Intel Core i3 vs Core i5 vs Core i7 Processors

Intel marketing has tried to simplify the categorization of its processors, based low-medium-high principle, rather than as they used to do earlier by the confusing the customers with MHz / GHz / MB Caches or Dual Core, Core 2 Duo, Core Solo etc. They have been partly been successful in this strategy. They have essentially linked the categories to the prices (Core i3 being cheapest and Core i7 being costliest) and performance. But there is still a significant confusion around the target usages of these processors. There are many people who think that there are only 3 processors available from Intel, which is not true. This ‘Intel Core i3 vs Core i5 vs Core i7 Processors’ article will clarify the confusion around the target usages of these processors and also explain that i3, i5 and i7 are categories of processors i.e. there are many processors falling under each of these three categories.

Intel Core i3 Processors:

Intel Core i3 processors come in 2 series, i3-3xxM (for Laptops / Mobile Computing) and i3-5XX (for Desktops). i3 processors are based on 32nm architecture (Clarkdale design) and include a graphic processor (GPU) on the same die as the microprocessor. These are dual core processors with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel HD Graphics. Intel HD Graphics means that they deliver high-quality, high-definition (HD) video playback, advanced 3D capabilities, and full support for the computer’s operating system, without the need for a discrete graphics card. What i3 doesn’t have is Intel Turbo boost which is present in the higher i5 and i7 series. Since they are based on smaller 32nm architecture, these are significantly less power consuming. So if power backup is a main concern for you for your laptop, you should stick to i3.

Intel Core i3 is best for:

  • Casual use at home or office
  • Music and Movies
  • Social networking, browsing and email
  • Basic (casual) photo and video editing
  • Home Theater
  • Simple gaming
  • Basic Multi-tasking
  • Intel Core i5 Processors:

    Intel Core i5 processors come in 4 series, i5-4xxM and i5-5xxM (for Laptops / Mobile Computing) and i5-6xx and i5-7xx (for Desktops). All i5 processors come with Intel Turbo Boost Technology along with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel HD Graphics. Intel Turbo Boost Technology dynamically redirects power and accelerates performance to match your workload. This means you can automatically get extra performance whenever you need it, and increased energy efficiency when you don’t. Intel Core i5-4xxM and i5-5xxM come with 2 cores and 4 threads with 3MB Cache. Intel Core i5-6xx processors again come with 2 cores and 4 threads but with 4MB Cache. i5-4xx,5xx,6xx are 32nm processors (Clarkdale design), that include a graphic processor (GPU) on the same die as the microprocessor. Intel Core i5-7xx series processors are based on 45nm architecture (Lynnfield design). Core i5-7xx are quad core processors with 4 threads and 8MB cache. They come with Intel Turbo Boost Technology but they do not have Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel HD Graphics. Since they do not have integrated graphics, they need a video/graphics card in the motherboard to display video.

    Intel Core i5 is best for:

  • People who spend a significant number of hours daily on their computer
  • Heavy Multi-tasking (a lot of applications opened simultaneously)
  • Photo and video editing
  • Programming
  • Intensive gaming
  • Intel Core i7 Processors:

    Intel Core i7 are best of the breed processors with extreme performance. Intel Core i7 processors come in 4 series: i7-6xxM, i7-7xxM and i7-8xxM (for laptops / Mobile Computing) and i7-8xx and i7-9xx for Desktops and Workstations. These are quad core processors with 8 threads and 8MB Cache. Some of the higher end i7-9xx series processors even have 6 cores with 12 threads and 12 MB Cache. The quad core i7 processors have 45nm architecture with Bloomfield design while the higher end 6 core ones have a 32nm architecture with Gulftown design. All of i7 processors come with Intel Turbo Boost Technology and Intel Hyper-Threading Technology. i7-6xxM series also come with Intel HD Graphics.

    Intel Core i7 is best for:

  • Extreme Performance Requirements
  • Extreme hardcore Gaming
  • Extreme Multi-tasking
  • Complex and heavy CPU intensive Programming
  • Photo and Video editing workstations
  • Developer workstations
  • Intensive Multimedia Processing
  • So finally the big question – ‘Which one should I buy?’

    If your requirement is only casual computing (couple of hours a day), music and multimedia, Intel Core i3 is all you need. But go for Intel Core i5 if it falls in your budget. It’s worth it as it future proofs your investment. Intel Core i5 best of all day computing and for people who best performance from their systems. Core i7 is required only if you are a game freak or you are into heavy multimedia editing or you really need it for your business or professional requirement.

    Author: Kunal Kumar

    Kunal Kumar is the editor of BinaryDay. An avid geek, he is usually found browsing through the Interwebs to get the latest news in the world of technology and gadgets.

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