What’s the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?

by | Dec 12, 2021 | Computing

With the increasing development and the use of new technology, the need of fast and efficient processors for our computers has been on a rise. To keep up with the same, new versions or generations of processors are launched in the market. Each generation of the processor tries to overcome the drawbacks of the previous one. 

Intel has played an integral part in manufacturing and providing us with faster and more efficient processors, the latest one being the 9th Gen processor in core i5 and i7 models. Let’s dig deep and find out a little bit more about the processors.

Having an efficient processor is important for a computer so that it can carry out its functions and tasks smoothly. Out of the many available processors, you should choose the one that best suits your requirements. 

This article focuses on providing you with some insights and basic knowledge about the processors that we use.

What’s a Core Processor?

Core as the word suggests is the main component of the processor. It can be believed to be the brain for the processor that carries out various tasks in the CPU. Due to the advancement in technology, it has been possible to build processors that have multiple cores. 

Each core is said to have its environment and it does not interfere in the functioning of the other core(s) that may be present in the processor. These cores are capable of carrying out different operations at the same time. They are also capable of working together for one particular task.

Every action or instruction that is to be carried out by the computer needs to be processed by the processor first. Cores are built so that most performances can be offered to the processor by occupying the least amount of space.

There are 4 basic steps that a processor is responsible for carrying out. These steps are as follows:

  • Fetch
  • Decode
  • Execute
  • Writeback

 This combination of 4 steps is known as 1 instruction cycle and it is repeated for every instruction that the processor has to process.

Difference between the Laptop, Desktop and Gaming processor

The processors used in CPUs of the Desktop, Laptop, and for Gaming oriented devices are not the same. They are different depending on the specifications and requirements for such devices. Desktop processors usually have more cores in their processors to increase their performance. Laptop processors are also capable of running on the same software or instruction set that the Desktop processors run on.

The key differences between a Desktop processor and a Laptop processor are as given below:

  • The functioning of the Desktop processor is faster than the Laptop processor
  • Laptop processor has less cooling headroom than the Desktop processor
  • As Laptops run on their battery, their processors draw in less power in comparison to the Desktop processors; that is directly connected to the power supply
  • Laptop processors have a limited number of cores due to the compactness and finite available space

Gaming devices are provided with high power processors so that the games run efficiently on it and to enhance the quality of the gaming experience. The main difference between a gaming laptop/ desktop and an ordinary laptop/ desktop lies in the capacity, price range, and power. Performance is another difference between Gaming laptops and normal laptops. The difference in their processors depends upon the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) that is used.

Number of cores in a processor

The number of cores in a processor can range from 2 to 12 cores for processors that are used in consumer CPUs and can go as high as 48 cores for processors that are used in Workstations and Servers.:

A processor is given names as per the number of cores that it has. Some of the names given are as follows:

  • Dual-Core (2 cores)
  • Quad-Core (4 cores)
  • Hexa-Core (6 cores)
  • Octa-Core (8 cores) and so on

It is not a very well- known fact that the Windows 10 OS is capable of offering up to 32 cores for 32-bit System and up to 256 cores for a 64-bit System. 

Some of the benefits of having a multicore processor are as given below:

  • Increase in the number of features that can be offered to the consumer
  • The heating problem may not be encountered in the device
  • Less power is required as the non-used sections of the core processor can be individually shutdown
  • The efficiency and performance of the CPU having a multicore processor increases
  • It takes less amount of time for the CPU to process the software, programs or instructions

What are i3, i5, and i7?

Intel has been manufacturing different versions or rather generations of the core processors. Each generation has some unique features and is built to be more efficient. The i3, i5, and i7 are all generations of the microprocessors available for the CPUs.

Core i3 is a dual-core processor that was first launched in the year 2010. It was a desktop-based microprocessor that was integrated with a GPU. Since then, several generations of processors in the Core i3 series have been released in the market.

Core i5 is a processor that is available in dual-core or quad-core specifications. It was first launched in the year 2009 and can be a desktop processor or a laptop processor.  

Core i7 is the processor that contains up to 8 generations of microchips. It is either a quad-core or a Hexa-core processor, used mainly for gaming and for visual editing activities like filmmaking and animations. The first-ever Core i7 processor was launched in the year 2008.

Intel Core i7 vs. i5 vs. i3: Hyper-Threading

Hyper-Threading is the process that is mainly used by the Intel microprocessors. It is a method that allows a single microprocessor to be portrayed as two distinct processors and carry out the functions separately. This results in completion of more work in the same time frame.

For this process to function properly, an OS and a BIOS that are compatible with the processors are needed. In other words, it is a type of process that divides the physical cores present in a processor virtually so that more operations and tasks are carried out by the processor.

