Which CPU Should You Buy? Intel Core i5 vs i7. When did intel i5 come out

Core i5 and Core i7 chips have all sorts of integrated graphics capabilities. At the bottom are Intel HD Graphics and Intel UHD Graphics. Iris Plus is a step up, available on many 10th generation chips. The newest and best integrated graphics card is Iris Xe, only available on a few 11th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 models.

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Exceptions: The Pentium G4500 series has an Intel HD 530 GPU, which is slightly faster than the 510 (in terms of integrated graphics, anyway).

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 / retirement 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 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.

Are you buying a laptop or desktop computer? Figuring out which CPU should have can be the hardest part. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular lines of Intel processors and discover the differences.

How much do Intel Alder Lake CPUs cost?

Unlike laptops, many people buy Alder Lake desktop processors themselves – this makes prices much more appropriate. Here’s what you can expect for all the chips we’ve seen so far in the US, along with rough UK conversions:

  • Core i9-12900K – $ 589 (about £ 430)
  • Core i9-12900KF – $ 564 (about £ 410)
  • Core i7-12700K – $ 409 (around £ 300)
  • Core i7-12700KF – $ 384 (around £ 280)
  • Core i5-12600K – $ 289 (about £ 210)
  • Core i5-12600KF – $ 264 (about £ 190)

These are only recommended prices, so you can pay more or less depending on the seller you choose. The prices of the 22 new processors announced at CES 2022 have yet to be disclosed.

Intel Alder Lake specs & features

Alder Lake is making big changes to Intel’s silicon. These are the first processors to go beyond the 14nm process the company introduced in 2015. The new 10nm process has been renamed Intel 7, part of a new Architecture Roadmap announced in July 2021.

Desktop CPUs

Intel has also changed the structure of its processors to be more compatible with ARM-based chips (including Apple’s M1 series). There is now a mix of performance and energy-saving cores, rather than focusing solely on creating the most powerful chip possible. This hybrid model should allow devices to maintain performance over a longer period of time as well as extend battery life. After disappointing reviews of the 11th Generation Rocket Lake chips, this change is welcome.

Intel Alder Lake

Image: Intel

However, as expected, you’ll need a new motherboard. Here’s Intel’s new Z690, although an upgraded cooler may also be needed to support the LG 1700 socket. You get at least Wi-Fi 6E and USB 3.2 Gen 2 for high-speed data transfer. Thunderbolt 4 support also remains.

There are also encouraging signals from Alder Lake’s first real gaming test, even though the CPU has been paired with the latest Nvidia RTX GPUs and DDR5 memory to maximize performance. As noted by the German website Computerbase, the CapFrameX test of the web-based strategy game Dota suggests that Alder Lake can max FPS above 549, averaging over 120 FPS. However, we do not know what resolution or settings were used when recording these numbers.

If you’re a desktop user and considering high-end CPUs, Alder Lake’s latest benchmarks compare favorably with AMD’s equivalent chips. According to Twitter leaked @OneRaichu, the early model of the top Core i9-12900K excels in tests using the Cinebench R20 software:

12900KS QS Non-OC
In the water cooler.
Cinebench R20.
ST:> 810
MT:> 11600

– Raichu (@OneRaichu) July 20, 2021

The processor in question here was placed in a water cooler to prevent overheating, with another tweet confirming that the extra “S” was a bug. According to Guru3D, it performs significantly better than the Ryzen 9 5950X (AMD’s current flagship processor) in both single-threaded (26%) and multi-threaded (11%) modes. A lot can change between now and the end product, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Since their launch, we’ve seen some impressive benchmarks of Alder Lake processors, most notably the Core i7-12700H. The Geekbench 5 results suggest it is almost as powerful as AMD’s high-end Ryzen 9 5900X, while Cinebench’s multi-core results put it ahead of the Ryzen 9 5900HX and Apple M1 Max – according to testing by NotebookCheck.

Mobile CPUs

In total, we expect 60 processors from Intel’s 12th generation range. In addition to the 28 desktop processors announced so far, 28 new mobile chips are also available. They will be available on many key laptops in 2022 and beyond.

