As long as you pair it with a weaker graphics processing unit (GPU), an i3 CPU will suffice, but an i5 is ideal for any mid-range build.
If you aren’t familiar with the current state of the market, putting together a new gaming PC can be a daunting task. It’s not easy to tell one mainstream desktop CPU model from another, even though there are only two major manufacturers of such CPUs at the moment.
The Intel vs. AMD debate is a different kettle of fish altogether, and we’ve covered it in detail elsewhere. Specifically, we’ll be looking at Intel’s i3 and i5 processors, as they are currently the company’s most sought-after mainstream offerings.
Which of these two processors, the i3 or the i5, is better for gaming? Let’s investigate and find out!
What Does Intel Corei3 Mean?
An Intel Corei3 is a custom Intel microprocessor that employs a multiprocessor design.
It’s a special kind of dual-core CPU that also includes a GPU. It’s the next generation of Intel’s Core 2 processors. It’s adaptable for use on any platform, including smartphones, computers, and embedded systems.
Techopedia Explains Intel Corei3
The components of an Intel Corei3 are built using several different micro-architectures, including:
- In the case of Clark Dale
- The Bridge Over the Sandy
- The Ivy Bridge
A total of four threads can run in parallel on its two cores. Corei3 processors can run at speeds between 1.70 and 3.4 gigahertz. Intel has released multiple iterations of its Corei3 processor, each one an improvement over its predecessor in terms of features and speed. The most up-to-date iterations have larger processor caches while using significantly less power (from 73 W TDP down to as little as 15 W TDP in terms of thermal design power). Error correcting code (ECC) memory, Intel Platform Protection Security, and Intel OS Guards are all embedded security features of recent Intel Corei3 processor generations that work together to keep your system safe from threats like malware and malicious software.
What Does Intel Corei5 Mean?
Using a multiprocessor architecture as its basis, Intel’s Corei5 is a proprietary processor designed by Intel.
This processor family utilizes multiple micro-architectures in its construction, making it a quad-core processor.
- This is Clark Dale, not Clark Dale.
- New York’s “Sandy” Bridge
- We cross the Ivy Bridge
It has the flexibility to be used in any environment, including mobile, desktop, and embedded.
Techopedia Explains Intel Corei5
With Intel Turbo Boost Technology built in, an Intel Corei5 performs better when working with more intensive software and data, such as modern games and high-resolution media. The Intel Corei5 can be had with anywhere from two to four cores, and all of them can handle a total of four threads at once. It has a cache memory of 3–6 MB and a processor clock speed of 1.50 GHz–3.10 GHz.
The TDP can be as low as 15 TDP and as high as 84 TDP. Recently released iterations of the Intel Corei5 feature support for error-correcting code (ECC) memory, as well as Intel Platform Protection Security and Intel OS Guards, similar to Corei3’s support for these features. Protecting the BIOS, enabling secure boot, and warding off attacks are all made possible by these built-in safeguards.
There are multiple, seemingly identical models across each processor family. If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, this can be very perplexing.
Accordingly, we shall describe each processor in both families, contrast their specifications, and examine various benchmarks. This will help us compare each line’s strengths and weaknesses so you can pick the one that suits you best.
The i3 series excels at simple tasks like word processing, web browsing, etc., and is priced between $130 and $180, making it ideal for budget and casual gamers.
The i3 lineup includes five distinct vehicles, each optimized to meet a specific need. The non-modified models are joined by the low-power (T) and overclockable (K) variants.
Unless you buy the 8350K and manually overclock it, you’ll have to settle for a processor that stays at a constant speed because none of the models in the i3 line are unlocked for Turbo Boost and won’t auto-overclock when under heavy load.
In the search for a flexible and low-energy option, this can be a stumbling block.
|Concentric Rings||Clock Rate Fundamental||Lightning Fast Clock||TDP||Overclocking?|
|i3-8100T Core||4(4)||3.1 GHz||N/A||35 W||No|
|Core i3 8100||4(4)||3.6 GHz||N/A||65 W||No|
|CPU with a Core i3 8300T Processor||4(4)||3.2 GHz||N/A||35 W||No|
|Core i3 8300||4(4)||3.7 GHz||N/A||62 W||No|
|A Core i3 8350K||4(4)||4.0 GHz||N/A||91 W||Yes|
If you want to play AAA games at frame rates above 60 or even at 1440p, the i5 line is where it’s at. Multitasking and processor-intensive activities like streaming and content creation go smoothly on the line. You can expect to pay between $170 and $260.
The i5 lineup provides stock variants in addition to low-power (T) and overclockable (K) options, just like the i3 family.
However, unlike the i3 series, Turbo Boost has been enabled, which improves efficiency by letting the processors idle at a lower clock speed when not in use. The i5-8400T is a great option because it has a 35 W TDP and a low idle speed of 1.7 GHz while still having plenty of power for gaming.
