Intel Core i5 vs i7: Best CPU for You?

Kenny Trinh Updated on June 9, 2020
i5 vs i7

The hunt for a laptop is still going and you can’t decide whether you go for Core i5 or Core i7 processor. If you have already read about the Core i3 vs i5 comparison, then you may have some ideas. You are here because obviously you are looking for more options and we get it, you want to make sure you get it right. We’ll help you decide, whether Core i5 or Core i7 suits best for you, here we go.

There are many Intel processors in the market, and they are grouped into a number of categories. There are Intel Xeon processors that are used for servers and workstations, the Intel Pentium and Core are for consumer applications which will be digging on this article.

Core i5 and i7 are among the most popular Intel processors, they offer a wide range of capabilities at a different number of price points. To decide which processor is right for you, you need to know the difference between the two to help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each processor. In doing so, it will enable you to decide which processor better suits your needs.

Difference between Core i5 and Core i7 processors

What is the difference between the two processors? Core i5 and i7 may have both numbers of the core which is four cores, they differ in base clock speed.

In other words, Core i7 has more GHz. Which makes it faster than Core i5 processors, but a new model of Core i5 is faster than old models of Core i7 as well as the accompanying components affects the chip speed.

The Core i5 and i7 have individual processors with a four-digit model number, there are Core i7-6700 and Core i5-6600K.

The higher number means better performance, for example, Core i5-6500 is faster than i5-6400. But there are Core i5 models that are faster than i7, like the Core i5-56600k which is faster than Core i7-6700, the only downside is that the Core i5 has less cache.

In a nutshell:

Core i7

  1. High end
  2. Have 8 cores and 16 threads max
  3. Hyperthreading supported
  4. Virtual cores are used for better performance in some apps
  5. Have better integrated graphics.
  6. More IPCs
  7. High clock speed

Core i5

  1. Mid range
  2. 6 cores and 12 threads max
  3. Hyperthreading supported
  4. Virtual core are used for better performance in some apps
  5. Decent integrated graphics
  6. Slightly lower IPCs.
  7. Blazing clock speed

How fast is i7 vs i5

Core i5 and Core i7 vary in speed but it is not always true that Core i7 is always faster than Core i5. Some Core i5 models are faster than other i7 models, it all depends on the model and accompanying specifications.

Some Core i5 models are faster than other i7 models, it all depends on the model and accompanying specifications.

In terms of desktop, Core i5 and i7 CPUs are typically separated by their number of supported threads and clock speed. While it is true that both processors had the same number of cores, which is six-core for the eight and ninth-gen and four for older models. Some processors had support for hyperthreading that lets them support twice the number of threads to be efficient in multitasking. 

All Core i7 support hyperthreading on desktops and core i5 do not, all 8th generation Core i7 processors support hyperthreading until they introduced ninth-generation and hyperthreading was reserved for the Core i9. So all Core i7 after eight-gen does not support hyperthreading at all. Core i5 CPUs typically have a lower clock speed than i7, though the speed is not so significant. Core i5 has less cache so they don’t perform very well at repetitive tasks compared to i7.

Processors in mobile are slightly different, while desktop Core i5s do not feature hyperthreading, some processors on mobile do. So, Core i5 on laptops can handle extra threads at once, but still, Core i7 CPUs are still powerful. Eight-generation Core i5 CPUs have four cores and support eight threads, while most Core i7 have six cores and 12 threads.

But still, there are factors that affect the speed of processors, Core i7 may be faster than Core i5 but not true all the time depending on components they are with and the generation they have been released.

Cache

Core i7 has faster base clock speed, and has larger amounts of cache which helps the processor to deal with repetitive tasks or frequently accessed data. You can feel the difference between Core i5 and i7 when opening some applications and switching from it from time to time, you’ll feel more faster loading data speed in Core i7 than Core i5.

While cache is not the biggest factor in specs, it illustrates advances of generation and family model of each processor. It would greatly affect your multitasking productivity. So, when looking for a laptop and multitasking is a crucial part of criteria, look for machines that have bigger cache.

Turbo Boost and HyperThreading

This feature is built into processors for many generations and it allows the chip’s cores to run faster than their base clock speed. When there are four cores and the process takes only one or two then Turbo Boosting happens, it uses the spare core to make the process much faster.

Both Core i5 and i7 processors support Turbo Boost, Core i7 on the other hand, has higher clock speed. Core i5 and i7 have different rated base and boost clock speed, the higher the better, but it would still depend on the specific design, cooling of the PC, how long a chip can sustain its boost speed and how many cores.

While HyperThreading does not always present on both Core, it may have or it may don’t have. Hyperthreading is used for increasing performance on multi threaded tasks, multithread happens when the user is running several programs simultaneously. Each core addresses two processing threads at the same time instead of just one in order to perform better.

So, when buying a laptop, especially if you are into speed and power. Look for processors that support HyperThreading.

Integrated Graphics

Laptops that are not gaming machines typically rely on Intel HD or UHD Graphics, also known as integrated graphics-acceleration silicon that is part of the CPU. While high-end systems have their own dedicated graphics chips.

Machine with integrated graphics saves more power, the dedicated graphics on laptop or desktop consumes power. Intel’s integrated graphics are designed for mainstream productivity like work, studies, or any average computing need, while dedicated graphics are for high=end gaming, or any other heavy computing tasks.

