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Intel Core i5 or i7?

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March 12, 2013 1:21:14 PM

Okay, so I'm planning on getting a Sony Vaio S13 Premium, but I don't know whether it is better to save money on the cpu by getting an i5 and get an ssd hybrid drive or getting an i7 and skipping on the hybrid drive. The i5 is a dual core 3320m and the i7 is a dual core 3520m. The i7 costs $180 more than the i5.

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March 12, 2013 1:26:37 PM

I have a dual-core i5-3210m and it performs really well, generally you'd get an i7 for high performance tasks such as video editing, 3D rendering, etc.

Really its up to you and what you want to do, personally though I would go for the i5 and get a hybrid drive. :) 

Best of luck!
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March 12, 2013 1:33:54 PM

Intel i7 has hyper-threading enabled, the i5 does not. If all you're doing is gaming and basic tasks such as email, watching you tube, and web surfing then an i5 is plenty. If you're doing video encoding and what not, as shadowhuntur said then you'll want an i7. Right now games do not take advantage of hyper-threading, which is why an i7 is a waste. The video encoding, etc, does take advantage of it.
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March 12, 2013 1:41:40 PM

Corning said:
The 3 gen I5 is plenty for any game currently. Just about any mother board you get will be upgradeable so if you need to in 2 years you can upgrade the CPU.

Tom's most current $1600 build used the I5 and a SSD
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-a-pc-tahiti-l...

The $1000 used the I5 and a high capacity SDD
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-a-pc-performa...


Hi :) 

You DO realise we are talking about a Laptop here ???

You don't just drop in a bigger cpu in a lappy...or you will have DRASTIC heat problems...that's IF it will even run it...

All the best Brett :) 
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March 12, 2013 1:45:54 PM

For desktops: Games do take advantage of Hyper-Threading. It allows the i3s to smack the Pentiums and Celerons around in most DX11 games. Most games don't respond all to well to it on i7s (although this is changing rapidly) because the i7s have eight threads whereas most games scale well across only up to four. Again, this is quickly changing and we're up to at least half a dozen games that can take advantage of eight threads quite well.

It is still accurate to say AFAIK that 2nd and 3rd generation i5s are still more than enough for all current games, so an i7 is almost definitely not worth getting in a gaming system when it means that you can't afford a decent SSD.

For laptops: Going from a dual-core i5 to a dual-core i7 doesn't seem worth doing at all to me because they're both similarly clocked dual-core chips with plenty of cache, Turbo, and Hyper-Threading. A dual-core i5 is still a pretty quick CPU for gaming with the current generations and the sacrifice of an SSD is too great to go for a dual-core i7. Even a quad-core i7 is probably not worth getting at the sacrifice of an SSD.
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March 12, 2013 1:49:10 PM

blazorthon said:
For desktops: Games do take advantage of Hyper-Threading. It allows the i3s to smack the Pentiums and Celerons around in most DX11 games. Most games don't respond all to well to it on i7s (although this is changing rapidly) because the i7s have eight threads whereas most games scale well across only up to four. Again, this is quickly changing and we're up to at least half a dozen games that can take advantage of eight threads quite well.

It is still accurate to say AFAIK that 2nd and 3rd generation i5s are still more than enough for all current games, so an i7 is almost definitely not worth getting in a gaming system when it means that you can't afford a decent SSD.

For laptops: Going from a dual-core i5 to a dual-core i7 doesn't seem worth doing at all. A dual-core i5 is still a pretty quick CPU for gaming with the current generations and the sacrifice of an SSD is too great to go for a dual-core i7. Even a quad-core i7 is probably not worth getting at the sacrifice of an SSD.


Ah ok, that makes sense. So the games that are written for four cores just prioritize the physical cores first, but they will use the virtual ones if that's what is left over.
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March 12, 2013 1:49:49 PM

blazorthon said:
For desktops: Games do take advantage of Hyper-Threading. It allows the i3s to smack the Pentiums and Celerons around in most DX11 games. Most games don't respond all to well to it on i7s (although this is changing rapidly) because the i7s have eight threads whereas most games scale well across only up to four. Again, this is quickly changing and we're up to at least half a dozen games that can take advantage of eight threads quite well.

It is still accurate to say AFAIK that 2nd and 3rd generation i5s are still more than enough for all current games, so an i7 is almost definitely not worth getting in a gaming system when it means that you can't afford a decent SSD.

For laptops: Going from a dual-core i5 to a dual-core i7 doesn't seem worth doing at all to me because they're both similarly clocked dual-core chips with plenty of cache, Turbo, and Hyper-Threading. A dual-core i5 is still a pretty quick CPU for gaming with the current generations and the sacrifice of an SSD is too great to go for a dual-core i7. Even a quad-core i7 is probably not worth getting at the sacrifice of an SSD.


Just a friendly reminder, the i7 I am refering to is a dual core, with two hyperthreads per core.
Also, I won't be playing any intensive games (probably just some Starcraft, Minecraft, and Half-Life 2, maybe some Portal 2) and am planning to carry it around a few days of the week.
And just for the sake of correctness, the only game engine so far that can make use of more than 2 threads is the Cry engine.
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March 12, 2013 1:54:43 PM

neodymium said:
blazorthon said:
For desktops: Games do take advantage of Hyper-Threading. It allows the i3s to smack the Pentiums and Celerons around in most DX11 games. Most games don't respond all to well to it on i7s (although this is changing rapidly) because the i7s have eight threads whereas most games scale well across only up to four. Again, this is quickly changing and we're up to at least half a dozen games that can take advantage of eight threads quite well.