If the TDP is low, the device will use less energy and produce less heat.
|Concentric (or threaded) Core||Fundamental Time Rate||Lightning Fast Clock||TDP||Overlocking?|
|Intel Core i5 8400T||6(6)||1.7 GHz||3.3 GHz||35 W||No|
|Core i5 8400||6(6)||2.8 GHz||4.0 GHz||65 W||No|
|Intel Core 5 8500T Processor||6(6)||2.1 GHz||3.5 GHz||35 W||No|
|Core i5 8500||6(6)||3.0 GHz||4.1 GHz||65 W||No|
|A Core i5 8600T||6(6)||2.3 GHz||3.7 GHz||35 W||No|
|Core i5 8600||6(6)||3.1 GHz||4.3 GHz||65 W||No|
|The Core i5 8600K||6(6)||3.6 GHz||4.3 GHz||95 W||Yes|
The i5 has improved and faster speeds compared to the i3, and it also has two more cores and threads. The result is a dramatic improvement in efficiency.
The benchmarks shed light on the strengths and weaknesses of each processor family, explaining in part why there are so many different lines.
In this article, we’ll compare and contrast two of the most popular processors in their respective families—the Intel Core i3-8350K and the Intel Core i5-8600K—as well as the Intel Core i5-8400 in some follow-up tests where there wasn’t enough information about the i5-8600K.
Both the i3-8350K and the i5-8600K perform admirably when it comes to gaming, supporting 60 frames per second in 1080p and most 1440p titles. To determine how well each one performs, however, we will use a number of criteria:
- Tom’s Hardware has done an excellent job of showcasing the gaming and workstation benchmarks for each processor.
- When it comes to 1440p gaming on the 8600K, Techspot also ran some excellent benchmarks.
- We will also examine Gamer’s Nexus’s benchmarks for the i3 line and 1440p gaming.
Intel Core I5 Vs I3: Gaming Benchmarks
Seconds Per Frame
To better understand both graphs, we must first discuss the metrics being used to evaluate central processing units. Here, FPS (Frames Per Second) is used to quantify gameplay performance. This is the average number of game frames per second. The higher the frame rate, the less choppy the gameplay will be. In this case, more FPS is better.
Surprisingly, the i3 outperforms the i5 here (albeit only by a small margin, so the difference is not all that meaningful).
GTA V’s difficulty level is higher than that of Shadows of Mordor. In this case, the i5-8600K outperforms the i3-8350K, but when the latter is overclocked to 5.0 GHz, the former takes the lead. The i5-8600K would undoubtedly benefit from overclocking, but since that wasn’t tested, we’ll never know.
The data presented in the two charts above is limited to the i5, but it is still instructive. Take the i5-8600K as an example; it performs similarly to the other i7s that were tested.
This is yet another GTAV benchmark, but the i3 here achieves better results at 1080p than it did in the previous tests. The graphics processing unit (GPU) is superior, so this makes sense.
Again, we see that the i3-8350K, after being overclocked, outperforms every i5 model we tried. Additionally, it has it chasing after the i7 models’ heels.
The i5-8600K has a marginal advantage over the i3-8350K in most gaming benchmarks. This makes sense, since your graphics card—not your CPU—is typically the limiting factor when playing games.
Tom’s Hardware was only able to test the i5 line with the 8400 they used in their workstations, but the results still demonstrate the performance gap between the two lines.
The 8600K, being easily overclocked, would have performed even better than the 8400 in these tests.
Using this section, you can compare how each brand performs on more complex tasks like video streaming and rendering for content production.
Blender and LuxMark
These two programs will push your computer to its limits by having it perform a number of extremely complex tasks.
The Blender score is based on how long it took to finish the job. A higher score on the LuxMark test indicates that your computer is capable of handling more demanding tasks.
This will help you determine which CPUs are ideal for intensive tasks like video editing and live streaming.
After this point, the i3 starts to have serious problems. An ordinary i5-8400 can easily outperform the i3-8350K in games, while overclocking the latter kept it competitive even against the i7 in some cases. The situation for the i3 only worsens as you move up the i5 line.
As we examine these results, we can see that the addition of cores and threads is making a noticeable difference. Because a single thread can only work on one task at a time, more cores and threads mean more tasks can be worked on simultaneously, and a faster processor means they can be completed even sooner.
Building a 3D scene with your computer’s central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), or both is the focus of the LuxMark benchmark. While the test is being run, it evaluates the performance of the chosen hardware and assigns it a score. When evaluating its performance, a higher rating indicates superiority.
The number of processor cores is usually the first statistic mentioned when discussing central processing units. As recently as a decade ago, dual-core central processing units (CPUs) were the norm, while quad-core CPUs were the premium option. Yet even the cheapest CPUs these days have multiple cores.
CPUs from Intel’s current 9th generation i5 and i7 families each feature six physical cores, while all i3 CPUs have four.
While some mobile i5 CPUs do support hyperthreading across four cores, this feature is currently absent from any of the latest desktop i5 models.
What is the minimum number of cores recommended for gaming?
It’s a tough question to answer, to be sure, because not every game is designed to take advantage of a multicore processor. As a result, a 6-core CPU may be ideal for certain games while a 2-core CPU may suffice for others.