They are divided into three different categories. The first is Alder Lake-H, designed for enthusiast-level devices. Here is a summary of what it offers:

Editor Performance cores Performance cores Threads L3 cache Maximum clock speed Basic power
i9-12900HK 6 8 twenty 24Mb 5.0 GHz 45W
i9-12900H 6 8 twenty 24Mb 5.0 GHz 45W
i7-12800H 6 8 twenty 24Mb 4.8 GHz 45W
i7-12700H 6 8 twenty 24Mb 4.7 GHz 45W
i7-12650H 6 4 16 24Mb 4.7 GHz 45W
i5-12600H 4 8 16 18Mb 4.5 GHz 45W
i5-12500H 4 8 16 18Mb 4.5 GHz 45W
i5-12450H 4 4 12 12Mb 4.4 GHz 45W

It was only at CES 2022 that Intel really showed its hand, adding dozens of new processors to the 12th generation line. These include our first look at the processors that will power many of 2022’s best new laptops. Here’s everything you need to know.

Putting It All Together

Intel’s decision to introduce more cores across the entire product stack means that the upgrade has some theoretical benefits, even if you already own a 7th generation processor. However, for practical reasons, we assume that most customers with 6th or 7th generation processors are not interested in buying a new motherboard and CPU so soon after the last update.


We’ve thrown in a lot of numbers and numbers in this article, but don’t worry if you feel a little dizzy trying to sort things out. The above slide show includes a series of charts to help you understand the improvements and value of upgrades depending on the actual situation and product family.

Mobile Processors (8th Generation)

Until August 2017, Intel’s mobile products were mostly dual-core throughout the entire Core i3 / i5 / i7 product stack. There were a few quad-core parts in the Core i7 family, but most of Intel’s mobile chips were in 2C / 4T configurations, with quad-core chips reserved for the 45W TDP and above. At the moment, Intel offers several Core i7 and Core i5 quad-core processors. One of the major differences between these Core i5 chips and Intel’s entire previous line of Core i5 mobile processors is that the Core i5-8250U and Core i5-8350U support Hyper-Threading technology. The Core i7 8650U and Core i7-8550U are also quad-core / eight-thread designs.

8th Generation

Unfortunately, reviews of laptops that actually use these chips are still very few and Intel gives laptop manufacturers more freedom to define their own desired operating temperatures and thermal limits in a way that can make significant differences between different machines that allegedly use the same editor . Early data on these chips suggest that they are faster than the old dual-core variants, despite having much lower base clock frequencies to compensate for the increased number of cores and threads, but no one has yet written a serious review of any eight-generation mobile system. None of the mobile CPUs announced so far offer on-board EDRAM cache, which significantly improves Intel’s on-board graphics performance, although there are many 7th generation SKUs.

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.

Application Benchmarks

Starting with the Cinebench R23, it turns out that the 12600K is in a completely different league than the 5600X, delivering 63% more performance to even beat the 5800X. We are also looking at an improvement of 61% over the 11,600K which is impressive even considering the 23% increase in price.

Single-core performance was also exceptional, beating the 5600X and 11600K by 26% margin, a huge increase in generation. It also means the 12600K should comfortably beat 5600X for both multi-core and single-core workloads.

That said, the 12600K and 5600X are evenly matched in the 7-zip file manager compression test, although this was one of the underperformance we saw for the 12th generation when looking at 12700KF and 12900K, so it’s not a surprise.

When it comes to decompression efficiency, the 12600K and 5600X are also tied, meaning the new Core i5 processor was 23% slower than 12700KF.

The 12600K proves to be in a completely different league, offering 48% more performance than the Ryzen 5 5600X as it only took 86 seconds to complete rendering, exactly the same time it took 5800X. As we said before, with the 12600K you really do get a higher level of performance.

For content creators, the 12600K offers exceptional value, delivering almost 40% more performance than 5600X, and even surpasses 5800X by 16% margin. We’re also only talking about a 13% performance drop over the 12700K, which is exceptional value over Intel’s latest Core i5 part.

