Which CPU Should You Buy? Intel Core i5 vs i7. What is intel processor

When you are comparing, your best tip is to go to the Head of Processor where you can compare the two processors and get a detailed analysis as well as ratings. If you don’t understand the jargon, just read up on the rating and some basic advice. Even if you understand the CPU jargon, CPU Boss has all the details you need.

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 what processor to buy.

The processor is the brain of a computer, but understanding the difference between processors takes a lot of your mind. Unfortunately, Intel has a confusing naming scheme and the most frequently asked question is: What is the difference between i3, i5, or i7 processors? Which processor should i buy?

Time to demystify that. Read on to find out about the difference between Intel Core i5 and Core i7, is Core i3 good, and whether you should buy Intel Core i9.

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

Intel Core i7 is better than Core i5 which in turn is better than Core i3. The trouble is knowing what to expect at each level. Things go a little deeper.

First of all, Core i7 is not a seven-core processor! These are just names that indicate relative performance.

The older Intel Core i3 series only had dual-core processors, but the newer generations have a mix of dual-core and quad-core processors.

A similar story applies to older Intel Core i5 processors. Older generations of Intel Core i5 processors had a mix of dual-core and quad-core processors, but later generations typically have a quad-core or even six-core (six) configuration, as well as faster overclocking than the Core i3.

The latest generations of Intel Core i7 processors include quad-core, six-core and eight-core (eight) configurations. Again, Intel Core i7 processors outperform their Core i5 counterparts and are significantly faster than Core i3 core processors.

Quad-core is usually better than dual-core, six-core better than quad-core etc, but this isn’t always accurate depending on your CPU generation – more on these differences in a moment.

Intel releases “families” of chipsets called generations. At the time of this writing, Intel has released the 11th generation series called Rocket Lake. Each family, in turn, has its own line of processors from the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 series. The latest generations of processors are at a different level than Core i7, Intel Core i9.

The Intel Core i9 series is a line of Intel products with extreme performance. Most Core i9 processors are octa-core and have very high clock speeds, so they can run at a very high level for a long time. They can also come with a larger CPU cache than their counterparts for higher overall performance.

How to Tell Which Intel CPU Generation Is Which?

You can tell which generation the processor belongs to from the first digits of the four- or five-digit model name. For example, Intel Core i7-11700K belongs to the 11th generation.

For a long time, a useful rule about Intel processor model names was that the remaining three digits were Intel’s evaluation of how the processor compares to others on its own line. For example, Intel Core i3-8145U is better than Core i3-8109U because 145 is higher than 109.

This rule still applies, but is not always as easy to follow as it used to be, as there are several other product line modifiers that can be found in the model number. However, “The higher SKU under identical processor brands and generations will generally have more features,” according to Intel’s naming conventions guide.

Moreover, this change is another reason why it is advisable to compare processors between generations using the model number alone as Intel is making fixes.

The physical cores largely determine the speed of the processor. But thanks to how modern processors work, you can get acceleration with virtual cores activated by hyperthreading.

How Many Cores Is Enough?

Simply put, a system equipped with a Core i5 will be less expensive than a computer equipped with a Core i7 if everything else is equal. But in most cases, if you compare apples to apples (i.e a desktop chip with a desktop chip, or a laptop chip with a laptop chip, and the same generation to the same generation), the Core i5 will have less or limited capabilities. A Core i7 will typically be better for multitasking, multimedia editing and creation, advanced games, and similar demanding tasks. Often, however, the price difference will be small, so it’s worth experimenting with the online configurator of any computer you buy to see if you can afford a machine with a Core i7 processor.

When you use software that can use as many cores as possible (modern authoring programs like the ones in Adobe Creative Suite are excellent examples), the more cores you have in your CPU, the faster it will do.

