Puget Systems print logo
https://www.pugetsystems.com
Read this article at https://www.pugetsystems.com/guides/445
Daniel Brown (Customer Service)

Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7 - Which one is right for you?

Written on August 17, 2012 by Daniel Brown
Share:

Update 6/4/2013: Looking for information on the newer Haswell CPUs? Check out our updated Haswell Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7 - Which is right for you? article!


UPDATED JAN 11,2013

With each new generation of Intel processors, the answer to this question gets more complex.  There are currently three distinct product lines including processors named ‘Core i5’, three product lines including processors named ‘Core i3’, and a whopping five distinct lines including processors with the ‘Core i7’ name.*  Probably the best way to approach it is to ignore the i3, i5 or i7 moniker and just go by model number to determine whether you’re looking at the most current processors.
*For this article, we’re ignoring mobile processor lines, like those used in notebook PCs.

Which are the current models?
The two current product lines using the i3, i5, and i7 names are the 3220-3770 ‘Ivy Bridge’ models and the 3820-3960 ‘Sandy Bridge E’ models.  A chart might help us visualize this:
 

Legend:
Current technology 
Core i3 Core i5 Core i7

1st Generation 
Code name: 
Model numbers: 
Socket: 


Clarkdale
530-560
1156

Lynnfield
650-760
1156

Lynnfield
860-880
1156
1st Generation 
enthusiast line 
    Bloomfield/Gulftown
920-990
1366
2nd generation 
Code name: 
Model numbers: 
Socket: 

Sandy Bridge
2100-2130
1155
Sandy Bridge
2300-2550
Socket: 1155
Sandy Bridge
2600-2700
1155
2nd-generation 
enthusiast line 
    Sandy Bridge-E
3820-3970
2011
3rd generation 
Code name: 
Model numbers: 
Socket: 

Ivy Bridge
3220-3240
1155

Ivy Bridge
3330-3570
1155

Ivy Bridge
3770
1155

 

Technical comparison

Now that we know which parts are current, let’s get down to the comparison of these current models:

  • Core i3: The Intel Core i3 3220-3240 models are dual-core, built on a 22 nanometer process, they have Hyperthreading(!), but do not have Turbo Boost.  They have built-in graphics processors, most of them using the HD Graphics 2500 architecture (except the 3225 which has HD Graphics 4000).
  • Core i5: The Intel Core i5 3330-3570 models are quad-core, built on the 22 nanometer process (for better power efficiency), they have Turbo Boost technology, but no Hyperthreading.  They have built-in graphics processors based on the HD Graphics 2500 and 4000 architectures.
  • Core i7: The current Intel Core i7 models comprise two different product lines – they require different motherboards and have differing capabilities.  The Core i7 3770 generally fits the same motherboards as the current i3 and i5 models, it’s built with the 22 nm process, has four cores, Hyperthreading, Turbo Boost, and built-in HD Graphics 4000.  It’s also relatively inexpensive when compared with the other current Core i7 chips.  The Core i7 3820-3970 models are the only Core-series chips that fit socket 2011, so there are a full line of motherboards that are designed specifically for these chips.  There are four-core and SIX-core chips in this range, they are built on a 32nm process, they all support Hyperthreading and Turbo Boost, but they do NOT have built-in graphics capability.  There are many other differences between all these models that are beyond the scope of this simplified blog post, but those are some of the main differences.


Non-technical comparison

What does all this mean in practical terms?  It really depends on your application.  The current Intel Core i5 models are generally considered the best price/performance choice for a gaming system, although the Core i7 3770 is a reasonable choice for a gaming system since it’s not a whole lot more expensive.  The Core i3 3220-3240 models can also be used for gaming, but they will start to limit your graphics performance when paired with the highest-end video cards.  The six-core Core i7 3930-3970 models are the best choice for multithreaded CPU-intensive tasks like video rendering and 3D modeling, although the other models can still be good choices for these tasks depending on what type of data you're working with and what types of hardware acceleration your application(s) support.

Comments