Intel Core i5 11400F and ASUS B560 Plus Prime Review
Published: 23rd April 2021 | Source: Intel | Price: |
Blimey that was a lot of testing.
Clearly you can approach this processor in one of two ways. You can look at it as a member of the new 11th Gen Rocket Lake CPUs and be a little disappointed that it doesn't overclock past 5GHz, or that it's good but not outstanding in the CPU tests. Or, as we've chosen to do, treat it as a capable but affordable processor and look to see if it's capable enough as a gaming processor to save you plenty of money that can go towards a graphics card upgrade. Assuming any graphics cards appear in stores again.
It is no secret that we found the Core i9-11900K to be a fairly ho-hum entry into the Intel pantheon, and instead of bowing before the might of their new flagship we prostrated ourselves before the Intel Core i5-11600K, which had enough horsepower for the majority of daily tasks whilst also being relatively affordable and a serious gaming option. If you've been here for a while you'll know we are like a dog with a bone when we get hold of an idea, and the idea we had was to see which of the two big selling CPUs - the Intel Core i5-11600K and Ryzen 5 5600X - was the better gaming option. The edge just went to the Ryzen but it was very close. Thus, when we saw the pricing of the latest addition to the Rocket Lake range, and the price of the new B560 Chipset motherboards, we knew that we had a chance to pare the build to the bone and go all in on a gaming system. We've long held the belief that, within reason, you'll get more benefit putting a monster GPU on a cheap CPU than the other way around. With the Core i5-11400 and ASUS B560-Plus Prime pairing rocking up at under £300 for the pair there is no denying the affordable part of the equation.
We'll briefly touch on the CPU performance because that's not really why we're all here. If you use your setup for editing large photographs or rendering videos and the like more than you game, clearly this isn't the way you should go. However, the Core i5-11400 actually has plenty of performance should you do so, with the 4.2GHz on all six cores with hyperthreading having plenty of grunt. A decade ago that specification would cause you to spend nearly £900 on the Core i7-970. Technology eh. The Core i5-11400 is very much the match of the Core i5-10600K, and the B560 is a great platform upon which to run it, with the PCI Express 4.0 giving snappy storage response whilst leaving enough bandwidth to keep the RTX 3080 FE sated.
That's where this particular build scores highly. £200 cheaper than the Core i5-11600K and most affordable Z590 motherboard, it performs almost identically, but you can use that £200 to upgrade your graphics tremendously, or just invest in a beast of a PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive. Should you do so the results are clear to all. There is almost zero difference between the bigger Core i5, or indeed the Ryzen 5, and this CPU. Even in the CPU intensive Total War benchmarks the Core i5-11400 makes a mockery of its low price tag.
If you're on a tight budget, or even if you're not but hate spending needlessly, the Core i5-11400 is an absolute star and has almost redeemed the Rocket Lake CPU range entirely. It's the perfect gaming processor.