Intel i3 vs. i5 vs. i7 – Which Should You Use for Gaming?



Category: Branded Gaming PC

intel i3 vs i5 vs i7

The CPU is an essential part of a PC's heart and soul. Therefore, a gaming PC requires maximum optimization and utilization of a CPU.

The first name that comes to your mind when you heard the word CPU is Intel. Intel currently offers a wide array of CPUs, but their most popular models are Intel i3, i5 and i7. But what is a CPU? How is its speed measured? Moreover, which one should you choose for gaming?

To put it in simple words, the Intel i7 is the fastest of the batch and thus the most expensive. The Intel i5 is the mainstream mid-tier CPU that is used by the majority of devices. The i3 is an entry-level CPU and is priced accordingly.

First of all, you must clearly and easily understand the concept of the core. A core is a basic unit that executes the commands within a CPU. It should be noted that the model number of the CPU does not refer to the number of its cores. However, an i7 is much faster than an i3. Currently, i3 comes with a dual-core, while i5 and i7 CPUs come with both dual and quad-core. More cores equal more utility.

The next thing you want to know about is the generation of the CPU. The generation refers to a newer model. It is quite easy to make out the generation of a CPU. For example, the Intel Core i3-5200 belongs to the 5th generation of Intel cores. The Intel Core i5-7500 belongs to the 7th generation of Intel cores and so on. It is worth noting that the newer generation of Intel processors will not support Windows 7.

A CPU’s clock speed rate is a measure of how many clock cycles, and the number of oscillations, a CPU can perform per second. For example, a 1.8 GHz CPU can perform 1,800,000,000 clock cycles per second. The i3 comes in a range of 2.4-3.6GHz, the i5 in 3.0-3.4GHz and the i7 in 2.0-3.5GHz.

Another important thing you should know about is the CPU's cache size, which is as important as the ram in determining your system's speed. The i7 offers the highest cache memory of 8Mb; the next is i5 which provides cache sizes between 4-6Mb, and the i3 ranks last at 3-4Mb.


So Which CPU Should You Use for Gaming?

If you’re looking forward to playing casual games like Rocket League, Counter-Strike, Dota 2 or any older games like GTA Vice City, i3 should be ideal for you. You can easily bag the 8th gen i3 for about $140-$150.

However, if want optimum uninterrupted gaming performance, i7 will suit you the most. The demanding games such as Witcher 3, Far Cry 5 and Call of Duty Balck Ops 4 will best use it. However, it is going to set you back on money. An 8th gen i7 processor will cost you about $350.

The CPU option for a powerful gaming set-up is an i5. An 8th gen core i5 is comparatively quite affordably priced at around $250 and will smoothly run almost all the titles.

It should be well noted that although a CPU is an integral part of a gaming set-up, the performance can be significantly affected by the ram and graphics card.

Let's put things a bit more simply and give you a summarized conclusion.

A) Intel Core i3 - Basic Users

Intel Core i3 is perfect for users who only want to use their computers for simple tasks. Some of these tasks include browsing the web, using Microsoft Office, social networking, and making video calls.

However, the Intel Core i3 is unsuitable for gamers.

B) Intel Core i5 - Intermediate Users

These Intel Core processors give you a good performance between price and performance. You can use this Intel processor for gaming if you get a G processor or a Q processor. Ensure that you have a dedicated graphics processor.

C) Intel Core i7 - Power Users

Now, this is where the fun comes in. If you want to be able to open several windows simultaneously without your computer lagging, this is it.

This Intel processor is a great option if you hate waiting for stuff to load on your computer.

Now that we have this part out of the way, let's focus on some important details when choosing between Intel i3 vs. i5 vs. i7.

What Is the Major Difference Between Intel Core i3, i5, and i7?

1. Processor Cores

One thing to note is that Core i7 doesn't mean a seven-core processor. This can be easy to assume because of the name, but this is not the case. The names of the processors are simply indicative of performance.

However, even if the numbers don't indicate the number of processors, it does mean that the Intel Core 3 is more powerful than the Intel Core i5, and the Intel Core i5 is more powerful than the Intel Core i7.

When it comes to the Intel Core i3 series, you'll be interested to know that the older models had only dual-core processors. Newer models have a mixture of dual-core processors and quad-core CPUs,

This is the same when it comes to Intel Core i5 CPUs as well. The older generations have some dual-cores and some quad cores. However, for the Intel Core i5 series, the newer models consist of quad-core and hexa-core configurations.

You can even find 10-core CPUs with the latest generations being produced. Another difference between the i3 and i5 is that Intel Core i5 processors have faster clock speeds compared to i3 models.

For the Core i7 series, you'll find more configurations. These include quad-core, hexa-core, octa-core, and 12-core CPUs. Therefore, it's no secret here that the i7 series outperforms the is and the entry-level i3.

