Intel Core i3 vs. Core i5 vs. Core i7 vs. Core i9

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,503   +3,346
Core i3 and i5 10th generation are good enough for Windows 10, Microsoft Office general use and some gaming but you’ll really want to have at-least a 2060 to do gaming.

Core i7 is the best bang for the buck for Gaming performance and future proofing.

Core i9 is for gaming, streaming, editing performance on a higher budget.

Core i9 Extreme is when it absolutely, positively must be done as powerfuly as possibly.
 

Nobina

Posts: 2,666   +2,293
I5 is the sweet spot. Anything higher (or lower in some cases) you get diminishing returns.
 

ZackL04

Posts: 686   +452
Still rocking my i5 8400

I see zero reason to upgrade anytime soon. I found a great deal on a local 8600k, installed it but then re-sold it as the performance uplift was marginal....

6 cores and 4ghz is all you need for 60fps gaming
 
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Alfatawi Mendel

Posts: 70   +122
Surprised me that gaming at 1080 or 1440 shows very little performance difference between the 10400 parts and the much more expensive 10900 parts.
Productivity is another story though.
Nevertheless, I think Intel has done pretty well to make the 10xxx series competitive with the AMD 3xxx series. Even if they are a bit too expensive for what they are... although that may change, with reports of a huge Intel 'war chest' to hit the competition pricing.
As always...a good review from Techspot.
 

Mithan

Posts: 101   +88
My 7700k still going strong. I would like more cores, but I can wait for something that beats it clock for clock.
 

Lounds

Posts: 583   +467
Still rocking my i5 8400

I see zero reason to upgrade anytime soon. I found a great deal on a local 8600k, installed it but then re-sold it as the performance uplift was marginal....

6 cores and 4ghz is all you need for 60fps gaming
For now, next gen 6 threads for the CPU will be bare bones experience, a bit like playing with a 2/4 i3 a few years back. I think it will be interesting to compare the Ryzen 5 1600 vs i5 8400 in a year or so to see if SMT has a big difference in performance in games.
 
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Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,591   +1,624
TechSpot Elite
For now, next gen 6 threads for the CPU will be bare bones experience, a bit like playing with a 2/4 i3 a few years back. I think it will be interesting to compare the Ryzen 5 1600 vs i5 8400 in a year or so to see if SMT has a big difference in performance in games.
I'm still rocking an i5-8400 and it's been great but the 4C8T numbers here suggest that that won't be enough* at some point soon.

* If you're using a 2080 Ti at 1080p, which nobody with an i5-8400 is doing. That's the distinction here, 8400 users are probably using a 1080, maybe a 5700 or 2070 tops and running 1080p and 1440p. Under those more realistic conditions, 6C6T will rarely be a bottleneck.
 
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Shadowboxer

Posts: 933   +553
I’m on a 6 year old 4790K at 4.7ghz with 2133 RAM. Now from gamers nexus very recent testing this performs marginally better than an i3 10100. However, I have an RTX 2080 and seemingly play a lot of CPU bound games (FFXV, Far Cry 5, AC Odyssey etc). Now my chip is fine for 60fps in anything I play, however I do find that in cpu limiting titles it will struggle to match the graphics card to 144fps. I only use this system for gaming and Netflix.

So I need an upgrade that will uplift my CPU bottlenecked games by as much as possible. This practically rules out any Ryzen part as they don’t offer as much of a upgrade to make it worth it. But also seemingly the Intel parts too as they just cost so dam much. The only part really to consider is the 10600k. But once you add a motherboard and RAM I’m looking at an expenditure of £650-£700 just to get a few more frames above 60!

It’s a frustrating place to be!
 
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Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,591   +1,624
TechSpot Elite
Just wait (yeah, again...) for Ryzen 4000. I'm not saying that it will be better than Intel for gaming even though many people seem to think that's a given. But it might be.

Seeing as Intel has managed to keep the high refresh gaming lead for 3+ Ryzen years now, frankly my opinion is that Ryzen 4000 won't do it. We have 2 Ryzens in the house for gaming and other things so I'd like to see that happen but I won't believe it until I see Steve's Blue Bars.
 
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Shadowboxer

Posts: 933   +553
Just wait (yeah, again...) for Ryzen 4000. I'm not saying that it will be better than Intel for gaming even though many people seem to think that's a given. But it might be.

