While the debate over PC vs. Console has a lot of controversy on its own, there is an entire debate within the PC gaming community as well over which kind of PC to build, which components to build it with, the graphics card one should use, and most importantly, the Central Processing Unit, i.e., the CPU that gives the best performance for new and upcoming games. The debate never remains static as technologies evolve and more recent games have better and better graphics and improved gameplay, and level design. The processors and graphics card you need to play these games with also keep changing and evolving.
While console gamers only have to switch to the next-generation console, it’s a bit more complicated for PC gamers. Each component of the gaming PC has to be thought out in combination with all the other components. Many emphases are placed on the GPU or the Graphics Processing Unit, and PC gamers often save money for the next-gen graphics card. But the processor in the gaming PC plays a much more crucial role in how well your gaming PC performs. While the Core-i9 is still relatively new and perhaps not within the budget range for most PC gamers, there is a lot of debate online between choosing a Core-i5 and a Core-i7 processor.
Intel Core-i5 vs Intel Core-i7 – Comparison Table
The Difference in Technology in Core-i5 and Core-i7
Before delving further into what the Core-i5 and the Core-i7 can bring to your gaming PC’s performance and frame per second. The difference in technology is meant to include everything from clock-speed to hardware.
The Core-i5 processor is generally understood to be mid-ranged as far as your budget is concerned.
It comes in dual-core or quad-core processors and can be used either in laptops or desktop computers. It was first released in 2009 and continues to this day. It comes in various clock-speeds ranging from 1.90 GHz to 3.80 GHz. It can have a cache memory of 3 MB, 4 MB, or 6 Mb. The most common type of RAM used with a Core i5 processor is the DDR3 1333 or the DDR3 1600. As a rule of thumb, the higher the clock speed, the higher the power consumption. For example, a Core i5 with a clock speed of 1.90 GHz uses 11.5 Watts of power, whereas an i5 processor with 3.20 GHz used up to 35 watts of power.
On the other hand, the Core i7 processors are high-end performance processors. The Core i7 is generally considered ideal only for users demanding high-resolution software processing, including AAA games, video editing, and object rendering, etc. The Core i7 spans eight generations of chipsets designed by Intel, featuring either four or six cores. The clock-speed can range from 2.6 GHz to 3.7 GHz.
They were initially released first in 2008 and continue to this day. The amazing features that some of the i7 processors come with include over-clocking that can reach speeds of up to 5 GHz using Intel Turbo Boost Technology and High-efficiency i7 processors, which can conserve energy at the expense of some CPU performance output. The i7 is mainly marketed to high-end gamers and artists working in the film industry etc.
Furthermore, hyper-threading in the Core-i7 allows you to do multi-tasking with no visible loss in performance. With hyper-threading, you can run more than one thread on each. More threads translate to more work that can be done in parallel.
What’s best for your budget? The Core i5 or the Core i7?
A simple browse through Amazon price listings can reveal the average you have to pay for the Core i5 and the Core i7 processors.
The Intel Core i5-3470 Quad-Core Processor 3.2 GHz 4 Core LGA 1155 costs about $197. The Intel Core i5-9400F Desktop processor with 6 cores and 4.1 GHz Turbo without graphics costs $143.50. And the Intel Core i5-9400 Desktop Processor 6 Core 2.90 GHz up to 4.1 GHz Turbo LGA costs $167.
On the other hand, the Intel Core i7 9700K Desktop processor 8 cores with a clock speed up to 4.9 GHz Turbo costs roughly $300. The Intel Core i7-9700 Desktop Processor 8 cores with up to 4.7 GHz clock speed costs $268. An older generation of the Core i7 processors-the Intel Core i7-3770 Quad-Core Processor 3.4 GHz 4 core costs about $150.
As you can see, everything else being equal, the Core-i7 processors gave more clock-speed, more threads, and hence, more performance for your CPU but at a cost. The real question is: is the Core-i7 actually worth it? How about buying a decent mid-ranged Core i5 and using the savings to buy a good GPU to go alongside your i5 CPU? Would that result in better output as far as gaming is concerned?
Reasons for Picking the Core-i5
This video compares performance between the Core-i5 9600K and the Core-i7 9700K in five major games, i.e., Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, PUBG, GTAV, and Overwatch. As you may see, the Core-i7 only slightly over-performs as compared with the Core-i5 but at a higher cost. This website is a good benchmark for comparing the output of the two processors overall. The area where the Core-i7 truly leaves the i5 behind is multi-tasking thanks to multiple cores and hyper-threading technology.
The majority of PC gamers would not be willing to pay nearly $100 extra for a core-i7 to be able to run programs in the background while playing games. The money you would save could be invested in a decent graphics card. It’s worth pointing out that even earlier generations of the Core-i5 are compatible with the latest graphics cards, such as the RTX 2080, which is one of the most powerful graphics processing units currently available in the market.
- 6 Cores / 6 Threads
- 3.70 GHz up to 4.60 GHz / 9 MB Cache
Reasons for Picking the Core-i7
The most obvious reason is the awesome clock-speed. With the Core-i7 9700(KF), you can get up to 4.9 GHz thanks to its design that features eight-cores and eight-threads. You’ll have to pay about $140 extra, though, as compared with the Core-i5 of the same generation. Is this extra money worth it? Well, that depends on you, the user. If you are a streamer that needs to play games while simultaneously being logged into a streaming platform such as Twitch or Mixer, the extra cost might be worth it for you as you play games and upload to streaming platforms simultaneously.
The other primary reason to pick the Core-i7 is what gamers have lately been calling “future-proofing.” As they say, change is permanent. That’s especially true for the gaming market. Technology will keep getting better, and games will keep demanding more and more powerful PCs to run them without dropping FPS and at a decent graphics quality level. That means you have to keep upgrading your system to keep up with all these changes. So instead of constantly buying new hardware, it might make sense to put in some extra money and buy a powerful processor that should last at least a couple of generations of gaming consoles.
The risk, of course, with this strategy, is that the future is always uncertain. You don’t know which kind of graphics cards will be released by the likes of AMD or NVidia and what their hardware requirements are going to be. There’s a chance that despite having a Core-i7, you still have to keep changing components in your hardware. Future-proofing might not be as certain as it sounds.
- 8 Cores / 8 Threads
- 3.60 GHz up to 4.90 GHz / 12 MB Cache
PC gaming enthusiasts constantly have to keep up-grading their systems thanks to the ever-changing nature of technology itself and the games that demand more and more performance out of your computer. In such a scenario, gamers have many options to choose from. Still, the best option can often be challenging to decide upon, thanks to many myths flying around about how vital a processor and a GPU really are.
While going through the market for processors that are ideal for gaming, the Core-i5 and the Core-i7 stand out. The Core-i5 is better priced, but the Core-i7 gives better performance while multi-tasking. If you are a streamer, then perhaps investing a bit more money and buying the Core-i7 makes more sense.
Otherwise, there’s no need to strain your budget, and you can have a Core-i5 along with a decent graphics card to meet all your gaming needs. You can try to be “future-proof” and buy a Core-i7 processor, but the future is always uncertain.