When we tested the new Ryzen 5 3600, we had a lot of positive things to say and found that we compared it to the more expensive Core i5-9600K in our test. Regardless, this was a fight that AMD has largely won. Still, we've seen many requests for a direct comparison with the Core i5-9400F, which is now cheaper than ever at just $ 150.
The 9400F is the cheapest 9th generation Core i5 processor you can buy. In the past two months, it has been offered at a price of $ 150, which is approximately 15% off since launch. That also makes it 25% cheaper than the R5 3600, so price-conscious builders might consider buying Intel. Does it make sense?
To answer this, we will compare both CPUs in a number of games and applications. Both have been tested with the included box cooler – yes, the lousy box cooler from Intel works well with the 9400F and is not even loud as the locked part is very energy efficient.
We use 16 GB DDR4-3200 CL14 memory for both CPUs, which means that the 9400F has been tested on a Z390 motherboard. Given that you can buy one for just $ 120 to $ 130 these days, we haven't seen the problem. You pay similar money for a good B450 board.
The graphics card of choice was the powerful RTX 2080 Ti to reduce possible GPU bottlenecks. The latest Windows updates and drivers that were available at the time of testing were installed. Let's get to the results …
As usual, we start with Cinebench and here we see what the 9400F has to offer at high core loads, since the R5 3600 was 52% faster, which is more than an entire tier of the Core i5 processor.
A perhaps more threatening sign of the Intel 6-core processor is the single-core test. Here the R5 3600 was still 14% faster. So it's rare for you to find a productivity load that the 9400F can keep up with the 3600 by itself.
Speaking of which, we have WinRAR, a traditionally strong performance for Intel processors. However, this is no longer the case with the arrival of 3rd generation Ryzen. Here the R5 3600 was 84% faster, so pretty much shellacking there.
In the 7-Zip version, the R5 3600 was 57% faster when comparing the compression performance, and it is noteworthy that when the 3600 was 66% faster, the margin when comparing the decompression performance increased further.
Adobe Premiere shows the best performance of the Core i5 so far since the R5 3600 was 26% faster. Still a big win for AMD, but at least the margin is somewhat competitive this time.
However, with a 49% gain in the V-Ray benchmark, the R5 3600 is quickly able to destroy it again. Let's see what we can expect for our last two productivity tests.
When tested with Corona, the R5 3600 was 58% faster than the 9400F and only took 146 seconds to complete the test against the 230 seconds of the Core i5.
Finally, the Ryzen is 53% faster when running the Blender Open Data benchmark.
The Intel Core i5 9400F gets its first win. It consumed 22% less power than the R5 3600 in the Blender benchmark, although you have to keep in mind that it was also 35% slower, so performance per watt still prefers the Ryzen processor.
When we move on to game testing, we have Assassin's Creed: Odyssey first. Here the R5 3600 has increased frame rates by almost 30% over the 9400F, and I expect we'll see more results like this in hard core games.
The Ryzen processor was only 6% faster in Battlefield V when looking at the average frame rate, but 34% faster when measuring 1% low performance. The R5 3600 offered a noticeably smoother gaming experience in this title.
The gaming experience when testing with Shadow of the Tomb Raider was similar on both CPUs, although the average frame rate on the R5 3600 was 4% higher, while the 1% low performance was improved by 10%.
We also see a solid performance improvement in Division 2. The R5 3600 offered an 18% performance increase for the average frame rate and a 29% increase for the 1% low.
As is so often the case, Far Cry New Dawn stumbled across the Ryzen processors, and here the 9400F managed to take the lead and beat the R5 3600 by up to 19%. This is a very convincing win for the Core i5 processor.
The frame rates in Rage 2 were pretty close, with an advantage over the Ryzen processor in a 1% low result, but overall, both felt very similar in actual gameplay.
We see something similar in Hitman 2, the average frame rates were a match, but the R5 3600 was a bit stronger when it came to 1% low performance.
Finally, we have Total War: Three Kingdoms, and like Rage 2 and Hitman 2, we find near average frame rate results, but an advantage for AMD when we look at 1% low performance. In this case, the difference was bigger because Ryzen offered 12% better minimum frame rates.
Cost per frame and wrap up
It was interesting and even a bit brutal. We have to admit that sometimes we felt like we were feeding the 9400F to a wood chipper. Playing was definitely closer than productivity, but even then the Ryzen shone more than its predecessors ever could.
The Ryzen 5 3600 was only 11% faster on average than the 9400F. Part of this is due to CPU-limited titles like Hitman 2 and Rage 2, but we don't think this is a misleading margin as the Intel CPU will be just as fast or faster in older titles. We got a glimpse of Far Cry based on an outdated game engine.
Overall, the R5 3600 was 20 frames per frame more expensive when the average frame rates were used for the calculation. However, we believe that this is not the whole picture for games, as the 9400F was at times not nearly as smooth as the Ryzen processor. Let's check the 1% low results.
Here the R5 3600 was 12% more expensive per frame. The margin is smaller, but you should also consider CPU-heavy titles where the 9400F stuttered a bit (e.g. Battlefield V and Assassins Creed Odyssey). It should also be noted that as long as it offers the Ryzen 2600, AMD offers roughly the same value for money, but on AMD's more attractive platform and with an advantage in productivity tasks.
Since AMD launched the AM4 platform with a range of Ryzen processors, they have not only supported 2, 4, 6, 8, and now 12-core processors, all on the same socket, but have Generations made on three CPUs. This makes it difficult to recommend Intel's 8th and 9th generation LGA1151 platform in 2019. Without building a high-end core i7-9700K or i9-9900K rig, we cannot imagine a scenario in which this makes perfect sense.
The Core i5-9400F is a good processor today, but looking at the platform, future upgrade options are slim. Ideally, you want more than six threads in two years and stick with used 8700K, 9700K, or 9900K processors to get a more powerful drop-in replacement. Unfortunately, even then we don't think the prospects are great. Hoping on eBay, we found that the cost of completed Core i7-7700K deals – which are 7th generation Core i5 owners looking to upgrade – spent Ryzen 5 3,600 money on the 36-month-old quad-core .
Back to today's comparison: The Ryzen 5 3600 destroys the Core i5-9400F in core-heavy games and applications. It currently costs 33% more, but was often 50% faster in applications and gained around 30% in modern games.
If you only have to spend $ 150 on a CPU, the R5 2600 may be one of your best bets as you can upgrade to the 3700X, 3900X or 3950X a few years later and these CPUs are almost certainly affordable in the used market in few years.