While going to purchase an Intel processor, the very first thing that will pop up in your mind is whether to go for an i3, i5, i7, or i9 series of processors. Also, there is a concern of generations as performance speed varies between them. Going for the latest one is not always the smartest decision as it can hurt your wallet while you could do just fine with an earlier generation.
Knowing the processors and generation a little bit better can help you in a lot of decision-making processes. First and foremost, it will help you set upon the right kind of processor for a specific type of computing need. Secondly, gaining enough understanding of the series will only broaden your knowledge and keep you one step ahead of being a tech guru. In this article, we will be talking about Intel’s core series to give you a complete understanding of which processor should you set up for. Keep on reading and let’s get started.
How Does Intel Name its Processors?
You will often see Intel processors named such as Intel Core i7 1065G7 and they have a lot to tell from that name alone. The name can be divided into 4 different segments and each serves a specific purpose. The first segment, Intel Core, represents the brand that the processor belongs to. As Intel has a handful of brands including Core, Celeron, Pentium, and Xeon, the brand title separates them from one another so that you know which one that the chip belongs to.
Next on the line is the brand modifier i7 which Intel uses to differentiate the high tier chips from the entry-level ones that belong to the brand. The higher the number, the better the performance that is expected from the processor. For example, an i9 processor is likely to outperform an i3 chip in terms of performance, core count and advanced technology supports such as Hyperthreading. The rest of the numbers and letters indicate which generation the processor belongs to, the SKU, and the Product Line Suffix that determines how much feature the processor actually supports.
Core & Threads
You can think of CPU cores as workers that perform a set of tasks. A processor typically contains a number of cores that are physically integrated into the chip itself. As multicore processors are capable of handling complex sets of tasks at the same time, both for gaming and regular use, they are extremely useful for both.
In the meantime, CPU threads are the number of tasks each core can perform simultaneously. Consider a processor with 4 cores and 4 threads. Each core of the processor can handle two of these tasks simultaneously, which means it can perform four different tasks at once. Threads keep switching between tasks based on which resources they have at their disposal.
Initially, Core i3 processors used to have 2 cores while Core i5 and i7 incorporated 4 cores and 8 cores respectively. More recently, the 11th Gen Core i3 processor now has up to 4 cores, i5 has 6 while i7 and i9 have up to 8 cores with a maximum of 16 threads. Taking one step back at the 10th Gen Comet Lake series, we also see how core and thread count vary from each of the processors. I9 processors had as many as 10 cores and 20 threads while the i3 ones would come with a minimum of 4 cores and 8 threads.
What we are trying to imply here is that core and thread counts vary from each of the i3. i5, i7, and i9 processors and this further stretches down to generations as well. Still, there are plenty of factors to look out for such as clock speed, memory cache, and locked vs unlocked CPUs that have a great role to play in differentiating the processors.
Clock speed indicates the number of cycles a processor can perform at any given second and is often measured in GHz. In that case, an Intel 10th Gen i9 processor with 5.3GHz of speed can complete 5.3 billion cycles every second. Activities on your computer require a set amount of cycle for being able to execute. Take gaming for example. The more clock speed your processors have, the better the performance, resulting in greater FPS. The current generation of Intel core series chips including the i3, i5, i7, and i9 is able to top at up to 5.3GHz of speed for faster computing.
There are several types of caches, each with a different purpose, which store data from frequently used main memory locations in a smaller and faster memory, located at the core of the processor. Data retrieval is more efficient when the cache memory is used. This area contains information that the CPU will likely need again in the future, such as repeated protocol instructions and data. I3 and i5 processors often have up to 12MB of L3 cache while you can get up to 24MB on the i7 and i9 processors.
Other features that set these processors apart are hyper-threading and turbo boost modes. Multi-Threading Technology enables each core to run multiple threads at the same time. Parallel processing becomes more effective with more threads. Therefore, one physical core can now handle multiple threads of software because it works like two logical cores. When Hyper-Threading is enabled, for instance, the Intel Core i9-10900K processor can have 20 threads. Lower tier processors such as i3 and i5 lack these features as they can only be seen on the top tier ones.
Which One to buy?
It’s a shame that Intel’s Ultra-Performance Core i9 models seem so exciting but are out of the reach of most users. There’s a good reason Intel targets gamers, designers, content creators, and developers with these high-tier processors. Intel Core i7 is generally the best option and can save you a fair amount of money without compromising performance. I3 and i5 also seem like a good option too if you are not that much of an intensive user and getting a 10th to 11th gen processor will keep you in a safer spot.