i5 6500 vs i5 6600K Intel Core CPU Comparison Review

i5 6500 vs i5 6600KThis post is comparing the i5 6500 vs i5 6600K. These are two of the best CPUs on the market in terms of bang for buck but which is takes the crown as the very best?

If you are building a PC, then chances are that you are either a gamer or a tech enthusiast and you’re looking for the best in performance and power. You maybe like the idea of having something custom-built and that you get to choose the specs.

Whatever the case, you will certainly want the best bang for your buck. And in that case, there are few pieces of hardware more important than the CPU. For gaming, perhaps you could argue that the GPU is slightly more important. But it is still the CPU that is going to be handling most of the calculations and math and that will bring detailed 3D worlds to life.

Today, there are a ton of different components available for techies to choose from. In some ways this is great news because it means you can save money in the areas where you don’t need the latest performance and then go all-out in the areas that matter to you. Of course, you can always upgrade individual components later on down the line too, whether you decide you’d like more RAM or a faster chip.

The downside is that it can make it trickier to make a decision when you aren’t quite sure which one is best for your device and for your budget.

In this post, we’ll be taking a look at the i5 6500 vs i5 6600K – two very good CPUs with their own pros and cons. We’ll also examine the chips in general and see where they stand in terms of the bigger picture.

Intel Core i5 6600KIntel Core i5 6500
Intel Core i5 6600KIntel Core i5 6500
Buy the CPU hereBuy the CPU here

Introducing i5 Skylake

First, let’s take a look at the basic facts.

The first thing you need to know is that both when comparing i5 6500 vs i5 6600K is that they are highly capable chips. These CPUs are 2015 ‘Skylake’ models, which means they aren’t the very latest and most powerful. That award goes to the new Kaby Lake models.

But don’t let that put you off. By choosing Skylake, you’ll be making a significant saving in terms of your spend and you won’t notice too big a drop in performance unless you are really pushing your machine.

Skylake vs Kaby Lake

For many people, choosing one of these models (i5 6500 vs i5 6600K) will still offer you the smartest investment and the best value for money. But to make sure, let’s just take a quick look at the difference between Kaby Lake and Skylake.

So essentially, Kaby Lake represents just a ‘tuned’ version of Skylake along with a few new features.

Of course, there are more options besides. You could wait for the upcoming Coffee Lake, which is going to be another optimization of the current 14nm architecture, or you could wait a little longer for the 10nm Cannonlake. Both are expected to land at around the end of the year. Then there is the Ryzen processor line from AMD, which offers a more compelling alternative these days.

Other than a little fine tuning to improve performance and heat, Kay Lake offers an upgraded graphics chip that is able to support encoding and decoding of HEVC – the latest video codec for 4K video. But if you’ve got a decent graphics card, then that’s not really a big issue. This is great for laptops because they often don’t come with a spate dedicated GPU, but if you’re custom building a PC, chances are you’re sticking something else in there.

Kaby Lake also brings with it support for Optane Memory. This is a slightly faster alternative to NVMe SSD and will take up the M.2 slot on the motherboard. But to support this feature, you’re also going to need to upgrade your motherboard.

Kaby Lake also brings a slight boost in clock speeds but as we’ll see in a moment when we delve into the i5 6500 vs i5 6600K that you can get plenty from your Skylakes. Not only that, but if you opt for the 6600K which supports overclocking, then you can mitigate this issue entirely.

So, in other words, there isn’t a ton of reason to choose the more expensive Kaby Lake processors right now. You can stick with Skylake and get plenty of decent performance.

i5 vs i7

Of course, if you choose between the i5 6500 vs i5 6600K, then you’re also opting to go i5 rather than i7. Is this a good idea?

Well, in terms of cash saving the answer is yes. An i5 processor is significantly cheaper than an i7 and that comes with only relatively little compromise in performance. Most i7 processors are quad core, just like i5s and it’s rare (and expensive) to get a six or eight core model. You’ll get a slight boost in clock speed most of the time, but it’s negligible.

i7s tend to offer bigger caches. This means they have more memory which can help to slightly improve multitasking performance. But you can get this from increasing your RAM which is generally a cheaper and easier option. Most i5 CPUs come with 3-6MB, whereas i7s come with 6MB to 8MB.

The Contenders: i5 6500 vs i5 6600K on Paper

The i5 6500 is a quadcore processor that has a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a boost clockspeed of 3.6GHz. That gives it a19% base clock performance boost over the 2.8GHz i5 6400 (the model before it).

In between the i5 6500 vs i5 6600K, you have the i5 6600. Intel sure isn’t afraid of fragmentation!

Here, you get a base clock speed of 3.3GHz and a boos clock speed of 3.9GHz. That’s a relatively small increase but it’s not so bad when you consider that you’re only really looking at around a $20 price premium.

 i5 6400i5 6500i5 6600i5 6600K
Logical Cores4444
Base Clock Speed2.8GHz3.2Ghz3.3Ghz3.5Ghz
Boost Clock Speed3.3GHz3.6Ghz3.9GHz3.9Ghz


Now if you look at these different models, you will notice there isn’t a ton of difference between the 6600 and the 6600K. In fact, they look the exact same on paper part from a slightly higher base clock speed! So why would you pay the roughly additional $20 more in order to get the K variant? And when you do this, you are now looking at paying $40 more compared with the 6500, so is it worth the jump?

