CPU Processor Comparison – Intel Core i7 vs. i5 vs. i3 – Part 2

This is part two in our Intel Core processor comparison. Check out Part I of the Intel i-series CPU Comparison. Here, we will be breaking down the top of the line Core i7, offering some buying advice, and making a conclusion.

Core i7

Last, but not least, we have the Intel Core i7 processor lineup. Core i7’s are the current top of the line, out of all the Core series processors. They are also the most expensive. Technically, Core i7’s also come in two different varieties. The notable difference between the two? Chipset.

Core i7 processors are available in either a LGA1156 chipset or a LGA1366 chipset. Both chipsets offer quad core performance, virtualization support, hyper threading, and Turbo Boost Technology. However, the i7 9xx series processors, which utilize the 1366 chipset, are considered to be slightly faster, and the “best of the best” out of all processors, even AMD.

Both variations of the Core i7 CPU will offer similar performance in most cases, and that performance is screaming fast. The i7 9xx may perform slightly better in heavy gaming.

Should you buy a computer with an i7 processor? That would be up to you. For most computer users, an i7 processor is far from necessary. But if you want the latest and fastest, that’s what the i7 is all about.

Even if you are doing some above average video rendering, Intel’s cheaper Core i5 should be able to handle that. If you know what the term “overclocking” means, the Core i7 may be just what you were looking for. If you have the cash to dish out, you could even consider going the Core i7 Extreme route, which will put you at light speed… Not light speed, but pretty darn fast.

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Possible Future Releases

Intel’s Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors should be here for a while. However, if you are considering purchasing an i7 processor, and want the best of the best, you may want to hold off a bit longer.

Many tech enthusiasts have noted that Intel will release a new top of the line processor dubbed “i9.” Most likely, this will not drop the price of the other Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors. Rather, it will be offered as an ultra high performance processor. A Core i9 is definitely possible in the near future, possibly by Q3 of this year??

5 star processor

Spec Updates

In part 1 of the series, we mentioned that now is a good time to buy Intel Core series processors, and that Intel shouldn’t be releasing any new processors soon. It should be understood that processors are often times given a spec update. For example, a 2.4GHz processor may be replaced by a 3.0GHz processor.

However, spec updates mainly deal with clock speed. The heavy majority of the time, a spec update will not offer any “new ground breaking technologies.” Simply, a minor speed boost.

Conclusion and Advice

Whether you decide on the Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7, you will be getting a quality processor. All three versions in the Intel Core series have received outstanding reviews from all major tech experts and review sites.

The differences between the three processors is quite obvious, and price reflects that. Get a computer within your budget. But don’t get a high priced computer with an older Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad series processor.

Not that these aren’t great processors, but the newer Core i3-i5-i7 series offers better performance at a lower price. The newer series also runs on a newer chipset. In turn, these processor will be more “future proof.”

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  1. dehcbad25 says:

    Interesting breakdown. I think however it is worth to mention that the Core i7 1366 socket usually go paired with a X58 motherboard, which are considerably more expensive. And that even thought the 1156 can be used with a H55 or H57 motherboard, gamers should prefer the P55, which is also more expensive.

    The Core i3/5/7 for 1156, include inside the CPU the PCI Express lanes, and this will slow down dual video card users, which is usually the market that will get a Core i7. This is a huge consideration since the combo would put the Core i7 starting in 500$ for just motherboard and CPU.

    And dual cards are not overrated since games now can be played in multi-monitor (AMD) or with 3d glasses. I had SLI, and in new games I can see the difference with SLI on and off

  2. taw says:

    Hi I have to buy a laptop. I can't decide whether to take i3 or i5. Basically it will be used for editing pics and videos. surfing and words. Also downloading and burning dvds. I am looking for a small and fahionable trendy looking laptop not netbook. Can you advise please. I like th elook of th esony vaio Cw series but is there any cheaper brand with the same look, design and performance.

    Thank you

  3. [...] the bar in processor evolution. Intel’s current and most popular CPU lineup consists of the Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 [...]

  4. [...] uses many different chipsets. For example, the newer Core i3, i5, and i7 CPU processors require a motherboard with either a LGA 1156 chipset or LGA 1366 chipset, depending [...]

  5. jaaph says:

    What i didn't see is power consumption. This is definitely an issue to consider, given the great differences between the processors. As most people use their computers for several hours a day, the differences in power consumption between processors may become visible in your electricity bill.

    Another issue is the number of memory channels, where the i3 and i5 have 3, and the i7 has 3 memory channels, although the memory clock speed had gone up.

  6. Manny says:

    RE: a laptop my advice would be to get the highest processor you can afford. The i5 will make a reasonable difference over the i3 and since laptops are not as upgradable (in parts, memory, processors, etc) as desktops you want to get most of your firepower upfront. With a desk top it's sometimes ok to hold back and upgrade later if you know what you're doing. With a laptop it's always better to load upfront and then enjoy using it for awhile rather than saving a few bucks now and needing a whole new machine in two years.