Seeing as Intel has managed to keep the high refresh gaming lead for 3+ Ryzen years now, frankly my opinion is that Ryzen 4000 won't do it. We have 2 Ryzens in the house for gaming and other things so I'd like to see that happen but I won't believe it until I see Steve's Blue Bars.
It’s getting ridiculous, it’s making me think the next time I buy a CPU I’m deliberately going to buy something weaker so that it doesn’t end up sitting under my desk for years and years. Currently I have a PCIe4 ssd jammed into the pci 3 full size slots with an adapter - no 4 lane M2 on my board and I have 3 USB to USBC adapters hanging out of it for various accessories. I have 4 parts in my system with RGB connectors and nowhere to plug them in as my board doesn’t have RGB (not the end of the world).

Realistically I shouldn’t complain, I purchased the 4790K in 2014 for £240, as far as CPU buys go it turned out to be amazing. And after coming from the FX8350 which only lasted a year it was an enormous impact. Ironically, 6 years later and upgrading to a 10900K yields less of a difference than going from a one year old FX8350 to the 4790K!

If Ryzen 3 isn’t faster than Intels current stuff then my 4790K will roll on another year I guess. Or I’d probably buy a 10700K if it went under £300 at that point.
 
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Boshum

Posts: 144   +105
I5's went from not good enough for gaming to more than enough in a year.

Yes they have more cores now, but facts are facts.
What are you talking about? The only 'not good enough' I've seen people talking about is 4c/4t 7th gen and earlier for the latest games. The 6c/6t were pretty good, with some concern about the future as they have hinted at a little weakness in frametimes with a few things. Then 6c/12t...should be good to go for awhile. No inconsistency, and a very gradual shift over 3 years.
 
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Shadowboxer

Posts: 933   +553
What are you talking about? The only 'not good enough' I've seen people talking about is 4c/4t 7th gen and earlier for the latest games. The 6c/6t were pretty good, with some concern about the future as they have hinted at a little weakness in frametimes with a few things. Then 6c/12t...should be good to go for awhile. No inconsistency, and a very gradual shift over 3 years.
4C4T is fine for any game at 60hz so long as it can clock high enough.
 
Hell, I've been using a Dell T7500 for gaming system for the last 5 years only updates the video from a 660ti to a RX 580gts in those 5 years. Just built a new system last week, the T7500 released nearly 10 years and was still running strong on modern games, got a avg of 90 fps on Doom Eternal at nightmare settings on 2560×1080. So yeah, technically you don't have to build a new system every year, just wasting money.
 

Jackwoz

Posts: 43   +36
I’m on a 6 year old 4790K at 4.7ghz with 2133 RAM. Now from gamers nexus very recent testing this performs marginally better than an i3 10100. However, I have an RTX 2080 and seemingly play a lot of CPU bound games (FFXV, Far Cry 5, AC Odyssey etc). Now my chip is fine for 60fps in anything I play, however I do find that in cpu limiting titles it will struggle to match the graphics card to 144fps. I only use this system for gaming and Netflix.

So I need an upgrade that will uplift my CPU bottlenecked games by as much as possible. This practically rules out any Ryzen part as they don’t offer as much of a upgrade to make it worth it. But also seemingly the Intel parts too as they just cost so dam much. The only part really to consider is the 10600k. But once you add a motherboard and RAM I’m looking at an expenditure of £650-£700 just to get a few more frames above 60!

It’s a frustrating place to be!
I was in the same situation. My i7 4790K is still managing to keep up. How ever it wont be long till more than 4 core is required for modern games.

p.s I just purchased a Ryzen 7 3800x
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 933   +553
I was in the same situation. My i7 4790K is still managing to keep up. How ever it wont be long till more than 4 core is required for modern games.

p.s I just purchased a Ryzen 7 3800x
People have been saying games will soon need more than 4 cores for a decade. It will happen but it won’t happen overnight. 3-5 years I reckon. Once we do need 8 cores then core strength will still count too.

I’m going to wait, the 3800X is only around 20fps faster at best than a 4790K. It’s not worth the outlay for me. AMD are confirming that their zen 3 4xxx series is out within the next 5 months. I’m holding up hope that it will offer another bump in gaming performance.
 
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MaxSmarties

Posts: 396   +211
As usual, a very well done article. From my point of view, the sweet spot is the 10700K, albeit a little overpriced, while the 10600K is a good alternative. For gamers there’s no sense in buying anything more than a 10600K.
The 10900K is a totally meaningless CPU, good just for benchmarks.
The 10400F is a viable option if you are on a budget.
 
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MaxSmarties

Posts: 396   +211
Hell, I've been using a Dell T7500 for gaming system for the last 5 years only updates the video from a 660ti to a RX 580gts in those 5 years. Just built a new system last week, the T7500 released nearly 10 years and was still running strong on modern games, got a avg of 90 fps on Doom Eternal at nightmare settings on 2560×1080. So yeah, technically you don't have to build a new system every year, just wasting money.
Well, to be honest Doom Eternal is not exactly a good benchmark for a system. It is quite “light” and runs well even on old systems. Try Shadow of the Tomb Raider or AC Odyssey on the same system and let me know...
 

