The Best i5 12600K Gaming PC build

The Core i5 12600K was the leading gaming chip from the Alder Lake line-up. This isn’t necessarily because it had the best gaming performance, as the 12900K takes responsibility for that. The reason behind the i5 12600K’s success is the fact that it is the value king out of the Alder Lake processors.

Considering that, we’ll be helping you put together the best i5 12600K gaming build for your needs. We’ll be looking at three builds, across different price tiers so everyone can get an idea of what performance they get for their budget.

PC gaming build
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Intel Core i5 12600K Gaming Build – Budget Tier

Specs:

CPU: Intel Core i5 12600K | CPU Cooler: Deepcool AK400 | Motherboard: Gigabyte B660M DS3H | RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3600 | Storage: Silicon Power A60 1TB | Video Card: PowerColor Fighter Radeon RX 6500 XT | Case: Phanteks Eclipse P300A Mesh | Power Supply: EVGA 600BQ 600W

This budget gaming pc build with the i5 12600K should give you a good starting point. If your budget is a bit tight, this PC will provide decent 1080p performance in most games.

However, keep in mind that there will be some compromises with a budget gaming pc build while using the i5 12600K. Let’s break down the specs so you get what we’re dealing with.

Budget Core i5 12600K Build – Overview

The i5 12600K is an excellent choice for a budget or mid-range PC. It provides top-notch performance and single-threaded performance is what makes this an enticing gaming CPU. It fits into this build perfectly and works well for 1080p gaming.

However, there is a caveat. The 12600K does not come with a CPU cooler. As such, you’ll have to get an aftermarket cooler to properly cool this chip. While the CPU does support overclocking, we won’t be focusing on that for this budget build.

With that in mind, we decided to go with Deepcool AK400 to cool our processor. This is a cheap and reliable air cooler that works surprisingly well. Of course, there are more options around this price range, but considering the performance, you can’t go wrong here.

The cooler looks slick and even has a white version that looks very clean. It is quiet and will keep the 12600K cool unless you want to overclock it.

As for the motherboard, we went with the Gigabyte B660M DS3H. In case you’re wondering, there are some big differences between B660 and Z690 motherboards. However, considering prices, it was hard enough to squeeze in a B660 board here instead of an H610/H670.

This is a microATX motherboard that only supports DDR4 memory. This is fine for our case since DDR5 memory is already expensive. While the board is light on features, it features two M.2 slots, support for 128 gigs of memory, and a reliable BIOS. It’s an excellent choice as a budget gaming motherboard.

For RAM we went with the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3600 kit. The 3600MT/s speed is more than enough for the 12600K, and you won’t feel the need to upgrade as this kit provides excellent gaming performance. While it doesn’t have any RGB, it does get the job done nicely.

i5 12600K gaming
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Storage-wise we went for the Silicon Power A60 1TB drive. This is a PCIe 3.0 drive, and that means you’ll get better speeds than the traditional SATA SSD. Apart from that, this drive is quite affordable and works well for budget builds.

We had to ponder a bit over the GPU. While the RTX 3050 seemed like an obvious choice, that would push the budget well over $1000. So, we decided to go with the Powercolor Fighter Radeon RX 6500XT. This card delivers decent 1080p performance, especially for Esports titles.

However, if you want DLSS and the other Nvidia-exclusive features, you’ll need to pay up for the RTX 3050. The 6500XT also features only 4GB of VRAM, which will feel a bit limiting for graphically intensive games.

Still, it’s the best choice on a budget. If you want to competitive shooter, this card will perform well. Although, you should upgrade to the 3050 if the budget allows it.

For the chassis, we recommend the Phanteks Eclipse P300A Mesh. It has excellent cooling, a lot of room to work with, and looks sleek. This mid-tower case is also futureproof since you have room to upgrade to a bigger card.

Finally, we’re using the EVGA 600BQ power supply. This is an 80+ bronze semi-modular unit that will deliver enough power for our build. It’s cheap and reliable, but you might end up upgrading if you decide to go with a better GPU down the line.

Summary

So, this build is a decent choice if all you care about is 1080p gaming. This is especially true if you want to competitive shooters like Overwatch 2 or Call of Duty: Warzone. Keep in mind that if you want to play graphically demanding games, upgrading to the RTX 3050 is a better idea.

