Intel’s Core i5 series has long been their premier offering for gaming CPUs, providing excellent performance without the high cost of options like a Core i7 or, more recently, a Core i9. That dynamic is especially evident in Intel’s ‘Comet Lake‘ CPUs, which have re-asserted their position at the top of gaming performance benchmarks.
In today’s guide, we’re detailing a build that extracts the most performance out of Intel’s best value offering, the Core i5-10600K. We’ll show you a gaming PC that doesn’t break the bank, but still stands the test of time and performs alongside the very best.
Best Core i5-10600K Gaming PC Build – The Parts List
|CPU Cooler||EVGA CLC 280||$117|
|Motherboard||MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge (Wi-Fi)||$200|
|Memory||2x8 G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-3200 CL16||$83|
|Storage||1TB Western Digital Blue SN550 M.2-2280||$129|
|Graphics||Sapphire Radeon RX 5700XT 8GB PULSE||$400|
|PC Case||Phanteks Eclipse P300A||$60|
|Power Supply||Bitfenix Whisper M 750W 80+ Gold||$125|
|Monitor: 1080p||Asus VG248QG 165Hz||$286|
|Alternate Monitor: 1440p||Samsung C27JG56 144Hz||$266|
The Core i5 series has been Intel’s key gaming market since the Devil’s Canyon 4690K, and in keeping with tradition, they have given us an excellent value proposition with Comet Lake: The Core i5-10600K. During AMD’s assault on the CPU market with Zen 2,and the recently announced Zen 2+ (Matisse Refresh), Intel is still reiterating their seemingly eternal 14nm Process. This iteration offers 6 cores, with multithreading enabled, and higher clock speeds. Their clever revisions have allowed Intel to remain on top of the frame-rate battle for now, but make no mistake; these CPUs draw considerable power and need proper cooling, especially if you intend to overclock – which you should. With a reasonable 5Ghz target, the 10600K rivals the performance of even the Core i9-10900K in many titles, making it one of the best options if your priorities are gaming and general use but don’t extend to heavy productivity work.
To keep the i5 nice and cool, we’ve selected the EVGA CLC 280. EVGA isn’t best known for their coolers, but at $125, this is as much cooling as you can get for the money. The dual 140mm fans drive heat out of the coolant via the large 280mm radiator while feeding that air into the case to allow the GPU to cool itself. The pump and cold plate assembly has an attractive gloss finish and LED illumination, although that can be disabled if you prefer. The CLC 280 provides ample thermal headroom for a good overclock of the toasty 10600K and touts EVGA’s legendary warranty and customer support.
For our platform, we’ve chosen the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge (Wi-Fi). Sitting in the middle of MSI’s Z490 line-up, this board provides fantastic specs for the money. The i5-10600K has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) rating of 125W continuous, but defines a 182W temporary power limit, meaning it requires solid VRMs to perform at maximum potential. The Gaming Edge sports a 12+1+1 phase VRM with 60 amp MOSFETs, making it a rock-solid option capable of overclocking the 10600K. This configuration places it well-ahead of several options from other manufacturers for mid-range Z490 motherboards. Memory support is also good up to DDR4-4800MHz, but be sure to consult MSI’s QVL list of RAM if achieving those speeds is essential for you. The Gaming Edge doesn’t scrimp on other features either, with support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 courtesy of Intel’s AX201, which is very useful even if you use the 2.5Gbe LAN as your primary network connection. The Gaming Edge also has a full suite of USB ports, including USB-C and Gen 3.2, as well as 2x M.2 slots for high-speed NVMe SSDs. This board makes a perfect pair with the 10600K and hits the price-to-performance sweet spot.
Intel’s CPU architecture is less reliant on fast RAM than AMD’s Ryzen, but we still see performance gains from high-speeds and low latency. With memory, it’s necessary to find the trade-off between performance and value so that we don’t end up overspending on more performance than our system can leverage. Thus, we’ve chosen the excellent value 2×8 G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-3200 CL16 memory kit. This pair of 8GB sticks have tight timings, with a CAS Latency rating of 16, whilst a click-and-forget XMP setup in the BIOS takes the pain out of achieving a RAM overclock. 16GB is plenty of RAM for current games and general PC use, although 2 DIMM slots remain free should you require an upgrade in the future.
