Intel Core i3 vs i5 Processors

Author: Luke Adkins  Date Posted: 12 February 2024 

Choosing a new laptop is always an exciting time, and often, getting that new laptop will make any day seem like Christmas. We know that with such an expensive purchase, a lot of effort needs to go into considering laptop specs, and one of the most significant factors is what processor core you choose. So, what are your options, and how do they affect you?

As far as processors from Intel go, you can choose from Pentium 4 (yes, Pentium is still around), Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Core i9. In this comparison, we're looking at what you need to consider when choosing an i3 vs i5 laptop and which would be better for you. So read along to determine whether the i3 or i5 Intel core processor suits you better.

i3 & i5 processor overviewIntel i3 vs i5 CPU

Deciding between the i3 and i5 is a reasonably easy decision. After all, they are named chronologically, so you'll catch on to the processing power just by looking at the name. You can generally expect the Core i5 to be the better processor because it was released as an improvement to the i3. While this is true for the most part, there are a few other factors you'd need to consider, too.

i3 processors at a glance

At a glance, i3 processors are considered entry-level and are typically found in budget-friendly laptops, which are ideal for everyday use. They will generally have fewer cores and threads with a dual-core or quad-core setup, so you'll get a decent performance from them. However, their performance also depends on what other hardware they are paired with. Unfortunately, using an i3 processor might struggle when you use intensive applications or games.

i5 processors at a glance

i5 processors are known more for being the all-rounder and can handle some pretty complex computing tasks, like gaming, video editing, and general multitasking. You'll find that i5s usually perform better because their cores are fitted with either quad-cores or hexa-cores. Some core i5 laptops also come with turbo boost technology, which increases your processor speed to perform specific actions.

i3 & i5 processor Clock speed comparison

Clock speeds simply refer to how many times your processor executes per second and thus measure the speed of your processor. Remember, having a decent clock speed may indicate a fast processor, but it's not the only factor influencing performance.

In comparison, i3 processors generally have a slower clock speed than i5s. If you look at your 10th generation i3 laptops these days, you'll get some decent clock speeds between 2.0GHz and 3.5GHz or higher. However, this isn't always the case and will often depend on the model and generation of your laptop.

On the other hand, i5s are designed to handle more, so they would naturally have faster clock speeds. Some i5 laptops have clock speeds of between 2.5GHz to 4.0GHz or faster. Again, this varies depending on the i5 laptop you buy and its generation.

i3 & i5 processor cores and threads comparison

Understanding a laptop's capabilities is essential, especially if you need a laptop that can manage a heavy load. Laptops with core i5 processors are definitely the way to go if you need something that can perform at a higher capacity because they have more built-in cores. On the other hand, if you are considering an i3 laptop with either a dual-core processor or, in some cases, quad-cores, you'll need to consider that many are not able to take on as heavy a workload, but their power enables them to process essential functions without a glitch.

The same goes for its threads; the number of threads an i3 Intel CPU has will correspond with its cores. Newer i3s may enable hyper-threading, increasing their ability to multitask slightly.

Now, i5s generally have more cores and support more threads with those cores, allowing the laptop to process more demanding tasks. You'll usually find dual-cores, quad-cores, or hexa-cores in your i5 laptops. Like the newer i3 processors, most i5 processors support hyper-threading, allowing one core to handle two threads simultaneously. As a result, the i5 processor can handle heavier workloads and applications.

i3 & i5 cache size comparison

The processor cache is an essential component of your laptop's performance. In essence, the cache allows your laptop to access files quickly to finish your more complex tasks. The larger your processor's cache, the more files it can process in one go, and vice versa.

In comparison, i5 processors have a larger cache, which makes them more efficient at working through your files than the i3. You'd be able to run more apps at the same time with an i5 because of the bigger cache it has.

i3s usually have a cache size of 3 to 8MB, sufficient for basic multitasking. However, i5s have between 6MB and 12MB cache sizes, giving them far more storage to handle your data.

i3 & i5 processor integrated graphics comparison

Integrated graphics in i3 processors are generally capable enough for basic graphics tasks, such as watching high-definition videos, light photo editing, and running less demanding games at low to moderate settings.

Intel frequently uses its Intel UHD or Intel HD Graphics series in i3 processors. These integrated GPUs are designed to handle everyday computing tasks efficiently but may struggle with more graphically intensive applications.

i5 processors typically come with more advanced integrated graphics compared to i3s. Depending on the specific model and generation, they often feature Intel UHD or Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

The integrated graphics in i5 CPUs provide better performance, making them more suitable for moderately demanding graphical tasks, including mainstream gaming, video editing, and more intensive graphical software.

