What is the difference between Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors?

Choosing which Intel Core processor you need depends on what you want to do with your laptop. Our jargon-free guide can help you choose…


Intel’s latest range of 6th Generation processors means there’s even more choice when you’re buying a new laptop – but which is right for you?

Think of the processor as your computer's brain. It determines how fast your machine runs and its ability to handle multiple tasks at the same time. 

Intel Core processors are the most powerful. They have multiple cores - each core is like an individual processor. More cores mean more power and smoother multi-tasking

There are 3 Intel Core processors – the Core i3, the Core i5 and the Core i7.


Core i3

Who’s it for? Everyday users – web browsing, Word and media streaming

If you’re looking to use your laptop for everyday computing tasks like web browsing, video streaming and office-type work, the Core i3 is great. Its dual core means regular tasks will be slicker and easier. Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology also makes more efficient use of its power.

The most budget-friendly laptops usually run on a Core i3. However, if you need to run demanding creative or scientific programs this isn’t the one for you. 

With a Core i3 you can:

  • Browse the web – multiple webpage tabs should run smoothly
  • Work on reports and essays in Word, or in basic spreadsheets in Excel
  • Stream movies and TV shows from Netflix
  • Listen to your favourite playlists and albums on Spotify
  • Multi-task efficiently with Intel Hyper-Threading technology 

Check out laptops with an i3 processor

Core I 3 4th Gen

Look out for this Core i3 logo when you are looking at laptops or desktops

Core i5

Who’s for? Busy multitaskers – spreadsheets, photo editing and gaming

If you like to run demanding programs while streaming music, enjoy editing photos on your laptop or are a budding PC gamer, the Core i5 is great for you.

Some Core i5 processors are dual core, but most are quad core – this means they have 4 cores and can handle more jobs at the same time. It’s the quad-core i5s we’re focusing on here. 

With a Core i5 you can:

  • Multi-task – work on spreadsheets while streaming music or video, with Facebook and webpages open too
  • Work on complicated tasks like rendering a big Excel file or working in Photoshop
  • Edit photos or basic home movies
  • Play intensive PC games with the right i5 – find out more about Intel processors for gaming 
  • Benefit from faster repeated tasks thanks to the large cache size
  • Stream from multiple sites at the same time
  • Get a temporary boost when using demanding programs with Intel Turbo Boost technology

If a laptop or computer has a dual-core i5 it will use hyper-threading technology – but a quad-core i5 won’t.

Check out laptops with an i5 processor 

Core I 5 4th Gen

Look out for this Core i5 logo when you are looking at laptops or desktops

Core i7

Who’s it for? Serious video editors, designers and gamers who crave power 

If you work in the creative industries and are handling advanced video editing or 3D modelling then a Core i7 is a good option. This is also the case if you want the best gaming performance.

With 4 proper cores, and technology to create another 4 virtual cores, it has enough power for the most demanding tasks. 

With a Core i7 you can:

  • Encode video more efficiently (encoding processes every frame in your video and can take hours – you can cut a few seconds off every minute)
  • Work smoothly in 3D modelling programs like AutoCAD
  • Enjoy high-end gaming sessions
  • Crunch numbers on spreadsheets more efficiently
  • Enjoy working more efficiently when using demanding creative programs like InDesign – each core uses 2 ‘threads’ rather than 1 thanks to Intel Hyper-Threading technology
  • Benefit from faster repeated tasks thanks to the large cache size

Get a temporary power boost when using demanding programs with Intel Turbo Boost technology.

Core I 7 4th Gen

Look out for this Core i7 logo when you are looking at laptops or desktops

See the fill range of i7 processors

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