Intel Core i5-11400F Evaluate: The New Worth Champ

Today we're looking at the new Core i5-11400F along with the MSI Tomahawk B560 motherboard. These two models offer an interesting build configuration as they are considerably cheaper than the Core i5-11600K / Z590 combo Intel sent us for our first Rocket Lake review. Although the 11600K did well, I wasn't particularly impressed with this combo as it couldn't outperform AMD's Ryzen 5 5600X in terms of performance or value.

The Core i5-11600K retails for $ 270, while a decent Z590 motherboard can be had for around $ 200, making a total cost of $ 470. The Ryzen 5 5600X is overpriced at $ 300, but you can pair it with a decent B550 board for a total of $ 440, which makes it not only faster but cheaper too. As we discussed in our review not long ago, the previous generation Core i5-10600K is even cheaper for $ 220. It can be paired with a decent $ 180 Z490 board for a total cost of $ 400, although I'd argue for $ 40 more, the Ryzen option remains a better deal. However, if you shoot for just $ 104 for the 10th Generation 10400F and glue that onto a Z490 motherboard on the lower end like the MSI Z490-A Pro, the total cost is only $ 330.

With that in mind, the new i5-11400F could be the first choice in the Rocket Lake range. We bought one for $ 175 ($ 20 more than 10th generation), but it has some nifty features like 20 PCI Express 4.0 lanes, faster DDR4 memory, and USB 3.2 support at 20 Gbps The B560 motherboards also support overclocking memory, which was not available on B460 boards.

Now the MSI B560 Tomahawk isn't cheap. While there are B560 boards that are only $ 100, the features are very lightweight. The well-featured boards start at around $ 180 and the Tomahawk is currently priced at $ 200. At this point, it might be best to just buy a Z590 board. Note, however, that you will generally need to spend at least $ 240 on the Z590 to get the same features as the B560 Tomahawk.

Core i5
Core i5
Core i5
Core i5
Core i5
Core i5
Price RRP $ 182 $ 157 $ 192 $ 213 $ 262 $ 237
Current retail $ 185 $ 175 $ 220 $ 290 $ 270 300 dollars
Cores / threads 6/12
Base frequency 2.6 GHz 2.7 GHz 2.8 GHz 3.9 GHz
Max turbo 4.4 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.8 GHz 4.9 GHz
L3 cache 12 MB
iGPU UHD 730 N / A UHD 750 N / A
TDP 65 watts 125 watts

While the Z590 chipset supports twice the number of PCI Express lanes and more USB 3.2 ports, you generally have to spend more on a motherboard to take advantage of these additional features. In short, there isn't a $ 200 Z590 motherboard that offers the features of the B560 Tomahawk.

It's also worth noting that overclocking is usually seen as the main benefit of Z-series motherboards, but I think this is no longer a valuable feature. This is because the K-SKU parts are immediately clocked so aggressively that there is basically no more room for overclocking. Squeezing a few percent more out of them will only make an already hot CPU hotter. Faster memory can help, but as mentioned earlier, this is no longer an exclusive feature of Z-series cards as the B560 chipset now fully supports overclocking memory.

When you pair a premium Intel B560 board like the Tomahawk with the Core i5-11400F, you get around $ 375 or $ 45 more than the 10400F / Z490 combo, but the motherboard is far better equipped. If you went for an entry-level option like the MSI B560M Pro-VDH WiFi for $ 140, the combo would only cost $ 315. Depending on the features you need, you can get a 11400F with a B560 motherboard a little over $ 300, roughly the price of a Ryzen 5 5600X.

These are some of the options, and today we want to examine how competitive the Core i5-11400F and B560 combo is.

The Core i5-11400F is a 6-core / 12-thread CPU with a 12 MB L3 cache. It clocks up to 4.4 GHz, which is a 10% reduction in turbo frequency compared to the 11600K, although it is the base clock where we notice the biggest difference. While the 11600K clocks no less than 3.9 GHz, the 11400F can drop to 2.6 GHz because the TDP has been reduced to 65 watts.

However, this restriction does not apply to our tests, as the MSI B560 Tomahawk, like almost all Z590 motherboards, runs without the applicable TDP limits. Instead of manually enforcing the performance limits, we will test the performance immediately as this will be shown when using this hardware combination.

