Intel keeps producing more and more computer processors. Somebody asked me why Intel switched from Pentium to Core (i3, i5, i7, etc.) The answer is simple: money. How else would they satisfy their stockholders?
The other reason is software. It keeps getting more sophisticated and complex. The software needs more computing power to run properly.
So where does that leave us poor folk with 5 year old computers? You can drop out and throw that machine in the trash when it does not keep up any more or you can buy a new one and stay up with the rest of the world. Let’s assume the latter.
So now your Intel choice is Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7. The Core “i” names are primarily “high level” categorizations that help differentiate processors within a given generation. A specific Core “i” name doesn’t mean the processor has a certain number of cores, nor does it guarantee features, like Hyper-Threading, which allows the CPU to process instructions faster.
“OK, So what’s the best processor for me? “
Core i3 processors also have lower cache sizes (onboard memory). They handle less RAM than other Core processors and have varying clock speeds. At this writing, the ninth-generation, Core i3 desktop processors have a top clock speed of 4.6 GHz; however, that’s only the higher-end Core i3-9350K.
A step up from Core i3 is the Core i5. This is often where bargain-hunting PC gamers look for solid deals on processors. An i5 typically lacks Hyper-Threading, but it has more cores (currently, six, rather than four) than Core i3. The i5 parts also generally have higher clock speeds, a larger cache, and can handle more memory. The integrated graphics are also a bit better.You see new Core i5 processors with Hyper-Threading on laptops, but not desktops.
As of 2017, Core i7 CPUs had Hyper-Threading on desktops, but the more recent generations do not. These processors have higher core counts (up to eight in the ninth generation) than the i5’s, a larger cache, and a bump in graphics performance, but they have the same memory capacity as the Core i5’s (although, that could change in the future).
The Core i9 is at the top of the Intel Core pack. This is where you find many top-performing processors, like the Core i9-9900K—a current favorite for gaming.
“OK get on with it - Which one should I buy?”
There are some other considerations but unless you are a gamer a i5 will probably do it. If you are an email, a spreadsheet, or a word processor type of user, then an i3 will work just fine.
There are other manufacturers of processors but the smart guys who keep up with this stuff say that Intel is on top.
Examine what you do with your computer. Examine what you think you may do in the future. I now have 2 good quality monitors attached to my computer so that I can have several windows open at the same time. I elected to spend more of my hard-earned money on graphics and screen space than processor speed. One of the other considerations is memory. To me 8GB of memory is the minimum.
Maybe the forgoing will help you with your computing equipment.
February 12th 2020
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