Which CPU Should You Buy? Intel Core i5 vs. i7

For many consumers who are on the hunt for a new desktop or laptop PC, one of the biggest considerations is the type of processor . Two of the CPUs most often in contention are the Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7. Discounting Core i3 and m3 (mainly found in budget systems), Core i9 (powerful CPUs for gaming and performance PCs), and AMD processors (another story entirely), the difference between Intel Core i5 and Core i7 can seem daunting, especially when the prices seem so close together once they’re in completed systems. We break down the differences for you.

. Two of the CPUs most often in contention are the Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7. Discounting Core i3 and m3 (mainly found in budget systems), Core i9 (powerful CPUs for gaming and performance PCs), and AMD processors (another story entirely), the difference between Intel Core i5 and Core i7 can seem daunting, especially when the prices seem so close together once they’re in completed systems. We break down the differences for you.

Simply put, Core i5-equipped systems are less expensive than Core i7-equipped PCs. Intel has moved away from the star ratings it used with previous-generation Core processors in favor of a capability-driven marketing message. Essentially, the Core i7 processors have more capabilities than Core i5 CPUs. They will be better for multitasking, multimedia tasks, high-end gaming, and scientific work. Core i7 processors are certainly aimed at people who complain that their current system is “too slow.” Spot-checking a system like the Lenovo ThinkPad T470 , you’ll find the Core i5 to be about $70 less expensive than a similarly equipped Core i7 system.

Simply put, Core i5-equipped systems are less expensive than Core i7-equipped PCs. Intel has moved away from the star ratings it used with previous-generation Core processors in favor of a capability-driven marketing message. Essentially, the Core i7 processors have more capabilities than Core i5 CPUs. They will be better for multitasking, multimedia tasks, high-end gaming, and scientific work. Core i7 processors are certainly aimed at people who complain that their current system is “too slow.” Spot-checking a system like the

For the most part, you’ll get faster CPU performance from Core i7 than Core i5. The majority of Core i7 desktop CPUs are quad-core processors, as are the majority of Core i5 desktop CPUs. However, there are mobile versions of both processors that are dual-core. You might also see the rare six-core Core i5 or 10-core Core i7, but that’s usually found with the desktop-only, top-of-the-line Core X and Extreme Edition models. Simply put, the more cores you have in your CPU, the faster it will perform.

For the most part, you’ll get faster CPU performance from Core i7 than Core i5. The majority of Core i7 desktop CPUs are quad-core processors, as are the majority of Core i5 desktop CPUs. However, there are mobile versions of both processors that are dual-core. You might also see the rare six-core Core i5 or 10-core Core i7, but that’s usually found with the desktop-only, top-of-the-line

and Extreme Edition models. Simply put, the more cores you have in your CPU, the faster it will perform.

The Core nomenclature has been used for several generations of CPUs. Haswell, Broadwell, Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake CPUs use four-digit model names (such as the Intel Core i7-8700). Thankfully, unless you’re shopping the used PC market, you’ll only find Broadwell or older processors in closeout systems and budget PCs, while you’ll find Skylake, Kaby Lake, or Coffee Lake processors in most new PCs. Older-generation Nehalem, Westmere, Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge cores generally have lower performance. The essential takeaway is that to get better performance in each generation, buy a processor with a higher model number. For instance, an Intel Core i7-7600U generally has better performance than an Intel Core i5-7200U.

In addition to generally faster base clock speeds, Core i7 processors have larger cache (on-board memory) to help the processor deal with repetitive tasks faster. If you’re editing and calculating spreadsheets, your CPU shouldn’t have to reload the framework where the numbers sit. This info will sit in the cache, so when you change a number, the calculations are almost instantaneous. Larger cache sizes help with multitasking as well, since background tasks will be ready for when you switch focus to another window. On currently available desktop processors, most i5 CPUs have up to 9MB of L3 cache, while most i7 processors have up to 12MB.

Turbo Boost is an overclocking feature that Intel built into its processors. Essentially, it allows the processor to run faster than its base clock speed when only one or two processor cores are needed (like when you’re running a single-threaded task that you want done now ). Both Core i5 and Core i7 processors use Turbo Boost, with Core i7 processors achieving higher clock speeds.