    My $.02

  7. shilp says:

    Found this review quite non-geek-reader-friendly.

    Thanks.

  8. jjsjjsva says:

    I have a Toshiba A660-6540S laptop with an i-5 450M Dual Core 4 thread CPU running at 2.4 GHz with turbo to 2.67GHz. It runs very cool with the fan rarely kicking on, and it does not get the palm rest or mouse pad hot after many hours of continuous use on A/C.

    I have yet to see any slow applications and the power consumption is supposed to be less than the i-7. Not sure I'd see, in my use, any performance differences between i-5 and i-7.

    One suggestion, that I lucked into with my laptop with its the LED backlight keyboard, is to never buy any laptop without this option. It made this PC a breeze to use in all lighting situations.

    Happy with the I-5 CPU.

  9. PS says:

    Hello.

    I was thinking to buy a 4GB RAM notebook from HP (model G72-b07ez), with Intel Core i5-460M processor for my average use, and sometimes some bioinformatics work (basically involving spreadsheets etc). It's for CHF 600, which I think is a good price.

    Any suggestions, please?

  10. meow says:

    Thanks for the comparison Aseem. Now, I understood why there were price differences for i7s in different places. They were probably selling different chipsets. Unfortunately, mine is LGA1156. Thank god I did not hear about i9 till now, either I'm totally out of sync or they did not release it yet. :P

  11. affordable computer says:

    I would like to add that, for laptops, an i7 processor may not be a good route as of yet. I have seen many i7s overheat and melting motherboards. I know that there were a few i7s recalled by HP for just this situation. I7s for now should be run in a desktop with some advanced cooling tech to keep that heat at bay.

  12. jordi991979 says:

    Anyone has used an i5 processor for Java programming? I’m in doubt between an i5 second generation and an i7…Thanks in advance!

  13. qlemm says:

    …Good work guys, both articles are very informative. A very interesting read. I intended on purchasing an Acer 4810Timeline with a core 2 duo processor but after checking out these reviews, i liked what i read and i am now buying a HP Pavillion dv6 with a i3 core quad processor which i trust will cater to my mid usage. Kudos guys, a job well done!

  14. Matthew j says:

    Power consumption isn’t usually a problem i just tested an i7 for all kinds of things and it ran longer than my intel core 2 duo i use at home. It saves power when your not using it, and the new memory uses less power and on top of that, if u buy a bigger laptop it comes with a bigger battery. If your about going green check out the I go Green power plugs.

  15. matthey j says:

    i5 if you have some good editing software like adobe or light room series. If it’s just your basic windows editer or macbook, then stick with the i3

  16. Edward says:

    go for lenovo thinkpad E420 or Lenovo U300 , you will love it :D

  17. Snick says:

    I have both i7 [ PC ] and i3 [ Lappy ] .. TBH with u .. I find both of them same .. coz there are not many appns which can fully test the i7 .. ! Only advantage is the multithreading .. [ 8 processors in one ] where as in case of i3 and i5 its quad which is more than sufficient for day to day use ~

    i3 is far more cheaper .. so go for it ~

  18. pet29 says:

    For editing videos you will need

    a good cpu go for i5 cpu.

    For gamming just go for i3 cpu

    with a very good GPU, at least with

    1gb video memory and remember Nvidia

    video cards are the best:)

    Nvidia Rooksssssssss;)

  19. jaffa says:

    Older computers such as the Dell with Intel Core 2 6300 @ 1.86 Ghz with 3 Gb of RAM and Vista on it will run most software such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Flash without any sluggishness, but you will be able to tell the OS is slow and it will run better with Windows 7 or XP.

    At work I use a Intel core 2 duo at 2.93Ghz with 2gb RAM, 32 bit OS, Win 7 and run software such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Flash without any sluggishness. Sometimes while switching between applications theres a slight pause (as if everythings not fluid).

    So, for £50 more I went for a Intel® Core™ i3-2120 Processor (3.30GHz, 3MB) Windows® 7 Home Premium 64bit, 4GB2 Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz, 500GB3 SATA hard drive (7200RPM) for home / personal use, it is yet waiting delivery; only thing i found out I cant play 3D games but everything else will fluidly smooth.

  20. Mary Baker says:

    I am soon going to purchase a computer (laptop). I work with AutoCAD, SDS-2, and SSDCP. I need to know if the i5 processor will handle these programs. At certain times (2) out of three programs may be open at the same time. A friend told me about Tiger.com, where I can piece together a Laptop. Any advice out there?

  21. M. Parmar says:

    I am going to buy processor which can survive in market around 5-6 years.

    which one is best processor out of core i5 sandy bridge and AMD phenome-II AM3-1090T-6100 or FM1 Socket based. fast processor of minimum 3Ghz. and for the processor guide for motherboard too. work is related, gaming, movies watching, word editing, some graphic work, video encoding, internet download and surfing web etc..

  22. mhm says:

    I want to buy a notebook for gaming and work with software like pmbok, spss, matlab and programming. What cpu is good and enough? i5 or i7?

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