Then we have Adobe Photoshop, and here the 12600K was 11% faster than the 5600X and was able to match up to 5800X. The Intel Core i5 portion was also only 7% slower than the 12700KF, so the 12600K seems to be the best price / performance point for Intel’s 12th generation lineup.

We can see that the 12600K still dominates the 5600X in After Effects, delivering 17% faster performance and that was enough to see it beat the 5800X with a 5% margin. We are looking at 12700K performance levels making the 12600K one of the fastest desktop processors for this workload.

Factorio is a simulation game that we put next to the app as we don’t measure frames per second but rather updates per second. This automated benchmark calculates the time it takes to run 1000 updates. This is a single-threaded test that appears to rely heavily on cache capacity.

The new Core i5 performs exceptionally well here compared to the 5600X, 5800X, and especially its predecessor, the 11600K, which is beaten by a 27% margin. Moreover, it was only 6% slower than 12700KF.

Gaming Performance

It’s time for the most important game tests, and we’ll start with F1 2021. For all game tests we are using the Radeon RX 6900 XT with lowered quality settings at 1080p. The 12600K allowed an average of 373fps at the 1% low of 260fps in this racing simulation. Compared to the 5600X, we think the 12600K is a mixed bag offering 5% stronger 1% low, with 5% lower average frame rate. Overall, the performance of these two processors is pretty much the same, along with the 5800X and 12700KF.

Moving on to the Rainbow Six Siege, the 12600K is less impressive despite still hitting almost 400fps at an average frame rate of 511fps. The 5600X is 10% faster, although it’s hard to say how much that matters considering all the processors tested here were able to hit extreme frames per second.

The 5600X and 12600K provided essentially identical performance in Borderlands 3, dividing them no more than 2 fps. Both came close to extracting the highest possible fps from the 6900 XT under these testing conditions, so needless to say the performance was excellent.

Moving on to Watch Dogs: Legion, we find again that the 5600X and 12600K are evenly matched when playing, this time around the Intel CPU was faster by a tiny 3% margin.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is heavily limited in its GPU with these high-end CPUs, despite the fact we’re testing at 1080p with an extremely fast graphics card. However, we believe that such results should be considered because despite unrealistic testing conditions aimed at emphasizing CPU performance, it turns out that the game is still very GPU limited, which should be noted as the vast majority of games available will be limited by the GPU using relatively efficient processor. In any case, considering the 5600X and 12600K are both capable of getting the most out of the GPU, the performance is basically the same when using both CPUs.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s results are much more interesting as it is a CPU-intensive title and, like F1 2021, the results are mixed. 12600K was 4% faster than 5600X when measuring average frames per second, but 5% slower for 1% low. Even so, the performance was pretty much the same, and you surely won’t notice any difference between the two processors.

Hitman 3 is also very CPU intensive, but again, if you have a 6-core / 12-thread CPU from the last few generations, you have enough processing power to avoid frame stuttering at well over 100fps for 1% low. In that case, the 12600K smashed it at 166fps for 1% low and average 192fps making it 4% faster than 5600X.

Where the Core i5-12600K really excels is in Age of Empires 4, where it’s almost 20% faster than the 5600X, which is a major performance benefit. It also meant that the new Core i5 part was a little faster than the 5800X and 11700K.

Other specs also remain, so 20 PCIe lanes from the CPU, 16 of which are the new PCI Express 5.0 spec and support DDR4 and DDR5 memory but not simultaneously and not by the same motherboard, so you will have to choose select the type of memory you want to use.

First: Know your architectures

Right now we are in a transition phase where some old processors are still filtering out as new ones come in. In brief:

Old chips, codenamed Haswell, can be generally identified by their 4000 series model numbers or the “4th generation core” tag. Desktop chipsets use motherboards with an 1150 socket. In general, we advise against considering them for new builds or purchases unless you can get a really good deal – Haswell is at the end of its life and Intel won’t be making new chips for the future your socket. There are also a handful of fifth-generation Broadwell chips for 5000 series desktops that share the same socket – Intel hasn’t released the full version of these processors due to production lags, so most of them are in laptops instead.

