The Intel Core i5 6400 central processing unit sits somewhere in the upper budget to the lower mid-range segment. It is built under what’s referred to as the “Skylake architecture,” which uses a 14 nm manufacturing process. This is the cheapest i5 6th generation processor in Intel’s Skylake lineup and can certainly complete some demanding tasks.
While being affordable, you can still enjoy some of the benefits the more expensive versions offer. So, let’s take a closer look at exactly what those benefits are and also what you might be missing in our in-depth Intel Core i5-6400 Review…
- 1 Intel Core i5-6400 Design and Specifications
- 2 Intel Core i5-6400: How Does it Perform?
- 3 More than you bargained for…
- 4 Intel Core i5-6400 Review – Pros and Cons
- 5 Intel Core i5-6400 Review: Our Verdict
Intel Core i5-6400 Design and Specifications
Many of the specifications are shared across the 6th generation Core i5 range, including four physical cores, 1 MB of L2 cache, and 6 MB of L3 cache memory. It’s great that the entry-level model can take advantage of these advancements.
The main difference between each of Intel’s i5 models is the clock speed. The 6400 runs at a base 2.7 GHz and can turbo boost two of its four cores up to 3.3 GHz. Comparatively, the completely unlocked Core i5 6600K runs between 3.5 GHz and 3.9 GHz.
Low power consumption
Rated for 65 watts of power means greater energy efficiency and lower running temperatures. This makes the stock Intel cooler included with the chip is more than capable of keeping heat levels under control.
Once again, as a comparison, the 6600K demands a peak 91 watts of power from the PSU (Power Supply Unit). It should be kept in mind that the K series is completely unlocked for overclocking, while the 6400 can only have some minor tweaks from certain BIOS systems.
For PCs lacking a GPU, there is an integrated graphics core included within the chip. Intel’s HD Graphics 530 runs between 350 Mhz and has a top speed of 950 Mhz. The fastest speed in 6th generation i5 chip GPUs is 1,150 Mhz.
Performance is a great boost over not having any form of GPU, but still falls well short of even entry-level GeForce and Radeon dedicated GPUs. 48 shaders and 8 ROPs produce pixel and texture fill rates of 2.8 Gpixel/s and 5.6 Gtexel/s.
Ultra high definition resolution of 4096 x 2304p is supported with this processor. That can be a little misleading, though. For gaming, and even heavy video editing some, large RAM sticks and a nice GPU are needed for any serious application.
There are a couple of other improvements you should notice with this 6th generation from Intel. One is the instant-on feature, with your PC ready to use in as little as 0.5 seconds. The other is improved battery life in laptops, thanks to the highly efficient power consumption.
Intel Core i5-6400: How Does it Perform?
Overall, Intel’s Core i5 6400 processor can provide respectable multi-core performance, with single-core performance being underwhelming. We ran the Cinebench R15 test to see how the chip performs in both areas.
For the single-core performance, the score was 142, which is disappointing and closer to older i3 results. Things improved dramatically in the multi-core test, scoring a much more impressive 524 across its four cores.
Geeks and Dolphins
In addition to the Cinebench tests, we also ran a Geekbench test for the multi-core performance. This is where this processor starts to flex its muscle. Scoring a highly respectable 11,303, which is about 2,500 points ahead of the Core i3 counterpart.
Using the Dolphin Emulator benchmarks once again exposed the weakness of the single-core performance. Video encoding showed a decent performance completing the test in less than 6 minutes, which is an entire minute quicker than the Core i3.
Yeah, but can it game?
Now for the important part. Does the lackluster single-core performance have an effect on gaming? There are some mixed results here. Performance while playing Call of Duty: Ghosts was acceptable, but nothing spectacular.
While it is an improvement over previous generations of comparable Intel processors, it actually matched the Core i3 6100. This isn’t a complete loss, as the performance is still great, but it’s also disappointing not to see any improvements at the same time.
More than you bargained for…
Along with the new Skylake range of processors, Intel has released a new socket and chipset too. This is something that you will need to take into account, as that means upgrading to a new motherboard at the same time.
This isn’t such a bad thing, if you can afford it, as alongside these new upgrades are some great new features. Upgrading to the new chipset includes some changes that will future-proof your PC for some time to come.
With 20 PCIe lanes available, this creates much more bandwidth, increasing upgrade possibilities. Options include space for graphics cards, PCIe-based high-speed storage drives, and Thunderbolt peripherals.
That’s not the only benefit on offer either. There’s also more support for USB 3.0 and improved networking options. This is also the first time that Thunderbolt 3.0 is compatible with this ecosystem.
Intel Core i5-6400 Review – Pros and Cons
- Well priced and provides great performance on a tight budget.
- Impressive multi-core performance with high Cinebench and Geekbench scores.
- All the latest advantages of the latest Skylake architecture.
- Low power consumption and running temperatures.
- Minor overclocking is available with correct BIOS systems.
- The included cooler is more than sufficient.
- Disappointing single-core speeds, comparable to the Core i3.
- Overclocking potential is extremely limited.
- New socket means a new motherboard is needed too.
- Integrated graphics is basically useless for current gaming titles.
Which CPU is Best for Gaming?
To find out, read our Best FM2 CPU For Gaming Review and our Best CPU For Gaming Reviews. For more great options, check out our reviews of the Best Laptops for Sims 4 and the Best Gaming Laptops Under 2000 Dollars you can buy in 2021.
But don’t stop there. For the ultimate gaming experience, check out our Best Motherboard CPU Combos Review, our Best CPU Cooler For i7-7700K Reviews, our Corsair K70 RGB MK 2 Review, our Best CPU Coolers For i7-9700K Review, our Logitech G413 Review, and our Best Expensive Gaming Keyboards Review.
Intel Core i5-6400 Review: Our Verdict
There are plenty of benefits to the 6th generation Intel Core i5 6400 processor. Such as the latest Skylake architecture, which offers more PCIe options, and the latest USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3.0 possibilities.
While the multi-core performance gave bang for your buck performance, single-core was disappointing. Music or video editing shouldn’t present a problem, but if gaming’s your thing, it’s only just acceptable. Given it’s the cheapest in the Core i5 range, expectations are met, but those with higher hopes might be left wanting a little bit more.