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Is the Core i5-9400F CPU Good for Gaming?

Find out if Intel's Core i5 9400F processor is good for gaming.

9400F Good for Gaming Chuck Fortner / Unsplash

Last Updated: July 26, 2022

Written by Kevin Jones

When selecting a CPU for gaming, the most important characteristics are the frequency (clock speed), core/thread count, cache size, and supported memory type. Additional considerations, such as integrated graphics and overclocking needs, may also influence your selection.

In addition to discussing the characteristics of the 9400F for gaming, this article will discuss recommendations for compatible motherboards, CPU coolers, and memory.

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Is the 9400F Good for Gaming?

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When using Intel's Core i5 9400F CPU for gaming, you can expect mediocre gaming performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or poor gaming performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler. This performance is based on the following characteristics of the CPU and their relevance to the latest graphics-intense games:

  • 9 MB of L3 cache is poor for performance
  • 6 cores allow for good performance
  • 2.90 GHz base frequency is poor for performance
  • 4.10 GHz single-core max turbo frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)
  • Max stock DDR4 speed of 2666 MT/s can be mediocre for performance
  • Lack of overclocking support cannot benefit performance
  • PCIe 3.0 support can be poor for performance (limits potential of fastest SSDs and GPUs)
Check out these Intel Core CPUs that are Good or Excellent for gaming:

Check out my article, Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i5-9400F, for recommended coolers that can maintain these boost frequencies.

Is the Cache Size of the 9400F Good for Gaming?

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A CPU's cache is a small amount of memory, close to the CPU cores, containing recently used data.

Games performance can improve as cache size increases, as it will reduce delays when retrieving commonly used game assets from memory.

An L3 cache capacity of at least 20 MB is ideal for game performance.

The Intel Core i5-9400F has an L3 cache capacity of 9 MB.

The 9400F's lackluster 9 MB of L3 cache is poor for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Is the Core Count of the 9400F Good for Gaming?

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Increased core counts can improve the performance of games that use them, but most modern games don't benefit from having more than 6–8 cores. Remember that cache sizes often increase along with core counts, so if you want to increase your L3 cache, you may need to get a CPU with more cores. Intel's 9400F CPUs have 6 cores.

The 9400F's 6 cores allow for good performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Is the Clock Speed of the 9400F Good for Gaming?

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Single-core performance is essential for some games, as many don't take full advantage of multiple cores.

Turbo boost frequencies are only achieved under ideal circumstances. The safest strategy for consistent gaming performance with a basic cooler is to get a higher base clock speed processor. However, with adequate cooling, you may be able to maintain speeds near the max boost frequency.

The 9400F CPU's lack of support for overclocking cannot benefit performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

The processor has a 2.90 GHz base frequency and supports a 4.10 GHz single-core max turbo frequency.

The 9400F's 2.90 GHz base frequency is poor for performance with the latest graphics-intense games. You can reach these base frequencies even without a high-end cooler.

With a high-end cooler, the 9400F's 4.10 GHz single-core max turbo frequency is excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games. You can maintain these frequencies with a high-end cooler.

Check out my article, Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i5-9400F, for recommended coolers that can maintain these boost frequencies.

Is the DDR Support of the 9400F Good for Gaming?

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The 9400F CPU's support for DDR4 with a max stock speed of 2666 MT/s can be mediocre for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Faster PC memory can improve game performance and frame rates, but using the fastest RAM may not have as much of an impact as upgrading your CPU and graphics card or adding more RAM.

Learn about our recommended RAM for the 9400F in Choosing the Best RAM for Intel's Core i5-9400F CPU.

What Does the F Suffix in 9400F Mean?

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Processor Name Suffix Meaning
F "F" means it requires discrete graphics. In other words, it doesn't have integrated graphics (basically a GPU built into the processor), thus requiring a standalone graphics card.

The 9400F model name has an F suffix. F-suffixed CPUs do not contain integrated graphics, and a separate graphics card is required.

The 9400F model name doesn't have a K suffix. Non-K CPUs can not be overclocked.

