Q

Hyperthreading, cache distinguish Core i5, i7 processors

A laptop processor comparison differentiates Intel's chips by their cores, hyperthreading and cache, which affects speed.

What are the major differences between Core i5 and i7 processors on a laptop?

Core i5 and Core i7 processors are Intel products, and there are many different generations and versions of each. In a nutshell, the Core i5 is fast, moderately priced and popular with average computer users, whereas the Core i7 is faster, more powerful, more expensive and aimed at power users.

If you often run multiple programs simultaneously, feel that your computer is too slow and get frustrated because webpages take too long to load, you'll most likely appreciate the power boost you get with the Core i7 processor.

The primary differences between i5 and i7 processors are the cores, the amount of cache and hyper-threading.

Most Core i5s and Core i7s today are quad-core processors, although some are dual cores. A quad-core processor has two separate dual cores, each with its own cache. The processor offloads some of its work to cache, which makes repetitive tasks complete more quickly.

Comparing fourth-generation processors (the latest as of this writing), the Core i5 typically has 4 MB to 6 MB of cache and speeds in the range of 3.20 gigahertz to 3.70 GHz. Core i7s typically have at least 8 MB of cache and speeds of 3.0 GHz to 3.9 GHz.

Finally, hyperthreading is a multithreading technology that enables multiple streams of information from a single application to be processed simultaneously, making the processor function as though it has additional cores. The application must be designed for hyperthreading in order for the benefits to be realized. The Core i7 has hyperthreading, but not the Core i5.

Core i5 and Core i7 processors share other features as well, such as Turbo Boost and integrated graphics, but the features are more robust or faster on the i7.

About the author:
Kim Lindros is a full-time writer, content developer and project manager who has worked around IT since the early 1990s. She co-authored MTA Microsoft Technology Associate Exam 98-349 Windows Operating System Fundamentals (Wiley, 2012) and PC Basics with Windows 7 and Office 2010 (Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010), among other textbooks. Lindros has also developed numerous college and corporate courses focused on IT security, Microsoft technologies and Microsoft Office.

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This was first published in August 2014

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