However, Nvidia’s pricing is a bit hard to swallow these days. Alternatively, you could also go with the Radeon RX 6600XT. We went with the 6500XT purely because we wanted to keep this build under the $850 mark.

Of course, if your budget allows, you upgrade to either of the GPUs we mentioned above. Apart from that, this budget build is a decent start and gives you a good upgrade path to the new Intel Raptor Lake chips.

Estimated price for build: $800 – $850

Intel Core i5 12600K Build – Mid-Range

Specs:

CPU: Intel Core i5 12600K | CPU Cooler: Cooler Master ML240L RGB | Motherboard: Gigabyte B660M Gaming X | RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-3600 | Storage: Silicon Power A60 1TB | Video Card: MSI RTX 3060 Ventus 3X | Case: NZXT H510 Flow | Power Supply: Corsair RM750x

At the time, many people dubbed the 12600K the best CPU for mid-range builds. This is because it easily beats the Ryzen 5 5600X and even matches the significantly more expensive Ryzen 9 5900X in most games.

So, with this mid-range build, you’re looking at great performance for 1080p, and it even keeps up at 1440p. Let’s take a deeper dive into the specs to see what we can expect.

PC
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Mid-Range Core i5 12600K Build – Overview

The 12600K once again proves to be an excellent processor, especially for this build. Pairing it with a great GPU helps this processor show off its performance. Rest assured, if you care about 1080p or 1440p gaming, the 12600K will perform well for this build.

As we mentioned earlier though, the 12600K does not come with a cooler. So, for this mid-range build, we went with the Cooler Master ML240L RGB liquid cooler. It features a 240mm radiator and comes with two 140mm fans.

This is a great-looking cooler and is relatively quiet. It also allows you to do some decent overclocking. Furthermore, it uses the latest CoolerMaster SickleFlow120 RGB fans, so the overall performance and aesthetics are on point here.

For the motherboard, we decided to go with the Gigabyte B660M Gaming X. This is a microATX board that is quite the upgrade from the board featured in our budget build above. You get a good amount of USB ports and headers, and memory overclocking is quite good.

Considering this is a B-series motherboard, the VRMs are surprisingly great. If you want to, you could overclock the 12600K by a fair bit. This is one of the best processor and motherboard combos for mid-range builds.

Apart from that, you also get wireless networking here in the form of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth. Considering the features and performance, this board is an excellent bang for your buck.

For memory, we decided to go with a G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB kit. These RAM sticks have a max speed of 3600MT/s and a CAS latency of CL16. Considering the price, that makes it an excellent value overall. This kit also overclocks well.

However, if you don’t mind paying extra, there are better-looking kits out there. A good example is G.Skill’s own Trident Z RGB line. However, you’ll be paying $30-$40 extra for similar specs. Of course, that comes down to personal preference.

For storage, we’re still sticking with the Silicon Power A60 1TB drive. This is because, in terms of value, it doesn’t truly get much better. You could upgrade to a PCIe 4.0 drive, but you won’t notice a difference in gaming performance.

Now, let’s talk about the GPU. There are a lot of options to pick from here, depending on the budget. You could go with a Radeon RX 6600XT, RTX 3060 Ti, or maybe even an RTX 3070 if your budget allows that. All of these are excellent graphics cards.

However, we went with RTX 3060 for this build. Specifically, the MSI RTX 3060 Ventus 3X. This is because this card delivers excellent performance at 1080p and even performs well at 1440p for many games.

You also get the added benefit of DLSS. While some games may falter a bit at the higher settings at 1440p, enabling DLSS will improve performance. DLSS has gotten to the point where the effect on the image quality does not hinder the experience.

Still, you could upgrade to the 3060 Ti if you want to play games with raytracing turned on. That card will also fare better in the long term. If you can’t upgrade to the 3060 Ti, you’ll still be happy with the RTX 3060, as long as you know what you’re getting.

For the PC case, we’re using the NZXT H510 Flow. This mid-tower case has a tempered glass side panel, mesh front panel, an understated appearance, and great cooling. It’s the old H510, but with much better cooling.

Finally, we’re using the Corsair RM750x as the power supply. This is an 80+ Gold unit with 750W of power and is also fully modular. It’s a tier-A unit on the LTT PSU tier list, so there’s not much more to ask for.

