Intel Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7: Which CPU Should You Buy?

Confused by the differences between Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors ? here ‘s what you need to know in layman ‘s terms and which CPU to buy. The processor is the brain of a computer, but understanding the difference between processors requires a lot of brain of your own. unfortunately, Intel has a confusing naming schema, and the wonder we get asked most often is : What ‘s the difference between an i3, i5, or i7 central processing unit ? Which CPU should I buy ?
It ‘s time to demystify that. Read on to learn about the deviation between an Intel Core i5 and a Core i7, if a Core i3 is any full, and whether you should buy an Intel Core i9 .

The Differences Between Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3

intel core logos
An Intel Core i7 is better than a Core i5, which in turn is better than a Core i3. The disturb is knowing what to expect within each tier. Things go a little deep .
First, Core i7 does not mean a seven-core processor! These are fair name to indicate relative performance .
Older Intel Core i3 series had only dual-core processors, but more recent generations have a mix of dual- and quad-core CPUs .MAKEUSEOF VIDEO OF THE DAY It is a similar history for older Intel Core i5 CPUs. Older generations of Intel Core i5 processors had a concoction of dual- and quad-core processors, but the former generations typically feature a quad- or even hexa-core ( six ) configuration, along with fast overclock speeds than the Core i3 .
The latest Intel Core i7 CPU generations include quad-core, hexa-core, and octa-core ( eight ) configurations. Again, the Intel Core i7 CPUs outperform their Core i5 counterparts and are much faster than the entry-level Core i3 CPUs .
Quad-cores are normally better than dual-cores and hexa-cores better than quad-cores, and so on, but it is n’t always accurate depending on the CPU generation—more on these differences in a consequence .
Intel releases “ families ” of chipsets, called generations. At the time of write, Intel has launched its 11th-generation series, named Rocket Lake. Each syndicate, in turn, has its own line of Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 series of processors. The latest central processing unit generations have another tier above Core i7, the Intel Core i9 . The Intel Core i9 series is Intel ‘s extreme performance pipeline. Most core i9 CPUs are octa-core and come with a very high clock speed, enabling them to perform to a identical high criterion for prolong periods. They may besides come with a larger CPU memory cache than their counterparts, enabling faster overall performance .
Related : What Is a CPU Cache ?

How to Tell Which Intel CPU Generation Is Which?

You can spot which generation a processor belongs to by the first digits in its four or five-digit model name. For exercise, the Intel Core i7- 11 700K belongs to the 11th genesis .
For a long time, a useful govern of thumb for Intel CPU model names was that the other three digits were Intel ‘s assessment of how the central processing unit compares to others in its own pipeline. For example, an Intel Core i3-8145U is superior to the Core i3-8109U because 145 is higher than 109 .
intel core old name convention style
That rule is still in rate, but it is n’t constantly as easy to follow as it once was as there are respective other product line modifiers you can find in the mannequin number. however, “ A higher SKU within otherwise-identical processor brands and generations will generally have more features, ” as per Intel ‘s name convention guide .
intel core cpu naming conventionsintel core cpu naming conventions
furthermore, this change is another reason why comparing CPUs across generations using their model number alone is advisable, as Intel tweaks things .

What Intel’s Model Letter Suffixes Mean: U vs. HQ vs. H vs. K

As you can see, the model phone number will typically be followed by one or a combination of the postdate letters : U, Y, T, Q, H, G, and K. here ‘s what they mean :

  • U: Mobile power efficient. The U rating is only for mobile processors. These draw less power and are better for battery life.
  • Y: Extremely Low Power. Processors designed for devices with extremely low power requirements, such as Internet of Things devices or other embedded hardware.
  • T: Power Optimized for desktop processors.
  • H: High-Performance Mobile. These CPUs are high-performance models optimized for mobile hardware.
  • HK: High-Performance Mobile, but also has an unlocked CPU which allows for overclocking.
  • HQ: High-Performance Mobile. Optimized for mobile hardware, with a quad-core processor.
  • G: Includes Discrete Graphics. Typically found on laptops, this means there is a dedicated GPU with the processor.
  • G1-G7: The level of integrated graphics performance you can expect.
  • K: Unlocked. This means you can overclock the processor above its rating.
  • S: Special Edition processors, usually featuring very high-performance hardware.

Understanding these letters and the total system above will help you know what a processor offers just by looking at the model total without needing to read the actual specifications .

Intel Core i7 vs. i5 vs. i3: Hyper-Threading

The physical cores largely determine the travel rapidly of a central processing unit. But with how modern CPUs shape, you can get a boost in accelerate with virtual cores, activated through hyper-threading .
In layman ‘s terms, hyper-threading allows a single physical core to act as two virtual cores, thus performing multiple tasks simultaneously without activating the second physical core ( which would require more power from the organization ) .
If both processors are active agent and using hyper-threading, those four virtual cores will compute faster. however, do note that physical cores are faster than virtual cores. A quad-core CPU will perform a lot better than a dual-core CPU with hyper-threading !
The difficulty is that there is no blanket border on from Intel regarding hyper-threading on its CPUs. For a long time, alone Intel i7 CPUs featured hyper-threading, with a few Intel Core i3 CPUs but no Intel Core i5 CPUs. That position changed with Intel ‘s tenth Gen CPUs, with some Core i5 processors launching with hyper-threading, but anterior to this, Intel disabled hyper-threading on some of its Intel Core i7 9th Gen CPUs in reply to security risks . In short, you ‘ll have to check the individual CPU for its hyper-threading electric potential, as Intel appears to chop and change with each central processing unit generation .
One thing is for certain : the fastest core i9 series does support hyper-threading .