Most of the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors have four or more cores, which we consider to be the best place for most users. Many of the latest Core i5 and Core i7 desktop models have six cores, and several ultra-high-end gaming PCs are equipped with eight-core Core i7. Meanwhile, a few very energy-efficient Core i5 and Core i7 laptop processors only have two. You’ll find them mostly in ultra-thin laptops.

The same strict core nomenclature has been used in many generations of Intel processors. To make sure you are buying a system with the latest generation processor, look for the Core ix-11xxx or Core ix-10xxx naming structure. Some processors designed for thin or popular laptops have a “U” or “Y” added to the end of the model name, while others have a “G” followed by a number that signifies the graphics processing capabilities of the chip. Chips designed for laptops with power supply usually have a “H” or “HK” ending; and those intended for desktop computers end with “K” or “T” (or just end with zero).

Unless you shop in the used PC market, you’ll find eighth and ninth generation (or earlier) Core i5 and i7 chips in end-of-life / end-of-life systems and some budget PCs, while you’ll find 10 and 11th generation chips in most new models . General guide if you don’t want to go too deep: For better performance within each generation and each class (Core i5 or Core i7), buy a processor with a higher model number. For example, Intel Core i7-1065G7 generally has better performance than Intel Core i7-1060G7.

A Quick Word on Cache

In addition to generally higher base clock speeds, Core i7 processors have a larger amount of cache (memory installed on the chip) to help the processor cope with repetitive tasks or frequently used data faster. If you are editing and calculating spreadsheets, your CPU should not reload the structure where the numbers are. This information will be cached, so when you change the number, the calculations are almost instantaneous. Larger cache sizes also help with multitasking as background tasks will be ready to switch focus to another window.

The cache size is not a make-or-break specification, but it illustrates progress from generation to generation and from family to family. The latest Core i5 and Core i7 processors for laptops have a cache of 16MB or less.

There isn’t always a clear-cut, final answer that is better for a given situation, and it often comes down to your budget. But knowing the basics about each one can help you make a smarter choice. Let’s move on to the key differences between Core i5 and Core i7. (Also check out our Core i7 vs. Core i9 explanation.)

Early products

Intel’s first products were memory chips, including the world’s first metal oxide semiconductor, the 1101, which did not sell well. However, his brother 1103, a single-bit dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip, was successful and was the first chip to store a significant amount of information. It was first purchased by the US technology company Honeywell Incorporated in 1970 to replace the underlying memory technology in their computers. Since DRAMs were cheaper and consumed less power than core memory, they quickly became the standard memory devices in computers around the world.

Following the success of DRAM, Intel became a public company in 1971. That same year, Intel introduced Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EPROM), which was the company’s most successful product line until 1985. Also in 1971, Intel engineers Ted Hoff, Federico Faggin and Stan Mazor developed a general-purpose four-bit microprocessor and one of the first 4004 single-chip microprocessors, under an agreement with the Japanese calculator manufacturer Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation, which allowed Intel to retain all rights to the technology.

Not all of Intel’s early efforts were successful. In 1972, management decided to enter the growing digital watch market with the purchase of Microma. But Intel did not have a real understanding of consumers and sold the watchmaking company in 1978 at a loss of $ 15 million. In 1974, Intel controlled 82.9% of the DRAM chip market, but with the growth of foreign semiconductor manufacturers, the company’s market share had dropped to 1.3% in 1984. However, by then Intel had moved away from memory chips and focused on its microprocessor business: in 1972 it produced the 8008 eight-bit central processing unit (CPU); The 8080, which was 10 times faster than the 8008, arrived two years later; and in 1978, the company built its first 16-bit 8086 microprocessor.

In 1981, the US computer manufacturer International Business Machines (IBM) chose the 16-bit Intel 8088 processor as the processor for its first mass-produced personal computer (PC). Intel also supplied its microprocessors to other manufacturers who made “clones” of PCs that were compatible with the IBM product. IBM PC and its clones sparked the demand for desktop and notebook computers. IBM has entered into an agreement with a small company called Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington to supply a Disk Operating System (DOS) for its computer. Ultimately, Microsoft delivered its Windows operating system to IBM PCs, which, thanks to the combination of Windows software and Intel chips, were called “Wintel” machines and dominated the market from the very beginning.