Turbo Boost is an overclocking feature that Intel built into its processors. Essentially, it allows the processor to run faster than its base clock speed when only one or two processor cores are needed (like when you’re running a single-threaded task that you want done

). Both Core i5 and Core i7 processors use Turbo Boost, with Core i7 processors achieving higher clock speeds.

Intel Hyper-Threading uses multithreading technology to make the operating system and applications think that a processor has more cores than it actually does. Hyper-Threading technology is used to increase performance on multithreaded tasks. The simplest multithreaded situation is a user running several programs simultaneously, but there are other activities that take advantage of Hyper-Threading, like multimedia operations (such as transcoding and rendering) and Web surfing (loading different elements, like Flash content and images, simultaneously).

The quick explanation is that all Core i7 CPUs use Hyper-Threading, so an eight-core CPU can handle 16 streams, a four-core can handle eight streams, and a dual-core can handle four streams. Core i5 uses Hyper-Threading to make a dual-core CPU act like a four-core one, but if you have a Core i5 processor with four true cores, it won’t have Hyper-Threading.

The Westmere generation of Core processors introduced Intel HD graphics, which are integrated graphics built into the CPU core itself. Previous Intel-integrated graphics were built onto the motherboard chipsets, rather than on the processor. You’ll find Skylake sixth generation, Kaby Lake seventh generation, and Kaby Lake/Coffee Lake eighth generation processors have either Intel HD/UHD graphics (for example Intel UHD Graphics 630), or Intel Iris/Iris Plus options. Note that while high-end Intel processors will let you play 3D games at medium quality settings, you will still need discrete GPUs from AMD or Nvidia to play 3D games at 1080p or 4K resolutions with ultra quality settings turned on.

The same numerical rules apply here, so Intel Iris Plus 650 performs better than Intel HD/UHD Graphics 630, which performs better than Intel HD Graphics 510. You’ll find Iris Plus and higher-end Intel HD/UHD graphics on Core i7 CPUs, while Core i5 processors feature one of the myriad versions of Intel HD/UHD graphics, depending on the part number. Integrated graphics save power, since there’s no extra graphics chip on your laptop or desktop’s motherboard using power.

Intel recently announced a new Core X processor family aimed at high-performance users like extreme gamers and video editors. The Core i9-7980XE Extreme Edition processor, for example, has 18 cores and can process 36 threads simultaneously. It also retails for $1,999, and is overkill for most users. More reasonably priced X-Series processors include the Core i5-7640X ($242) with four cores, and the Core i7-7820X ($599) with eight cores. These CPUs are based on both Kaby Lake and Skylake architecture, depending on the model, and are designed to work with Intel’s new LGA2066 socket and X299 motherboard chipset. You’ll need a new PC, or at least a new motherboard, to play in this arena. They’re being positioned as high-performance hardware for 3D CGI rendering, mathematical calculations on large data sets, 4K video processing, and of course gaming/game development.

One last complication involves the Kaby Lake versions of Intel’s 4.5W mobile processors. Until recently, midrange and high-end versions of these power-saving CPUs were known as the Core m5 and Core m7, respectively. You’ll find current and newer iterations under the Core i5/i7 Y-Series nomenclature, for example the Core i5-7Y54 and its higher-clocked sibling, the Core i7-7Y75. In our testing, these Y-Series processors are comparable to the higher-wattage (15W) Core i5 and i7 processors on everyday tasks, but are a bit slower performing in multimedia-creation apps like Handbrake and Photoshop.

Long story short: Intel Core i5 is made for mainstream users who care about performance, and Intel Core i7 is made for enthusiasts and high-end users. Only extreme users need to consider Intel’s Core X-Series.

See Also : Intel Core i9 vs. Core i7 vs. Core i5: Which CPU Should …

The reports of the desktop PC’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Intel and AMD are back in a new battle of processors, with Intel launching a new series. It’s called the Core i9, and it’s the fastest consumer desktop processor ever .

The reports of the desktop PC’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Intel and AMD are back in a new battle of processors, with Intel launching a new series. It’s called the Core i9, and it’s the fastest consumer desktop processor

The Core i9 has a lot going for it. It starts with a 10-core CPU for $999, the Core i9-7900X, and goes all the way up to the Core i9-7980XE for $1,999 with 18 cores. That’s far higher than the dual-cores and quad-cores

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we are used to. So far, only the base-level 7900X is available for sale.

