Computer processors continue to evolve at a phenomenal pace, constantly overcoming and resetting once impossible performance targets, to provide consumer and enterprise markets with raw computing power. In this Gigahertz race, Intel has always been ahead of the pack and continues to dominate the PC market with the introduction of 22nm Ivy Bridge-based third generation i3, i5 and i7 lines. Based on the revolutionary tri-gate ("3D") transistor technology, these processors can provide better performance at lower power output, outclassing the Sandy Bridge chips launched a year ago.

If you as a home user, are thinking of upgrading to a new laptop or upgrading your desktop with a brand new chip altogether, it would be helpful to know which among the third generation core i3 and i5 processors would cater best to your requirements. The core i7 line is designed for high performance machines and would be an overkill for the basic user. Here we compare the entry and mid-level lines for the home and business users.

Third Generation Intel Core i3 Vs. i5

When investing in computing power and chips in particular, a comparison of specifications, makes your choice simpler. Here are the prime differences between the third generation core i3 and core i5 processor lines.

Specifications3rd Generation
Intel Core i3
3rd Generation
Intel Core i5
Number of Cores22 / 4
Processing Threads44
Clocking Frequency Range1.6 GHz to 3.4 GHz1.7 GHz to 3.4 GHz
Smart Cache Size3 MB3 MB / 6 MB
Maximum TDP17 Watt / 35 Watt / 55 Watt17 Watt - 77 Watt
Turbo BoostNoYes
Intel HD Graphics2500 / 40002500 / 4000
Best Desktop ProcessorCore i3-3240
(3M Cache, 3.40 GHz)
Core i5-3570
(6M Cache, 3.40 GHz)
3.8 GHz with Turbo Boost
Best Mobile ProcessorCore i3-3110M
(3M Cache, 2.40 GHz)
Core i5-3360M
(3M Cache, 2.8 GHz)
3.5 GHz With Turbo Boost
Price Range$117 - $261$117 - $276

Performance Comparison

Both Ivy Bridge lines are better than their predecessors, as far as performance and power efficiency are concerned. What the core i3 line primarily lacks is Turbo Boost and VT-d support, along with AES-NI instructions, which makes it lag behind, when compared to the core i5 line, if you need on-demand performance boost or hardware virtualization support.

Both lines offer processors with HD 2500 and HD 4000 on-chip graphics. Be it i3 or i5, it is recommended that you opt for HD 4000 as it provides the best on-chip GPU performance till date, from Intel. While the i3 line has a sufficient processor cache (3 MB), the 6 MB cache on an i5 chip, does provide a significant computing edge in all departments. Moreover, the presence of two extra cores in the i5 line makes it a better choice for multitasking.

Final Verdict

For business users, the core i5 line provides adequate firepower, while the core i3 chips are ideal for home users, who primarily need their PC for everyday computing, Internet browsing and entertainment purposes. Nevertheless, it never hurts to have greater computing power at your disposal and core i5 is an ideal choice for the entry level user, who may graduate to advanced computing tasks in the future. Be it video editing, gaming, financial data analysis, compression/decompression of files, video conversion or running financial software, core i5 is the right choice. Turbo Boost and greater multitasking prowess provided by this mid-level processor line, makes it a great investment, for the future. So my suggestion would be to go in for an i5 processor, which will eliminate the need to upgrade in the near future and serve all your computing needs sufficiently on a desktop or laptop platform.