Of the many microprocessors manufactured by Intel, perhaps the most important was the 80386, a 32-bit chip released in 1985, which initiated the company’s commitment to making all future microprocessors backward compatible with previous processors. Application developers and PC owners could then be sure that software running on older Intel machines would run on the latest models.

Pentium microprocessor

With the introduction of the Pentium microprocessor in 1993, Intel moved away from number-oriented product naming conventions for the trade names of its microprocessors. The Pentium was the first Intel chip for PCs to use parallel or superscalar processing, which significantly increased its speed. It had 3.1 million transistors, compared with the 1.2 million transistors of its predecessor, the 80486. Combined with the Microsoft Windows 3.x operating system, the much faster Pentium chip contributed significantly to the growth of the personal computer market. While companies continued to buy the majority of PCs, the more powerful Pentium computers allowed consumers to use the computers for multimedia graphics applications, such as games, that required more processing power.

Intel’s business strategy was to make newer microprocessors much faster than the previous ones to encourage buyers to upgrade their computers. One way to do this was to manufacture chips with significantly more transistors in each device. For example, the 8088 found in the first IBM PC had 29,000 transistors, while the 80386 introduced four years later contained 275,000, and the Core 2 Quad introduced in 2008 had over 800,000,000 transistors. Itanium 9500, which was released in 2012, had 3,100,000,000 transistors. This increase in the number of transistors became known as Moore’s Law, named after company co-founder Gordon Moore, who observed in 1965 that the number of transistors in a silicon chip was doubling roughly annually;revised it in 1975 to double every two years.


Moore’s Law. Gordon E. Moore noticed that the number of transistors in a computer chip doubled every 18-24 months. As the logarithmic graph of the number of transistors in Intel processors at the time of their introduction, its “law” was obeyed.

To raise awareness of the consumer brand, in 1991 Intel began subsidizing computer advertising on the condition that the advertising contained the corporate label “Intel inside”. As part of the collaboration program, Intel set aside some of the money each computer manufacturer spent annually on Intel chips, of which Intel covered half of the company’s newspaper and television advertising costs over the course of the year. While the program cost Intel directly hundreds of millions of dollars each year, it had the desired effect, making Intel a conspicuous brand.

Intel’s famous technical prowess was not free from mishaps. His biggest mistake was the so-called “Pentium defect” in which an obscure segment among the 3.1 million transistors of the Pentium processor made an incorrect division. The company’s engineers discovered the problem after the product was released in 1993, but decided to remain silent and fix the problem in the chip updates. However, mathematician Thomas Nicely of Lynchburg College in West Virginia also discovered this flaw. Initially, Grove (then the CEO) declined recall requests. But when IBM announced it would not be shipping CPU computers, it forced a recall that cost Intel $ 475 million.

Intel® Pentium® 4 processor

Though struck by the Pentium fiasco, the combination of Intel technology and Microsoft software continued to crush the competition. Competitive products from semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), wireless connectivity company Motorola, workstation maker Sun Microsystems and others have rarely threatened Intel’s market share. As a result, the Wintel duo have consistently faced accusations of being a monopoly. In 1999, Microsoft was found guilty in a US district court of being a monopoly after being sued by the Department of Justice, while in 2009 the European Union fined Intel 400.45 billion for alleged monopoly activities. In 2009, Intel also paid AMD 400.25 billion to settle a decades-long legal dispute,in which AMD accuses Intel of putting pressure on PC manufacturers not to use their chips.

Intel releases “families” of chipsets called generations. At the time of this writing, Intel has released the 11th generation series called Rocket Lake. Each family, in turn, has its own line of processors from the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 series. The latest generations of processors are at a different level than Core i7, Intel Core i9.