Our test systems were all configured with 32 GB dual-rank dual-channel DDR4-3200-CL14 memory. Our B560 setup was powered by the MSI B560 Tomahawk and for the Z590 setup by the Gigabyte Aorus Z590 Master. We used the Corsair RM850x power supply and cooling was provided by the Corsair iCUE H150i for comparison purposes, although we did some testing with the 11400F's box cooler as well. Finally, a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti was used for productivity benchmarks, while gaming tests were run with the newer and faster GeForce RTX 3090.


As usual, we start with Cinebench R20, and before we discuss these results, I just want to mention that the 11400F ran at an all-core frequency of 4.2 GHz and the same frequency was reached on both the MSI B560 Tomahawk and the Gigabyte Aorus Z590 master. In comparison, the 11600K runs at an all-core frequency of 4.6 GHz, or 10% higher.

Here we see that these frequencies result in similar power margins as the 11600K was ~ 9% faster than the 11400F. The 11400F was also 6% faster than the Ryzen 5 3600, suggesting that the new Intel Core i5 processor will be faster when compared to the Zen 2-based Ryzen 5 processor for most productivity tasks. This is an important step forward for Intel as the 10400F was significantly slower than the R5 3600.

Compared to the 10400F, we expect the 11400F to have a 24% increase in performance, which is an impressive improvement. The single core bezels are similar, here the 11600K was 11% faster than the 11400F, while the new 11th generation Core i5 was 25% faster than the 10th generation version, the 10400F.

If we move on to 7-zip, we see that the 11600K is only 8% faster than the 11400F when comparing compression performance. This is a great result for the new Core i5 processor as it was faster than the 10600K and R5 3600 while improving the 10400F's performance by 15%.

The decompression margins compared to the Intel CPUs remain largely the same. The 11400F was 8% slower than the 10600K but 17% faster than the 10400F. Here it loses to R5 3600 and this is because AMD's SMT implementation is more efficient for this workload.

AES encryption performance is exactly what you'd expect based on what we've seen with the 11600K. Here the 11400F was 11% slower, even ahead of the 10900K, and that means we expect a massive 46% increase in performance from the 10400F.

We expect a 10% reduction in code compilation performance compared to the 11600K. This makes the 11400F a little slower than the Ryzen 5 3600, but faster than the previous generation 10600K and 15% faster than the 10400F.

The performance difference between the 11600K and 11400F is virtually nonexistent when tested with DaVinci Resolve Studio. Here the locked Core i5 part was only 3% slower. This, in turn, meant that not only was it faster than the previous generation 10400F, but also the 10600K.

Premiere Pro tends to make more use of the CPU than Resolve. As a result, the 11400F was 8% slower than the 11600K. Given that it is ~ 35% cheaper, this is a great result for the locked i5 part.

In Adobe Photoshop, we see margins similar to previous tests. The 11400F is 7% slower than the 11600K, which means that not only is it faster than the 10400F, but it is also the 10600K and even the 10700K.

The final application test is Blender where the 11400F is only 9% slower than the 11600K. Again, this is an impressive result as this new processor is under $ 200 faster than the previous generation 10600K and Ryzen 5 3600.

power consumption

The 11400F reduces overall system consumption by 18% compared to the 11600K. This is a great result considering it is only 9% slower on this test. Compared to AMD's newest and best model, this isn't particularly impressive as the 11400F brings all system usage to the same level as the 5800X, but compared to Intel's own lineup, this is good.

Gaming performance

We start with Watch Dogs Legion for our gaming benchmarks where the 11400F is 3% slower than the 11600K, making it a bit faster than the 10600K and only a fraction slower than the 5600X.

When comparing the average frame rate, we only see a performance reduction of 5% for the 11400F compared to the 11600K in F1 2020 and for the 1% low, a performance reduction of 3%. The newer 11th generation processors actually perform worse than the previous parts of the 10th generation, so the 11400F shipped a bit slower than the 10400F.

At Horizon Zero Dawn, we see nearly identical performance between the 11600K and the 11400F. The 11400F was 5% faster than the 10th generation version, not a huge increase in performance, but at least it was faster in that title.

We're seeing identical performance between the 11th Gen Core i5 processors in Borderlands 3. This time the 11400F was only 3% faster than the 10400F, and since we're using an RTX 3090 at 1080p, it goes without saying that there are more realistic conditions there is no difference between these two CPUs.

Interestingly, Death Stranding scales with frequency and, as a result, the 11400F was 10% slower than the 11600K, which is quite a big difference, but nonetheless, the locked 11th generation Core i5 processor was still 7% faster than the previous generation model .

With Hitman 2, we saw virtually no performance difference between the 11400F and the 11600K. The 11400F was also 8% faster than the 10400F, which is a reasonable increase in performance.

