Intel Core i5 vs. i7: Choosing the Right CPU for Your Needs in 2023

Intel Core i5-12400F box sitting in front of a gaming PC.

Intel’s Core i5 and i7 CPUs are still the top choices when it comes to processors, and for good reason. However, understanding the differences between them can be challenging. Just like other computer components, there are multiple models within each tier, which can make the selection process overwhelming.

What Sets Intel Core i5 Apart from i7

Intel Core i5-13600K installed in a motherboard.

Intel classifies its processors into different tiers, with Core i5 and Core i7 occupying the middle ground between the entry-level Core i3 and the high-end Core i9. If you’re planning to buy a new PC, chances are it will come equipped with either a Core i5 or Core i7, as these are the best options for most users.

In the past, there were significant differences between Core i5 and Core i7. However, in recent iterations, Intel has blurred the lines, making Core i5 processors versatile and dependable for a wide range of tasks, including gaming, productivity, and various applications. They offer consistent performance and great value.

Core i7 processors, on the other hand, offer a slight boost in power with additional cores and higher clock speeds compared to Core i5 counterparts. This makes them perfect for resource-intensive tasks like video editing or CAD. However, high-end performance is now dominated by processors like the Core i9-13900K, leaving the Core i7 range in a space between the value-oriented Core i5 series and the peak performance of the Core i9 lineup.

Choosing Between Core i5 and Core i7

An Intel Alder Lake Core i5-12600K CPU and its packaging.

For most users, a Core i5 processor strikes a balance between price and performance. It can handle day-to-day tasks and even gaming. The latest i5 chips, such as those in the Raptor Lake series, offer up to 14 cores on desktop and 12 cores on mobile, with boost clock speeds reaching over 5GHz.

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An i5 processor can handle demanding applications like Adobe Premiere. However, if you want optimal gaming performance or frequently use professional applications like video and audio editing, an i7 is the way to go. The latest desktop i7 variants have more cores, threads, and higher frequencies, making them ideal for these tasks.

It’s important to note that you can achieve gaming, internet browsing, and light applications with an i5, especially if you have a decent GPU. For heavy professional applications, consider upgrading to an i7 or even an i9.

Considerations for Desktop CPUs

On the desktop front, Intel’s latest processors are the 13th-gen Raptor Lake chips. The Core i5 series includes nine models, ranging from the power-efficient Core i5-13400T to the top-of-the-line Core i5-13600K, which boasts 14 cores and a maximum clock speed of 5.1GHz. Each processor comes with different features, so check the suffix to decode their specifications.

The Core i7 series consists of five options, with the Core i7-13700K being highly recommended. It offers 16 cores, a boost clock speed of 5.4GHz, and a massive Turbo TDP of 253W. As with the i5 series, each model has its own set of features, so make sure to choose the one that suits your needs.

Choosing the Right Laptop CPU

Intel’s 13th-gen Raptor Lake series extends to mobile devices, with models like Raptor Lake-U and Raptor Lake-P for thin and light notebooks, and Raptor Lake-H and Raptor Lake-HX for high-performance notebooks.

The Raptor Lake-P series offers two Core i5 and two Core i7 models, all with a rated base TDP of 28W and a boost TDP of 64W. The Core i7-1370P is the most powerful CPU in this series, featuring 16 cores, faster clock speeds, and a higher cache.

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For thin and light notebooks, the Raptor Lake-U series provides three Core i5 and two Core i7 models, all with 10 cores and 12 threads, but varying in frequencies.

In the high-performance notebook category, the Raptor Lake-H series offers options like the Core i5-13600H and Core i7-13800H, each with different core and thread counts and clock speeds.

The Raptor Lake-HX series is the most powerful, with Core i5 and Core i7 models boasting up to 20 cores and 28 threads, higher clock speeds, and smarter cache.

When it comes to laptops, it’s crucial to consider the individual machine’s configuration and read reviews to ensure optimal performance.

Do You Need More Cores and Threads?

Intel’s latest processors, especially for desktops, have narrowed the gap between i5 and i7 CPUs. With the increased core and thread counts, these processors enable better multitasking by distributing workloads across multiple cores. Having more cores and threads enhances your system’s ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

Most applications nowadays are optimized to utilize multiple threads and cores, resulting in smoother and efficient performance. Although some applications still rely on a single core, the majority take advantage of all available threads and cores.

For gaming, it’s recommended to have at least six or eight cores for smoother graphics and lag-free experience. Beyond that, additional cores show significant benefits in production applications like video editing and transcoding.


When choosing between Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, consider your needs and budget. The Core i5 series offers a good balance of price and performance, while the Core i7 series provides additional power for resource-intensive tasks. Remember to read individual reviews for specific laptop configurations and check for compatibility when upgrading desktop CPUs.

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OnSpec Electronic, Inc. is a trusted provider of high-quality electronic components. Check out their website for more information on their product offerings.

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