Summary

In conclusion, this build is an excellent rig for both 1080p and 1440p gaming. If you care about graphical fidelity but also care about decent performance, then this rig will not disappoint you at all. It also gives you a good upgrade path and decent overclocking thanks to the motherboard.

So, you’re getting an RTX 3060, a motherboard with good VRMs and Wi-Fi, fast storage, and a high-end power supply. The only upgrade left here is in the GPU department, and if you can upgrade to the 3060 Ti, you should. However, we wanted to keep this build under $1200-$1300.

Estimated price for build: $1200 – $1300

Intel Core i5 12600K Build – High-End

Specs:

CPU: Intel Core i5 12600K | CPU Cooler: Corsair iCue H100i Elite Capellix | Motherboard: MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi | RAM: G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB 32GB | Storage: Crucial P3 Plus 1TB PCIe 4.0 | Video Card: Asus TUF Gaming RTX 3080 Ti | Case: Lian Li PC O11 Dynamic | Power Supply: SeaSonic Focus GX850

The high-end build is where things get interesting. Since we have a higher budget, we have more options to choose from. The goal with this build is to create a rig that can handle native 4K gaming at 60fps but still have a good price-to-performance ratio.

High-End Core i5 12600K Build – Overview

To start things off, some people might wonder if the 12600K will hold up for this higher-end build. Well, if you’re gaming at 4K your games will be more GPU bound than CPU bound. This means that bottlenecking is not an issue. So, the answer is that yes, the 12600K will hold up quite well here.

We need a good cooler if we’re going for a high-end build. Well, the Corsair iCue H100i Elite Capellix was a perfect choice, thanks to its aesthetics and performance.

Building a PC
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This cooler features RGB on both the pump and fans, so it is very visually pleasing. It uses Corsair’s ML120L RGB fans and a 240mm radiator. Performance-wise, this cooler is quite great.

Next, we decided to upgrade to a Z690 motherboard for this build. Specifically, the MSI MAG Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi. This ATX board features three full-length PCIe x16 slots, four M.2 slots, a good amount of USB ports and headers, Wi-Fi 6, and excellent overclocking.

Memory overclocking is great with this board, and the same is true for CPU overclocking. It is loaded with features and supports DDR5 memory on top of that. Simply put, this is one of the best Z690 boards out there. This also happens to be one of the best boards for the 12900K.

Of course, to take advantage of this DDR5 motherboard, you’ll need to get blazing-fast DDR5 memory. Well, it does not get much better than the G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB. This is a 32GB kit with a speed of 6000MT/s. It has a CAS latency of 36 and is fast enough that you’ll notice a difference coming from DDR4.

A high-end build like this benefits from fast memory, and the 32 gigs of capacity mean that it holds up well for video editing and other productivity-related tasks.

Storage-wise, we are upgrading to a PCIe Gen 4 drive. The Crucial P3 Plus 1TB is a PCIe 4.0 drive that is faster than any PCIe 3.0 drive out there. Surprisingly, the price isn’t all that bad either. While you might not notice a difference in games, it will help in tasks such as video editing.

Now, let’s move on to the star of the show. We decided to go with ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3080 Ti. This is the card you should get if you want to natively play games at 4K. The 3080Ti can handle almost any game at 4K, without the need for DLSS.

If you want to experience raytracing, this card excels well in that department too. Of course, it is quite expensive, but may very well be the last GPU you buy for the next couple of years.

For the PC case, we recommend the Lian Li O11 Dynamic. This is a spacious chassis that looks great when you have the right fans installed. It has enough room to work with, and even has watercooling support.

Last but not least, we went with the SeaSonic Focus GX 850 for the PSU. It’s an 80+ Gold-certified PSU and is the best in its class. The 850W is more than enough for this build, and this PSU stays near silent under full load.

Summary

So, if you want to put together a high-end 4K gaming rig and still get excellent value out of it. This is the one to get. Thanks to the powerful Z690 board, you also get a good upgrade path to the new Intel Core i9 13900K. As for the 3080 Ti, well, that GPU is quite a sight to behold.

Overall, while this high-end gaming rig is expensive, the overall performance you’re getting for that cost is quite impressive. Thanks to the abundance of choice, it’s a great time to build a new gaming PC, and this rig is proof of that.

Estimated price for build: $2200-$2300

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