Should I choose an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor for my new laptop?

Tilman September 9, 2010
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I am considering to buy a new Dell laptop. Dell allows me to choose each component of the laptop individually. And that’s where I need your help! :)

Should I choose as a processor an Intel Core i5 or an i7? Specifically, the two options that I can afford are the I5-520M (2.4GHZ, 3MB, Dual Core) and the i7-720QM (1.60GHz, 6MB, Quad Core). Regardless of the processor, I was planning to buy 4GB DDR3 memory.

The only program that I use which alone needs processing power is Photoshop, i.e. I do not use any CADs or anything like that. However, I do often have a lot of programs running at the same time, including Photoshop doing some automated work (but rarely anything super-intensive like filters or such), a web browser with at least 50 tabs or so, a few MS Office programs, and maybe five other similar programs.

I do realize that the i5 would probably be sufficient most of the time. But if I have the chance to get an i7 by paying 200-300 Euros more, should I do it or not? After all, I am planning to use the laptop for the next five years or so (until it breaks), so would the i7 be a wise investment? As far as I know, it is always very easy to add more RAM but ONLY if I choose the i7! This is so because if I choose the i5, I need to choose also a cheaper chipset which has a maximum of 4 GB RAM. If I choose the i7, I need to choose the better chipset which has a maximum of 16GB RAM.

On the other hand, I do need to look carefully at the price. The model I am choosing is kind of over my budget, so I kind of have to stick to the cheapest components when doing the configuration. Yet again, a friend told me that in a few years when the laptop will be already quite old, I would be happy to have the i7. Why is this so, if I after all do not really do any games or other stuff that require more processing power?

What’s your opinion/recommendation? Thanks in advance! :)

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  1. Aibek
    September 11, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I would suggest going with i5. Provided you will get 3-4 GBs of RAM the performance shouldn't be an issue at all. Plus as Tina mentioned 5 years is a really long time in computing. Things are moving so fat these days, in 2-3 years from now you will want another system.

  2. Tina
    September 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    If you can afford it, go with the i7. Five years is a long time. Your working habits may change or you may upgrade your software and both may demand not only more RAM, but also more CPU performance. You never know.

    However, if you cannot afford it, then you don't have a choice. On the other hand, you may not want to use your laptop for five years when new models with exciting new features come out. In that case, getting the cheaper model now will be the better choice.

    I always max out my budget and get the best I can, but it's usually not the latest technology. I'm happy with deals of models that have been on the market for a year. In return I will get features I would not have been able to afford otherwise.

    For example, my current HP laptop was sold for 2.5k when it came out and for around 2k with a good deal. I was watching the prices for several months and got it for 1k just after Christmas, when a new generation Centrino platform was introduced. At the time I had to have the best available screen resolution for a 15.5" laptop (WUXGA) and wasn't too concerned about other features. I had narrowed in on different laptop models and watched the prices for a while until this deal came up.

  3. Anonymous
    September 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Hiwell core i7High-end | high performance | high consumption. so battery will not last longgo for i5the site is in french but look to the figures core i5 is clearly intended to be a more mainstream processor. Those who use their computers for heavily multi-threaded applications will miss hyper-threading and the triple-channel memory, which means that a core i7 on LGA 1366 socket will be best.