Intel Celeron and Pentium – cheap laptops and very cheap desktops

Celeron and Pentium processors are at the very bottom of Intel’s offering. You may know the Pentium brand, which is the mainstay of more powerful computers from the late 90’s. It currently ranks just above the Celeron in terms of performance.

Newer Pentium models, such as those launched from 2017, are becoming increasingly popular on laptops costing between £ 250 and £ 300. These chips are energy efficient which means they’re great when you need a laptop with long battery life. They are perfect for web browsing and basic office work.

Celerons can also be found in very cheap desktops. These machines tend to get very weak points in our testing and negate many of the benefits of buying a desktop computer. We do not recommend them.

Check out our pick of the best cheap laptops .

What do the numbers and letters at the end of Intel processors mean?

This is where things get a bit confusing, and that’s where Intel’s naming convention hides just how powerful the laptop is.

When finding out what type of processor your computer has, refer to the full specs to see the exact processor model. This has a big impact on how powerful your computer will be.

For example, a computer labeled as having a “Core i5” processor may have any number of different specifications.

Taking the example of the Core i5, your computer may have any of the following, as well as many others: Core i5-7400, Core i5 7600K, Core i5 7300U, Core i5-7500HQ, Core i5-7400T, and Core i5 7Y57. The trend also applies to the i3 and i7 chips.

Note the different four-digit number and final letter (or Y in one case). This is the last letter (suffix) that gives you the most information about the type of processor you’re looking at.

  • No suffix: This is a standard desktop processor, typically with quad cores and high clock speed, providing excellent everyday performance and the ability to quickly edit videos and photos.
  • T suffix: Found in smaller desktops and AIO computers. These chips are functionally the same as those without the suffix and have the same number of cores but with a slower clock speed.
  • K suffix: The highest performance processor found in a computer that can be purchased on the street. Similar to a chip without the suffix but generally with a higher clock frequency. These circuits can be tweaked by those with technical knowledge.
  • Suffix U: “Ultra” low power. These chips generally have two cores (although newer models now have four cores) and are among the slowest Core i-branded processors. These chips are often found in cheaper AIO computers and in many laptops. They may be suitable for photo and video editing, but are much slower when performing tasks such as exporting files to disk. If you’re looking for a photo editing machine, go for the Core i5 or even try stretching to the i7.
  • HQ Suffix: Typically found in powerful laptops and usually equipped with four cores. Perfect for video and photo editing, but cuts battery life and portability.
  • Center Y: Y are the lowest power tokens you can find. They are not suitable for photo or video editing, but will be suitable for lighter tasks. The advantage of choosing one of them is very good performance for lighter tasks, combined with a longer battery life. Laptops using this chip tend to have fanless designs which means they are completely silent and very thin.

Best advice on how to interpret them? Just don’t do it. Rely on Intel’s naming system instead. If your CPU model ends in HK, you know it’s a high-performance model with an unlocked CPU. If it ends in G, it means it’s a dedicated GPU, not one of Intel’s chips.

What do the numbers mean?


In fact, it is very easy to determine the generation to which a given processor belongs. Taking the examples above, the Core i5-6400 is the sixth generation, while the i5-7600K is part of the latest seventh generation. Just look at the first digit in the model number and you will be able to tell if it is a newer or an older processor.

The last three digits define the SKU and how powerful the processor is in its direct product line. For example, the Core i5-7600K is more advanced than the i5-7500. If you want to go for more powerful processors, check out the higher model numbers within the product line. It’s worth noting if you’re considering Intel 7th generation processors that only support Windows 10.

What about the letter K at the end of the Core i5-7600K? This is the suffix that Intel uses to show the specific features that processors have. Here is a short list of these suffixes:

  • H – High performance graphics.
  • K – Unlocked for overclocking.
  • Q – quad core (four physical cores).
  • T – Optimized for efficient desktop processing.
  • U – Ultra low power consumption, typically found in laptop processors (slower than desktop systems).