The new chips, codenamed Skylake, have 6000 series model numbers and are labeled “Sixth Generation Core.” Desktop chipsets use motherboards with socket 1151, which is likely (not guaranteed, but likely) to be used in the upcoming Kaby Lake and Cannonlake architectures later this year and next year. If you care about future security at all, it’s worth paying a small price premium if you’re building a desktop PC.

Desktops: Celeron, Pentium, and Core

There are a total of five separate processor brands that share a Skylake and socket architecture. I’ll list the high-level differences for each of them along with the exceptions, and then move on to the model number suffixes.

Celerons and Pentiums

Both are budget brands, and the processors in both lines differ in clock speeds and not much else. The Skylake Pentium are the G4000 series chips, and the Celerons are the G3000 series chips. They are all dual-core processors with no Turbo Boost, no Hyperthreading, and no 3MB cache, and are typically paired with an Intel HD 510 integrated GPU base.

Core i3 processors are a bit faster, but Pentiums will give the most price-conscious people the best bang for your buck.

Exceptions: The Pentium G4500 series has an Intel HD 530 GPU, which is slightly faster than the 510 (in the integrated graphics realm, anyway).

Core i3

These processors are still dual-core, but add Hyperthreading, which represents two logical CPU cores in the operating system for each physical core. This can drastically improve performance in multithreaded workloads, although it’s not even as close to it as when you switch to a quad-core processor. Core i3-6100 processors include 3 MB of cache and 6300 series chips have 4 MB of cache; almost everyone uses the Intel HD 530 GPU.

Exceptions: Core i3-6098P uses Intel HD 510 graphics processor.

Core i5

These are all quad-core processors without Hyperthreading technology, and probably represent the best balance of price and performance for power users. They also use Intel’s Turbo Boost feature, which allows the processor to run at higher clock speeds when there is enough room for temperature or when fewer cores are actively used.

Not all workloads will benefit from two additional CPU cores, but video editing, Photoshop performance, and an increasing number of games are happier with four cores. All of these processors contain 6MB of cache and most of them have Intel HD 530 GPUs.

Exceptions: Core i5-6402P contains Intel HD 510 graphics processor.

Core i7

They can best be described as Core i5 processors with Hyperthreading technology, higher clock rates and 8MB cache. Otherwise they are the same. As with Core i3 processors, Hyperthreading definitely improves performance in heavily threaded programs, but the jump from a Pentium or Core i3 to a Core i5 will provide a much greater performance boost than the jump from i5 to i7.

Exceptions: None. There are not many such processors yet.

Are you buying a laptop or desktop computer? Figuring out which CPU should have can be the hardest part. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular lines of Intel processors and discover the differences.

Intel 400-Series Chipset Family:

Chipset name Intel Z490 Intel W480 Intel Q470 Intel H410
Total number of HSIO lanes 46 lines (16 CPU + 30 PCH) 46 lines (16 CPU + 30 PCH) 46 lines (16 CPU + 30 PCH) 30 lines (16 CPU + 14 PCH)
Total PCIe 3.0 Lanes (CPU + PCH) Up to 40 (16 CPUs + Up to 40 (16 CPUs + Up to 40 (16 CPUs + 22 (16 CPUs + 6 PCIe 2.0)
PCIe 3.0 chipset lines Until 24 Until 24 Until 24 6 (PCIe 2.0 only)
SATA 3.0 ports Up to 8 Up to 8 Up to 6 4
Maximum number of USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gb / s) / Gen 1 (5 Gb / s) ports 8/10 8/10 6/10 0/4
Total number of USB ports (maximum USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gb / s)) 14 (10) 14 (10) 14 (10) 10 (4)
Intel RST technology for PCIe 3.0 storage ports 3 PCH 3 PCH 3 PCH 0
eSPI 2 Select chip 2 Select chip 2 Select chip 1 choice of chips
Overclocking support Yes Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable
PCIe Express 3.0 CPU line configuration 1×16 or 2×8 or 1×8 + 2×4 1×16 or 2×8 or 1×8 + 2×4 1×16 or 2×8 or 1×8 + 2×4 1×16
Display support (ports / pipes) 3/3 3/3 3/3 3/2
DMI 3.0 belts 4 4 4 4 (DMI 2.0 only)
System memory / DPC channels 2/2 (DDR4-2666) 2/2 (DDR4-2666) 2/2 (DDR4-2666) 2/1 (DDR4-2666)

In terms of features, the W480 would be the most feature-rich of the three chipsets listed here. The Z490 would be most appealing to gaming enthusiasts and audiences, but let’s take a look at mainstream chipsets. The W480 chipset would offer a total of 46 high-speed IO lines and a total of 40 PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes. The processors would retain 16 lanes with the chipset offering up to 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes.