The Core i9 has a lot going for it. It starts with a 10-core CPU for $999, the Core i9-7900X, and goes all the way up to the Core i9-7980XE for $1,999 with 18 cores. That’s far higher than

A long time ago, your CPU came with a single core. These days, most CPUs are at least dual core, and more likely quad core. But what does dual, quad, or octo-core even mean?

Apart from more raw speed, the Core i9 series makes small changes under the hood. It rebalances the cache hierarchy, introduces a new Turbo Boost, supports four-channel DDR4 RAM, and Intel’s Optane Memory

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. If you want to know more, we have a detailed article explaining what makes the Core i9 the fastest processor

What Makes the Intel Core i9 the Fastest Processor and Should You Buy It?

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today.

Apart from more raw speed, the Core i9 series makes small changes under the hood. It rebalances the cache hierarchy, introduces a new Turbo Boost, supports four-channel DDR4 RAM, and

Thinking of buying Intel’s Optane technology? Think again. Optane suffers from unbelievable problems. Don’t trust the hype — it’s a rip-off for what they’re charging.

The Intel i7 has long topped the consumer CPU-pile. However, Intel have finally released a new generation of CPUs. Let’s take a look at the beasty 18-core Intel i9 series.

Along with the Core i9, Intel also launched new models of the Core i5 and Core i7 processors. They’re part of Intel’s Skylake-X series, which runs on the new X299 chipset — the same as what the Core i9 series uses. This means you will need a new motherboard if you plan to use any of these new processors.

Along with the Core i9, Intel also launched new models of the Core i5 and Core i7 processors. They’re part of Intel’s Skylake-X series, which runs on the new X299 chipset — the same as what the Core i9 series uses. This means

A series of new processors leads to the natural question: should I buy this? Intel continues to sell its Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 series of processors, along with the new X299 Core i9. So which CPU should you buy?

Common Activities: Browsing the web, email, social networking, Microsoft Office, sometimes watching movies.

The trusty old Intel Core i3 should be able to serve all your needs efficiently. It is a low-cost processor and is also energy-efficient to give you longer battery life. I’d recommend the Intel Core i3 7100 , one of the best-reviewed starter processors.

The trusty old Intel Core i3 should be able to serve all your needs efficiently. It is a low-cost processor and is also energy-efficient to give you longer battery life. I’d recommend the

Intel Core i3-7100 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor 3M Cache,3.90 GHz (BX80677I37100)

Intel Core i3-7100 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor 3M Cache,3.90 GHz (BX80677I37100)
Socket LGA 1151
Buy Now At Amazon $113.90

The Core i3’s onboard graphics chip is perhaps its biggest limitation. While it’s decent enough to watch movies, you might see some lag while skipping back and forth on a 1080p movie file.

You should also consider a device running Intel Core M

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, a power-optimized processor with a better HD 5300 graphics chip. Its cost falls between a Core i3 and a Core i5, and is available in laptops or Intel’s palm-sized NUC computers.

The Intel Core M is the most hyped processor in years, and with good reason: it’s at the heart of a new revolution in laptops.

, a power-optimized processor with a better HD 5300 graphics chip. Its cost falls between a Core i3 and a Core i5, and is available in laptops or Intel’s palm-sized NUC computers.

Common Activities: Watching movies, listening to music, social networking, browsing the web, Microsoft Office, some gaming, specialized software depending on the course.

Watching movies, listening to music, social networking, browsing the web, Microsoft Office, some gaming, specialized software depending on the course.

For students, we would suggest either the Intel Core M or the Intel Core i5, depending on your needs.

If you won’t play games, carry your laptop around campus all day, and don’t have any graphics-intensive needs, then the Intel Core M should be fine. Plus, its energy efficiency makes it ideal to use for long periods in a day. We also recommend checking out the best laptops for students, by major

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.

If you won’t play games, carry your laptop around campus all day, and don’t have any graphics-intensive needs, then the Intel Core M should be fine. Plus, its energy efficiency makes it ideal to use for long periods in a day. We also recommend checking out the best

What are the best laptops for school? It depends on the student’s academic focus. Engineering majors don’t need the same laptop as liberal arts majors. Here’s what you need.

