Although they’ve been out for a while now, Intel’s Core lineup, Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors, are still considered relatively young (for processor line marketing). Here, we will review the three processors, explaining the technologies behind them, Intel’s philosophy, and help you decide which one you should buy.
Rather than taking the traditional processor comparison route by showing you a bunch of benchmarks, game performance specs, etc, this review will focus on explaining the “core” of Intel’s core lineup.
Although benchmarks are useful for heavy computer gamers, they pretty much mean jack to the average computer user. This guide should help you pick out a computer, with a good processor for your needs, without having to know what “Cinebench” is.
The first thing you may be wondering, is now a good time to buy a PC with a Core processor? It’s a bit disheartening for anyone to go buy something, and find out the next day that the company just released a better model.
The answer is yes, now would be an okay time to get a computer with a Core series processor. Processor’s and Intel have a history of keeping product lines around for several years. Just look at their Core 2 Duo lineup as an example.
Core 2 Duo processors first made their debut in mid 2006, nearly 4 years ago. Computer manufacturers are just now starting to weed out their lineups of the Core 2 Duos. As we mentioned above, Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors are still pretty young, meaning they should be around for at least a couple more years. Below, is a current screenshot of some computers that Dell is offering as their Studio lineup.
Should you buy the Studio Desktop pictured above? Absolutely not. $759 is just a bit too high for a PC with an “older” Core 2 Duo processor. Rather, the following would be a better option.
Why would the Inspiron computer be cheaper than the Studio? Aside from Inspiron being Dell’s base line, and Studio being Dell’s mid-range line, the Core line of processors (i3, i5, i7) are actually being marketed cheaper then the older Core 2 Duos and Core 2 Quads; strategically, making them more affordable to the consumer.
Most likely, this is due to the struggling economy, and to put more pressure on Intel’s rival company AMD, which has earned a reputation as being a much more affordable processor manufacturer than Intel.
We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up. Core i3 is Intel’s latest budget processor. Even though the Core i3 is the lowest of the bunch, it’s still a very good processor that has received good to outstanding reviews by the majority of experts and customers alike.
The technology behind Core i3 processors includes dual core base, hyper threading support, and virtualization. Core i3 processors do support 64-bit versions of Windows. By taking advantage of Intel’s new chipset and 32nm technology, Core i3’s have even been known to perform closely to lower end Core 2 Quad processors.
Should you buy a computer with a Core i3 processor? It depends. If you use your computer for basic tasks such as word processing, email, surfing the web, etc., a Core i3 processor is more than enough to handle all of that with ease. A core i3 processor is a solid, affordable choice for the heavy majority of people.
Core i5 is the latest “mid-range” processor by Intel. A step up from the Core i3, i5 processors will give you a noticeable difference in speed, depending on what type of applications that you run. If you are playing solitaire, you aren’t going to be able to tell a difference between Core i3 and Core i5 processors. If you are editing multiple files in Adobe Flash, with virtualization software, you may notice the Core i5 to be snappier.
Technically, Core i5 processors are marketed a bit differently. There are two main types of Core i5 Processors, dual core, and quad core. Dual core i5 processors have 32nm technology, hyper threading support, virtualization support, and Turbo Boost technology. Quad core i5 processors have 45nm technology, virtualization support and Turbo Boost technology, but do not have hyper threading support.
Do the two types of Core i5 processors offer similar performance? Yes, in most situations. However, one may be better than another when running multi threaded applications. Be sure to take note of which specific Core i5’s are dual core vs. Core i5’s that are quad core, if you are looking to buy a specific processor.
Should you buy a computer with a Core i5 processor? In most situations, a Core i5 is a safe bet. Core i5’s offer enough performance to do stuff like video editing and gaming, and more than enough performance to do basic stuff like word processing, internet surfing, and email. A Core i5 processor is a great, mid-range priced processor for people who use their computers frequently and often multi task.
Not so fast. You haven’t read about the fastest yet. Be sure to continue on to Part 2 of the series, where we breakdown Intel’s fastest processor, the Core i7, and conclude with some further advice on buying, as well as Intel.