The Western Digital Blue SN550 is an affordable NVMe SSD with high speeds, excellent performance, and is more than adequate for general use and gaming. The SN550 uses TLC flash memory, which avoids concerns about the longevity and lower performance of QLC NAND found in other cheap NVMe drives. At $120, the WD Blue is an excellent value, and 1TB provides ample space for your operating system and a large number of games.
The GPU is the deciding factor for the ultimate performance of any gaming PC. The best option to achieve high performance without high cost is the AMD Radeon RX 5700XT. The 5700XT is AMD’s top-tier gaming GPU, boasts fantastic performance at 1080p and 1440p resolutions, and is more than able to take advantage of the performance the 10600K brings to this system. Sapphire has long been one of the most reputable AMD GPU manufacturers, and their Sapphire Pulse RX 5700XT is a strong mid-range contender at just $409. The Sapphire Pulse has a stout cooler and twin fan design with a ‘silent’ mode, which prevents fans from spinning when not under load. 3x DisplayPort and 1x HDMI outputs allow flexibility in your monitor set up. However, we’d recommend using DisplayPort for a stable connection and high bandwidth to the primary monitor to support high refresh rates. This GPU represents the best option for very high refresh 1080p gaming, in our opinion. Driver issues appear to be a thing of the past with recent updates from AMD providing rock-solid stability.
Here we’ve opted for the Phanteks Eclipse P300A. Phanteks have climbed aboard the airflow optimization trend set by cases like the Fractal Design Meshify C and the Cooler Master H500M. The mesh panel allows fantastic airflow to the AIO so you can be sure of keeping the 10600K cool even when overclocked. ATX mid-towers have the right balance of airflow and expansion without being unnecessarily huge, and the P300A has sufficient clearance for a front-mounted 280mm radiator and the GPU we’ve chosen. Phanteks also includes a single 120mm exhaust fan, so no additional fans are required for this build. Mesh dust covers prevent dust build-up whilst a tempered glass side panel shows off the case interior, and the high build quality, cable management channels, provided cable ties, and removable drive trays all make building in this case a pleasure.
The combination of the i5-10600K and RX5700XT requires a good quality power supply with enough output to feed both when overclocked. We’d suggest a 650W 80+ Gold rated PSU with 8+4pin EPS power for the CPU. The power supply market is still in turmoil due to recent global events, so we’d suggest holding off unless you’re desperate. At the time of writing, the Bitfenix Whisper M 750W is the best option available. This fully modular PSU ships with a 7-year warranty and includes many quality-of-life features such as a low noise fan. It includes the full suite of protections and provides more than enough power to take our CPU and GPU to their limits in this build. If it’s out of stock, the Corsair RM650 is available at $115 and also makes an excellent choice for this build.
Monitor – 1080p High-refresh Gamer
Finally, to round this build, we’ve selected a great mid-range 1080p gaming monitor, the Asus VG248QG 165Hz. This performance display takes advantage of the high frame rates our CPU and GPU combination produces. Considering this is a PC aimed at the hardcore gamer, pushing up past 144hz can provide the competitive edge – or merely ultra-fluid and responsive gameplay in AAA titles if you’re not competing against others. Whilst this display has a TN panel, it is high quality, meaning colors are accurate when viewed from straight ahead, and the trade-off is excellent screen response times. Thanks to FreeSync and our 5700XT, we’re able to synchronize the frames rendered by our GPU with our screen’s refresh rate when below 165fps which prevents tearing, stutter and judder and allows you to get on with enjoying the game. Supplied with a versatile stand, inbuilt speakers, and a DisplayPort connection, you can be sure you’re getting the best visual experience out of this build.
Monitor – 1440p Gaming All-rounder
Alternatively, this i5-10600K gaming PC build is quite capable of excellent performance at 1440p. However, it won’t quite hit the frame rates of a 1080p panel due to the increased overhead, but it still provides impressive performance across even the most demanding titles. If you’d prefer more screen real estate, we’d recommend the Samsung C27JG56, which is a FreeSync enabled VA panel with an immersive curve. At $299, the Samsung represents fantastic value and makes this PC a rewarding all-rounder.
We’re confident that we’ve demonstrated how you can build a great PC that squeezes the most from the i5-10600K, without breaking the bank. If you’re looking for the ultimate performance, then check out one of our Core i9-10900K builds for a no-holds-barred system that demonstrates the best the cutting edge has to offer.