Which i5 processor to choose

The Intel Core i5 series includes mid-range processors that are suitable for most users (even undemanding gamers).

Which i5 processor to choose: what to look for?

i5 processor

When choosing an Intel Core i5 series processor, you should pay attention to the following parameters of the device:

  1. Generation (determines the socket and performance);
  2. Type;
  3. The base clock frequency and heat dissipation;
  4. Package (BOX or OEM).

Almost all the parameters of the processor can be found directly from its name. More precisely, from the alphanumeric code, which is listed immediately after the series and looks like “8350U”.

For example, the Intel Core i5-8350U belongs to the eighth generation, provides fairly average peak performance and is intended for use in ultrabooks. This is clear from the model code. The first digit in the entry – in this case “8” – stands for the model generation. Second is performance. The higher it is, the higher the base clock speed of the processor. The last digit, in this case the “U”, stands for the processor type.

Processor generation

Processor generation

Intel updates its processors every year. So for the fourth quarter of 2017, the eighth generation of chips is relevant – Coffee Lake.

The chip generation determines not only performance and other performance characteristics, but also the compatibility of the processor with the motherboard. The point is that the socket (connector) is updated approximately every two to three years. Thus, Haswell and
oadwell (the fourth and fifth, respectively) are designed for the LGA1150 socket, while Skylake, Kabu Lake, and Coffee Lake (the sixth, seventh, and eighth) are designed for the LGA1151.

Since there is no cross compatibility between Intel sockets, you should choose a processor based on which socket on your existing motherboard. So, if it is equipped with LGA1150, the upgrade or replacement of the processor is only available within the Haswell generation and

If you want to buy a more recent processor, you need to replace the motherboard with the most current version of the socket (at the end of 2017 it is Intel LGA1151-v2, designed specifically for Coffee Lake).

Processor Type

Intel Core i5 processors are available in different configurations. So, today you can find the following versions of the chips on the market:

  1. Y stands for notebooks and subnotebooks. Have the lowest power consumption;
  2. U – for ultrabooks. Have low power consumption but optimal performance, especially in multithreading mode;
  3. Q – quad-core versions;
  4. K – versions with an unlocked multiplier. Delivering the highest performance, suitable for gamers. You can overclock them directly through your computer’s BIOS.

It’s worth considering that many Intel Core i5 models, which are sold in BOX and OEM kits on the retail market, simply do not have a letter addition in their name. This means that these processors are oriented towards desktop systems and correspond to Q-configurations in their capabilities and characteristics.

Base clock speed and heat dissipation

clock speed

Base clock speed is a parameter which indirectly determines the performance of the processor. In fact, chasing its maximum value within the Intel Core i5 line is not worth it. If you replace the seventh-generation processor with a base clock frequency of 2.5 GHz for the same generation processor, only with 3.0 GHz, there will be no noticeable performance increase.

But it will increase heat dissipation and power consumption. And these parameters will also have to be taken into account. You may need a new cooler and power supply.

Thus, an expedient method of choosing a processor when upgrading:

  1. First try to find a “fresher” model (next generation);
  2. If it is not possible, you can buy a model with a higher clock frequency.

However, this is true only when upgrading within the Intel Core i5 family. If you want to upgrade to better computer performance, it is advisable to replace the chip to belong to a different family (i7).

Processor performance is defined by 2-4 digits in the model number. The higher their formed three-digit number is, the faster the chip works.


On the retail market Intel Core i5 processors are presented in two complete sets – BOX and OEM.

The first one is really aimed at the retail market. In addition to the processor itself the BOX package includes numerous instructions for it, a cooler with a holder and a three year warranty.

The second option – OEM – you only get the processor. And it has a 1 year warranty.

Nevertheless, it is not reasonable to buy BOX package. It’s more expensive than the OEM kit, and the cooler it comes with is usually not very productive or noisy. That’s why many professional builders immediately change it to some other. The only good thing about BOX package is a three year warranty on the processor. But if the chip works the first year without problems, it will function properly for the rest.


Thus, when choosing a processor, it is worth proceeding from the characteristics of an existing one, and the method of selection when upgrading is as follows:

  1. Try to “pick up” the generation. Sandy
    You can upgrade to Ivy
    idge, Haswell to
    oadwell, Skylake to Kabu Lake or Coffee Lake, Kabu Lake to Coffee Lake;
  2. If you already have Ivy generation processors installed in your computer
    idge or
    oadwell, you can pick up a more productive configuration of the chip (with a higher clock frequency) or buy a model from the i7 family;
  3. If your computer is already equipped with a top-of-the-line Ivy-generation processor
    idge or
    oadwell, the only way out is to replace the motherboard with a “more recent” one.

When it comes to buying a processor for the first computer assembly, it is advisable to consider Lake-series models.


In the following articles our experts tell you how to choose the right processor for your computer and the secrets of choosing a processor for games.

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