LNCPapa

Posts: 4,311   +567
TS Special Forces
I recently upgraded from an 8700K to a 10900K. Not a huge upgrade but now my wife also has a great machine. She was using a Ryzen 2600 prior that is now devoted to my linux desktop needs.
 
If you only care about gaming, not streaming, i5 10600k. For general use computing, r5 3600 or r3 3300X. For most productivity work r9 3900X for workstation tasks threadripper 3970X for higher memory workstation Xeon or threadripper pro.

I would only consider Intel right now it you only care about gaming it need a LOT of ram for work. AMD is just a better option for everything else at every price point.

Of course laptops are a different story because for some reason, every Ryzen laptop has serious flaws be it lower end GPU, single channel memory upgrades, poor quality display, etc. And there's no good high end option, despite the 4800H being an amazing mobile CPU.
 
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This CPU hysteria makes absolutely no sense at all unless you are devoted gamer or a graphic/animation designer. The rest of us (98% or so) is far better off with a 10 year old i7 (2nd or 3rd gen). A $200 laptop with with an i7-2630QM (4 cores and 8 threads) will run Windows 10 (v2004) just fine and do anything you can throw at it as long as you're not into gaming or high end graphics.
I'd love to see a comparison between I.e. an i7-4700MQ and an i3-10100 running ordinary office SW - followed by a laptop system price comparison (second hand against brand new).
 
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Gezzer

Posts: 79   +49
I’m on a 6 year old 4790K at 4.7ghz with 2133 RAM. Now from gamers nexus very recent testing this performs marginally better than an i3 10100. However, I have an RTX 2080 and seemingly play a lot of CPU bound games (FFXV, Far Cry 5, AC Odyssey etc). Now my chip is fine for 60fps in anything I play, however I do find that in cpu limiting titles it will struggle to match the graphics card to 144fps. I only use this system for gaming and Netflix.

So I need an upgrade that will uplift my CPU bottlenecked games by as much as possible. This practically rules out any Ryzen part as they don’t offer as much of a upgrade to make it worth it. But also seemingly the Intel parts too as they just cost so dam much. The only part really to consider is the 10600k. But once you add a motherboard and RAM I’m looking at an expenditure of £650-£700 just to get a few more frames above 60!

It’s a frustrating place to be!
I feel ya bro. I'm in the exact same situation with an overclocked i7 4790K (4.8Ghz), except I recently upgraded from a SLI GTX 980 solution to a RTX 2080 super. It was more to ditch SLI than anything else. It's become a dead tech IMHO and was giving me nothing but problems with current games, if they even bothered to support it.

I'm running 3 ancient 1920x1200 IPS 60hz panels in a surround setup (hence why I had the SLI). Truth is they're still really nice serviceable monitors and being capped at 60 fps means my system can drive them quite easily. I'm also running a Samsung Odyssey WMR VR headset which seems to be okay with my current CPU/GPU setup.

So to eliminate any CPU bottlenecks means a totally new system at a massive investment. I'm just not experiencing enough performance issues to force me to consider it. Sure it's nice to be able to boast about having a 200fps system, but I don't really need one... yet.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 933   +553
This CPU hysteria makes absolutely no sense at all unless you are devoted gamer or a graphic/animation designer. The rest of us (98% or so) is far better off with a 10 year old i7 (2nd or 3rd gen). A $200 laptop with with an i7-2630QM (4 cores and 8 threads) will run Windows 10 (v2004) just fine and do anything you can throw at it as long as you're not into gaming or high end graphics.
I'd love to see a comparison between I.e. an i7-4700MQ and an i3-10100 running ordinary office SW - followed by a laptop system price comparison (second hand against brand new).
“CPU hysteria” lol. You’re right, I don’t disagree that what users need is not the same as what they seem to want. But that’s the thing with us enthusiasts. Personally I only really feel “want” for gaming parts. I can’t get my head around why someone who get excited and start spending thousands of their own money for a workstation. I use a workstation, one provided by my boss, it has Xeon, cost lots of money and would definitely be better if it was Ryzen or TR. but am I going to spend my own money to upgrade it? Hell no!

But for a personal gaming rig I am happy to spend my own money and take the time to build a system and neatly arrange the cables, keep it dust free etc. I appreciate the performance that enthusiast hardware offers. It’s a fun toy that has been used a lot more this year than it would have due to Covid19 keeping me from going on holidays.