore, investing in Intel Core i7 is a waste of money. Having said that, Intel Core i7 is worth it if you’re a streamer because encoding the game streams eat your CPU cores.

3. How does the clock speed and number of cores in the Intel Core i5 affect gaming performance?

The clock speed and number of cores in the Intel Core i5 can have a significant impact on gaming performance.

Generally, a higher clock speed and more cores will result in better performance, as more processing power is available to handle the demands of modern games.

However, other factors such as GPU performance, RAM, and storage speed can also affect gaming performance, so it’s important to consider the overall system specs when choosing a processor for gaming.

4. Can I overclock my Intel Core i5 to improve gaming performance, and what are the risks involved?

Yes, you can overclock your Intel Core i5 to improve gaming performance.

Overclocking involves increasing the clock speed of your processor beyond its factory-set specifications, which can result in improved performance.

However, there are risks involved with overclocking, such as increased heat generation and potential damage to the processor.

It’s important to carefully monitor temperatures and to use a high-quality cooling system to prevent damage.

Additionally, overclocking can void your warranty and may not be supported by all motherboards or systems.

5. How can I optimize my system for gaming with an Intel Core i5 processor, and what are some best practices for getting the most out of my gaming experience?

There are several ways to optimize your system for gaming with an Intel Core i5 processor.

First, make sure your system meets the recommended requirements for the games you want to play, including having a dedicated graphics card and sufficient RAM.

Additionally, make sure your drivers are up to date and that your system is free of viruses or malware.

You can also optimize game settings to balance performance and visual quality, and consider upgrading components such as your GPU or adding an SSD for faster load times.

Finally, it’s important to keep your system clean and well-maintained, including regularly cleaning dust from the inside of your case and ensuring proper cooling for your components.

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