Intel Core i5 is more than enough for mid-range systems, only get an Intel Core i7 for high-end systems with SLI GPU configurations.
If you are building a mid-range or a more powerful high-end gaming PC, then you might face a dilemma when it is time to choose the CPU. This is mainly due to the myths and misinformation that go around the gaming community regarding the matter of how important a CPU is in a gaming PC.
So, what is true and what is not?
That is precisely what we will be discussing in this article now!
Intel Core i5 vs Intel Core i7
Let us start off with a basic comparison. How do these two perform head-to-head?
The easiest way to check their approximate performance is on UserBenchmark. It is by no means the most accurate way to determine a CPU’s performance, but it does provide you with an overall impression of how they fare in practice – especially if you want to compare different models.
As you can see on the page linked above, where the most powerful 8th generation i5 and i7 models are compared, the i7 is only slightly outperforming the i5. The only area where it truly leaves the i5 in the dust is multitasking, as it has double the number of threads thanks to hyper-threading technology.
But the biggest gap by far is in the price, and the majority of people will agree that it is not worth paying over a hundred dollars extra for the negligible performance boost that i7 offers when it comes to gaming.
The term “bottlenecking” has been somewhat overused in the gaming community. So, what does this term mean?
It all comes down to the way that the computer functions. In layman’s terms, the CPU tells the GPU what to render and when. If the CPU is unable to do so, the GPU will not be performing at its maximum capacity and will be bottlenecked.
Now, is bottlenecking something that you need to worry about?
For most people, the answer would have to be no. Frankly, the only time when you should worry about bottlenecking is if the GPU you intend on getting is much newer than your current CPU, or when you are planning on getting multiple GPUs.
Another useful site is The Bottlenecker. As with UserBenchmark, always take the site’s measurements with a pinch of salt, but you can clearly see that even the previous generation’s i5 models will barely bottleneck a GTX 1080 Ti i.e. one of the most powerful consumer graphics card currently available.
In the end, we can conclude that the Intel Core i7 models should be reserved for workstations and only for the most powerful gaming machines. Unless you plan on getting multiple high-end graphics cards to use in SLI, an i7 CPU is literally a waste of money that could have otherwise been spent on a more powerful GPU.
What’s more, keep in mind that even minor CPU bottlenecks that may result from pairing an i5 with a high-end card are still not a big deal. After all, better to have a slightly bottlenecked GTX 1080 than an i7 paired a GTX 1070.