Intel Core i7 vs. i5 vs. i3: Turbo Boost

All of the latest Intel Core processors immediately support Turbo Boost frequencies. previously, Intel Core i3 owners were left out in the black, forced to suffer with their even CPU speeds. however, as of the Intel Core i3-8130U, the CPU manufacturer began adding higher frequency modes to the entry-level CPU series .
Of course, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 CPUs all have Turbo Boost, besides .
Turbo Boost is Intel ‘s proprietorship engineering to intelligently increase a processor’s clock speed if the application demands it. So, for exemplar, if you are playing a game and your system requires some extra horsepower, Turbo Boost will kick in to compensate . Turbo Boost is useful for those who run resource-intensive software like video editors or video games, but it does n’t have much of an effect if you ‘re just browsing the vane and using Microsoft Office.

Intel Core i7 vs. i5 vs. i3: Cache Size

How cache size of processor impacts speed
apart from Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost, the one other major remainder in the Core lineup is Cache Size. The hoard is the central processing unit ‘s own memory and acts like its private RAM. Upgrading to a newer CPU with a larger memory hoard is one of the upgrades that will benefit your personal computer the most .
Just like with RAM, more cache size is better. indeed if the processor is performing one tax repeatedly, it will keep that task in its cache. If a processor can store more tasks in its private memory, it can do them faster if they come astir again . The latest generations of Core i3 CPUs typically come with between 4-8MB of Intel Smart Cache memory. The Core i5 serial has between 6MB and 12MB of Intel Smart Cache memory, and the Core i7 series has between 12MB and 24MB of cache. The Intel Core i9 series tops the number, with each CPU coming with between 16MB and 24MB Intel Smart Cache memory .

Intel Graphics: Xe, HD, UHD, Iris, Iris Pro, or Plus

ever since graphics were integrated on the processor chip, integrated graphics have become an crucial decisiveness point in buying CPUs. But as with everything else, Intel has made the system a little jumble .
Intel Graphics Technology is the umbrella term covering all Intel integrated graphics. Within that, there are different generations of Intel incorporate graphics engineering, bewilderingly referred to by both series names and generational names. distillery following ?

  • Intel HD Graphics was first introduced in 2010 as the first series under this umbrella but is actually Gen5 (5th generation) in terms of development.
  • Intel Iris Graphics and Intel Iris Pro Graphics were introduced in 2013 and are Gen7 integrated graphics units. The Iris Pro Graphics units were pretty big news at the time as they integrated DRAM into the module, giving the graphics performance an extra boost.
  • Intel UHD Graphics launched with Intel’s 10th Generation mobile CPUs and is only available on certain laptop model processors.
  • Intel Xe (known as Gen12 integrated graphic) was a massive step forwards for integrated graphics, using a new architecture to deliver much higher integrated graphics performance than previous generations. Adding to the confusion, some of the Intel UHD Graphics models use Intel Xe architecture, further muddying the water.

The best advice for how to interpret these? Just do n’t. rather, trust on Intel ‘s name organization. If the processor ‘s model ends with HK, you know it ‘s a model with high graphics performance and an unlock CPU. If it ends with a G, that means there is a dedicated GPU, not one of Intel ‘s chips .

Choosing Between Intel Cores i3 vs. i5 vs. i7 vs. i9

intel core cpu generation comparison
broadly speaking, hera ‘s who each central processing unit type is best for :

  • Intel Core i3: Basic users. Economic choice. Good for browsing the web, using Microsoft Office, making video calls, and social networking. Not for gamers or professionals.
  • Intel Core i5: Intermediate users. Those who want a balance between performance and price. Good for gaming if you buy a G processor or a Q processor with a dedicated graphics processor.
  • Intel Core i7: Power users. You multi-task with several windows open at the same time, you run apps that require a lot of horsepower, and you hate waiting for anything to load.
  • Intel Core i9: The extreme performance tier is marketed for those that demand the best and fastest performance in every area of their machine.

How Will You Choose Between Intel Core CPUs?

This article provides a basic guide for anyone looking to buy a new Intel processor but is confused between Core i3, i5, and i7. But even after understanding all this, when it ‘s time to make a decision, you might need to choose between two processors from different generations because they ‘re priced the lapp . When you ‘re comparing, my best tip is to head to CPU Boss, where you can compare both processors and get a detail analysis, a well as ratings. If you do n’t understand the jargoon, precisely go with the rat and the basic advice. even if you understand CPU slang, CPU Boss has all the details you ‘ll need .

Most People Don’t Need Intel Core i9

Although the ultra-performance models in the Intel Core i9 crop seem incredibly exciting ( and they are ! ), they are a moment overkill for most users. Intel markets those at pro-gamers, designers, subject creators, developers, and more, and for a good reason. Most of the time, a top-tier Intel Core i7 CPU will do the caper and save you a fair knock of cash in the procedure .
however, each to their own, of course, and if you can afford an Intel Core i9 CPU for your gambling swindle, buy it and enjoy the incredible experience .

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Intel Core i9 vs. i7 vs. i5 : Which CPU Should You Buy ?
Intel and AMD are back in a battle of processors, with Intel ‘s Core i9 as the fastest consumer desktop processor ever .
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About The Author

Gavin Phillips
( 990 Articles Published )

Gavin is the Junior Editor for Windows and Technology Explained, a regular contributor to the Really Useful Podcast, and a regular merchandise commentator. He has a BA ( Hons ) Contemporary Writing with Digital Art Practices pillaged from the hills of Devon, deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as over a ten of professional writing experience. He enjoys ample amounts of tea, board games, and football.

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