Reviewing the Core i5-12400, there's nothing on paper to suggest this could be an amazing CPU. After all, it is mostly a heavily slimmed down 12600K, which we have already looked at. And yet, in my opinion, this is one of the most exciting CPUs to be released in recent years.
Compared to the Core i5-12600K, there are no four E cores, the L3 cache has been reduced from 20 MB to 18 MB, the turbo clock has been reduced by 10% and the base performance has been reduced from 125 watts to just 65 watts. That doesn't sound all that tempting… but what makes the i5-12400 so exciting is the price.
While you can expect to pay around $300 for the 12600K, which is the same price as AMD's Ryzen 5 5600X, the i5-12400 is only $210, while the F-SKU is just $180 . That's 40% less than the 5600X and 25% less than the rather unattractive 5600G.
For the most part, especially gaming, the 12400 shouldn't be much slower than the 12600K, and if that's the case it's going to be a highly desirable product for budget gamers.
What you're getting for around $200 is a 6P-core, 12-thread Alder Lake CPU running at up to 4.4GHz with an 18MB L3 cache and UHD 730 graphics. So it should be even faster than the last-gen Core i5-11600K, which cost $270 a year ago.
Before we turn to the benchmarks, let's go through the specifications of the test system. We haven't done DDR5 testing on this game as it seems like a waste of time at the moment, and we also know or relate everything we need to know regarding DDR4 vs DDR5 performance (our big 41 games covered). to our Kern i9-12900K review, which tested both types of memory and corresponding motherboards.
|Intel Core i9 12900K||Intel Core i7 12700K||Intel Core i5 12600K||Intel Core i5 12600||Intel Core i5 12400|
|release date||November 2021||January 2022|
|cores / threads||16 / 24||12 / 20||10/16||6 / 12|
|reminder||DDR5-4800 / DDR4-3200|
For testing the Core i5-12400 we use the MSI B660M Mortar Wi-Fi DDR4 with 32GB dual rank dual channel DDR4 3200 CL14 memory – the same stuff we use for all our DDR4 tests – and In terms of performance, it is typically faster than single-rank DDR4-3800 CL18 memory.
The K-SKU Alder Lake CPUs have been tested on the MSI Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi DDR4 with the same memory and all boards have been updated to the latest BIOS revision. We also updated the Ryzen data with the MSI X570S Tomahawk Wi-Fi motherboard.
All game data has been updated for the AM4 and LGA 1700 CPUs with Resizable BAR enabled. The plan was to do the same with the 10th and 11th Gen Intel Core processors, but performance dropped in all cases when ReBAR was enabled, so we disabled this PCI Express feature on those platforms for now .
Finally, all application and gaming data was collected using the Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card and the operating system of choice was Windows 11. That covers it, let's dive into the results…
Starting with the Cinebench R23 multi-core results, we find that the 12400 is good for just over 12,000 points and was only 3% slower while staying within the 65-watt spec. With that in mind, it's incredible to see the base spec 12400 outperform the 11600K by 8% and the 10600K by a whopping 32%.
Perhaps most impressive is the 9% margin by which it beat the 5600X, which doesn't bode well for AMD. Finally, the 12400 was 30% slower compared to the 12600K, due in part to the 10% lower frequency along with the removal of the 4 E cores and a 10% reduction in L3 cache capacity.
The single-core performance was also very powerful, and of course this explains how the 12400 beat the 5600X. Here we see a performance increase of 12%.
Moving on to 7-Zip, the 12400 is less impressive, despite slightly displacing the 11600K. That in itself is a good result. It was 12% slower compared to the 5600X and 13% slower than the 12600K, although given the price difference that remains a good result for the locked Core i5 part.
Unfortunately, it doesn't fare nearly as well on the decompression test, as the 12400 only edged out the 10600K, making it 12% slower than the 11600K and almost 30% slower than the 5600X.
On the Corona benchmark, the 12400 delivers an exceptional level of performance, beating the 11600K and 5600X. 117 seconds for the workload to run meant it was 9% faster than the 5600X, although it was 26% slower than the 12600K.
The Core i5-12400 was good for a score of 667 points when running the Adobe Premiere Pro benchmark with no power cap, and that meant it could match the 8-core/16-thread 10700K while beating the 5600X around 8% struck.
When power was then capped to the 65W spec, it matched the 5600X, which was 8% slower than the unleashed configuration.
Adobe Photoshop is not a core-heavy application, so both i5-12400 configurations returned virtually the same result. That means no matter how you slice it, the locked Core i5 is as capable as the Ryzen 5 5600X. The 12600K, on the other hand, is clocked 11% higher and was therefore 11% faster in this test.