The 11400F was 6% slower than the 11600K in Star Wars Squadrons, falling behind the Ryzen 5 3600 and 7% behind the 10400F. Like F1 2020, Star Wars Squadrons is another game where the newer 11th generation core processors are actually slower than the 10th generation models.

There's little difference between the two 11th Gen Core i5 processors in Serious Sam 4 and the 11400F, which was only 5% faster than the 10400F. Compared to the AMD processors, it was 11% faster than the R5 3600 but 15% slower than the R5 5600X.

Rainbow Six Siege scales quite well with frequency. As a result, the 11400F was 10% slower than the 11600K and, disappointingly, 9% slower than the 10400F. This is another game where the 11th generation models are slower than the older 10th generation models.

We saw almost no performance difference between the 11600K and 11400F in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This meant the F-SKU part was 9% faster than the 10600K and 13% faster than the 10400F.

Average gaming performance

Here's a look at our 10-game average. Given what we've just seen, it's no surprise that when tested with an RTX 3090 at 1080p, the 11400F was only 4.5% slower than the 11600K on average at 1080p. On average, it's a 10600K-like performance. This means that the 11400F is about 2.5% faster than the 10400F.

It's interesting to note that the 10th generation 10600K was only 2.5% faster than the 10400F, while that margin essentially doubled between the 11600K and 11400F. The reason for this lies in the much larger margins in Rainbow Six Siege and Death Stranding. For some reason, these games are more watch sensitive on the 11th generation than on the 10th generation, which is likely due to architectural differences.

Compared to competing AMD parts, the 11400F is about 13% faster than the Ryzen 5 3600 and 11% slower than the 5600X, and is essentially in between the two.

Avoid the box cooler

A few words about the shiny new box cooler in the Core i5, which is just the old box cooler with a new black coat of paint. Although this model has a copper screw, it is still completely inadequate for use on boards that do not meet the TDP limits.

The 11400F was installed on the MSI B560 Tomahawk using the standard BIOS configuration and hit a high of only on our Corsair iCUE H150i, a $ 220 cooler that we don't expect to be paired with a 11400F 52 ° C.

That said, a simple $ 20 tower cooler will work just fine. The box cooler quickly reached 100 ° C and as a result the CPU began to throttle. To be honest, this cooler is only designed for the 65 watt TDP configuration and achieved a maximum of 70 ° C by enforcing the TDP limits, although it was still very noisy here. We recommend ignoring the box cooler and adding an extra $ 20 for a simple tower cooler that performs much better.

What we learned

The new Core i5-11400F is slightly faster than the 10400F for gaming, but often much faster for productivity tasks, with margins of up to 25% on certain tasks. For gamers, the 11400F isn't exactly a crazy bargain. At around $ 20 more than the 10400F, that's a negligible increase in cost, and you can pair it with the same motherboards. We therefore believe that the improved features alone are worth the premium.

For those of you more focused on productivity tasks, the 11400F is a breeze. You would always pick it over the older 10400F and even over the 11600K. In fact, it doesn't make sense to buy the 11600K for $ 270 regardless of your use case: you'll have to pay a 54% premium for a performance improvement of no more than ~ 11%, although this is often closer to 5%. When we factor in the cost of a high quality motherboard, the 11600K / Z590 combo is ~ 40% more expensive, and again, you don't come close to such an improvement in performance.

It seems that as pressure from AMD increased, Intel had to degrade the performance of its processors down to the smallest detail. That leaves virtually no overclocking headroom, and hence their premium K-SKU processors are pretty pointless. Since memory overclocking is supported on B-series motherboards, the Z-series has also become somewhat redundant.

So there you have it, Intel in a new position as budget king. For Intel, this is undoubtedly less than a desirable outcome, but it's not bad news for us as they are forced to offer parts like the Core i5-11400F and allow memory overclocking on budget motherboards.

From today's perspective, the Core i5-11400F on a B560 motherboard should be the first choice for budget builders. Essentially, with an entry-level motherboard, you can buy this processor for less than the cost of the Ryzen 5 5600X. Plus, the 11400F is in stock and should be easy to acquire for the foreseeable future, which we can't say about any of AMD's Zen 3 processors. What a crazy time we're living in.

Purchasing links:
  • Intel Core i5-11400F at Amazon
  • Intel B560 motherboards on Amazon
  • Intel Core i5-11600K on Amazon
  • Intel Core i7-11700K at Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 5 5600X on Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800X on Amazon

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