Intel Core i5 vs Core i7: which is the best for your gaming laptop?

Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 processors are two of the most popular choices for gaming laptops, and for good reason. These powerful CPUs not only offer fast clock speeds, but also come with multiple cores, and hyper-threading, making them well-suited for running demanding games and other applications.

The latest 13th-gen Raptor Lake and even the previous 12th-gen mobile processors feature Intel’s hybrid architecture (P-cores and E-cores) that offers considerably improved performance over previous generations. But which one should you choose for your gaming laptop? In this article, we’ll dive into the differences between Core i5 and Core i7 processors and how they impact gaming performance.

Clock Speeds

Like the desktop versions, one of the biggest differences between the Core i5 and Core i7 mobile processors is their clock speeds. Clock speed refers to how fast a processor can execute instructions. Generally speaking, Core i7 processors have higher clock speeds than Core i5 processors. This means that they can execute more instructions per second, resulting in faster overall performance.

In gaming, clock speed is crucial as it affects the performance of the game’s physics engine and AI, which can impact gameplay. For example, games that require real-time strategy or quick reflexes may benefit from a faster clock speed.


If we take into account, the Intel Core i5-13500HX comes with a max turbo frequency of 4.6GHz on its P-cores and 3.5GHz on the E-cores. On the other hand, the Intel Core i7-13850HX processor features a max turbo frequency of 5.3GHz on the P-cores and 3.8GHz on the E-cores. In general, this means that Core i7 processors can handle more demanding games and applications, as they have more processing power to work with.

Cores and Threads

A higher number of cores in a system means more programs and tasks can be executed at once. Gaming laptops with a quad-core processor may be able to handle four tasks at a time, but an octa-core processor could handle double that. As the number of cores increases, so do processing speed and throughput.

Apart from the physical cores, one should also understand the purpose of a thread. It is basically a set of instructions that are given to the CPU by an application or program. By means of multi-threading and hyperthreading, multiple threads of execution can run simultaneously on one or more cores of a CPU. This technique allows for faster response times and better resource utilisation, the more threads a CPU can execute at once, the more tasks it can complete.


Now the number of cores and threads usually differ when comparing Core i5 and Core i7 processors on gaming laptops. Typically Core i5 processors have fewer cores and threads when compared to Core i7 processors. Taking the same processors as above, the Intel Core i5-13500HX processor has 14 cores and 20 threads, while the Intel Core i7-13850HX has 20 cores and 28 threads.

Essentially the Core i7 processor will be able to handle more tasks simultaneously, which can be beneficial for gaming. For example, while playing a game, the processor can handle tasks such as running the game itself, streaming gameplay, and handling background tasks all at the same time without compromising the system performance.

Related read: Features you can skip when buying a gaming laptop in 2023

Cache Size

Cache is a small amount of high-speed memory located on the processor which is used to store frequently accessed data. It is necessary as the CPU cannot completely rely on system RAM every time a task needs to be done on your system. Cache usually comes in low capacity compared to your system’s memory, but the higher speeds make up for the small amount.

Core i7 processors typically have larger cache sizes than Core i5 processors, which can help improve the overall performance of the processor. In gaming, the cache size can impact load times and game performance. For example, if the game frequently accesses the same data, such as textures, having a larger cache can improve the game’s performance.

Related read: Here’s what you can expect with gaming laptops in 2023

Higher Memory Support


With the arrival of DDR5 memory, we have much faster memory to play with. DDR4 modules for laptops had a cap of 3200MT/s, and 4266MT/s on LPDDR4/LPDDR4x memory. DDR5 breaks that barrier. Newer Intel 12th-gen and 13th-gen processor-based gaming laptops support DDR5 memory that can offer up to 5600MT/s while the low-profile LPDDR5 can go up to 6400MT/s.

Having higher frequency or faster memory can offer a significant difference in performance. Simply put, higher the frequency, higher is the amount of data that can be read and stored in the memory. Essentially games can load faster and certain titles also offer higher frame rates and improved performance.

While Intel has a history of offering the same memory support for all H-series and HX-series of mobile processors, things are a little different if you go for the 13th-gen Raptor Lake range. While most of the Core-i5 HX mobile processors support up to 4600MT/s memory, the Core-i7 range cranks it up to 5600MT/s barring the i7-13700HX. I would also recommend going through the detailed specifications before you make a decision.

Related read: DDR4 vs DDR5: what you need to know when buying a gaming laptop

Price

One of the biggest differences between the Core i5 and Core i7 processors is their price. Core i7 processors are generally more expensive than Core i5 processors, which can make a difference when shopping for a gaming laptop. If you’re on a budget, a Core i5 processor may be a better choice, as it will offer solid performance without breaking the bank. However, if you’re looking for the best possible performance and don’t mind spending a little extra, a Core i7 processor may be the way to go.

To get some perspective, the new 2023 Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 with the Intel Core i5-13500HX is selling for about Rs 1,09,990 while the more powerful Core i7-13700HX variant goes for Rs 1,29,990.

Conclusion


When it comes to gaming laptops, both Core i5 and Core i7 processors can provide good performance, but the choice will depend on your specific needs and budget. If you’re a casual gamer and the main use cases for your laptop are other tasks such as web browsing and office work, a Core i5 processor may be a good choice.

However, if you’re a serious gamer and want the best performance, a Core i7 processor may be a better option. The additional cores and threads, higher clock speeds, and larger cache size can result in smoother gameplay and faster load times.

With that said, choosing a Core i5 processor does not necessarily mean that you are going to see a massive drop in overall day-to-day performance compared to a Core i7 processor. It’s also important to note that the processor is just one component of a gaming laptop, and other factors such as the graphics card, RAM, and storage can also impact gaming performance. When shopping for a gaming laptop, it’s essential to consider all of the components and choose a laptop that meets your specific gaming needs.

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