There’s an amazing deal on at Novatech, as they’ve reduced the excellent 11th-gen Intel Core i5 11400F processor to a meagre £100 - compared to a UK RRP of £150. In our 11400F review, we found that this particular CPU was just that perfect match of price and performance when it comes to PC gaming. While we paired it with the rather beefy RTX 2080 Ti graphics card, whatever you've got will be fine - especially at 1080p where your CPU is often the limiting factor for achieving higher frame-rates.
Here's a link to the processor - and an example of a cheap CPU cooler that pairs well with this CPU. Even the stock Intel cooler works great if you've already got one, but note that this reduced price is for the CPU only - not the full retail box that costs £133 on Amazon presently.
- Get the Intel i5 11400F for £100 (was £150)
- Get the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO V2 air cooler for £35
Note that the 'F' in 11400F means that this CPU doesn't come with integrated graphics, so you will need a separate graphics card in your build. The 11400F will work well with a wide range of GPUs from AMD and Nvidia, but we'd recommend something in the region of an RTX 3060 or better to get the most out of the processor. Still, most people upgrade graphics cards more often than processors, so this is still a solid choice if you're rocking an older graphics card and waiting for Nvidia and AMD's next-generation GPUs to be released over the next year.
Here are some GPU recommendations for your reference:
- Nvidia RTX 3050 is £325 (down from £350)
- Nvidia RTX 3050, 3060 and 3060 Ti at Scan
- Nvidia RTX GPUs at eBuyer
While it is a last-generation chip and the 12th generation 12400F is considerably faster, you begin to make sacrifices with your bank account as you start to buy other components. Motherboards that support all the features the latest generation brings, like PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 RAM, are much more expensive than the Z490 and Z590 motherboards the 11400F supports. You can also find cheaper H470 and H570 boards, but these tend to offer fewer features and may hold you back a bit in the future, so Z590 is probably the best bet!
- MSI Z590-A Pro ATX Motherboard (PCIe 4.0) is £120 on Amazon (was £130)
- MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus ATX Motherboard (PCIe 3.0) £93 (was £167)
- Asus Prime Z590-P ATX Motherboard (PCIe 4.0) is £150 (was £183)
Especially with the high price of DDR5 RAM right now, there's a solid argument for going with the 11400F. Install this into a motherboard, strap on a cheap CPU cooler, DDR4-3200 RAM and a relatively recent graphics card, and you'll have a solid PC right out of the gate.
Surprisingly, the 11400F becomes an even better choice as your monitor's resolution increases. At 4K, your graphics card will almost always be the limiting factor, so spending way more and getting something like a 12900K won't actually increase your frame-rates all that much. The same is true at 1440p, where most AAA games at high settings will remain GPU-bound and your choice of CPU doesn't really matter after a certain point. Therefore, if you've got a 1440p or 4K monitor, you may as well get a cheap CPU like this one, then put all the money you saved into the biggest graphics card you can afford - you'll end up with way higher frame-rates that way!
If you’re looking for a solid base for your next build or an upgrade on a budget, there’s no better option right now than a £100 CPU that, once put together with the right parts, will wipe the floor with games and even minor content creation tasks for years to come - especially as Nvidia and AMD continue to push image reconstruction techniques like DLSS and FSR to run games at lower resolutions and higher frame-rates.
With GPUs getting back in stock and prices dropping considerably, it might be time to consider that budget to mid-range gaming PC build you’ve been thinking about...