But most students should stick to the Intel Core i5 series of processors. These are built for performance, and even offer some graphics oomph if you want. The i5 series also supports Turbo Boost to speed up tasks at the right time

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.

But most students should stick to the Intel Core i5 series of processors. These are built for performance, and even offer some graphics oomph if you want. The i5 series also supports

Intel’s Turbo Boost feature is quite useful but may not be so easy to understand for those who have never used it. Here’s what you need to know.

If you’re building a desktop PC, get a Core i5 quad-core processor. Even the base level Core i5 7500 should do for this, and it’s a tremendously popular choice among PC builders.

Intel Core i5-7500 LGA 1151 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor (BX80677I57500)

Intel Core i5-7500 LGA 1151 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor (BX80677I57500)
Socket LGA 1151
Buy Now At Amazon $197.94

If you’re building a gaming rig, there are two possible scenarios. Either you are starting from scratch, or you are upgrading your current processor.

Those who are upgrading their CPU but don’t want any other investment should look away from the new X299 chipset processors. Any of those will invariably mean upgrading your motherboard, and maybe other parts too. In fact, you might want to build an eight-core gaming rig with cheap server parts

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.

Those who are upgrading their CPU but don’t want any other investment should look away from the new X299 chipset processors. Any of those will invariably mean upgrading your motherboard, and maybe other parts too. In fact, you might want to

Want a beefed-up gaming or video-editing PC with dual Intel Xeon processors for under $200? The parts are out there, but finding and putting them together could prove difficult.

If you are building a new high-end gaming PC, then start with the new Skylake-X series, since it will make you future-compatible. On the other hand, for those building within a modest budget, the Core i3, Core i5, or Ryzen ( what’s Ryzen?

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) processors might be more appropriate picks.

If you are building a new high-end gaming PC, then start with the new Skylake-X series, since it will make you future-compatible. On the other hand, for those building within a modest budget, the Core i3, Core i5, or Ryzen (

The AMD Ryzen just landed, and the world of CPUs just got interesting. What is the hype all about, and is it right for you?

The starting point in this is the Intel Core i5-7640X for $250 , which has a quad-core processor but no hyperthreading. If you aren’t upgrading, then the previous generation’s Core i5 7600K comes for the same price and is unlocked for overclocking.

, which has a quad-core processor but no hyperthreading. If you aren’t upgrading, then the previous generation’s

Intel Core i5-7640X Processor

Intel Core i5-7640X Processor
Socket LGA 2066
Buy Now At Amazon $199.99

Those looking for more oomph from their gaming build’s processor should get the Intel Core i7-7800X for $400 . The six-core CPU has hyperthreading for 12 virtual cores and supports up to 28 PCI Express lanes. Whether you’re gaming, streaming, or even playing virtual reality games with a headset, this one can handle it all.

. The six-core CPU has hyperthreading for 12 virtual cores and supports up to 28 PCI Express lanes. Whether you’re gaming, streaming, or even playing virtual reality games with a headset, this one can handle it all.

Intel Core i7-7800X Processor

Intel Core i7-7800X Processor
Socket LGA 2066
Buy Now At Amazon $349.99

There is one lot of users who are looking for workhorses. From graphics designers and video editors to coders and architects, some people need pure horsepower. If you’re one of these, get the Intel Core i7-7820X for $680 .

There is one lot of users who are looking for workhorses. From graphics designers and video editors to coders and architects, some people need pure horsepower. If you’re one of these, get the

Intel Core i7-7820X Processor

Intel Core i7-7820X Processor
Socket LGA 2066
Buy Now At Amazon $569.00

The main reasons to go with the Skylake-X series over an Intel Xeon or existing Core i7 is the cache and the RAM.

Processor cache is one of those little-known parts that slow down PCs

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. The new Skylake-X series changes how it handles cache so that it’s faster than anything on current Intel processors. Plus, you’ll get a whopping 11 MB of L3 cache.

We’ll take a look at five lesser known factors that affect your computer’s performance, and show you how you can always get maximum bang for your buck when upgrading.