For now, this processor is available in Intel Core, Core M, Core vPro, and Xeon series of the Intel processors.

The Differentiating Factor Between Core i5, Core i3, and Core i7

What makes these processors different from each other is their basic composition and the different features that they offer. Some of the key factors that differ in i3, i5, and i7 processors are given below:

  • Number of Cores
  • Hyper-Threading feature and number of threads
  • Cache Memory
  • Turbo Boost
  • Clock Speed
  • Frequency Range
  • Graphics
  • Size
  • Price

All these factors contribute to the performance and efficiency of the processor.

Intel Core i7 vs. i5 vs. i3: Turbo Boost

Turbo Boost is a process that is available in the processors. Also, known as the “overclocking feature”, it is responsible for automatically making the processor core run faster than its actual marked speed. It is a built-in technology and the installation of any external software application is not required. 

The conditions that must be satisfied by the processor for the Turbo Boost to function properly are:

  • It should have working power
  • It should be within the working temperature range
  • Limits of the TDP (Thermal Design Power) should be specified

The performance of single-threaded and multi-threaded applications and functions is increased as the result of Turbo Boosting.

Intel Core i7 vs. i5 vs. i3: Cache Size

A cache is a software or a hardware component that stores data temporarily in the environment where the computations are being carried out. Doing so results in faster retrieval of data in comparison with the data that is obtained from the databases or servers.

Cache size is the maximum amount of cache that can be stored. Data that is used repeatedly by a function is stored on Cache by the CPU. As Cache is a part of the processor itself, it functions faster than the RAM.

The Cache Size offered by i3, i5, and i7 processors is different as per their use. The range of Cache size is 3-4 MB for i3, 3-8 MB for i5, and 4-8 MB for i7 processors.

How to choose between them?

Core i3, i5, and i7 processors provide Entry-level, Mainstream, and High-end performances respectively. Choosing a CPU that satisfies all the specifications and requirements that you have is recommended as it can help you to get your job done smoothly.

Core i3 is best suited for some of the processes like web surfing and documentation. Core i5 is best suited for processes that require more power like gaming and visualizations. Core i7 is best suited for you if you need more CPU power to run multiple applications at the same time. A detailed table with differences between the 3 processors is given below.

Need to add SS here

Processors should be chosen as per your requirement and affordability criteria.


As we have been seeing from the start of this article, processors should be chosen as per your requirement. If you are looking for an overall good processor that can carry out the basic functionalities with ease, then i7 is your best bet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better: i3 or i5?

Intel core is a range of microprocessors that are manufactured by Intel for the CPUs (Central Processing Units) in computers, laptops, desktop, and other devices. Several versions have been manufactured since the existence of the processor chips. Intel Core i3 and i5 are the examples of such versions. 

Core i3 is a dual-core processor whereas Core i5 is a true quad-core processor. It is believed that due to this specification, i5 offers better CPU performance than i3.

Is i3 sufficient for home use?

Core i3 processors are comparatively less in price than other Core M processors offered by Intel. It is a dual-core processor and can be good enough for home use when paired with 8GB of DDR4 RAM. 

It can be efficiently used for working with documents, presentations, or for browsing and has a higher GHz than the i5 processor. Windows 10 OS can smoothly run on an Intel Core i3 processor.

Is i3 good for streaming?

Having a good streaming speed and quality is an important feature that every customer looks for in the digital devices that they purchase. It is important to offer them with a processor that won’t be requiring much of the buffering time and can live stream data as well.

Core i3 is good for streaming purposes but it is important to have a good bandwidth from the ISP as well. If the speed is not up to the mark, the streaming experience can be marred in the HD quality videos.

Which i3 processor is best?

 Processors are an integral part of equipment for any type of computer that helps them to function. These processors are used depending upon the task that the computer is performing and as per the customer’s requirements.

To date, 8 generations of i3 processors have been launched by Intel. Each of them has their own unique feature, with the 8th Gen i3 being the latest and the most efficient one. Intel Core i3-8350K Processor is considered to be the best amongst all the i3 processors.

How can I make my core i3 faster?

A faster processor means less time taken by the computer to process a function. This means that the results will be available faster and in less amount of time. There are many ways in which the speed of the Core i3 processor can be increased.

Some of the ways to increase the speed of Core i3 are as follows:

  • Uninstalling used apps
  • Limiting startup programs
  • Cleaning the disk at regular intervals of time
  • Upgrading the RAM
  • Adding an SSD
  • Reinstalling the OS

By carrying out these steps, the load on the processor can be reduced, which would eventually result in an increased speed.

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