I use a computer for email, searches, facebook, general reading. The programs I use are 2010 versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher, Access, Printmaster. I also use Gimp and other photo editing software and Bible study software. Sometimes I have 2-3 programs running. Do I need an Intel Core i5 processor or will an i3 series be fine?
It's a laptop--2nd generation i3-2370M versus 3rd generation i5-3210M
both are actually dual core CPUs and both support HT (two real cores become four virtual cores)
other then supporting some faster RAM on the i5-3210 (1600mhz vs 1333) which would not be noticeable without benchmarks and larger quantity of RAM (32GB vs 16GB); the real world difference between the two is the HD 4000 graphics on the i5 vs HD 3000 graphics on the i3 and the turbo speed on the i5 (from 2.5 to 3.1ghz). both CPUs graphics are fine for basic video editing and HD movie playback. I would recommend the i5 if you plan to squeeze the most gaming ability out of the laptop (with its turbo core and slightly better graphics) but the HD 4000 is still just basic integrated graphics that work best in older games.
the i3 is more then capable for all things you talked about above.
This is so helpful! I understand the differences much better and can easily see why I don't need the more expensive set up. I don't play online games at all. I mainly create newsletters, brochures, flyers, marketing emails, website copy, etc in MS Publisher or Printmaster. The laptop I'm considering has 6GB shared dual channel DDR3 memory and a 500GB 5400 RPM SATA hard drive. Is this OK? I'm 60 years old and hoping the system capabilities of this computer will last me until I move to Heaven! . I'm working part time now so I don't use it as much as I did before. I don't need the latest and the greatest, but I would like to buy a system that won't be outdated next year!
if i could predict what tech will be like in ten years down the road....let's just say i would not care about the price of gas. luckily you won't really notice a difference between the two CPUs for your work and with the specs you listed, that laptop will last you some time.