Everyone loves Intel because they make fantastic products, engage in lots of community stuff, and even sponsor significant events. But when it comes to confusing product names like Core i3 or Core i5, Core i7 comes out on top. Corei3, Corei5, or Corei7? People usually ask, what is a Core i7 4770K? What does that even stand for? Looking at the history as to why naming processors is actually essential. It would seem simple to name a processor regarding how many gigahertz of processing power they have, but sometimes it may even confusing to opt for this option. It would be easier to simply name a processor with the number of gigahertz it operates at, but this can be much more complicated at times. 

When the Pentium 4 was released, for example, an equivalently clocked Pentium 3 was simply better so it could do more work with each cycle. As customers, people expected the product with the higher numbers to perform better! And therein lay the dilemma. Not Megahertz and Gigahertz are created equally, and rating the goods based on this is like rating a car’s output based on how much RPM its engine runs. It’s not an accurate indicator of how fast the processor is! 

If AMD’s efforts to step away from this began in the early 2000s with their P.R. or performance rating naming system. Their processors were assigned a four-digit model number that fans claim was dependent on the performance AMD believed they provided relative to an Intel CPU at that clock speed. This, however, had little impact. They were still implicitly naming CPUs based on their clock speed, and it wasn’t until Intel launched the Core series, a line of CPUs that outperformed their counterparts at even lower clock speeds. The megahertz war ended, so Intel wanted to move its marketing away from frequency. Aside from the more basic Pentium series, a Core i3 would be your most basic choice, with two processor cores and hyper-threading for better multitasking. It will have a smaller cache, consume less power, and work somewhat worse than the Core i5, but it will be less expensive.

This brings us to the Core i5. It is not as plain as saying the Core i3 processors have two cores and Core i5 processors have four cores. But it isn’t. Mobile Core i5 processors have two cores with hyper-threading, while desktop Core i5 processors usually have four cores and no hyper-threading. They all share in common is upgraded onboard graphics and turbo boost, which are used for temporary performance boosts when the device needs a little extra drive. And, with a little extra drive in mind, Core i7s. Hyper-threading is standard on all Core i7 processors for extreme workloads. 

A Core i7 processor can support up to eight processing cores in a workstation, ranging from two in an Ultrabook to two in a workstation. It can support up to eight sticks of memory and have a TDP ranging from about 10 watts to 130 watts. So there’s a lot of diversity here, and with good cause. Core i7 processors usually have more cache, a faster turbo boost, and improved onboard graphics than lower-tier processors. A Core i7 is the best thing Intel might create for a specific use case, with the only disadvantage being the higher price tag. When it comes down to it, that’s all the “I,” whatever the numbers represent. 

Within a given segment, good, better, best. Beyond that, they’re essentially useless on their own. But the best way to buy is to dig around in ARK and look at the specifications, core counts, and clock speeds of the CPUs you’re comparing and see if they measure up. With the good news, as long as you reach within one brand and within the same product generation, those measurements will mean something.

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