Conclusion - Almost The Perfect Chip!

While the hybrid Intel 12th Generation lineup brought a brand new slate to the table, the Non-K Core i5 lineup aims to bring the best price to performance value in the CPU marketplace. While we've seen several advantages of the hybrid approach in our Core i9-12900K & Core i5-12600K review, the Golden Cove-only design is surprisingly powerful on its own as this review shows.

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Intel Core i5-12400 - Not Hybrid? No Problem!

The main point of having Alder Lake CPUs was to offer a hybrid design but that isn't the case with the Core i5-12400. The hybrid design makes multi-threading performance faster and efficient but with the Core i5-12400, a few trade-offs had to be made. This for me is a mixed bag since offering efficiency cores on the 12400 would have made sense for budget builders who could've received a higher performance without worrying about efficiency. With that said, the Core i5-12400 isn't any less efficient even with an all P-Core design. Based on the power and performance figures, it is the better option over AMD's Ryzen 5 5600X which offers 6 Zen 3 cores and the 12400 really shows an Intel IPC advantage here.

Mainstream & Entry-Level Motherboards For All

Another issue that plagued the launch of Intel's unlocked Alder Lake CPU lineup was the platform cost and availability of a crucial component, the DDR5 memory. While the entry-level H670, B660 & H610 motherboards will come in DDR5 flavors, each motherboard is getting a DDR4 iteration too which means that not only are the motherboards cheaper but going DDR4 is likely the best route for the mainstream and budget gaming segment.

The H670 and B660 platforms do feature XMP 3.0 support but then again, the cost-to-performance ratio of running DDR5 memory over DDR4 isn't that attractive. So I'd suggest getting any DDR4 motherboard and pairing it up with the Non-K Alder Lake CPUs for the best performance and cost.

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The MSI B660M Mortar WiFi motherboard we received for testing is a great all-rounder board that has enough IO and features you'd expect. The version we received was DDR5 and as said above, you can definitely save up some costs going with the DDR4 variant of the same board which is also available. The 12 phase VRM was enough to handle the Core i5-12400 and having sub-60C temps for the VRMs is also a plus. What I really liked about this board is all USB 3.2 ports on the back are rated Gen 2 (20 Gbps) and a solid WiFi/LAN option is the topping on the cake.

This Is One of The Coolest & Least Power Hungry Chip In Our Test Suite Currently

In terms of power and thermals, the Core i5-12400 runs surprisingly cool with sub-45C temps under load, and the power consumption during gaming and benchmarking is also lower than AMD's Ryzen 5 5600X. This is a huge feat for Intel after many years where they have a chip that is not only faster than AMD's offering but also cooler and more energy efficient. Now, this chip is also based on the same architecture as the Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K which consume higher power and the reason for that is Intel's own power limits which have been set to extract every last ounce of juice out of them. In power scaling tests, we have noticed that the 12900K can be tuned to consume much lower power and retain 95% of its performance.

You can also see a glimpse of the power load management kicking in when playing games where the 12900K was consuming lower power than the 5950X and offering better performance. The same is the case with the Core i5-12400 though as far as overclocking is concerned, that is a no-show on the B660 platform but we will be taking it on around for some BCLK tuning with on the Z690 platform to see just how much more can be squeezed out of this little chip using a higher-end board.

PCIe Gen 5.0 - Pretty Much Useless

Another key feature of the new 600-series platform is the addition of PCIe Gen 5.0 lanes. It looks like Intel wanted to be the first to each new IO and memory standard with Alder Lake but this one is quite useless. Yes, we know that new graphics cards are at some point going to come out & will feature support for PCIe Gen 5.0 hardware but existing graphics cards aren't even saturating the Gen 4 lanes entirely and we get another 2x bandwidth increase with Gen 5.

Sure it offers future-proofing but I mean it would've been more beneficial as a consumer if those lanes were shared with one of the M.2 slots so next year when the new Gen 5 SSDs arrived, users could upgrade to make somewhat use of the new standard. But Intel decided to share all lanes to the PCIe slots & which to me is unnecessary and we will see if next-gen graphics cards are going to see any real-world benefit from it.

Step Aside 5600X, the Core i5-12400 Is The Real Deal Now!

The Intel Core i5-12600K showed the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X whose boss but now the little Core i5-12400 is doing it again and at $130 US less ($167 US vs $299 US). For consumers, the new B660 & H610 platform along with DDR4 options means that they can build more mainstream and budget builds. The Core i5-12400 runs cooler and consumes lower power, it rivals and even surpasses the Core i9-11900K in gaming performance while beating the Zen 3 in multi-threaded workloads. While those who were expecting a hybrid architecture on the entry-level lineup would be disappointed but aside from that, the Core i5-12400 is almost the perfect chip for the sub $200 segment.

Final Verdict - The Intel Core i5-12400 is faster than the 11900K in gaming, faster than the 5600X in multi-threading, runs really cool, and consumes lower power than comparative Zen 3 parts. The $167 US F-variant is one of the best chips that consumers could buy and pair it up with either a B660 or H610 (DDR4) motherboard. It really shows that Intel has jumped back in the mainstream segment with a strong CPU that would really shake things up for AMD's Ryzen team.

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