In After Effects, the 12400 was only 2% faster when the power cap was removed. This was 7% faster than the 5600X and 6% faster than the previous generation 11600K.
Once again we include Factorio in the application benchmarks to not measure fps but updates per second. This automated benchmark calculates the time it takes to run 1,000 updates. This is a single-threaded test, which obviously depends heavily on cache performance.
Since this game only uses a single core heavily, the power configuration doesn't matter, allowing the 12400 to score a 202 point even when meeting the 65-watt spec. That's the same score you get from a Zen 3 processor and only 2.5% less than the 12600K.
When it comes to code compilation performance, the 12400 is a beast, completing our test in 6070 seconds, making it 24% faster than the 5600X and 13% faster than the 11600K. In fact, it was only 8% slower than the 5800X, despite being 21% slower than the 12600K.
The final application we'll look at is Blender, where the 12400 just edged out the 5600X while matching the 11600K. That's as good as the 6-core/12-thread performance in this application.
Now it's time for some gaming benchmarks and we'll start with F1 2021, using the second highest quality preset at 1080p and the Radeon 6900 XT.
The Core i5-12400 matched the 11600K and 10700K here, making it 9% slower than the 12900K and 15% slower than the 5600X. This might seem a bit disappointing at first, but remember that the 12400 costs ~30% less than the 5600X, so this remains a great result in terms of value.
Next we have Rainbow Six Siege and here the 12400 was slightly faster than the 11700K, 10700K and 3700X making it only 8% slower than the 12600K. That makes it quite a bit slower than the 5600X, namely 17% or 19% slower if we compare the low numbers of 1%. Overall, however, we see a strong performance from the 12400 and an excellent result in terms of cost per frame.
The Watch Dogs Legion's specs are more competitive relative to the more expensive 5600X. The i5-12400 was less than 3% slower, which is essentially the same level of performance, and the same is true when comparing the 12600K and 11700K. So a strong result for the locked Core i5 processor in this game.
For the first time, the i5-12400 is able to outperform the 5600X in gaming. As seen in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and while the average framerate is very similar, the Core i5 was 9% faster when comparing the 1% low data.
It was also just 4% slower than the 12600K and a whopping 26% faster than the previous generation 11600K. It's also worth noting that running at the 65-watt spec had little impact on performance.
Intel has a serious performance advantage in The Riftbreaker. The i5-12400 easily beats the 5600X, offering up to 26% more performance when looking at 1% lows. It was also just a few frames slower than the 12600K and 13% faster than the 11600K.
Interestingly, the 12400 was much slower than the 12600K in our Hitman 3 benchmark, lagging by an 18% lead.
The locked Core i5 portion is clocked 10% lower and packs 10% less L3 cache, so it's possible under certain conditions that it's about 18% slower. This isn't a great result compared to parts like the 12600K and 5600X, although overall performance is solid.
Age of Empires IV is another game where the 12400 lags significantly behind the 12600K, 12% at the average frame rate and 22% at the 1% lows. That also meant it was up to 16% slower than the 5600X.
Compared to previous generations it was roughly equal to the 11700K and quite a bit faster than the 11600K, so in that sense the performance was very good.
The i5-12400 performs much better in Far Cry 6, at least compared to the 5600X as it was up to 10% faster, even outperforming the 5800X and 11700K.
It was up to 15% slower than the 12600K when looking at the 1% lows. Overall a good result here for Intel's new base model Core i5 processor.
The Horizon Zero Dawn results are not that favorable for the 12400. That said, it's worth noting that if we were to use the ultimate quality setting, the game is fully GPU limited and this normalizes CPU performance even when the 5600X and 12400 match the 6900 XT at 1080p. But with the reduced Favor Quality visual preset, the game becomes more CPU limited under our test conditions, and this resulted in the 5600X being up to 21% faster and the 12600K up to 17% faster.
Last we have Cyberpunk 2077 and this game is mostly GPU bound, even with the slightly reduced quality settings we're using here. The 12400 was able to be a few frames ahead of the 5600X while only 4% behind the 12600K.
However, the big improvement compared to the 11th gen is power consumption. At the same performance, the Core i5-12400 reduced overall system consumption by 28%… and that's overall system power consumption, not just CPU power.
The savings are really huge and put Alder Lake roughly on par with Zen 3 in this comparison.