The improved graphics capabilities in i5 processors make them a better choice for users who need stronger performance but do not have a dedicated GPU.

i3 & i5 processor hyperthreading comparison

In many of the earlier generations, Intel i3 processors commonly featured hyperthreading. This feature was significant for i3 CPUs, as it allowed their typically fewer cores (often dual-core processors) to handle tasks more efficiently, aiding in multitasking and slightly more demanding applications.

With the advancements in technology and changes in Intel's product lineup, the implementation of hyperthreading in i3 models will also vary according to the generation and specific processor of the laptop. Intel i5 processors did not typically feature hyperthreading in several generations because the manufacturer focused on providing more physical cores (such as quad-core setups) without simultaneous multithreading.

This changed in recent generations when Intel started equipping i5 models with hyperthreading. These newer i5 processors with hyperthreading capabilities offer improved operating system performance for multitasking and applications that benefit from a higher thread count.

i3 & i5 processor turbo boost comparison

In the Intel i3 series, Turbo Boost is not as commonly featured in the i5 series. Historically, many i3 processors did not include Turbo Boost technology, as they were designed to offer primary and energy-efficient performance at a lower price point.

However, with newer generations, some i3 models have started to include Turbo Boost, allowing for brief periods of enhanced performance. This addition helps bridge the gap between i3 and higher-end CPUs for specific tasks.

Turbo Boost is a more standard feature in Intel core i5 processors. This technology allows i5 CPUs to handle more demanding tasks and workloads more efficiently by temporarily increasing the base clock speed when needed.

The presence of Turbo Boost in i5 processors significantly contributes to their ability to balance performance and energy efficiency, making them well-suited for a wide range of applications, from everyday computing to more intensive tasks like gaming and content creation.

i3 & i5 processor benchmark scores comparison

One of the best ways to compare i3 vs. i5 processors is by placing their benchmark scores against each other. Remember that benchmark tests usually compare CPU core performance, such as speed, multi-core efficiency, and graphics performance.

Considering all the information we've discussed above, it's pretty standard to assume that the i3 processor will have lower benchmark scores than the i5. This is because i3s have fewer cores and lower clock speeds, which give them a lower score in comparison to the i5, which often has more cores, faster clock speeds, and features like turbo boost, which all contribute to better performance and a higher score on benchmark tests.

If you're interested in checking Benchmark scores and comparrisons, check out our personal favourite comparrison website UserBenchmark.

i3 & i5 power consumption comparison

Power consumption is an important aspect to consider when choosing a laptop. Laptops with more processing power usually require more battery power to run when not on charge. So, when considering an i3 vs i5, you want to find a balance between the performance and battery life you're looking for.

i3 laptops are usually amazingly energy-efficient. Regarding power consumption, i3s have fewer cores and slower clock speeds, meaning they'd naturally use less power than i5s. On the other hand, we need to remember that i5s are more aimed at having better performance and thus would require more power to run. But to compensate for this, i5 laptops would also have a bigger battery capacity than i3s to ensure the same standard of battery longevity.

i3 & i5 real-world performance comparison

You'll get many more capabilities out of the i5 regarding real-world performance. In general, i3s are great laptops for everyday computing tasks like web browsing, using office applications, or light gaming. They may be able to handle some medium-intensity video editing, but you'll hear its fans going crazy, that's for sure.

i5 processors are usually better equipped to handle more intensive tasks and applications. Thus making them the more versatile option that can, in turn, offer you better value for money. Laptops with this processor also tend to last longer because as technology improves, the i3 may be considered obsolete sooner than the i5.

Laptops or computers with i5 processors will be able to handle repetitive tasks faster, multitask better, and run games with higher graphics. They are often a good choice for individuals looking for a decent price and performance laptop.

i3 & i5 processor price comparison

As expected, i3s will be more cost-effective than i5s because they are the lower-performing option. You can pick up a decent i3 laptop for between $150 to $400. However, i5s can handle more and are generally more expensive. Other variables like storage and graphics card influence the cost of an i5, but you'd usually be able to pick one up for between $400 and $800.

Find the best deals on i3 & i5 processor laptops and computers at Australian Computer Traders

Customers who have decided to upgrade their laptops to an i3 or i5 can find the best deals with us at Australian Computer Traders now. We'll get you some top-notch refurbished computers at prices you'll love.

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