. The new Skylake-X series changes how it handles cache so that it’s faster than anything on current Intel processors. Plus, you’ll get a whopping 11 MB of L3 cache.

The second point, RAM, is something most people already know about. The Skylake-X series allows for four-channel DDR4 RAM, theoretically letting you add up to 64 GB of RAM. That’s far better than normal processors, but Xeon users might want to double-check their needs.

Some professionals cannot afford the slightest bit of corruption of any data. Xeon processors support ECC RAM, which prioritizes data safety and correction. Only a few specialist jobs require this though, so unless you’re a system administrator for a large corporation, you can look beyond it.

This one is pretty simple, isn’t it? If you want the best, that means you go buy the best. And right now, that’s the Intel Core i9-7900X for $1,240 .

This one is pretty simple, isn’t it? If you want the best, that means you go buy the best. And right now, that’s the

Intel Core i9-7900X Processor

Intel Core i9-7900X Processor
Socket LGA 2066
Buy Now At Amazon $850.00

This is about having the latest and greatest. Sure, it’s the best, but the improvements you will see are negligible for most daily uses.

Be warned that the Core i9 has some trouble with the current line of top-range graphics cards, according to Anandtech . It should be resolved with time, but it’s something to keep in mind for now.

Unless you are sticking with the current line of processors, the Skylake-X series is a reason to upgrade your motherboard

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. And there aren’t that many cheap motherboards that support the X299 chipset right now.

Right now, the Asus Prime X299 Deluxe seems to be the best, while the MSI X299 TOMAHAWK is the value-for-money choice, especially for overclockers.

See Also : Intel Core i5 vs. Core i7: Which Processor Should You Buy …

Whether you’re building your next PC or shopping for a new computer online, one of the questions that comes up from time to time is whether the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 is a better bargain. The short answer, “It depends,” isn’t all that helpful, so we’ve broken the data out in more detail and for both mobile and desktop processors. Intel’s 8th generation CPU launch and its decision to increase the core counts it offers in all three product families make this a particularly good time to revisit this discussion.

Intel’s October 2017 update to the Core i5 ( see on Amazon ) and Core i7 ( see on Amazon ) are the first major shift in core counts since Sandy Bridge in 2011. For the past six years, Intel’s Core i5 family has offered four cores without Hyper-Threading, and the Core i7 family offered four cores with Hyper-Threading. Hyper-Threading allows two simultaneous “virtual” cores for each physical core and shares the workload between them.

) are the first major shift in core counts since Sandy Bridge in 2011. For the past six years, Intel’s Core i5 family has offered four cores without Hyper-Threading, and the Core i7 family offered four cores with Hyper-Threading. Hyper-Threading allows two simultaneous “virtual” cores for each physical core and shares the workload between them.

The 8th-generation CPUs that Intel introduced in October 2017 increased the number of cores and threads within each of these families by 50 percent, and in the Core i7-8700K’s case, increased the core’s clock speed as well. Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs with model numbers beginning with an 8 (like the Core i7-8700K) now have six cores, or six cores + Hyper-Threading.

Intel’s eighth-generation CPUs are generally more expensive than the CPUs they replace, though this varies somewhat. The overall price of CPUs in these segments has still come down on a per-core basis, and the performance boost from the additional cores is often worth it. If you aren’t sure what generation of Intel CPU you have, the first digit of the four-digit model code is the model number. If you have a Core i7-2600K, the “2” means this CPU is a second-generation Core i7 CPU, aka Sandy Bridge.

Intel’s decision to boost core counts across all three desktop CPU segments-the Core i3 also gets two cores and loses Hyper-Threading for a 4C/4T configuration-makes this an attractive time to buy. How much benefit you’ll see from upgrading depends to some extent on how much multi-threading your typical games or applications use and how old your current chip is. While there are still some single or dual-core applications out there, Windows is designed to spread multiple single-threaded workloads across multiple cores. A dual-core and quad-core application running at the same time will scale much better on the new Core i5 as opposed to the older variants.

While Microsoft’s DirectX 11 isn’t very good at taking advantage of multiple CPU cores, games can still use a mostly single-threaded approach for rendering while spinning audio, AI, and/or data loading on to their own threads. Gamers who stream and play games simultaneously from a single system may also find a six-core Core i5 much better-suited to the task than the 7th generation and earlier processors, though I don’t want to oversell this point until the two CPUs have been compared in gaming + streaming tests.

