i3 vs i5 vs i7 – Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a way to easily decide which processor was right for us? First off what do all of these numbers mean?
Codename = SandyBridge
Sandybridge is Intel’s newest architecture/offering that was released in January 2011. This is still the fastest and most efficient architecture to date. It comes in three offerings, or flavors so to speak: the i3, i5, i7. Let’s begin by shedding some light on what these numbers mean, and what these processors have in common with one another.
i3-XXXX, i5-XXXX, i7-XXXX is the first way to tell if the processor you are looking at is truly the new SandyBridge architecture as they just switched to a 4 model number. Now, each of these offerings may also have a (K), (T), (S), (M).
The K stands for an unlocked multiplier. What this allows the user to do is to increase the multiplier on the cpu core without having to increase the fsb in order to achieve a higher clock speed. This is referred to as overclocking your processor. It is not warranted by Intel and should only be used by the most hardcore of PC users and builders as it can cause premature failure of the i3, i5, and i7.
The S and T stand for low-power and Ultra-Low-Power. While the M stands for mobile, which I am sure you already guessed. The mobile version is of course used in laptops only.
With speed comes power consumption unfortunately.
The two fastest processors are the i5-2500 and i7-2600 with the only difference being more l3 cache on the 2600 and the addition of Hyper-Threading.
These processors do use the 95W power design which is slightly higher power consumption than the other offerings. For the average user the Hyper-Threading will not make much of a difference to justify the price jump from the i5 to the i7.
However, if you are a student who is studying video/photography in school or a father who loves capturing his family on camera then the i7 is for you. The i7 allows for much better video and photo editing/encoding due to the Hyper-Threading technology.
I am sure you are asking yourself now, “What is Hyper-Threading? I see it mentioned over and over again when it comes to the i3 vs i5 vs i7 discussion but, am still a little confused as to the meaning behind it”.
Well, Hyper-Threading is a term coined by Intel to describe its technology which improves upon the ability to perform multiple tasks with ease.
The way it works is for every physical core the application creates, a virtual core is also created. This in turn allows the application to share the work load between both the physical core and the virtual core. This essentially transforms a dual core (2 cores) into a quad core (4 cores) or a quad core (4 cores) into an 8 core. This may sound awesome, but remember not all applications have the ability to use hyperthreading.
The most common instance of this is PC Gaming. The majority of video games on the PC do not support hyperthreading which is why most pc gamers save some money by going with the i5-2500k (no Hyper-Threading) vs the i7-2600k (Hyper-Threading).
For a gamer the i7 does not justify the $100 price markup however, for the video editor the Hyper-Threading significantly increases performance by up to 30% in some cases making it a worth while investment.
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