This should solve the codenames mystery, but we always recommend checking your CPU features and specs in the store information and Intel Ark platform.

Which Intel processor right for you?

Intel Inside

Now that the more complex processor code names are behind us, here’s a quick rundown of the three processor families:

  • Core i3: Dual-core processors with hyper-threading.
  • Core i5: Quad-core processors without hyperthreading.
  • Core i7: Quad-core processors with hyper-threading.

There are a number of differences between these product lines. Core i3 processors do not support Intel Turbo Boost technology, for example, and also have a smaller cache than their Core i5 and Core i7 counterparts. Cache memory is an important specification that helps the processor perform certain tasks more efficiently. Think of it as your own CPU super RAM.

Intel Core i3 is perfect for people who do not require a lot of power. These processors are more affordable and have hyper-threading for better performance under load, but not powerful enough for high-end gaming or intensive applications. This line of processors is best suited for computers that will be used for email, word processing, light gaming, communication, and web browsing.

Core i5 has a quad-core processor and eliminates hyper-threading. This paves the way for four physical cores to handle anything Windows can throw at a component. The Core i5 family of processors is considered optimal for gaming and productivity. They will not destroy your budget and will be more capable of performing intensive tasks than the Core i3.

We recommend the Core i7 processor series to enthusiasts or users who will be dealing with extreme applications such as video and photo editing. This is the best of the best when it comes to Intel processors, offering the most cache, the largest number of physical and virtual cores, and the most advanced integrated graphics.

It is energy intensive, but most Intel chips are nowadays. The Core i9-12900K is a clear example of Alder Lake’s hybrid architecture and what it can do for PCs, offering high core count and high bandwidth for multitasking.

Intel Core i7-11375H

Laptop built with an Intel Core i7-11375H processor under the hood.

Why you should buy it: This is Intel’s most powerful mobile chip, at least until the 12th generation mobile chipset.

Who is it for: Mobile users who require a bit more power than a regular mobile processor.

Why we chose the Core i7-11375H:

While the new Intel desktop processor may have some issues, Tiger Lake mobile processors are excellent. For the perfect balance of performance and power, we recommend the i7-11375H. It is equipped with four cores and eight threads, a 3.3 GHz base clock and a stunning 5 GHz boost clock, all while keeping energy requirements below 35 watts. The i7-11375H leads the new Intel Tiger Lake H35 processors for portable gaming laptops with 14 ” screens.

The processor arrives in laptops such as MSI’s Stealth 15M, but many manufacturers still ship notebooks with the latest generation processors. Despite similar specs, the i7-11375H outperforms even the best Tiger Lake chips with an extended power budget. This translates into some performance improvement in terms of single core performance. However, with the same core architecture, expect greater performance gains in multithreaded tasks.

However, it is difficult to say something final about the mobile processor. The wrong configuration can make even the best processors look flimsy, and a decent configuration can make weak CPUs shine on the i7-11375H is without a doubt the most powerful mobile Intel processor available, but it’s important to read individual laptop reviews.

If you’re looking for more power, Intel also offers the Core i9-11980HK on premium gaming laptops. It comes with eight cores and 16 threads, and a 5GHz turbo speed, so it’s certainly faster than the i7-11375H. However, it mostly appears in high-end gaming machines, so it’s not for everyone.

FAQs about Intel processors

What’s the difference between K and F Intel processors?

Intel uses multiple suffixes to denote different functions, but “K” and “F” are among the most common. The “K” processors are unlocked, so you can overclock them with a compatible motherboard. “F” processors do not come with integrated graphics, so you will need a dedicated graphics card. You can even find a “KF” processor which means it’s unlocked and requires a separate graphics card.

You can usually find variants of the leading Intel i9, i7 and i5 processors with one or both suffixes. If you plan on building a gaming PC, you can save a few dollars by purchasing the CPU Variant “F”. On the other hand, “K” processors are a bit more expensive because of their overclocking capabilities. If you’d like a complete description of Intel’s naming schema, please see our processor buying guide.

