Making sense of Intel’s CPU Lineup

Core i3

These CPUs are still dual-core but add Hyperthreading, which presents two logical processor cores to the operating system for every physical core. This can definitely help performance in multithreaded workloads, though it’s nowhere near the boost you’d get from moving to a quad-core CPU. Core i3-6100 CPUs include 3MB of cache while 6300-series chips include 4MB of cache; nearly all of them use the Intel HD 530 GPU.

Core i5

These are all quad-core CPUs without Hyperthreading, and they probably represent the best balance of price and performance for high-end users. They also use Intel’s Turbo Boost feature, which let the CPU run at higher clock speeds when there’s enough thermal headroom or when fewer cores are being actively used.

Not all workloads will benefit from two extra processor cores, but video editing, Photoshop work, and an increasingly large number of games are all happier with four cores. All of these CPUs include 6MB of cache and most of them have Intel HD 530 GPUs.

Core i7

These are best described as Core i5 chips with Hyperthreading, higher clock speeds, and and 8MB of cache. Otherwise they’re the same. As with Core i3 CPUs, Hyperthreading definitely does help performance in heavily threaded programs, but jumping from a Pentium or Core i3 to a Core i5 will get you a much larger performance bump than jumping from an i5 to an i7.