The Intel Core i7 is objectively the more powerful of the two. But is it the right choice for a gaming PC? Not necessarily. Its increased performance only brings improvements at the margin for gaming.
As for the importance of Hyper-Threading for video games, it’s a myth: not only are most games indifferent to its activation – the optimization is in the order of 1%, with a few FPS ( number of images displayed) additional – but on the contrary, we notice that some games suffer performance losses when this technology is activated!
Except for playing recent and greedy softs, like Watch Dogs or Crysis 3, the i7 does not bring any advantages. An Intel Core i5 is, therefore, more than enough, and for a much lower price.
If you are looking for a mid-range gaming PC or a more powerful high-end gaming PC, you might find yourself in a dilemma when it comes to choosing the processor (CPU). This is mainly due to the myths and misinformation circulating in the gaming community regarding the importance of the processor in a gaming PC.
So what is true and what is not?
This is precisely what we are going to talk about in this article now!
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Intel Core i5 VS Intel Core i7 For Gaming
Table of Contents
Let’s start with a basic comparison. What does it look like if I compare these two processors on online tools?
The easiest way to check their approximate performance is to check out the UserBenchmark website (CPUBoss is not bad too). This is by no means the most accurate way to determine how well a processor is performing, but it does give you a general impression of how well they perform in practice (especially if you want to compare different models).
As you can see on the page linked above, where the most powerful 8th gen i5 and i7 models are compared, the i7 only slightly outperforms the i5 (we are barely at a 2% difference in favor of i7). The only area where the i7 Gaming PC beats the flat-sided i5 Gaming PC is multitasking (also known as multithreading), as it can handle double the number of threads thanks to hyperthreading technology.
But by far the biggest difference is in price, and the majority of PC gamers will agree that it’s not worth paying more than a hundred dollars more for the negligible performance boost that the PC offers. i7 when it comes to games.
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The term “bottleneck” has been somewhat overused in the gaming world. What does this term mean?
It all comes down to how the computer works. Simply put, the CPU tells the GPU what to calculate in terms of rendering and when to do so. If the CPU is not able to do this, the GPU will not operate at its maximum capacity and will be congested.
So the processor can limit the graphics card?
For most people, the answer is no. Frankly, the only time you should worry about a bottleneck is when the GPU you plan to acquire is much higher-end than your current CPU, or when you plan to acquire multiple graphics cards (to put it mildly). instead of SLI for example).
Even the i5 models from previous generations will cause virtually no congestion for an RTX 2080, which is one of the most powerful mainstream graphics cards available today.
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Proof by experience
I experienced this myself with the Gaming Artefact, as I wanted to be sure that I was choosing a processor powerful enough to handle a recent graphics card properly. I tested the Artifact and its processor (a 4th Intel Core i5 4570) with two different versions of the GeForce GTX 1660 graphics card.
Result: With an identical Artefact, the 3DMark tests are formal.
- With a normal GTX 1660, the Artefact scores 4900 points on 3DMark.
- With a GTX 1660 SUPER, the Artefact obtains 5100 points on 3DMark.
This proves that there is no bottleneck on the Artifact (since there is still room to gain additional points in 3DMark tests). However, it works with a refurbished processor which is four generations behind! The notion of bottleneck is therefore very widely taken up and exaggerated by marketers to push people to change processors regularly.
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Ultimately, it can be concluded that the Intel Core i7 models should be reserved for workstations and only the most powerful gaming machines. Unless you plan to use multiple high-end graphics cards in SLI, an i7 gaming PC is literally a waste of money that could have been spent on a more powerful graphics card. Prefer to invest in a well-thought-out i5 gaming PC where there is no bottleneck.
Also, keep in mind that even the minor bottlenecks that can result from pairing an i5 with a high-end card aren’t that big a deal. After all, it’s better to have a slightly congested GTX 1080 than an i7 paired with a low-end graphics card!