Here’s what to look for when trying to determine the difference between Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.
PMI is in the process of upgrading our own computers, and one of the biggest decisions we are facing is what processor to select for our new machines. I thought I would share what we have learned by breaking down the key differences between the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, in the event your company is facing a similar decision.
The Core i5 and Core i7 are members of Intel’s newest family of processors. For purposes of this post, we are not even going to talk about Intel’s Core i3 processors (mostly found in budget computers) or AMD processors (another brand, and topic, entirely).
Price is the most obvious difference between Intel Core i5 and i7 processors: Core i5’s are less expensive than i7’s because the i7’s have the most capability. Whatever tasks you ask your computer to do for you every day: open several programs, launch 50 browser tabs, or perform intensive graphics work – it will be fastest with an i7, but as you would expect, you will pay more for that speed.
Cores are essentially their own processors – the equipment that reads and executes program instructions. Processors originally only had one core. With the i5 and i7, technology has reached the point where there are 2, 4, even 6 cores on a single processor. (And they can be virtualized even further beyond that, but I’ll get to that in a bit.) Most i7’s are quad-core, and most i5’s are dual-core, but there are exceptions to watch out for.
Every processor is built with some memory on it to help speed common or repeating tasks so your PC doesn’t have to continuously reload the entire set of data you are working on. Larger cache sizes can also speed up background tasks as well. The i5 processors come with 3MB to 6MB of cache, while the i7 comes with 8MB to 15MB.
Intel has a feature called Turbo Boost that basically allows a processor to temporarily go faster than its normal speed when working on a single task that only uses one or two of the cores. Both the i5 and i7 processors have this feature, but as you would expect, the i7 can go faster.
Another feature from Intel is the processor virtualization I referenced above. Hyper-Threading is a technology that makes the computer think that the processor has more cores than it actually does. It is basically a way to improve the way the computer handles multi-tasking when several applications are open at once. Only the i7 has this technology.
Both of these processors have integrated graphics, meaning that the graphics chip in your computer is on the processor rather than the motherboard. This saves your computer power and can buy you a little more life on your battery. Like everything else discussed to this point, the graphics chip on the i7 is more robust than those on the i5.
The i7 is bigger, faster, and more powerful, but it is top of the line, and probably more processor than most people require. The i5 is a very good, fast, powerful processor in its own right, and it has more than enough horsepower for the average computer user. The i5 is probably the processor of choice for all but the most demanding of users.
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