A 6-core i5 processor is the more reliable option if you plan to play demanding and modern games. You’ll be able to play games at higher settings without worrying about your CPU’s ability to keep up because it will be more future-proof.
Like the number of cores, the clock speed is a prominent spec on the spec sheet, but it isn’t particularly helpful for predicting gameplay performance.
Higher clock speeds mean the CPU can perform more operations per second, leading to improved performance. Currently, Intel’s i3 and i5 CPUs typically operate in the 3.6-4 GHz range.
As was mentioned before, the difference between the base clock speeds of an i3 and an i5 model shouldn’t be too great; however, we can’t ignore overclocking when discussing clock speeds.
You may be aware that “overclocking” refers to the practice of increasing a computer’s processor’s operating frequency past its factory settings.
However, there are drawbacks, the most significant being increased heat production, even though this is a great way to get more performance out of a CPU. Which of the i3 and i5 processors is more suitable for overclocking? To be fair, not all Intel processor models are easily overclocked because not all of them are unlocked.
However, there are currently unlocked CPU options available in both the i3 and i5 series (the “K” at the end of the model number indicates an unlocked CPU), such as the i3-9350K and the i5-9600K.
But if you’re looking at price, the unlocked i3 models are much more comparable to the i5 ones than the non-unlocked i3 models are, so you won’t be missing out on overclocking if you go with an i3.
However, overclocking a brand-new CPU is rarely required, especially for gaming. The graphics processing unit (GPU) typically handles most of the work. Even so, overclocking is often a fantastic way to keep a CPU going after it gradually becomes out of date and slower than newer models.
Since Intel’s stock coolers aren’t exactly up to snuff, you’ll also need to invest in a good CPU cooler if you plan on overclocking.
Except for the latest F-series, most Intel processors include built-in graphics. Even though dedicated graphics cards are necessary for a gaming PC, having integrated graphics as a fallback is a good idea in case your GPU ever stops working.
Is there a noticeable performance gap between the graphics chips found in i3 and i5 central processing units? Not that I’m aware of, no. Graphics performance is currently identical between the most affordable i3 and the most expensive i5 CPUs because they all use Intel’s UHD 630 integrated graphics chips.
Now, let’s talk about the pricing, which is arguably the most important part.
Generally speaking, i3 processors cost between $100 and $150, while i5 processors are more expensive and typically cost between $150 and $300.
As was noted, however, there is some fuzziness here because the more powerful i3 models can approach the cost of the less capable i5 models. Additionally, the cost of previous-generation models varies widely.
If you’re on a tight budget or would rather invest in a graphics processing unit (GPU) than a CPU, however, an i3 will be your best bet. This leads us to our next major consideration: bottlenecks.
When a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) is coupled with a less capable central processing unit (CPU), performance is slowed to a crawl. In what way? A strong part that isn’t being put to use because the other part can’t keep up with it quickly enough.
Even though bottlenecking isn’t usually a problem in AAA titles, it’s still something to think about. Even though it’s impossible to be absolutely precise with this kind of thing, this site can give you a decent estimate of how well a CPU and a GPU would work together.
An i3 processor is compatible with low-end and mid-range graphics processing units (GPUs), such as the Radeon RX 570 and GeForce GTX 1060. The more powerful graphics processing units, like the RTX 2060, are better suited to an i5 processor.
What does it all mean, and how does this help you choose, now that we have an idea of what is usable, and we have seen where each processor shines?
Unless you’re into ultra-high-end gaming where every frame counts, the processor won’t make much of a difference in your experience.
The i5s have more processing cores and threads, and their increased clock speeds allow them to complete tasks more quickly. When dealing with CPU-intensive tasks like streaming and content creation, these additional cores and threads really shine.
If you’re just looking for a decent gaming computer that can also double as a light workstation, the Core i3 line should do the trick.
If you’re looking to start streaming and producing your own content, the Core i5 series is a great option. Naturally, it also works great for playing video games.
Intel Core i3 vs i5
|Video Game Resolution: 1920 x 1080||Fourteen Hundred And Forty-Pixel Resolution Gameplay||Utilization of Energy Sources||Models that use little energy||The Overclocking Model||Extensive task switching|
Which of these two processors—the i3 or the i5—is better for gaming? If you intend to use your PC primarily for gaming, the two most important considerations are your budget and the graphics processing unit (GPU).
As was mentioned before, an i3 is the more cost-effective option; as such, it would be the better choice for a low-cost gaming PC.
Then there’s the graphic processing unit, or GPU. You shouldn’t overspend on the central processing unit (CPU) and skimp on the graphics processing unit (GPU), and vice versa. As was discussed in the bottlenecking section, the CPU and GPU should be chosen in that order, with special care taken to ensure that the two work well together.
An i5 processor isn’t essential unless you’re planning to invest in a more potent graphics processing unit or you have other plans that necessitate the use of a lot of processing power and would benefit more from an i5 than your average game would.