If all you care about is gaming and you don’t run any other workloads outside the game, an eighth-generation Core i5 won’t deliver much in the way of near-term benefits compared to the recent quad-core chips. Games don’t typically scale very much past four cores (4C/4T, as opposed to 2C/4T), though the newer DirectX 12 API could make gaming more multi-core friendly in the long term. If you’re a gamer on a 6th-or-7th-generation Core i5, an 8th-generation chip probably won’t improve your game performance much at the moment. If you’re going to upgrade no matter what, we’d recommend a newer, six-core i5 over the older quad-core variant. While I don’t generally recommend trying to “future proof” a system-it’s often not worth the premium you pay-CPUs now last long enough to make buying a core with an eye towards the future a reasonable decision.

you don’t run any other workloads outside the game, an eighth-generation Core i5 won’t deliver much in the way of near-term benefits compared to the recent quad-core chips. Games don’t typically scale very much past four cores (4C/4T, as opposed to 2C/4T), though the newer DirectX 12 API could make gaming more multi-core friendly in the long term. If you’re a gamer on a 6th-or-7th-generation Core i5, an 8th-generation chip probably won’t improve your game performance much at the moment. If you’re going to upgrade no matter what, we’d recommend a newer, six-core i5 over the older quad-core variant. While I don’t generally recommend trying to “future proof” a system-it’s often not worth the premium you pay-CPUs now last long enough to make buying a core with an eye towards the future a reasonable decision.

The 8th-generation Core i5 is a strong option for anyone who needs to balance multi-threaded performance, clock speed, and price. It won’t match the Core i7 in 3D rendering tests, video editing, or video encoding, but it’ll be just as fast as an equivalently-clocked Core i7 in games or in lightly threaded applications like Photoshop. Having six cores gives you some leg room if newer games begin taking better advantage of multi-threading. Alternately, it should also make it easier to stream and game on the same system, though I’d recommend consulting a separate guide that tests this use-case specifically before deciding on an 8th-generation i5 versus an i7.

The 8th-gen Core i7’s six cores and 12 threads are great for buyers who can take advantage of them. While Intel has been selling six-core CPUs for years, previous six-core chips were more expensive than the Core i7-8700K’s $359 MSRP, required generally more expensive motherboards, and required end-users to trade clock speed for core counts. It’s important, however, to make certain your applications can take advantage of all six cores and 12 threads before pulling the trigger on an 8700K.

Intel’s High End DeskTop market segment is, as the name suggests, Intel’s highest-end official desktop segment. These chips typically don’t support as much RAM as their Xeon counterparts and may lack other features like ECC RAM compatibility, but they historically offer more cores and threads than Intel’s mainstream Core i7s. For simplicity’s sake, we’re only comparing six-core HEDT processors against the Core i7-8700K. While Intel has previously sold HEDT CPUs with 8-10 CPU cores, we can’t make a simple rule of thumb for when an older HEDT CPU with a higher core count would be superior to the narrower, faster, Core i7-8700K.

If you’re using an early HEDT model, like the Core i7-3930K or Core i7-4930K, the 8700K will definitely be a step up. Both of those CPUs had all-core turbo clocks that were well below the Core i7-8700K’s 4.3GHz all-core frequency, and they used older, less-efficient architectures. Between the 8th-generation Core i7’s higher clock speed and higher efficiency, you can reasonably expect to see a 1.2x to 1.4x performance improvement depending on the workload, how high your previous CPU boosted under full load, and whether your applications take advantage of SIMD instruction sets like AVX2. Memory bandwidth-sensitive applications should also see a significant boost from the transition from DDR3-1600 to DDR4-2666. The age of your current HEDT system will matter significantly; customers with a 7800X or 6800K probably won’t see a benefit, while those with systems from the Ivy Bridge era or earlier will see significant, though not earth-shattering improvements.