It is still accurate to say AFAIK that 2nd and 3rd generation i5s are still more than enough for all current games, so an i7 is almost definitely not worth getting in a gaming system when it means that you can't afford a decent SSD.

For laptops: Going from a dual-core i5 to a dual-core i7 doesn't seem worth doing at all to me because they're both similarly clocked dual-core chips with plenty of cache, Turbo, and Hyper-Threading. A dual-core i5 is still a pretty quick CPU for gaming with the current generations and the sacrifice of an SSD is too great to go for a dual-core i7. Even a quad-core i7 is probably not worth getting at the sacrifice of an SSD.


Just a friendly reminder, the i7 I am refering to is a dual core, with two hyperthreads per core.
Also, I won't be playing any intensive games (probably just some Starcraft, Minecraft, and Half-Life 2, maybe some Portal 2) and am planning to carry it around a few days of the week.


Hi :) 

HL2 and Portal 2 can only use 1 core...

I SO wish HL3 would come out lol....

I still play HL1 Multiplayer after 14 years... :) 

All the best Brett :) 
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March 12, 2013 1:59:09 PM

Both dual-core i5s and i7s have Hyper-Threading ;) 

Hyper-Threading actually doesn't work like that. The two threads for each core are not a physical and virtual thread like some people may claim. They are both virtual threads and they share the core's resources. Hyper-Threading doesn't double performance because the core only has so much resources and at any given time, one of the threads will usually use most of them. At best, Hyper-Threading gives a roughly 30% performance boost and dual-core models often get around there in their boost over similar non-Hyper-Threaded models in modern DX11 games.

Games are written to take advantage of as many threads as they can which usually means four threads for most current DX11 games. The games don't know that there is a difference between physical cores and virtual threads because it just sees things as threads; it is the OS that knows the distinction and schedules stuff appropriately.

As time goes on, we get code the games to better take advantage of modern CPUs. Since we have more threads available to many CPUs then we did several years ago (six and eight threaded CPUs are much more popular than they were say three years ago, especially before Nehalem/Westmere when they were almost unheard of), we have been coding games to be capable of making use of those additional threads more effectively. Compare a game such as Skyrim that is still not too old, but an older DX9 game IRC, to a game such as Crysis 3. Crysis 3 will easily scale across as many as eight threads (perhaps more, I've never seen a test done on a CPU with more threads) whereas Skyrim will probably not scale across more than two threads very effectively.

Both of the CPUs that you're talking about have four threads from two cores with Hper-Threading, so it doesn't really make a difference in this for which way you go.

The games that you mentioned do not scale well across more than one or two threads, so I wouldn't worry about needing more than a dual-core CPU anyway.

Also, Cry engine games are by far not the only ones that scale well across six to eight threads. BF3, for example, doesn't use it IIRC and I know for a fact that it's multi-player mode can very effectively use eight-core CPUs such as AMD's FX-8350 and in it, the quad-core i7s also show their advantage over the similar quad-core i5s. I know of several other non-Cry engine games that can utilize six to eight threads too.
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March 12, 2013 2:03:59 PM

Basically, my recommendation is to go with the i5 and get an SSD or some other nice improvement. The i7 is not worth going for in your situation for such a steep price difference.
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March 12, 2013 2:17:01 PM

blazorthon said:
Basically, my recommendation is to go with the i5 and get an SSD or some other nice improvement. The i7 is not worth going for in your situation for such a steep price difference.


I forgot to mention, I am also going to be running one or two Virtual Boxes. Does this affect the cpu I should get? The current laptop that I have can't handle even one Virtual Box (it has an Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 @ 2.00Ghz).
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March 12, 2013 2:37:05 PM

The difference between the i5 and the i7 is negligible, as long as the specs are similar. What I'm seeing is that the i5 has a maximum number of 4 threads, including HT and cores. I couldn't find a quad-core i5 with HT enabled. But in a laptop, a dual-core i7 and dual-core i5 are virtually the same if the clock speeds are similar. I would go with the i5.
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March 12, 2013 2:42:52 PM

neodymium said:
blazorthon said:
Basically, my recommendation is to go with the i5 and get an SSD or some other nice improvement. The i7 is not worth going for in your situation for such a steep price difference.


I forgot to mention, I am also going to be running one or two Virtual Boxes. Does this affect the cpu I should get? The current laptop that I have can't handle even one Virtual Box (it has an Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 @ 2.00Ghz).


That one doesn't have Virtualization support, but the i5 would. Of course for VMs, the more the merrier as far as cores and cache. You may benefit from any additional cache from an i7 (assuming cache is higher), but the cost/benefit ratio may not be very good either. Unless you need something with more than 4 threads, like a quad-core with HT, I would stick with the i5 especially if it's going to come with an SSD. You will notice the performance gains there over a few hundred mhz of Turbo on the i7.

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