Intel’s latest Rocket Lake CPUs may not have set the world on fire at the high end, but the mid i5 parts offer good value and strong performance. They make a great basis for a mid-range gaming machine and importantly the non F versions include integrated graphics, so you can build a functional PC now and get a GPU when you are able to. The F version will require a discrete GPU for any display output.
This PC balances cost and performance to get the most value from the i5-11400 or 11400F without overspending. By choosing an appropriate GPU it will perform excellently at all resolutions, allowing high framerate gaming and good performance in demanding AAA titles. It’s also perfectly capable of basic productivity work and general use.
In this guide, we’ll take you through our choices for each component in turn for this Intel Core i5-11400(F) build.
Best Intel i5-11400(F) Build – The Parts List
CPU: Intel Core i5-11400
Intels 11th generation CPUs, named “Rocket Lake” bring a number of new features to the table. They have native PCIe 4.0 support allowing the use of fast SSDs and the most up to date GPU connection protocol. They also have Intel’s most up to date integrated graphics architecture, the Iris Xe powered UHD 730. The i5-11500 and i5-11600 get the next tier up, the UHD 750 which offers slightly more performance, but sadly they’re still not able to play anything but the most basic of desktop games. Nonetheless, this iGPU allows desktop output, basic games, and accelerates some processes like video transcoding and calculations in Adobe suite products making it a versatile addition to the spec of this PC.
The i5-11400 boosts the per-core performance relative to the older generation Intel CPUs and has 6 cores and 12 threads. This means it’s well suited to gaming and all-round use. The peak clock speed of 4.4GHz enables high frame rate play and ensures good gaming performance.
Alternatively, if you have a GPU and will not use applications assisted by the iGPU, you can opt for the ‘F’ suffix CPUs which are slightly cheaper but forgo inbuilt graphics. This saves a little money. You could also opt for the i5-11500 or i5-11600 which have a slightly higher boost speed and the slightly higher performance intel UHD 750 iGPU. However, the performance difference is not marked and it’s not worth paying substantially more for these CPUs. If you’re considering the i5-11600K, then we’d recommend pairing it with a Z590 motherboard in order to unlock its full potential by overclocking.
The i5-11400 mixes high performance, versatility and great value to be a fantastic choice for your gaming PC.
CPU Cooler: ID-COOLING SE-224-XT
The i5-11400 is supplied with a revised ‘all black’ CPU cooler, and if you’re seeking to minimize costs you can happily use that. However, we recommend using an upgraded tower cooler to minimize noise and keep temperatures down. Lower temperatures ensure your CPU will reach and maintain the highest boost clock speeds it can. The ID-COOLING SE-224-XT is a great option at $35. It performs well with 4 heat pipes and an efficient fan, and the cost is lower than some competitors, and it comes with a tube of thermal paste so you can attach and refit it without buying more. It’s a great buy.
Motherboard: ASRock B560 Steel Legend
Intel’s B560 chipset complements the i5 non-K CPUs perfectly in a gaming or general-purpose build. They have allowed memory overclocking even for non-K CPUs, which unleashes a good amount of additional potential through reduced memory latency with faster RAM. The primary PCIe slot is PCIe 4.0 compliant, and so is the main M.2 slot although PCIe 3.0 drives will work perfectly well in this slot, providing better value. Whilst boards are still trickling into retail availability, the ASRock B560 Steel Legend is a sound choice from the B560 motherboards available at this time. It has both display port and HDMI outputs if you need to use the integrated graphics as a stop-gap. There’s a reasonable VRM configuration, plenty to get the most from an i5 CPU. Three M.2 slots for SSDs and six SATA ports take care of storage, whilst there’s a dedicated m.2 E-Key slot if you want to add an m.2 WiFi adaptor. It has a USB 3.2 header to ensure the USB-C port on the case is functional. There’s a total of six fan headers to allow a variety of cooling setups, and plenty of RGB control headers too.
RAM: ADATA XPG GAMMIX D20 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16
RAM is the working space of the PC, and 16GB is plenty for gaming and general use. This 3200MHz kit from ADATA, the XPG Gammix D20, is relatively cheap, and fast enough to ensure you’re getting good performance from your CPU. Two 8GB Stick enables dual channel mode which is fundamental to aid performance. The CL16 timings are relatively tight, again helping the CPU perform to it’s best. Just be sure to enable the XMP profile in BIOS when you first set the PC up to take advantage of the speed. The simple black heat spreaders give a discrete aesthetic. This RAM is the price to performance sweet spot for a great value Intel system.
Storage: Western Digital Blue SN550 1TB
This NVMe SSD from Western Digital, the SN550 1TB, is truly excellent value. It uses PCIe 3.0 so whilst it lacks in benchmark results compared to PCIe 4.0 drives, it’s indistinguishable in actual use and provides responsive versatile SSD space. 1TB is ample storage for the operating system, core storage, and several large games and the M.2 form factor makes it a cinch to fit to the motherboard, with no additional data or power cables required. If you have a lot of data to store such as videos or music that doesn’t rely on fast access, we’d advise pairing this with a 2TB or larger Hard Disc Drive, to obtain the advantages of an SSD in general use and the large space of a hard drive.
Case: Corsair 4000D Airflow
We’ve chosen the popular and versatile Corsair 4000D Airflow for this build. It’s a modern well-engineered case with great airflow thanks to the ventilated front panel. It’s solidly constructed and easy to build in, with good instructions and accessories supplied. It has USB 3.2 via Type A and Type C sockets on the front, and tool-less panel removal. All the intakes have mesh dust filters which are easy to remove and clean. Whilst it comes with 2 120mm fans pre-installed, we’d recommend a pair of 140mm intake fans like the Arctic P14 PST. These larger fans can be run slower, for less noise but plenty of airflow to keep the system cool. This case accommodates the largest of GPUs and has plenty of space for expansion, as well as a basement to conceal the power supply, cables and hard discs.
Power Supply: be quiet! Pure Power 11 CM 600W 80+ Gold
Power supplies haven’t been immune to supply disruption with prices steadily creeping up and popular units often out of stock. This 600W Semi-modular and gold-rated unit from be quiet! blends the feature set you need with good reliability and an affordable price point. It’s semi-modular so the build isn’t cluttered with cables you don’t need, and uses a quiet 120mm fan. Gold certification means it’s at least 92% efficient. It’s rounded out with a 5-year warranty for your peace of mind.
The Elephant In the Room: Graphics Cards
We haven’t specified a GPU in this guide. Primarily this is because the market is so unfavourable at this time, any suggestion is going to be out of stock or heavily inflated in price. This PC is well suited to run any GPU from a GTX 1660 Super up to an RTX 3060 Ti, for excellent 1080p to 1440p gaming performance. If you wish to fit a more powerful GPU such as an RTX 3080 or RX 6800 XT for 1440p ultrawide or 4K gaming and can find one, then the only modification required to this build list is a more powerful Power supply, 750W or higher, to support the GPU. So long as you don’t opt for the i5-11400F you can build and test your PC whilst you wait to obtain a GPU and can use it for general tasks, browsing and media consumption as well as some basic games to keep yourself entertained. The addition of a GPU makes this a fantastic gaming PC.