With every new generation of Intel processors making its debut in the market-- the answer to this common question gets harder and harder. At present, there are three distinct family lines, each with their own set of unique variants. For example, the Core i3 family has two distinct variants, while there are 3 and 5 different versions in the Core I5 and Core i7 lineups respectively. And those, if we exclude the mobile versions of all these processor families-- the ones they use in notebook PCs. Hence, it is safe for us to assume that the best way to address this question is by ignoring the various sub categories within each of the three family line, and focusing on just the Core i3, i5 and i7 monikers.

Intel Core i3 i5 and i7 CPU Understanding their key differences and choosing the right one for you 

 
Its been a while now since Intel dished out the new avatars for their i3, i5 and i7 lineups. Till the launch of Ivy Bridge platform in late 2011, all the new builds of these individual processor family line were based on Intel’s Sandy Bridge platforms and remarkably better in performance than their respective ancestors from the same lineup.  Even though the hardware changed, Intel chose to stick to the same monikers and the reputation of the Core i5 as the company’s flagship mid-range processor remained intact. The price of the Core i5 is no way what we can label as “cheap”, but nonetheless, it is pretty affordable. However, if the performance factor is taken into account, it’s not the fastest processor that you are getting from Intel, but surely the best price/performance ratio.  
 
Intel Core i3 i5 and i7 CPU Understanding their key differences and choosing the right one for you
 
The high-end processor line offered by Intel is the Core i7 series. Most of the tech-savvy population who are constantly looking for hardware to upgrade their machines, eventually comes to a point where they need to choose one of i5 or i7. The Intel Core i5, is no doubt fast- and capable of handling all your daily computer requirements- no matter how resource-heavy they are, pretty comfortably. However, if you are looking for the fastest (and most expensive) processor in the store shelves, then Core i7 it is! So, it is entirely up to you whether or not you are comfortable with spending some extra bucks to get better performance, but before that, you might want to figure out whether or not that extra bit of performance is really essential to carry out your daily computing requirements smoothly.
 
Intel Core i3 i5 and i7 CPU Understanding their key differences and choosing the right one for you
 
Its apparent that the best news that came out back then was that there was a stand alone single socket in all members of the Sandy Bridge Core i3/i5/i7 processors. Experts were, however, of the view that this trend was unlikely to last for too long and Intel will eventually come up with another tactical change in their approach. And that is precisely what happened with the launch of the Ivy Bridge architecture in late 2011.
 
The current models in offering from Intel includes the 2100-2130 ‘Sandy Bridge’ models, 3820-3960 ‘Sandy Bridge E’ models as well as 3450-3770 ‘Ivy Bridge’ models.
 
The Intel Core i5 3450-3570 processors are quad core and sport a better power efficiency owing to their 22 nm foundation. The native graphic processors in all of these processors are based on the HD Graphics 4000 and 2500 architecture. They come equipped with Turbo Boost, but Hyperthreading is not available.
 
Intel Core i3 i5 and i7 CPU Understanding their key differences and choosing the right one for you
 
The Intel Core i3 2100-2130 variants are dual core and based on a 32 nm platform. They do not have the advantage of Turbo Boost, but have Hyperthreading. These processors are also bestowed with native graphic processors- most of them boasting the popular HD Graphics 2000 architecture.
 
The latest Intel Core i7 products, on the other hand, can be categorized into two distinct product lines- both working their best with different motherboards than the ones for i3 and i5 models, and both equipped with different capabilities.
 
Intel Core i3 i5 and i7 CPU Understanding their key differences and choosing the right one for you
 
The Core i7 3770 usually fits the same motherboard as the i3 and i5 variants. It is manufactured with the 22nm process and has 4 cores and 8 threads. The native graphics processor belongs to the HD Graphics 4000. It has both Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading. Another advantage that the i7 3770 enjoys is its relatively cheaper cost compared to other i7 products.
 
Intel Core i3 i5 and i7 CPU Understanding their key differences and choosing the right one for you
 
The Core i7 3820-3960 models are the lone Core chips designed to fit the socket LGA 2011, meaning a wide range of motherboards are currently extending their compatibility with this lineup. All the models in the i7 3820-3960X range support both Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading. But on the flip side, they don’t bring you any native graphic offering.
 
Intel Core i3 i5 and i7 CPU Understanding their key differences and choosing the right one for you
 
So, since now you are more or less aware of the technical factors that separate Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, lets figure out what they actually mean to your individual requirements. Basically, it all comes down to your application, i.e. what are the primary tasks that you use your computer for. The latest Core i5 models are deemed as the product with the best price-performance ratio for avid gamers. The Core i7 3770 on the other hand is also another decent choice for gaming  (plus it is cheaper).
 
Intel Core i3 i5 and i7 CPU Understanding their key differences and choosing the right one for you
 
Even though the Core i3 2100-2130 variants give you the best performance with most of the latest games, their efficiency tend to lower when paired with a top-of-the-shelf graphics card.  The six core i7 3930K-3960X models are more or less the perfect choice for any multithreaded CPU-intensive operation such as 3D modeling or graphics rendering. The other aforementioned products are also capable of handling these tasks though, but their performance are strictly dependant on what sort of hardware acceleration your programs support as well as the type of data you are using.
 

So, that was in brief about the differences amongst various Core i3, i5 and i7 models floating around in the market today. But when it comes to choosing the right product, you must make up your mind what are the tasks, if any, you want the new processor for. 

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