There was a time not too long ago when all you had to care about when buying a computer was whether it was Pentium IV or not, and how big a monitor you wanted. Well, in computer terms those days are far behind us. Many of us are no longer satisfied with simple specifications and ordinary performance. We demand the best, and this starts right at the heart of the computer—with choosing the best kind of processor (one which will suit your needs). The more popular options available in the market today include the Intel Core i5 and Core i7, Intel Core i3 (mainly found in budget systems) and AMD processors (a whole another world). Of these, the Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors are most popular. We will therefore be looking at these two processors very closely. With similar prices and specifications, choosing between the two can be a daunting task.
The bottom line is that a computer with an i5 processor is cheaper than that with an i7 core. This is because i7 processors perform better. Essentially, Core i7 processors have more capabilities than Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs. The Core i7 is better at multi-tasking and handling multimedia tasks. They also work well for high end gaming, and scientific work. Core i7 processors are certainly aimed at people who complain of slow systems. However, if cost is a major concern, you should remember that as long as you do not need your computer to perform at phenomenally high speeds, then the i5 is a perfectly capable processor. In fact, it is better than most others seen till date.
For the most part, you’ll get faster CPU performance from Core i7 parts than from Core i5 ones. Configuring the core specifications of a processor can be really confusing while shopping for one. Do not let the number of cores confuse you; while a majority of desktop Core i7 CPUs are quad-core processors (and Core i5 processors are dual-core), there are instances when mobile Core i7 processors are dual-core. There are also a number of six-core processors available. So the only rule of thumb that applies in this vast array of processors is to look at the processor’s model number (which is usually in the format: Core i7-xxx or Core i5-xxxx). The best and often the easiest option is to choose the model with the higher number.
In addition to faster base clock speeds, Core i7 processors have a larger cache as well as on-board memory to help them deal with repetitive tasks within shorter time-frames. If you’re editing and calculating spreadsheets on a computer with a Core i7 processor, your CPU will not have to reload the framework the numbers sit in every time. This info will be stored in the cache so that when you change a number, the calculations made will be almost instantaneous. This advantage in cache size will help you while multitasking as well, since background tasks will be ready for when you switch focus to another window. On currently available desktop processors, i5 CPUs have 3MB-6MB of L3 cache, while i7 processors have 8MB-15MB of the same. These extra mega bytes can come in handy when using several programmes, dealing with high quality videos or very big files.
Turbo Boost refers to Intel’s “overclocking” feature which is built into its processors. Essentially, this feature allows the processor to run faster than its base clock speed when only one or two processor cores are needed. Both Core i5 and Core i7 processors use Turbo Boost. However, Core i7 processors achieve higher clock speeds.
Considered a breakthrough in processing, Intel’s hyper-threading uses multi-threading technology to make the operating system and other applications believe that the processor has more cores than it physically has. Hyper-Threading technology is used to increase performance at multi-threaded tasks which include a multi-tasking user running several programmes simultaneously. Multimedia operations like transcoding, rendering, and web surfing—including loading different elements such as Flash content and images—can be achieved simultaneously. An i7 six core CPU can hyper-thread to handle 12 streams, while the maximum number of an i5 is capable of handling is only 4. If you run a lot of video manipulation and high quality graphics, then the i7 and its multiple cores are probably a very good idea.
In the realm of high end games integrated graphics are extremely important. Intel HD Graphics or integrated graphics built into the processor core itself were introduced to the Westmere generation of Core processors, a change from the graphics being built into the motherboard instead. For choosing integrated graphics we well, the same rule of thumb, as applies to choosing cores applies: the higher the model number (chances are), the better the performance. Integrated graphics save power; there is no extra graphic chip on your laptop or desktop’s motherboard using power. It is clear that the i5 is a perfectly capable processor that will probably be more than enough for performance-conscious users who would like their computers to perform better than regular word processors do. The i7, on the other hand, is for the high-end users—particularly gamers—for whom even the thousandth of a second can be critical.
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Source: The Kathmandu Post