It will be supported up to 8 SATA III ports, 8 USB 3.2 Gen 2 or 10 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, 14 USB 3.2 Gen and Intel RST ports. None of the three chipsets will support overclocking as this is limited to the Z490 chipset, but we’ll get more information about overclocking later from Intel itself. There is a huge list of Z490 motherboards we can expect in the 10th generation family, most of which have already been revealed on atwiki.jp:

Intel Z490 ‘LGA 1200’ Motherboards

Motherboard supplier ASUS Gigabyte MSI ASRock Supermikro / NZXT / ECS
Z490 UD AC
Z490 UD
Z490 D
Z490M DS3H
Z490-A PRO
Z490 Taichi
Z490 PG Velocita
Z490 Phantom Gaming 6
Z490 Phantom Gaming 4 / 2.5G
Z490 Phantom Gaming 4 / Ac
Z490 Phantom Gaming 4
Z490 Phantom Gaming 4SR
Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX / TB3
The legend of Z490 steel
Z490 Extreme4
Z490 Pro4
Z490M Pro4
-ITX Z490M / ac
Supermicro C9Z490-PGW
Intel processor family Processor processor Processor cores / threads (max) TDP Platform chipset Platform Memory support PCIe support Start
Sandy Bridge (2nd generation) 32nm 4/8 35-95W Series 6 LGA 1155 DDR3 PCIe Gen 2.0 2011
Ivy Bridge (3rd Generation) 22nm 4/8 35-77W Series 7 LGA 1155 DDR3 PCIe Gen 3.0 2012
Haswell (4th generation) 22nm 4/8 35-84W Series 8 LGA 1150 DDR3 PCIe Gen 3.0 2013-2014
Broadwell (5th Generation) 14nm 4/8 65-65W Series 9 LGA 1150 DDR3 PCIe Gen 3.0 2015
Skylake (6th generation) 14nm 4/8 35-91W Series 100 LGA 1151 DDR4 PCIe Gen 3.0 2015
Lake Kaby (7th Generation) 14nm 4/8 35-91W Series 200 LGA 1151 DDR4 PCIe Gen 3.0 2017
Coffee Lake (8th Generation) 14nm 6/12 35-95W Series 300 LGA 1151 DDR4 PCIe Gen 3.0 2017
Coffee Lake (9th Generation) 14nm 8/16 35-95W Series 300 LGA 1151 DDR4 PCIe Gen 3.0 2018
Lake Comet (10th Generation) 14nm 10/20 35-125W 400 series LGA 1200 DDR4 PCIe Gen 3.0 2020
Rocket Lake (11th Generation) 14nm 8/16 35-125W 500 series LGA 1200 DDR4 PCIe Gen 4.0 2021
Olchowe Lake (12th Generation) Intel 7 16/24 35-125W Series 600 LGA 1700 DDR5 / DDR4 PCIe Gen 5.0 2021
Raptor Lake (13th Generation) Intel 7 24/32 35-125W 700 series LGA 1700 DDR5 / DDR4 PCIe Gen 5.0 2022
Meteora Lake (14th Generation) Intel 4 TBA 35-125W 800 series? LGA 1700 DDR5 PCIe Gen 5.0? 2023
Lake of Shot (15th Generation) Intel 4? 40/48 TBA 900 series? TBA DDR5 PCIe Gen 5.0? 2024
Moon Lake (16th Generation) Intel 3? TBA TBA 1000 series? TBA DDR5 PCIe Gen 5.0? 2025
Lake Nova (17th Generation) Intel 3? TBA TBA Series 2000? TBA DDR5? PCIe Gen 6.0? 2026
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