Eli5: How are i5 processors able to compete with i9 processors

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I always thought bigger number = better in the terms of pc components. Recently ive learned i5s can compete with i9s. I saw a post one day that said “i could replace your processors with i3’s and almost none of you would even notice”

How does this work?

In: Technology

26 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

A lot of the more simple tasks people use computers for do not require that much effort or work from the CPU.

Thus the average “decent” CPU from maybe around 2014 is fairly okay doing mundane tasks. And some programs generally end up putting the GPU to the test rather than the CPU.

Also a lot of software nowadays supports using multiple cores for the same program’s tasks. Or hardware acceleration.

Anonymous 0 Comments

i3 or i9 is more like a family of processors than anything. They have different features. If you’re not using these features, or if your programs could run equally well without these features, then you wouldn’t notice their absence.

In general I’d agree that for a vast, vast majority of users even i7 is overkill. Of course there’s going to be exceptions to that.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There’s “better” and there is “good enough”. Even a i3 is “good enough” that most people woudn’t notice the difference when browsing the web and writing emails to grandma or streaming cat videos or typing up a Word document for the boss. Probably 95% of the PCs out there probably just get used for light home and office use, rather than running Cyberpunk in 4K or modeling in Blender.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Two things, you have to know what generation of processor you have, sure a i9 gen 13 is much better then a i5 gen.13 but a i9 gen 5 is definitely not better then a i5 gen 13. Higher gen means newer tech and computer tech have changed quite a bit over the years.

Second, this quote “i could replace your processors with i3’s and almost none of you would even notice” is probably referring to people who does not use processor intensive tasks which is probably most people, sure a higher i number can handle more but if you only scroll the web then it is never going to use that extra performance making it the same as a lower i number.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It depends on if your workload actually uses that much CPU power or not. Web browsing, video watching, typical office work, etc, uses very little resources. All else equal, an i3 and an i9 would probably not perform *noticeably* different in these workloads. *Measurably* different probably, but not noticeably so.

High workloads such as gaming or video production, is a different matter, but still a complicated answer. If your game was heavily GPU limited, there may be very little performance gain from using a powerful CPU, as all that potential is wasted on waiting for your GPU.

Heavily multithreaded workloads should see massive benefits from something like an i9 vs an i3, as i9 processors have way more cores and threads.

And ALL of this is assuming we’re talking about the same generation of CPUs. A modern i3 probably *CAN* outperform an old i7/i9 from a decade ago.

**TL;DR If your workload can’t actually use the higher performance of an i9, then yes an i3/i5 could compete with it.**

Anonymous 0 Comments

Your CPU is just a complicated calculator. Applications ask your calculator to do a number of different sums at the same time. Some calculators are faster at returning answers than others. However, applications are both getting better at asking fewer calculations to get to the answer they need, and are also not increasing the complexity of the calculations they’re asking your calculator to work out. The i5 might not be able to do sums quite as fast as the i9, but it can do them fast enough to not cause a really noticeable difference compared to the i9.

However, for people that are asking their calculators to do lots of hard sums (video gamers, servers, video rendering, etc) they do notice the difference and will pay extra for a faster calculator as they’re doing sums hard enough to see a noticeable difference in performance.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Compete? Only in the same sense that a Fiat 500 can compete with a Lamborghini in getting from one red light to the other.

It’s not to say that the 500 is in any way equivalent, just that the circumstances make it perfectly adequate for purpose, while the Lamborghini is completely underutilized.

In the same sense, if all a user does is web browsing, taxes and using Office, they wouldn’t even notice if their CPU would get replaced with a lower teir obe, because it’d be perfectly adequate for purpose. If they have a high end CPU, they overpaid.

The other part is how the task behaves. Even an i9 will struggle if the program only uses a single core, because then 95% of the CPUs processing power goes completely unused, with just one core being run ragged. As long as the individual cores are equivalent, an i3 and i9 will do identical work.

But give the PC any computing intensive task that is properly distributed between cores, and the difference is immediate and unmistakable.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A world champion weightlifter and a random schmuck off the street can both lift a pencil with no difficulty. 

If everything you do on your computer is the equivalent of lifting a pencil, then even a relatively low-end modern CPU is *still a modern CPU* and will still perform without a problem. Upgrading to a high-end CPU won’t make any difference at that point. 

Anonymous 0 Comments

You have a Bugatti Chiron with a top speed of 300 mph. You’re cruising on the freeway at 70 mph. Swap out your Bugatti for a Honda Civic and you’re still cruising on the freeway at 70 mph (but getting better gas mileage).

When you accelerate hard, or hit the race track, you’ll notice a big difference, but most of the time you won’t.

Anonymous 0 Comments

First of all, each series of processors has a wide range of individual models. Additionally, they all span multiple generations as well. So an early i9 might very well be inferior to the latest and greatest i5. But there are a lot of variable at play here, so I’m going to look at the entire range from i3 to i9.

Basically, it’s not an apples to apples comparison.

Speaking very generally, i9s have faster base clock speeds. The slowest i9 is 3.0GHz. The fastest i3 is 4.0 GHz.

But that’s just one part of the equation. i3s only come in 2 or 4 core models. i9s start at 6 cores and go up to 18.

Bus Speed – i3= 5GT/s maximum, i9= 8GT/s minimum.

The L1, L2, and L3 caches also vary in a similar manner.

At the end of the day, you have to quantify what you mean by “compete”.

It’s kind of like saying a pickup truck can compete with a Ferrari… compete how? Hauling stuff or going fast? Or going fast while hauling stuff?