What is the Difference between Intel Core i3, i5, and i7?

Computer Processors
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Have you ever been browsing for a laptop and noticed a little sticker next to the mouse pad? It usually says something like “Intel Inside Core i3,” “Intel Inside Core i5,” or even “Intel Inside Core i7.” Then you think to yourself.. What does this mean? Why does it matter?

Well, these are called Intel Core processors. They are going to be one of the deciding factors in your purchase because they determine what your computer is capable of, and it can can also save you money depending on what you need the computer for.

Intel has a number of different processing chips, but we are going to keep things simple and cover Intel Core i3, i5, and i7.

You can put these chips in categories based on factors such as:

  • The Number of Cores
  • Clock Speed (GHz)
  • Cache Size
  • Threads

The Number of Cores

The more the cores that the chip has, the more tasks (threads) can be served. For example, if you need a computer that is made for multi-tasking and a heavier work load, then a chip with a higher thread count would be better. Most of the i3 processors have two cores, so these are set at a lower price point for the most basic of functionality.

Clock Speed (GHz)

Generally, a higher clock speed is better. But it isn’t always true because some processors with more cores operate at a lower clock speed. So if you’re looking into purchasing a computer for gaming or video rendering where the latter is important, more cores would be better than being faster.

Cache Size

The cache is an important hardware component. Whenever your CPU finds out that the same data is being used over and over, it shares the data within the cache. This in turn makes your computer faster by saving time used to access that data again. A CPU with a larger cache will allow more data to be accessed at a faster rate.

Both your computer’s RAM, and CPU Cache serve as the holding areas used for data that is used frequently. Without the RAM and CPU Cache, your CPU would rely on your hard disk drive for everything. This would be problematic because it would make the most basic tasks take forever.


Intel core processors have the technology called “Hyper-threading”. This is would be like a turbo-boost when increasing the power to CPU cores. There can only be one thread that can be served by one CPU core at a time. If it is Dual-Core then it can serve two cores at the same time. “Hyper-threading” changes the game because it allows one core to serve multiple threads at once.

For example, the Core i3 with hyper-threading can serve two threads per one core. This allows four cores to run simultaneously, and if there was a Core i5 without hyper-threading is capable of the same thing as a Core i3 processor with hyper-threading.

What’s Best For You?

When it comes down to it, which one would best fit your needs? Breaking down which is which, we can see:

  • Core i3 would be best for just your normal everyday web-browsing. Whether it be scrolling through Facebook, checking for news updates, or just checking your email. The Core i3 is also at the lowest price point so if you aren’t trying to break the bank, this would do just fine.
  • Core i5 and Core i7 would work for you if you have a little more things to do with your computer other than the everyday web-browsing, this could be things like video rendering, gaming, content creation, etc. Paying the extra buck for these would be advantageous to anyone who wants their computer to do a lot more, faster.

If you need your computer to do tasks that take up a lot more data the Core i5 and Core i7 would probably be your best bet. But if you only need it for basic tasks, then the Core i3 would be right for you. There are many different computer processors out there that have came out over time, but now you will have the basic knowledge to decipher which one would work best for you.

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