September 5 2019

Intel Core i3 vs i5 vs i7

If you’ve ever even thought of building a PC from the ground up, you’ve definitely heard of one brand— Intel. They make some of the best processors for gaming. Of all the CPUs in their lineup, three families are the most popular — i3, i5, and i7. The popularity of these processors is a result of their versatility.

They’re great for casual use, work use, and gaming.

So, if you’re thinking of building a mean gaming rig for yourself, you might want to know exactly what these names stand for and which one will suit you the best. Here’s everything you need to know.

i3, i5, and i7 don’t refer to any single processor. Instead, they each refer to a family. There are multiple i3, i5, and i7 processors.

The names are a part of Intel’s nomenclature method. i3 refers to simple, no-frills basic processors, i5 processors are mid-level processors, i7 — you guessed it — are high-end processors.

Intel Core i3 Processors

Intel i3 processors or Core i3 are basically simple two-core processors. A ‘core’ refers to one individual processor that can execute one task at any given point of time. Regardless of how expensive a processor is, one core can execute only one task at any given point of time.

So, higher core numbers are more desirable.

Intel i3 processors are usually dual-core processors, meaning that they have two cores. The speed of a processor is measured in Gigahertz. Core i3 processors operate from anywhere between 1.3GHz to 3.5GHz.

Where to Use Core i3

Core i3 processors aren’t high-end processors by any means. However, they are used widely in schools and even offices. If your computer work is limited to internet browsing, text editing, and a bit of video rendition, i3 processors are more than enough.

In fact, i3 processors are also capable of running a few basic games. I3 8100 is a very good example. We even listed it as one of the best intel CPUs overall.

intel core i3 boxes

Apart from this, i3 processors are also a hot choice for some basic laptops because they don’t consume a lot of power. Some laptops equipped with i3 processors can run of almost 10 hours on a single charge.

Of course, these laptops aren’t capable of high-end use, but then again, it’s different strokes for different folks!

Core i3 Gaming Prowess

The simple answer is — there isn’t much of that. You can run some games that have a low requirement, but gaming isn’t exactly a strong suit of the i3 family.

As mentioned before, there are exceptions. But in general, if you’re looking to build a gaming PC, i3 processors are some of the best budget gaming CPUs.

Intel Core i5 Processors

Welcome to the mainstream. Core i5 processors are the most popular processors in the world. They are extremely versatile and can pretty much do anything from powering laptops to residing in powerful workstations.

Unlike i3 processors that are mostly dual-core, high-quality i5 processors now usually come with 6 cores. However, if you’re on a tight budget, there are i5 processors that have four cores too.

Given that there are more cores, the power consumption goes up too. However, if you’re looking to build a PC, this change is almost negligible.

intel core i5 preview

Clock speed for i5 processors varies from 1.9GHz to 3.8GHz.

Where to use Core i5

The simple answer is — everywhere. Core i5 processors are the mainstream for a reason. From simple internet browsing to video encoding and editing, i5 processors can do it all. Apart from professional video editing and rendering high-end multithreaded 3D rendition programs, the Core i5 processors can handle everything else.

It is this versatility that makes the i5 so popular.

Core i5 Gaming Prowess

All that being said, there’s one group of people who absolutely love i5 processors — gamers. If you’re a gamer and are looking to build a gaming rig, it doesn’t get better than i5.

Yes, i7 processors are better and can render games at better frame rates. However, the difference is quite low. Professional gamers usually go for i7 processors but if you’re just a casual gamer, i5 processors are what you’re looking for.

There are scores of excellent i5 gaming processors. From simple city-building games to AAA titles like Metal Gear Solid, i5 processors can run them all.

The combination of having 4 to 6 cores coupled with reasonable prices means that you get high-performance gaming on a budget. These processors have enough cores and clock speed to run any game while being inexpensive enough for most of us to afford it.

Intel Core i7 Processors

Core i7 processors are the high-end processors that go into workstations and high-end gaming computers. They are mostly used by professionals — gaming or otherwise.

Intel Core i7 processors, today, come with 8 cores as standard. Having 8 physical cores enables you to do pretty much whatever you want. Like i3 and i5 processors, i7 processors are also used in the top-of-the-line gaming laptops.

Some i7 processors can hit clock speeds of up to 5GHz with no overclocking at all. Obviously, this speed also comes with a by-product — power consumption. So, if you’re looking to buy an i7 powered laptop, be prepared to charge them frequently.

Where to Use Core i7

Intel Core i7 processors are mainly used by professionals. Even among professionals, there are certain groups who actually need the computing power of an i7. Combine a Core i7 CPU with a powerful graphics card for gaming, and you won’t experience any CPU or GPU bottlenecks rocking the highest available settings.

intel core i7 anniversary release

If you’re a professional video editor or you work with 3D rendition software, i7 processors are the best choice for you. Professional gamers need excellent gaming prowess and also powerful video editing power. Core i7 processors become a natural choice.

Core i7 Gaming prowess

There’s no game that an i7 cannot handle. They are also amongst the best processors for streaming that you can buy today. Not only can you play all compatible games, but you can also play them using the best possible settings. High frame rates and top-notch resolutions are given with Intel Core i7 processors.

Having 8 physical cores helps, too. Most games usually need just 4 cores to work flawlessly. However, in the recent past, this is changing. More and more games can now use six or eight cores. The fact that you have it will make your rig future-proof too.

What About Intel i9?

Thanks to severe competition from AMD, Intel has very recently come out with their new flagship processor line — Intel Core i9. Though highest-quality AMD gaming processors are getting really good, i9 processors aren’t for gamers. They’re for a different set of people.

These i9 processors, as you might expect, are the costliest and most powerful mainstream processors on the market today. They have high clock speeds and more cores than you might really need.

intel core i9 box

Intel i9 processors are aimed at professionals who need more computing power than i7 processors.

It’s fair to say that most people have no use for these i9 processors. So, while browsing online, if you see the i9, just remember that it’s mostly not for you and me.

So, i3, i5, or i7?

Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer here. It depends a lot on what you want your processor to do. However, there are a few broad guidelines that can help you decide.

Intel Core i3: Simple browsing, basic tasks like text editing and watching videos, and occasional basic gaming.

Intel Core i5: Gaming, basic multithreading tasks, and overall workhorse.

Intel Core i7: High-end gaming, video encoding, and editing, 3D animation rendering.

There you go. That pretty much wraps it all up. So, the next time you’re online looking at processors, you know exactly what each one of them is capable of delivering. If you’re building a rig, get in touch!

Tell us what configuration you’re going for. We love listening to you people. Happy building!


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Akash Hoslok