Intel Corporation, commonly called as Intel has been releasing a wide range of microprocessors over the last few years. A very significant batch of these microprocessors is Intel’s Core I Family. The Core family comprises of the basic entry-level processors successfully replacing the previous Pentium and Celeron family of processors.
There are 3 variants in the core I family, namely, i3, i5 and the i7 processor. These processors have been named on the basis of their performance, with core i3 beginning at the base level performance, i5 as mid-range performance and i7 as high performance processors.
Some common features of these processors include integrated DDR3 memory controller as well as PCI Express and Quick Path along with the new and improved Direct Media Interface .While these processors provide great performance on entry level devices, chipsets and main boards from previous generation aren’t supported due to the new I/O interconnect framework.
It is an entry level dual core processor with X86 architecture. It also comes with integrated GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) but lacks Turbo boost functionality, hence running at lower clock speeds than the other core variants. The lowest number of cores is found in Core i3 CPUs as it comes with only two cores. As of now all Core i3s are dual-core processors. The Intel i3-560 with a clock speed of 3.33 Ghz has the highest clock speed amongst the core i3 variants.
The core i5 comes as a quadcore(i5-661 being the only dual core variant) processor with integrated GPU. The clock speeds here are relatively higher than the core i3. It also comes with Turbo boost technology which helps in meeting the processor based demands of heavy applications. The Intel i5-4440 has a clock speed of 3.33 Ghz, which is the highest processor speed amongst all the i5 variants.
The core i7 is a quad core (4-Core), 64-bit processor which offers significantly higher clock speeds than the previous processors. It has Turbo boost technology as well as hyper threading enabled which makes it one of the best competitors in high end consumer market. The Intel i7-4790K has the highest clock speed of 4.0 Ghz with turbo boost up to 4.4 Ghz
Difference between Intel Cores –
The Intel cores have a variety of differences, but to put it simple and straight forward manner, the i7 packs the heaviest punch of the three Intel core processors. That is, the i7 is powerful in terms of processing capabilities than the rest and the i5 delivers more performance than the i3. A more technical insight is provided below:
- Number of Cores: With greater number of cores, more processes or threads can be executed at once thereby directly affecting the computing as well as multi-tasking capabilities of the processor. Here, the i7(8 and 4 Core) and i5(4 and 2 core) are hands down, better than the i3 which is a dual core.For example: Consider yourself simultaneously working on 10 different applications on your system. You will be getting a better experience in multi-tasking on the i5 and i7 processors as they can execute more processes simultaneously, whereas the i3 will relatively lag behind.
- Intel Turbo Boost: The Intel Turbo Boost technology allows the processor to increase its clock speed whenever need arises depending on the processor temperature, number of active cores etc. The i7 and i5 come with this technology whereas the i3 lacks the feature.A small illustration here will give you a better insight of the Turbo boost technology. Suppose an i5 as well as an i3 processor is locked at 3GHz. Now when a heavy application runs on both processors, the i5 can notch up from the 3GHz limit when required leaving behind the i3 processor.
- Cache Size: The cache memory is a high speed memory which stores the most frequently accessed data from the Main memory (System Hard Drive).As a result, the application or data which is frequently accessed by you, is available instantly for use, just like the RAM(Random Access Memory).Both the RAM and the cache, store the frequently accessed data. Without them, the CPU would have to always read the Main memory to access data, which would eventually slow down the processes. The basic difference between RAM and cache is that, the RAM helps to minimize the interaction of the CPU with the main memory whereas the cache helps to minimize the interaction of the RAM with the CPU. This is because the cache memory is directly embedded into the CPU and is therefore faster than the RAM.Now, with higher cache size, more frequently used data can be stored thereby speeding up the processes. The i3 merely has a 3Mb cache size whereas, the i7 and i5 have 8MB and 6Mb cache size respectively. This clarifies why the i7 out shines over the i5 and i5 over the i3.
- Hyper-Threading: Hyper-Threading technology by Intel allows the processor to execute more than one thread (processes) simultaneously. (A thread is the smallest unit or sequence of an instruction that the CPU performs.)The i3 and i7 have the hyper-threading capability whereas the i5 (except a few variants like i5-661) lacks the functionality.
For more information regarding Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology, visit this link.
So, if you are looking for a high performance system which exploits multi-tasking then you should probably opt for the i7 or in case of moderate usage, the i5. But if you are looking for more of an entry-level system with some light usage, then i3 is the processor to go for.
4th Generation or 5th Generation-Question of the hour!
The basic difference between the two generations of the Intel processors is the microprocessor architecture. The 4th Generation is based on the Haswell and Haswell-E (For high end gaming CPUs) micro architecture, whereas the 5th generation is based on the Broadwell micro architecture.
For a better understanding of the Haswell and Broadwell micro architecture, visit a post by Techzost
To put it in a simple manner, there is virtually no massive difference between the 4th generation and the 5th generation Intel processors. The 5th Gen Intel processors are in their early stages, with the only difference being the extended battery performance and relatively better heat sink capabilities of the processor.
These enhancements may lead to a tiny bit better performance but all in all, it is not a steal deal for the buyers. So if you want to pitch in the big bucks, then go for a 4th gen i7 instead of a 5th gen i5 or i3.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
- Which processor is best suited for day to day usage?
Answer: It all depends on the usage of the system. If you only use your laptop or desktop to read emails, listen to a little music, or connect with friends etc, then the i3 should satisfy your needs. If you do a little moderate usage like playing some games, multi-tasking applications etc, then i5 is the thing to go for. But if you are a hardcore gamer or multi-tasker who likes to get things done in a blink of an eye, then the i7 is your companion.
- Which is better, higher clock speed i3 or a lower clocked i5?
Answer: The answer is simply the i5. It is because even though the i5 may be clocked at lower processor speeds, it still has the capability to Turbo boost and overclock its processor speed whenever need arises. This capability is not available in the i3 processor.
- Are 5th generation processor better than the 4th generation processors?
Answer: Well, yes they are better than the 4th generation, but only in terms of battery performance and heat sink capabilities. But these minor improvements contribute very less to the processing capabilities. For example: a 4th gen i7 costs as much as the 5th gen i5, but has better processing capabilities due to hyper-threading, turbo boost and higher cache size. So technically, 4th gen i7 is a better choice than 5th gen i3 or i5.
If you find this article useful, do share it with your friends to help them get a better understanding of the various Intel processors available in the market and buy the perfect one, according to their needs. If you have any queries regarding this article, please feel free to comment below.