These days, if a buyer visits the market to get a computer, one of the most common things that the salespersons of the stores will boast about is the processor that the computer consists of. The buyers are told about i3, i5 and i7 processors, the difference between their processing powers and obviously, the costs. But still, the buyer doesn’t understand those terms fully. Therefore, this article has been written to share information about the differences between Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 processors (famous as i3, i5 and i7 processors respectively in the market).
If we compare the three Intel Core processors, we can spot out the differences in terms of the following factors:
- Number of cores: In a computer, the number of cores determines the efficiency in performing several tasks at once, i.e. the more the cores, the more tasks can be done at ease. For more than a decade, the number of cores in most of the processors has been two or more because it allows a proper distribution of load. Intel Core i3 processors contain 2 cores, whereas the i5 and the i7 processors have 4 cores in them, making the i5 and i7 more powerful. In rare cases, we can also find i5 and i7 processors with 2 cores.
- Cache: Cache is the memory which stores the data which are used by the CPU frequently. In simple words, cache is like a RAM, but faster than it because it is built into the CPU itself. Both RAM and cache memory store data used time and again by the CPU. In their absence, the CPU would have to read data from the physical storage, i.e. the hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD), which would be slow.
RAM is responsible to minimize interaction of the CPU with the HDD or SSD, whereas cache’s duty is to minimize interaction with the RAM. Therefore, it is clear that the higher capacity of a cache enables a larger amount of data to be accessed quickly. An Intel Core i3 processor has the cache size between 3MB and 4MB. The cache size of an Intel Core i5 processor ranges from 4MB to 6MB and an i7 processor usually has 8MB of cache size. Cache size is the reason behind an i7 outperforming an i5 and an i5 outperforming an i3.
- Hyper-Threading: It is a technology that divides a physical core into two logical cores, also known as threads. Credit goes to this technology for enabling a 2-core processor (dual core) to run as a processor with 4 cores, and a processor with 4 cores as one with 8. Although i3 and i7 processors support Hyper-Threading, i5 processor doesn’t support this technology.
One should always keep in mind that a physical core is more powerful than a virtual one. Hence, an i5 processor with 4 physical cores will always be more powerful than an i3 with 2 physical and 4 virtual cores.
- Frequency and Turbo Boost: The number of clock cycles a processor can perform in a second is known as its frequency. For instance, a 2.5GHz chip can make 2.5 billion clock cycles per second. The higher the frequency, the faster a core can run. There are cases in which some i3 processors have higher frequency than the i5 and i7 processors. However, this doesn’t mean that i3 is more powerful since the i5 and i7 processors have the feature of Turbo Boost.
By using Turbo Boost feature, a processor can raise its frequency for a certain time interval, when necessary. An i3-7300 works at 4GHz while an i5-7600 works at 3.5GHz. But, i5-7600 can boost its frequency to 4.1GHz, when necessary, by using Turbo Boost.
- Letters and Suffixes: Some suffixes like C, H, K, M, Q, R, S, T, U, X, Y are used to denote the different characteristics of processors. These suffixes come at the end of the numbering used in the processor names. For example, the T suffix used in Intel Core i5-7600T has its own meaning. The suffixes, along with their meanings are tabulated below:
Suffix Meaning C Desktop processor on the LGA 1150 package with high performance graphics H High performance Intel graphics card included on the chip K Processor unlocked for overclocking M Mobile Q Quadcore (Four physical cores) R Desktop processor based on BGA1364 (mobile) package with high performance graphics S Performance-optimized lifestyle T Power-optimized lifestyle/Optimized for desktop processors U Ultra-low power (Low power consumption, usually found in Ultrabooks and tablets X Extreme edition Y Extremely low power
CONCLUSION: WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE BETWEEN AN I3, I5 AND I7?
Intel Core i3 is the best option if you are looking for a low-power consuming processor and you will use your computer for simple tasks not requiring much power. Also, if you are not a huge fan of computer games and can adjust playing games with basic graphics, you can go with i3 processor.
However, if you love gaming and you have a nice budget, you can choose Intel Core i5 processor, which offers the best performance-price ratio.
You ought to get a computer with Intel Core i7 processor if you are to use your computer for extremely heavy tasks like animation, video editing, Computer Aided Design (CAD), high quality gaming etc.
|Models||Intel Core i3||Intel Core i5||Intel Core i7|
|Number of Cores||2||4||4|
|K Model (model with K suffix)||No||Yes||Yes|