If you’re one of the relative handful of customers using Intel’s first-generation six-core architecture, codenamed Westmere, you should definitely see a major performance boost from upgrading to the 8700K. Intel’s highest-end Westmere CPUs had full-core boosts below 3.7GHz in all cases and the old Nehalem architecture was markedly less efficient than Intel’s second-generation architecture, Sandy Bridge. Westmere also lacked support for capabilities like AVX and AVX2. The Core i7-8700K is clocked 1.3x higher than the old Core i7-980 and should offer at least 1.15x higher performance from architectural improvements alone. A 1.45x to 1.6x performance improvement from Westmere to Coffee Lake wouldn’t surprise us.

Intel’s decision to introduce higher core counts across its entire product stack means there’s some theoretical benefit to upgrading, even if you own a 7th generation CPU already. For practical purposes, however, we’re going to assume that most customers with a 6th-generation or 7th-generation CPU aren’t interested in buying a new motherboard and CPU so soon after their last update.

We’ve thrown a lot of numbers and figures at this article, but don’t worry if you’re head is spinning a bit trying to keep it all straight. The slideshow above includes a number of charts intended to make it easier to grasp the improvements and value of upgrading depending on your current situation and product family.

Up until late August, Intel’s mobile products were mostly dual cores across the entire Core i3 / i5 / i7 product stack. There were a handful of quad-core parts in the Core i7 family, but most of Intel’s mobile chips were 2C/4T configurations, with quad-core chips reserved for 45W TDPs and above. As of late August, Intel offers a handful of quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs. One major difference between these Core i5 chips and Intel’s entire previous lineup of Core i5 mobile processors is that the Core i5-8250U and Core i5-8350U do support Hyper-Threading. The Core i7 8650U and Core i7-8550U are also quad-core / eight-thread designs.

Up until late August, Intel’s mobile products were mostly dual cores across the entire Core i3 / i5 / i7 product stack. There were a handful of quad-core parts in the Core i7 family, but most of Intel’s mobile chips were 2C/4T configurations, with quad-core chips reserved for 45W TDPs and above. As of late August, Intel offers a handful of quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs. One major difference between these Core i5 chips and Intel’s entire previous lineup of Core i5 mobile processors is that the Core i5-8250U and Core i5-8350U

support Hyper-Threading. The Core i7 8650U and Core i7-8550U are also quad-core / eight-thread designs.

Unfortunately, reviews of laptops that actually use these chips are still pretty few and far between, and Intel gives laptop manufacturers more leeway to specify their own desired operating temperatures and thermal limits in ways that can introduce substantial variation between different machines that ostensibly use the same processor. The early data on these chips suggests that they’re faster than the old dual-core variants, despite having much lower base clock speeds to compensate for the increased core and thread count, but no one has yet written a major review of any 8th-generation mobile system. None of the mobile CPUs announced thus far offer the onboard EDRAM cache that significantly improves Intel’s onboard graphics performance, either, while there are multiple 7th-generation SKUs that do.

Mobile users have three distinct choices to make, which clouds the issue a bit. There are previous-generation Core M chips as well as Core i7 and i5 processors. The Core M chips are limited to the m3 family-Intel has taken what used to be a distinct brand and folded it into the Core i7 and Core i5 families instead. This creates situations like the one shown below.

These two chips look similar, with the same cache, almost the same clock speed, and similar GPUs-but they have different operating TDPs and hence offer different user experiences. Exactly how different isn’t something we can speak to without test hardware, but past systems showed marked variation depending on OEM design and thermal limits. Core M launched in 2014 but never sold particularly well-OEMs often saddle the processors with aggressive high-resolution displays and extremely thin chassis, leading to mediocre battery life.

If you’re looking at the Core M-branded Core i5, we strongly recommend doing your homework and checking reviews of specific systems. Core M systems can deliver better battery life than their i5/i7 counterparts, but this will depend on the specifics of the manufacturer. Remember, high-resolution screens and ultra-thin systems with limited battery life will cost you just as much in power savings as you can get with a lower-TDP CPU-possibly more these days, since high-end chips account for a decreasing amount of power consumption.

The other major difference we want to discuss is the gap between 7th generation Core i7 and i5 core counts on mobile. Prior to Skylake (6th gen), almost all Intel chips on mobile were dual-core below the Core i7 level. There are a few 6th and 7th generation Core i5 mobile parts that offer quad cores without Hyper-Threading support, as shown below:

The difference between these three cores is that one of them supports Intel’s Iris Pro Graphics, while the other two are Intel HD Graphics-only. The Iris Pro 580 is Intel’s only EDRAM-equipped 128MB Core i5. If you want a mobile processor with top-end graphics and a quad-core CPU, this is the Core i5 you want to purchase.

