Generally speaking, Intel i5 processors (CPUs) come with enough specs to handle more graphic-intensive AAA games. Just take a look at Cyberpunk 2077 and Assasin's Creed Valhalla - you can play them with the Intel Core i5-3570K and Intel Core i5-4460 chips. This all comes down to them having at least 6 cores.
My friend recently built his own gaming PC and wanted to swap out his processor. So, I recommended the Intel Core i5-10700K for him. He was hesitant about how good the mid range processor was for hardcore gaming performance, but I assured him that this wouldn't be a problem.
If you'd like to know what I ran him through, and a bunch of additional information on the topic, you can read ahead.
Intel i5 chips have more than enough power to handle graphic-intensive games and video editing. This all comes down to how many cores they have. A core is a physical component that enables the completion of more work at a time. Chipsets with more cores have more processing power. And usually, you need 6 cores for the best gaming performance.
Most Intel core i5 processors come with at least 4-6 cores. For example, the Intel® Core™i5-12600K, and Intel® Core™ i5-11500HE processors come with 10 and 6 cores each. But throughout this section, you'll see that some of them even come with 14.
Like any other processor, the i5 also comes with different generations. Essentially, 'generations' are newer iterations of the chipset, with newer microarchitecture.
Right now, the core i5 processor goes up to the 13th gen. As you can imagine, the newer generations usually have more cores than the older options. Here's an example - the 7th gen Intel® Core™ i5-7260U and Intel® Core™ i5-7Y57 processors comes with 2 cores, while the 11th gen Intel® Core™ i5-11500HE has 6 cores, and the 13th gen Intel® Core™ i5-1334U and Intel® Core™i5-13500 processors come with 10 and 14 cores each.
I also have to talk about processor speed. It's important for gaming, as it dictates the number of instructions that can be executed per second. A clock speed of around 3.5 GHz to 4.0 GHz is considered good for gaming - newer i5 generations can easily reach these speeds. Let's take a look at the 13th gen Intel® Core™ i5-1334U and Intel® Core™ i5-13500 chips again. They both come with 4.6 and 4.8 Ghz, respectively.
To give you a good idea of the different i5 generations, and their cores, cache memory, and thermal design power, you can check the Intel site out. They have a chart on each generation of the chipset.
Even if you have an I5 processor with a lot of cores, you still need a good graphics card (GPU) for the best gaming performance. I would even say that a good GPU is more important.
You don't need a high-end CPU for steaming - 2 cores are more than enough. As you saw from my comparison earlier, most i5 chips from the 7th gen onwards come with around 4 cores, with 13th-gen options even coming with around 14.
This all comes down to cores, again. If you take a look at Intel's 13th gen chips, you'd see that i7 and i9 processors come with way more cores than the i5s. The i9-13900 chip alone has 24 cores. So, it has enough performance to handle the most demanding games on the market.
Of course, the i7 and i9 processors have more threads too. Basically, threads are the virtual components that handle CPU core tasks, which helps them be more efficient. If you want the best performance when you play games, you'll need as many threads as possible. You can check the table I linked above to really see the difference in these threads.
Although you can play most games with a core i5 chipset, you might want more proof. I've taken the core minimum requirements of some titles, and whether you'll be able to play them with an i5 chipset.
|Game Title||Minimum CPU Requirement||Minimum Graphics Card||Minimum Cores Needed||Minimum Threads Needed|
|God of War||Intel i5-2500K chipset||Nvidia GTX 960 or AMD R9 290X||4||4|
|Apex Legend||Intel Core i3-6300 3.8GHz||NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 / Radeon HD 7730||2||4|
|Fortnite||Intel core i3-3225 3.3 GHz||Nvidia GTX 960, or AMD R9 280||2||4|
|Cyberpunk 2077||Intel Core i5-3570K||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon RX 470||4||4|
|Assasin’s Creed Valhalla||Intel Core i5-4460||MD Radeon R9 380 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960||4||4|
|Watchdog Legions||Intel Core i5-4460||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290X||4||4|
|Crysis 3 Remastered||Intel core i5-7600processor||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 TI /AMD Radeon RX 470||4||4|
As you can see, you don't need a higher-end processor to get good performance out of an i5 processor.
Answered below are some popular questions.
Graphics cards have specialized tasks, as they're in charge of all the video rendering on your PC. On the other hand, your CPU provides the complete processing power that your computer needs.
When it comes to gaming, you really can't beat splurging on a powerful graphics card. It's typically more important. But of course, you'll still need a good CPU to work alongside it.
Generally speaking, the Intel Core i5 is good for gaming. It's a great processor that has enough specs to handle more demanding games. But of course, there are different generations of the i5 chipset. Usually with the newer generations, you get a higher clock speed and a number of cores. So in the same vein, some of the older core i5 processors aren't as good.
At the end of the day, what separates an i5 chipset from an i7 and i9 has to be the number of cores that it has (apart from the extra cost). I included a table from the Intel site that takes a look at the 13th gen i5, i7, and i9 processors. The I9 options come with a whopping 24 cores which will let you play some of the most demanding newer games on the gaming market.
I also took a look at some modern games, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Fortnite, and whether you will be able to play them with an i5 processor.
Hopefully, you found all of the points that were run through useful, and now know what to look for when getting a new processor for the best gaming experience.