Intel Core i5-9400F Intel Core i5-9400F Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Cooling the 9400F

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A CPU cooler's TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating indicates how much heat it can dissipate in watts. If the cooler can't keep your CPU cool enough, your CPU may throttle (slow down), and your cooler will constantly run at full speed.

Intel CPU specifications indicate this power dissipation number as "Processor Base Power."

The Core i5-9400F has a TDP of 65 watts.

A CPU cooler can still work with a lower TDP rating than the TDP of a CPU. However, the CPU will eventually throttle itself to a lower frequency to allow itself to cool.

The CPU may not achieve or maintain maximum turbo speeds without adequate cooling.

Learn more in Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i5-9400F.

Motherboard Requirements for Core i5-9400F Processors

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For Intel's 9th generation Core i5 9400F processor, you'll need a motherboard with an LGA 1151 socket and 300-series chipset.

Motherboards for Intel processors are made with chipsets provided by Intel. Each chipset offers a unique set of capabilities. However, motherboards must explicitly support features and capabilities for you to use them. Verify that a motherboard supports the features and capabilities you desire.

The lack of a "K" suffix in the model name 9400F means it doesn't support overclocking. Because of this, there is no need for you to use the top of the line Z390 or Z370 chipsets which support overclocking. Instead, you can use a motherboard with Intel's other 300-series desktop chipsets listed below.

For compatiblity with Intel's 11th generation Core processors, you can use any of the 300-series chipsets: Z390, Z370, H370, B365, B360, H310. These are roughly sorted from most to least functionality.

The Q370 chipset is also compatible, but is intended for business use cases; its availability in stand-alone motherboards is limited.

For a detailed comparison of these chipsets, check out my article Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i5-9400F CPU?.

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Locked Intel CPUs may come with a stock CPU cooler. These CPU models do not have a "K" in the name. While stock coolers will prevent your CPU from overheating, your CPU will throttle its performance during games and other intensive tasks. Higher TDP coolers will keep your CPU at turbo speeds for longer durations. Stock coolers are often quite loud at their maximum speed.

Best AIO Liquid Cooler: Enermax Liqmax III 360

  • This Enermax liquid cooler has an excellent cooling capability with a 360-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
  • Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 2066, 2011-3, 2011, 1700, 1200, 1366, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150 and AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1.
  • Quiet operation at 14-27 dBA.
  • Make sure your computer case dimensions support this, as it will take up a decent amount of space! Enermax Liqmax III 360 Enermax Liqmax III 360 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Best Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Be Quiet! BK022 Dark Rock Pro 4

  • Quiet operation at 12.8-24.3 dB.
  • The dual fans (120 mm and 135 mm) do a great job of cooling LGA 1151 CPUs with a 250-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
  • Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011(-3) square ILM, 2066 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+.
  • Smaller models are available if you don't need as much cooling ability.
  • You can even add another 120 mm fan to it for more cooling! be quiet! BK022 Dark Rock Pro 4, 250-watt TDP be quiet! BK022 Dark Rock Pro 4, 250-watt TDP Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Runner Up - Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15

  • Dual 140 mm fans provide 220-watt TDP (183 NSPR) of cooling capability.
  • Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 2011, 2066 and AMD AM4, AM3, AM3+, AM2, AM2+, FM2, FM2+.
  • Quiet operation at 24.6 dBA. Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
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Before purchasing memory, review your motherboard specification to verify which speeds are supported. For example, if a DDR4 motherboard stated that it supports "DDR4 3400(O.C.) / 3333(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200 / 3000," that would mean that it could support DDR4-3400, DDR4-3333, and DDR4-3300 with memory overclocking, and DDR4-3200 and DDR4-3000 at stock speeds. Motherboard specifications also indicate the maximum capacity per stick of RAM (DIMM) and across all slots.

  • At an effective frequency of 2666 MHz, this memory hits the fastest DDR4 speed supported by Intel's Core i5 9400F CPU without overclocking.
  • The low-profile form factor ensures that the heat spreaders don't get in the way of other devices, including your CPU heatsink. Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2x16GB) 2666MHz DDR4 Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2x16GB) 2666MHz DDR4 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Learn More About the Intel Core i5-9400F

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You can find detailed 9400F specifications on Intel's site.

Other Considerations When Building a PC

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Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles: