Sunday, April 24, 2011

Intel Core i3/i5/i7 Chips enter "Sweet Spot"

We keep track of laptops in terms of performance versus price -- and we are excited that more of the Intel Core i3/i5/i7 series is entering the sweet spot of performance to price.  BUT what are some of the differences between the i3 and i5 chip (and i7)?

Thermal Design Power (TDP):  The lower the number, the better.  This measures the power, or wattage needed to run and cool the computer's processor.  This is where the i5 shines over the i3.

  • The i3 uses about 75 watts of power as compared to 35 watts for the i5.  This means the i5 chip runs cooler and uses less energy.
  • This means better performance to energy usage (and more efficient battery usage!) for the i5.
  • Currently, tech limitations caps chip clock speed at around 4Ghz -- with many laptops running chips in the 2 Ghz range.
  • This is why the chip manufacturers (mainly Intel & AMD) have made dual core and quad core processors (using 2 or 4 processors to improve computing performance).    
  • The i5 has a Turbo-boost for better performance when needed.
  • The i7 uses about 45 watts of power but has higher specs in terms of number of cores and cache.  
  • The i7 is still a bit pricey, but i3 and i5 laptops are currently in our "sweet spot" of laptops.  
We love the i3 -- and especially the i5 chip -- if you are shopping for a laptop.