When buying a new laptop or building a desktop, we come across a huge pool processors or CPUs from Intel that we can choose from. So many that it gets confusing and we literally have no idea on what are the difference of each processors. We ask ourselves what is the best processor for gaming and how can we tell if it has a good processing speeds. What the heck is the difference between a Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7? What do these terms mean? Well, look no further.

Background of these ridiculous naming scheme

Wouldn’t it be just simple if we name these processors according to their processing speeds(megahertz and gigawatts) and just call it a day? Yes, it will be simpler but it will get more confusing. Back it the day, Intel used that wrong naming scheme. When the Pentium 4 was launched, an equivalently clocked Pentium 3 was actually faster because it could do more work with each cycle. Confusing, right? As a customer, I would’ve expect a product with a higher number to be the better one.

So now they’re making it right with the current Intel Core series. Here’s what we have today, a Core i3, Core i5, and the Core i7. Let’s break it down:

Core i3

  • 2 processing cores
  • Hyperthreading
  • Smaller cache
  • Less power
  • Cheapest

As the number suggests, the Core i3 will be your most basic option. It generally has 2 processing cores that supports hyperthreading (for better multitasking). It has a smaller cache but it will consume less power and will generally perform worse than the Core i5 but it has the cheapest price tag among the rest.

Core i5

  • 4 processing cores (maybe)
  • No Hyperthreading
  • Improved onboard graphics
  • Turbo boost

Next up is the Core i5, which is in the middle of everything. I wish I could say that it just have 2 cores more than the i3, but some Core i5(especially in laptops) have 2 cores just like the i3. But generally, the Core i5 is oospacked with 4 processing cores with no hyperthreading. What they all have in common is they have improved onboard graphics and supports turbo boost (for temporary enhancements when your system needs a little more power).

Core i7

  • 2-8 processing cores
  • 2-8 memory sticks support
  • more cache
  • faster turbo boost
  • Better onboard graphics
  • Most expensive

The last one is the Core i7 and is the epitome of power when it comes Intel processors. All Core i7 have better hyperthreading for heavier workloads. It can have 2 to 8 cores depending if it is a laptop or a desktop and it can support 2-8 memory sticks. They surely have more cache, faster turbo boost, and the best onboard graphics. It clearly represents the best thing that Intel can build for a given use-case that the only drawback is that it also has the highest price tag of them all.


So when you boil it down, the things mentioned above is what the “I” core series represents. Think of it as “Good”, “Better”, “Best” at a given segment. Other than that, they’re pretty much meaningless. The safest way to pick the right processor for you is to dig around Intel’s product information website and look at the features, core counts, clock speeds on the CPUs you’re comparing and see how they stack up with each other. That’s the only time when numbers will mean something.

But generation model topic is a whole different world. We’ll talk about that soon.

Do you have any questions? Talk to us in the comments section down below and we’ll try to answer your questions.

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