The 12400 is very economical indeed, using ~20 watts less than the 5600X for the same performance in Cyberpunk. Compared to the previous generation Core i5-11600K, overall system usage has been reduced by 8% while gaming.
10 game average
Our look at the 10-game average shows the Core i5-12400 with no power cap and an all-in-one water cooler isn't much faster than the 65-watt spec with the boxed cooler. We're talking about less than a 2% difference on average.
Compared to the 5600X, the i5-12400 was ~6% slower on average and 8% slower than the 12600K. Given the cost savings on offer, this makes the 12400 an exceptionally good deal for gamers.
Intel box cooler: Laminar RM1
Now here's how the included RM1 box cooler handles the Core i5-12400 when running at the 65 watt spec. For a brief period the CPU runs in PL2 mode, where package power reaches 75 watts and this is where CPU temperatures peak at 80C, but for most of this test package power was capped at 65 watts, where the RM1 -Cooler was able to keep the CPU at only 75C, so this little cooler works well enough at the 65 watt spec.
The all-core frequency of the PL1 model fluctuated between 3.7 and 3.8 GHz during the Cinebench R23 stress test.
If we remove the performance limitations with the RM1 box cooler, the 12400 maintains an all-core frequency of 4GHz – a frequency boost of 5-8% – and its temperature peaked at 82°C, but the RM1 was noticeable now according to, this is not an ideal solution, although it works.
Replacing the RM1 with the Corsair iCUE H100i Elite Capellix brought the all-core 4GHz operating temperature down to just 54C for the peak, although temperatures regularly dipped below 50C. This is an overkill solution for such a CPU. A basic tower-style air cooler for $20 will work just fine, but since we already had the H100i installed in the test system, we just went with it.
What we learned
This is how the Core i5-12400 performs and ideally we would have liked to have thrown in a few additional CPUs like the Core i5-10400, 11400 and Ryzen 5 5600G, but the time pressure of testing more hardware for upcoming tests didn't allow us to update all of these Data. Once we wrapped that up with all the graphics we were able to run some additional tests, so here's a last-minute look at the data: The 12400 is on average 17% faster than the 5600G and 14% faster than the 11400F.
It is interesting to note that the 11600K was only 4% faster than the 11400 on average, but the 12600K is 9% faster than the 12400. Although the 11400 and 11600K share the same clock speed difference as 12th Gen parts, both chips have it an L3 cache of 12MB, and we know that many games are sensitive to cache capacity, which would explain the difference between generations.
When comparing the AMD and Intel CPUs in the gaming benchmarks, it really depends on the games used and how those games are tested. In our relatively small selection of games, the 5600X celebrated big wins in Horizon Zero Dawn, Hitman 3, Rainbow Six Siege, Age of Empires 4 and a solid win in F1 2021, while the i5-12400 was stronger in Far Cry 6 and 6 Der crack breaker.
It also depends on how you test those games. Horizon Zero Dawn, for example, sees full game GPU throttling when using ultimate quality settings, balancing CPU performance as 5600X and 12400 match even 6900 XT at 1080p.
In this segment of the market I personally prefer the value because if you are more performance oriented you would go for a more expensive CPU like the Core i7-12700K or Ryzen 5 5800X.
However, when it comes to value, Intel currently has AMD easily beaten. The 12400F is already on sale for $180, and while B660 motherboard options are currently limited, we're expecting some pretty great boards to be available for around $160.
Good quality AMD B550 boards start at around $140 which is a small cost saving, but even then the 5600X on a good budget B550 board will cost around $430, while the 12400F on a decent B660 is likely to be around will cost $340. That's a huge saving for a similar gaming experience.
If you want to move to AMD ultra-budget while sticking with 6 cores, you can snag the MSI B550M-A Pro for $95 and pair it with the 5600G for $240, $335 total, which is basically what you are paying for much faster and better quality i5-12400 combo. Of course, there will also be cheap and nasty B660 boards, so it's possible to keep costs down with Alder Lake, meaning Intel wins the budget build battle no matter how you slice it.
The Core i5-12400F is my new go-to budget CPU and we hope to see some nice B660 budget boards soon!
- Intel Core i5-12400 at Amazon
- Intel Core i5-12400F at Amazon
- Intel Core i5-12600K at Amazon
- Intel Core i7-12700K at Amazon
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X at Amazon
- MSI Z690 Tomahawk WLAN DDR4 at Amazon
- MSI Z690-A Pro WLAN DDR4 at Amazon
- Asus Prime Z690-P D4 at Amazon
- MSI X570S Tomahawk WiFi on Amazon
- MSI B550M-A Pro on Amazon