The difference between these three cores is that one of them supports Intel’s Iris Pro Graphics, while the other two are Intel HD Graphics-only. The Iris Pro 580 is Intel’s only EDRAM-equipped 128MB Core i5. If you want a mobile processor with top-end graphics

Outside of these three cores, the general rule does still follow. Most mobile Core i5 and all Core i3 processors are dual-core with Hyper-Threading. Here are the features that separate mobile Core i5 and Core i7 processors in 7th generation processors and below:

More cores: Many of Intel’s Core i7 processors are quad-core chips with Hyper-Threading enabled. This isn’t universal, however, and the company does offer a few dual-core + Hyper-Threading SKUs.

Many of Intel’s Core i7 processors are quad-core chips with Hyper-Threading enabled. This isn’t universal, however, and the company does offer a few dual-core + Hyper-Threading SKUs.

Higher clocks: Intel’s dual-core mobile Core i7 chips typically have higher clock speeds than their Core i5 counterparts, even at the same TDP.

Intel’s dual-core mobile Core i7 chips typically have higher clock speeds than their Core i5 counterparts, even at the same TDP.

More cache: Core i7 chips carry either 6MB or 4MB of cache. Core i5 chips run the gamut here. Older chips (pre-Broadwell) often carry 3MB, while Skylake and Kaby Lake chips are sometimes 4-6MB. The extra cache has only a small impact on performance.

Core i7 chips carry either 6MB or 4MB of cache. Core i5 chips run the gamut here. Older chips (pre-Broadwell) often carry 3MB, while Skylake and Kaby Lake chips are sometimes 4-6MB. The extra cache has only a small impact on performance.

More addressable memory: Many older mobile Core i7 and i5 processors are limited to 16GB of memory, but there are Skylake (6th-gen) chips that support 32GB and even 64GB on some late Core i5 / i7 models. 16GB of RAM is fine for the vast majority of users. But if you think you might need more, check what your CPU is capable of at Intel’s database .

Many older mobile Core i7 and i5 processors are limited to 16GB of memory, but there are Skylake (6th-gen) chips that support 32GB and even 64GB on some late Core i5 / i7 models. 16GB of RAM is fine for the vast majority of users. But if you think you might need more, check what your CPU is capable of at

How much performance you get out of a mobile Core i5 versus a Core i7 will depend a great deal on your laptop’s cooling solution and whether the chip can handle its own heat output. We’ve previously discussed how Intel gave OEMs more freedom to define their own TDP targets and skin temperatures. But this creates scenarios in which buying a faster Core M can actually result in worse performance , as the chip hits its thermal trip point and down-throttles to keep cool.

How much performance you get out of a mobile Core i5 versus a Core i7 will depend a great deal on your laptop’s cooling solution and whether the chip can handle its own heat output. We’ve previously discussed how Intel gave OEMs more freedom to define their own TDP targets and skin temperatures. But this creates scenarios in which

We can’t point to specific instances where this has tilted performance between Core i5 and Core i7 chips, but it’s likely to create at least a little “slosh” between the two core families. Generally speaking, if you truly want to emphasize low power, pick the CPU that has lower base and turbo clocks. Intel historically defined TDP as “The CPU’s average power consumption when running typical workloads over a period of time.” A chip with more headroom is a chip that’ll hit its throttle point faster.

If you’re looking at the mobile market, we’d recommend waiting to see how Intel’s quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 chips will compare to the older, higher-clocked dual-core variants before making a decision one way or the other. If you’re in the market for a desktop chip, on the other hand, the decision is fairly straightforward. Gamers and enthusiasts who want to balance high core counts and frequencies with a price below $300 should find the new Core i5 chips right up their alley. Only those looking for budget workstation performance or similarly demanding applications will benefit from the Core i7-8700K, but these workloads will be faster on Intel’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake than on any previous part. HEDT customers with older Westmere-era hardware should benefit a great deal from these improvements.

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