While we're on the subject of processors, note that although quad-core processors are often better than dual-core processors and hexa-core processors and often better than quad-core processors, this isn't always the case.

The CPU generation can affect how powerful these processors are. So, what are generations?

2. Generations

Generations are what Intel releases as "families" of chipsets. For example, the 12th generation of Intel is called Alder Lake. So, each Intel family has its own line of i3, i5, and i7 series of processors.

You might hear techies talk about the different "Lake" processor families such as Ice, Sky, and Whiskey. But, in truth, the terms "generations," "lakes," and "microarchitectures" mean the same thing.

Each new Intel generation delivers significant performance upgrades. Some of these upgrades include longer battery life, increased productivity and connectivity, and faster clock speeds at up to 5.3 GHz

3. Hyper-Threading

What is hyper-threading? This feature increases the performance of your processor cores. This means that you can perform more tasks in the same amount of time. For example, a good analogy would be moving from a one-lane highway to a two-way highway.

Modern CPUs are now designed to boost your speed using virtual cores. These virtual cores are activated through hyper-threading.

Therefore, hyper-threading can allow your single physical core to act like two virtual cores, increasing performance.

This also increases efficiency because you get the result of having two physical cores without activating a second one, resulting in more power usage. If, for example, you have two active physical cores and you are using hyper-threading, you'll have access to four virtual cores that compute faster.

However, you should still remember that physical cores are faster than virtual cores. Nonetheless, a quad-core CPU will outperform a dual-core CPU with hyper-threading.

However, it's not as easy as saying that i7 is more powerful than i5 with hyper-threading. So when it comes to Intel i3 vs. i5 vs. i7, you'll have to check the individual CPUs for their hyper-threading potential.

4. Turbo Boost

So, how does Turbo Boost help with your gaming performance? Turbo Boost is Intel's proprietary technology and increases your processor's clock speed if need be.

For example, if you are playing a heavy game and your system needs some extra horsepower, Turbo Boost will kick in.

As of the Intel Core i3-8130U, Core i3 processors now support Turbo Boost. Before, owners with Core i3 processors couldn't do anything about their regular CPU speeds.

Therefore, you'll benefit from this feature if you run resource-intensive software on your machines, such as video games and video editors.

5. Cache Size

This is a major differentiator between the Intel i3 vs. i5 vs. i7. The latest generations of Core i3 come with Intel Smart Cache Memory that ranges between 4-12 MB.

The Intel Smart Cache Memory of the Core i5 series ranges between 6-20 MB. For the Core i7 series, the memory is between 12-25 MB.

So, what is the Cache size all about? The cache is your processor's own memory. This part acts like the processor's private RAM.

So, if your processor is performing a certain task repeatedly, it will store this task in its cache. The more tasks your processor stores in its cache, the faster it will be able to do them when they come up again.

Therefore, just like the normal RAM, the larger your cache size, the better. Therefore, when you are thinking about upgrading your PC, one of the most impactful changes you can make is getting a CPU with a larger memory cache.

What do Intel's Model Letter Suffixes Mean?

With Intel processors, you'll notice that the model number is often followed by one letter or a combination of letters. U, Y, T, Q, H, G, and K letters.

So, let's find out what these letters mean because it's information that you may need down the line.

A) Single Letters

U: Mobile Power Efficient

If you want processors with good battery life and less power, these are for you. The U-rating is only for mobile processors.

H: High-Performance Mobile

These Intel Core processors are high-performance while still being optimized for mobile.

T: Power Optimized

These chips are made to use less power. However, they also have a lower performance. Most of these physical cores are designed for desktops.

Y: Extremely Low Power

If you are using Internet of Things devices or any other embedded hardware, you can use these Intel Core processors.

K: Unclocked

What this means is that you can overclock this processor above its rating.

G: Has Discrete Graphics

These are often found on good laptops. If you see this letter, know that there is a dedicated GPU that comes with the processor.

S: Special Edition

These processors often feature very high-performance hardware.

B) Double Letters

HQ: High-Performance Mobile

These processors have a quad-core processor and are optimized for mobile hardware. Therefore, if you like playing games on your mobile devices, this is a good one.

HK: High-Performance Mobile Unclocked

These processors are optimized for high-performance and mobile. They also have an unlocked CPU that allows you to overclock.

KF: Unclocked without Integrated Graphics

You can overclock these high-performance CPUs. However, they do not come with onboard graphics.

Final Thoughts

The truth of the matter is that the Core i3 lineup isn't the best when it comes to gaming. If you can save up a little and get the Intel Core i5 or Core i7.

When building your own gaming PC, you want to get a good graphics card and a good processor. But unfortunately, the graphics card takes precedence over the processor more often than not.

Why? Because the integrated graphics card does most of the gaming work.

For example, if you pair an Intel Core i3 8100 with a GTX 1070, it will outperform an Intel Core i7 8700 paired with a GTX 1050 Ti. In addition, you'll notice that your experience is much easier.