With that said, if you decide to stay on integrated graphics. Intel 650 generally performed better than Intel UHD Graphics 630, which also performs better than Intel Graphics 510. The newer the integrated graphics the better.

For the most part, you’ll get faster CPU performance from Core i7 than Core i5. The majority of Core i7 desktop CPUs are quad-core processors, while many mobile Core i5 processors are dual-core. This is not always the case, as there are dual-core mobile Core i7 processors and several quad-core desktop Core i5 CPUs. 

You might also see the rare six- or eight-core Core i7, but that’s usually found with the desktop-only, top-of-the-line Extreme Edition models. If you are into the thought of doing advanced graphics then i7 is best even for gaming.

What is Core i5 processor good for

Well, for most users. Core i5 is the most sensible choice, the latest generations of Core i5s are comparable to previous releases of Core i7 chipsets and with much lower price tag.

Core i5 is a decent processor for everyday tasks and light gaming, they may not be as good as Core i7 in multitasking. But still, Core i5 is sufficient enough for most users, you can still do a lot of computing needs without bottlenecks. 

What is Core i7 processor good for

Core i7 is one of the most advanced chipsets and offers greater capability, Core i7 is best suited for multitasking, high-end gaming, multimedia consumption, and heavy usage applications like Adobe’s Creative Suite, etc.

If you are a user who doesn’t mind paying a premium for more power or users who have demanding power usage like AAA video games at high framerates, rendering 3D objects, or video editing. Core i7 would suffice that and more.

What does your processor name tell you?

The names of each processor may also end with letters, and these letters have different meanings.

U: Ultra-Low Power. The U rating is only for laptop processors. These draw less power and are better for the battery.

Y: Low Power. Typically found on older generation laptops and mobile processors. They take less power than a U processor.

T: Power optimized for desktop processors.

Q: Quad-Core. The Q rating is only for processors with four physical cores.

H: High-Performance Graphics. The chipset has one of Intel’s better-integrated graphics processors in it.

K: Unlocked. This means you can overclock the processor above its rating.

Price and architecture difference

The number of cores and processing speed defines the price tag of a processor, so Core i5 systems are typically cheaper than Core i7 systems. Core i5 price ranges from $195 to $297 desktop and laptop, while Core i7 ranges from $270 to $426 on both desktop and laptop systems.

Core i5 is considered mid-range and supports dynamic overclocking of the CPU to enhance performance.

While Core i7 falls on high-end which supports both overclocking and hyperthreading on desktop and laptop chips and has a higher overall performance than Core i5 chipset.

Core i5-10th Generation microarchitecture

MicroarchitectureProcessorCoresL3 CacheGPU modelRelease datePrice
Comet Lake-SCore i5-104006 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$182
Comet Lake-SCore i5-10400F6 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$157
Comet Lake-SCore i5-105006 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$192
Comet Lake-SCore i5-106006 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$213
Comet Lake-SCore i5-10400T6 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$182
Comet Lake-SCore i5-10500T6 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$192
Comet Lake-SCore i5-10500T6 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$213
Comet Lake-SCore i5-10500TE6 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$195
Comet lake-HCore i5-10300H4 (8)8 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$250
Comet Lake-UCore i5-10310U4 (8)6 MBUHD Graphics 620May 2020$297
Ice Lake-UCore i5-1038NG74 (8)6 MBIris Plus Graphics (G7)May 2020$297

Core i7-10th Generation microarchitecture

MicroarchitectureProcessorCoresL3 CacheGPU modelRelease datePrice
Comet Lake -SCore i7-107008 (16)16 MBUHD Graphics 630May 2020$323
Comet Lake -SCore i7-10700F8 (16)16 MBN/AMay 2020$298
Comet Lake -SCore i7-107ooE8 (16)16 MBUHD Graphics 630May 2020$349
Comet Lake -SCore i7-10700T8 (16)16 MBUHD Graphics 630May 2020$335
Comet Lake -SCore i7-10700TE8 (16)16 MBUHD Graphics 630May 2020$330
Comet Lake-HCore i7-10750H6 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$396
Comet Lake-HCore i7-10850H6 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$395
Comet Lake-HCore i7-10875H8 (16)16 MBUHD Graphics 630April 2020$450
Comet Lake-UCore i7-1061OU4 (8)8 MBUHD Graphics 620May 2020$409
Comet Lake-UCore i7-1081OU6 (12)12 MBUHD Graphics 620May 2020$443
Ice Lake-UCore i7-1065G74 (8)8 MBIris Plus graphics (G7)May 2020$426

Conclusion

Intel’s Core i5 is the best choice for value-minded users who care about performance without breaking the bank, Core i5 suffices most mainstream computing needs and could perform really well, with the right components Core i5s could do more and could even perform heave tasks.

Core i7 is made for high-end users and power enthusiasts, heavy gaming and heavy tasks are just some of the things that Core i7 can do. So if you don’t mind the price, go for Core i7 machines and bring the game on.

Kenny Trinh
Article by:
Building his first desktop at the age of 10, start coding at 14 years old, Kenny knows a thing or two when it comes to finding a good laptop and he aims to share everything he knows. Current go-to laptop: Apple Macbook Air 2019.

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