The 6600K also has a slightly higher TDP. This means that it gets hotter and uses up more battery. That’s not a problem if you’re plugged into a mains outlet though and as we’ll see, there are some interesting advantages that might offset this small potential downside.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Core i5 6500 vs i5 6600K

The big advantage of the i5 6600K over the 6600 is not the .2GHz boost in base clock speed. Rather, it comes from the fact that it supports overclocking, as long as you have Z-series motherboard.

As you will likely know, this means you can get extra power out of your processor and see an increased performance in games and other applications. In gaming, cache size and cores don’t really make much difference and as such, you can likely expect to get comparable performance out of your 6600K as compared with something significantly more expensive like a Kaby Lake or an i7. This is good news and great for chasing performance rather than spending silly money just so that you can boast the highest numbers of latest dates.

If you’re truly about performance and getting value for money, then the i5 6600K is a compelling offer. For many, this will settle the i5 6500 vs i5 6600K dispute.

Not only that, but overclocking means you’ll get more use out of your processor toward the end of its life. It will let you keep up with the bigger boys and support more demanding games. It also increases resale value when you come to sell.

The i5 6500 vs i5 6600K In Brief

i5 6500 Advantages

  • Lower base power consumption
  • Around 21% cheaper
  • Better price to performance ratio

i5 6600K Advantages

  • Overclocking
  • 9% higher performance in single-thread applications
  • Multi-thread performance better
  • 7% better performance on memory intensive programs
  • 12% faster rendering graphics

But the caveat is that you will need the Z-series motherboard to get the most from this purchase. Note as well that if you are looking at pre-built PCs, then overclocking might void your warranty.

In the Real World

So, what does all this mean for you when you’re actually using your PC? What will you notice when using an i5 6500 vs i5 6600K?

Multitasking, you’re not going to see a huge ton of difference, though you will get a little smoother performance. The big difference is for gaming, where you will gain a little more oomph by overclocking. This is especially true if you have a 122Hz monitor and you’re willing to crank the graphics settings down slightly. In this case, you’ll see a greatly improved performance with high, silky smooth framerates. This is really a sight to behold and it’s something that you really need to experience in person.

Again though, in this scenario that added performance depends primarily on having the right monitor to enjoy the performance on.

Of course, the biggest gaming performance boost will come from your graphics card though. Many games will let you get away with a relatively underpowered CPU. The real performance boost will come from having the right GPU. And in that case, getting a GTX1060, 1070 or 1080 is what’s really going to blow your socks off.

Can they handle Gaming?

The question is whether or not the CPU will be able to support the GPU or whether it will bottleneck. And the answer is yes with either the i5 6500 vs i5 6600K.

Of course, there are some exceptions. Some games are less GPU intensive and this is particularly true for emulation. If you’re planning on running CEMU, then you might want to invest more in the processor. But there are videos on YouTube of users playing Breath of the Wild on an i5 6600K with GTX 1070. In other words, this should handle pretty much everything you need. (And we are not recommending that you download illegal ROMs by the way!).

For what it is worth, Linus from Linus Tech Tips recommends the i5 6600K as the best CPU for a ‘pure gaming machine’. Anything higher than that and he believes you’ll see diminishing returns. So there you have it! This is no surprise seeing as the i7 6700K is a whole $100 more!

The only time that Linus – or anyone else for that matter – recommends going higher is for aspiring creatives. If you plan on streaming your games, or if you’re going to be editing 4K video, then you might consider a bump up. Otherwise, either of these processors will do just fine and especially if you back them up with a decent GPU and good motherboard.

Benchmarks for i5 6500 vs i5 6600K

But what about the numbers?

These are the numbers from PC UserBenchmark:

i5 6600Ki5 6500
Best Benchmark107%80%
Worst Benchmark67%60%
Gaming89% (Aircraft Carrier)73% (Battleship)


UserBenchmark ranks the i5 6600K as 14/962, while the i5 6500 lags behind at just 72/962.

Bottom Line

Okay then, it’s conclusion time. Let’s settle the i5 6500 vs i5 6600K once and for all!

The bottom line is that the 6600K gives you great bang for your buck. This is a fantastic value proposition for those who want to squeeze every last bit of juice out of their dollar.

It is not the most efficient option though. If you want the best price-to-performance ratio or if you want something that runs a little cooler, then you can do just fine on the i5-6500.

So as always it depends. Are you someone who wants the very best performance at the lowest price? Or are you someone who wants the best value? There is a subtle difference there somewhere.

But we have to choose a winner and I count myself as a bit of a performance junkie. So, the entirely objective winner is: the i5 6600K.

BUT there are really no losers here. These are two great CPUs that you can get an awful lot of mileage out of. You will be very happy together.

i5 6500 vs i5 6600K Winner: i5 6600K (With caveats)

Intel Core i5 6600KIntel Core i5 6500
Intel Core i5 6600KIntel Core i5 6500
Buy the CPU hereBuy the CPU here

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