Core i5-540M vs Core i7-820QM

Hello, I am planning to customize my HP laptop but are really confused with these two processors, i5-540m cost an additional $150USD and the i7-820QM cost an additional $600USD, so in order words, a difference of $450USD.

I am an around average computer user. I don't do heavy designing, render, scientific stuffs. But I am also a gamer but not hardcore. I need to be able to play some newer/latest games that are coming up, such as CODMW2, Sims 3, GTA IV, NFS Shift, etc. Moreover, I will use my laptop to view Full HD movies, blu-ray, surf multiple web pages and multitasks.

So can someone please tell me the difference between these two CPUs?

As said on the HP US customization page, the specs are:

Intel Core i5-540M
Dual Core processor
2.53GHz, 3MB L2 Cache with Turbo Boost up to 3.06GHz

Intel Core i7-820QM
Quad Core Processor
1.73GHz, 8MB L3 Cache with Turbo Boost up to 3.06GHz

The only thing I notice differently are the CPU clock speed before hyperthreading and the Cache, will the quad core's performance be the same as with the dual core after hyperthreading? What is the difference between Cache L1 and L3 by the way?

Just a side note, I am planning to get a 1GB Radeon 5850 graphic card, 8GB DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB HDD.
Is it worth going for the quad processor? or the dual one? Any benefits for future usage?

Your responses are much appreciated.
10 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. A link to this HP laptop would be useful. I would go with the higher clocked dual core though. Some games you play will benefit from more cores but really, right now, with that large clockspeed difference... It's a tough choice. You have mentioned both the i7 720m and the i7 820m. Soooo.... which one are you actually asking about?
    Though, For $450 more, you certainly will not get $450 more performance with the i7

    A link to the Computer would be helpful for us also.

    8GB of ram is overkill, especially for a laptop. Unless it is a free upgrade, don't bother with more than 4GB. The 5850 mobile will perform nowhere near like the 5850 desktop.

    Another important question is: How long do you intend to keep this computer and play new games on it?
  2. RE: enze matrix

    Sorry, my mistake, I meant the i7-820QM, not 720QM, so yeah... it's turbo boosted speed is technically the same as the dual core, both 3.06Ghz after boosting, so they will perform the same?

    And as you requested, here is the link to the spec of the HP laptop:
    HP Envy 17
    Please click Specs, next to the Overview tab

    Yeah, I had a struggle with how much RAM I should get as well, so should I get 6GB RAM or 4GB RAM?

    I plan to keep this computer for around... 4-5 years? yeah that's about it.

    Thanks once again for your response
  3. Best answer
    That is a long time to keep a computer. You will likely not regret getting the quad core and 8GB of memory in that case. However, still note that they are not worth the extra expense. In 3 years you will be able to get a better laptop for probably $800 or less.
    In the long run, it is more cost effective to spend less on a current computer and upgrade or replace more often than you would with a single purchase of a more expensive computer.

    So my advice it to not spend that extra $1700 now and instead, use it in 2-3 years to purchase a new and better computer for $1700 or less. Then replace again in 5 years, when you originally planned to replace it.
  4. Best answer selected by reventon_703.
  5. Thanks for your advice, so I will go with the i7-820QM then, just a side-note, where did you get that extra $1700??

    Moreover, I do have another question that maybe you can help me? What is the difference between 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB RAM? Like.. how much more task can you perform with each one?
  6. reventon_703 said:
    Thanks for your advice, so I will go with the i7-820QM then, just a side-note, where did you get that extra $1700??

    Moreover, I do have another question that maybe you can help me? What is the difference between 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB RAM? Like.. how much more task can you perform with each one?

    Oh my bad, I thought you mentioned your budget somewhere lol. I was tired last night.

    Anyway, My point is that if you were to go with the base model now then buy a completely new computer in 2-3 years it would be a better investment. But yeah, if you just want to keep it straight for 5 years, take the i7.

    Same deal for the RAM. Based on what I know you'll be doing, I doubt you will use more than 4GB of memory. However in the next 5 years, you will certainly need the 8GB to keep up. Currently, 6GB is more than enough for anything I can imagine. Even with 4GB, I can run MW2, and COD2 at the same time on my 4GB system with no hit on performance in the games. However, The 1 unused GB of memory is "standby" not empty. In the next 5 years though, to keep up, you will certainly need 8GB of ram. Only just in 2006, 2GB was considered high end. Now 2GB will hold you back in today's more demanding games.
  7. Okay thanks for replying once again, oh did I mention I will do some video conversions as well? like ripping, burning, conversions, etc. Will a quad core processor and 6GB RAM be enough to perform these tasks smoothly?

    Cause my current laptop (which I brought in 2006) are not so quick with video conversion and usaually take 30-45mins to convert a 30 minutes video, and if I was doing some other thing on my computer, the output video will sometimes be out-synced...

    Just a side note, my current laptop's spec:
    AMD Turion64 Mobile Technology ML-37 (2.0Ghz, 3MB L2 Cache)
    ATI Radeon Xpress 200M
    1GB RAM
    120GB Hard Drive

    Also, does the hard drive's rotational speed affect performance in multitasks and gaming? (5200rpm or 7200rpm?) How big would you recommend the hard drive to be for this laptop? (I also have a 250GB external hard drive)
  8. The Core i7 will be more than enough for DVD ripping, burning and conversions, it'll probably do it in a third of the time or less, depending on whether the program supports Hyper-Threading Technology.

    With hard drives, the faster they are, the quicker the bootup speed and data transfer (like loading a game for example), although it will not boost your FPS or multitasking speed much, if at all. For a laptop with an i7 820QM, you really should be getting a 500GB or more HDD along with it.

    Just to note, a dual core with HTT tends to be slower than a quad core w/o HTT, because the cores are virtual and are just simply not as powerful as a real core. Also, only some programs are able to use HTT.
  9. Thanks lmeow for replying, I will surely keep both of your advices in mind during purchase. But I am just wondering, how would you customize this HP Envy 17, based on your personal opinions?

    Please click "Customize & Buy>>" on the right side
  10. It depends on my budget although I would have these:

    Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    Intel® Core™ i7 720QM 1.6GHz
    6GB DDR3 RAM
    500GB 7200RPM HDD
    Full HD 1080p Screen
    Six & Nine Cell Battery
    Two year warranty

    Which totals up to approximately $2,249.
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