How good are AMD processors compared to Intel?

Both Intel and AMD offer great processors in different price ranges and in many forms, so one brand is not overwhelmingly better than the other. That said, if you’re purchasing desktop processors in the second half of 2021, AMD generally has better options. The newer Ryzen 5000 processors have better single-core performance and have more cores compared to Intel’s competition, making them great for gaming and content creation.

In the mobile world, Intel dominated. Now you can also find machines with AMD Ryzen processors that work great. That said, there are still far more machines out there that are equipped with Intel processors and match well with AMD’s competition.

In short, the AMD processor is generally better on desktops, and Intel and AMD are equally suited to mobile devices, although Intel has more options available. Keep in mind that the power balance between Intel and AMD changes with each processor release, so while AMD is better now, this isn’t always the case.

How do you know which processor is best for your needs?

To find the best processor for your needs, you need to consider the applications you want to run. For example, if you’re into gaming, a CPU with high single-core performance is a good choice, as games tend to only use a few cores at a time. On the other hand, authoring apps like Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve can use more cores, so a multi-core processor is better for them.

These are good rules that must be followed. Games like a fast CPU instead of one with multiple cores, and content creation applications like more cores instead of faster ones. Some processors, such as Intel Core i9-10900K and AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, offer both. If you need a processor to browse the internet and use basic applications, any processor with four or more cores from the last few years should work fine.

How can you tell if a PC processor is any good?

The best way to find out if a PC processor is good is to look at individual benchmarks. Specs such as number of cores and clock speed are not the best – they only show what a processor is capable of within its own range of products. However, if you have established a specific brand or series by looking at the number of cores and clock frequencies, you can show where the CPU is in the range.

If you want to test your own processor, there are many tools available. Cinebench is a great benchmarking tool that focuses solely on the CPU, while PCMark 10 provides an overview of performance in a set of daily tasks.

Celeron and Pentium processors are at the very bottom of Intel’s offering. You may know the Pentium brand, which is the mainstay of more powerful computers from the late 90’s. It currently ranks just above the Celeron in terms of performance.

CPU Processors Allow Computers to Multitask

A single processor quickly switches between different tasks to increase multitasking. This increases the speed of the processor and makes the computer run optimally. The processor works with the operating system to ensure no data loss. A multi-core processor contains more than one component, and only the bus interface component transfers the data in and out. The multi-core processor also ensures that one core runs at full capacity while performing tasks without slowing down other tasks or clogging other cores. Desktop processors meet the needs of desktop computers. Desktop processors offer high thermal tolerance and are overclockable. The most popular are Intel® and AMD desktop processors.

The server system responds to requests on the computer network to help provide the network service. Server processors provide incredible scalability and performance to handle demanding tasks with the performance enterprises demand. The server processor runs for a long time with constant load from different users. Servers can host multiple CPUs, depending on the applications they use. Computer processors run at high frequencies, processing more data.

Mobile CPUs Save Power on Portable Computers

Mobile processors consume less voltage and have improved sleep mode capabilities. It is possible to adapt mobile processors to different power levels. Turn off some sections of the chip that are not used to save energy. The processors offer unique features such as Wireless Display (WiDi) technology. This allows media files to be transferred wirelessly to devices such as TVs.

The processor cache acts as computer memory for temporary storage. It has a fast memory that allows you to quickly download files by your computer. Sockets compatibility allows an interface between the processor and the motherboard. Make sure the CPU is compatible with the motherboard socket for it to work. Integrated graphics processing units (GPUs) perform graphics related calculations. High frequency desktop processor provides better device performance. Some lower frequency processors perform better than high frequency ones, depending on the processor infrastructure. The CPU’s design heat output determines the heat generated by the CPU. It directly affects the cooling device required for the CPU.

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