The 4 Best i5 Processors to Buy in 2018

Power your computer with Intel's popular line of CPUs

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Building your own computer is no easy task – there are a lot of factors to consider when you’re choosing components, all of which will impact the final machine. Picking the right processor, or central processing unit (CPU), is one of the most important steps in this process. Intel’s line of Core i5 processors is one of the most popular kinds of CPU, featuring Intel’s Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technology to boost performance and achieve higher clock speeds. So which model is right for your computer? Whether you’re a gamer, video editor or budget-savvy buyer, there are all sorts of options available in the Core i5 processor space. Read on for our top picks from Intel’s i5 lineup.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Intel Core i5-8400

Part of Intel’s Coffee Lake processor lineup, Intel’s 8th-generation Core i5-8400 is a great choice for PC buyers looking to get the best bang for their buck. Packed with six cores and six threads of processing speed, the base clock speed of 2.8GHz keeps energy demands minimal at 65 watts and requires less cooling, even during heavy gaming sessions. The 8400 doesn't have hyperthreading, but the ability to easily jump to a Max Turbo clock speed of 4.0Ghz makes it an ideal choice for handling mainstream gaming, application multitasking and streaming in 4K. The i5-8400 is compatible with 300 series motherboards, and installation is impressively quick. Its overall performance rivals the previous generation Kaby Lake i7 processors at a competitive price point.

Best Mid-Range: Intel Core i5-7500

Designed for PC users who don’t want to fuss with overclocking, the Intel Core i5-7500 can handle demanding tasks with ease. It operates at a base clock speed of 3.4GHz​ but can boost up to 3.8GHz with Intel’s Turbo Boost technology. The 7500 has four cores and four threads (but no hyperthreading) and manages around 65W on average, which should ultimately lead to cooler running overall especially during gaming. Absent the need for overclocking, the 7500 is an ideal choice for beginners. It has well-balanced single- and multi-core efficiency, so it can run multiple applications at once without any noticeable slowdown. For basic browsing, Photoshop, computer work or light video editing, the 7500 is a great choice and installs easily on any Z-series motherboard.

Best Gaming: Intel Core i5-8600K

Intel’s Core i5 lineup has long been a favorite of gamers. That winning streak continues with the Intel Core i5-8600K, compatible with 300 series motherboards. A base clock speed of 3.6GHz keeps thing cool, and the Turbo Boost can bump it up to 4.3GHz for more intense gaming sessions. Overclocking allows the 8600K to fully unlock its potential as a gaming processor. Plus, this particular CPU can support up to 64GB of RAM with the option to increase. This will come in handy as VR gaming grows in popularity, making 8600K owners future-proofed against continuously expanding demands in this space. Even when you aren't gaming, this processor is a multitasking powerhouse and can efficiently run several applications at once without freezing.

Best Overclocking: Intel Core i5-6600K

The Intel Core i5-6600K is an ideal choice for PC users who want an easy-to-overclock option that's simple to install. Set with a base clock of 3.5GHz, Intel’s Turbo Boost technology pushes that speed up to 3.9GHz, making this another great option for gamers (think faster overall frame rates, better detail and up to 30 times better 3D graphics when compared against older generation processors). This CPU also delivers 2.5 times the speed of previous-generation processors, and a lightning-fast "instant on" time, resuming full PC functionality in 0.5 seconds. Built for LGA 1151 motherboards, the Skylake-based 6600K supports DDR4 memory and HD 530 graphics which allows for dramatic improvements over the previous HD 4000 graphics card. With simplified installation and overclocking processes, the 6600K is a great mix of muscle and forward-thinking architecture that will last for years.