8th Gen Intel Core i5 vs. i7: Which CPU is right for you?

You’re at your local supercenter and you have two laptops in front of you: one with an Intel Core i7, and one with an Intel Core i5.

Comparing laptop CPUs can be complicated, so which do you choose? Do you go for the one with the supposed increase in power that their tech expert claims it has? Or do you save a few bucks and get the cheaper one?

(Image credit: Future)

Worry not, we’re here to answer all of your questions. And to do that, we called in two seemingly identical Dell XPS 13 laptops (1080p display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD). The difference being that one is outfitted with an Intel Core i7-8550U, and the other has a Core i5-8250U. Let’s see how they stack up.

Intel Core i5 vs. Core i7: Benchmark Results

Core i5 Core i7 Ultraportable Notebooks Average
Geekbench 4 13,179 13,995 12,941
HandBrake 18:28 17:19 20:21
Excel 1:12 1:09 1:28
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 78,801 83,684 78,827
Battery Life 10:51 10:49 9:06

Clock Speed and Price

While the Intel Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8550U are both quad-core processors with the ability to process eight threads simultaneously, their clock speeds are slightly different. The Core i5’s clock speed is set at 1.6-GHz (3.4-GHz with Max Turbo), while the Core i7’s is faster at 1.8-GHz (3.6-GHz with Max Turbo). The Core i7 also has a bigger processor cache at 8MB, compared with the Core i5’s 6MB. Intel’s SmartCache determines how much space there is in the processor to remember particular functions and to carry them out faster than usual.

The numbers seem pretty minuscule, but how much are those numbers going to cost you? Well, the two XPS 13s that we tested currently cost $1,759 (Core i5) and $1,959 (Core i7), creating a $200 price gap. The $200 delta continued when I configured the Acer Aspire 5, but when configuring the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, I saw only a $150 difference.

Overall Performance

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