Intel i5 vs. i7 for Gaming: Which CPU Should You Choose?

Intel i5 vs. i7 for Gaming: Which CPU Should You Choose?

Key Points

  • The differences between the Intel i5 and i7 processors are marginal, with the i7 slightly ahead in most areas of performance.
  • The i7 is a better choice for gaming, while the i5 can handle gaming but suffers under heavier workloads.
  • The i7 has a higher core count and threads compared to the i5, making it more suitable for tasks that require raw computational power.
  • Both the i5 and i7 support DDR5 RAM, but the i7 is recommended for maximizing performance with a newer motherboard.

Intel i5 vs. i7 for gaming: which is the real winner? There is no shortage of resources online to get you pointed in the right direction when it comes to preparing your first gaming PC. You might be asking yourself which processor is the best of the best for your build and price range. Now, in an ideal world, every builder would have access to the funds for an i9 or a Threadripper.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice much performance when going with an i5 or an i7. Today’s comparison is going to pit these two mid-range CPUs head-to-head to see which one is worth placing in the case. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to get top framerates in titles like League of Legends or if you’re maxing out Cyberpunk 2077, we’ve got you.

Intel i5 vs. i7 for Gaming: Side-by-Side Comparison

Intel i5-13600kIntel i7-13700k
Core Count1416
Clock Frequency3.5GHz3.4GHz
Boost Frequency5.1GHz5.4GHz
PCI-E Version4.0 and 5.04.0 and 5.0
RAM SupportedDDR4 and DDR5DDR4 and DDR5
CPU SocketLGA1700LGA1700
TDP125 watts125 watts
Intel Turbo BoostNoYes
Best i5 Overall
Intel Core i5-13600K
  • 14 cores (6 P-cores + 8 E-cores) and 20 threads
  • Performance hybrid architecture
  • Up to 5.1GHz
  • Compatible with Intel 600 series and 700 series chipset-based motherboards
  • Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0
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02/18/2024 03:17 am GMT

Intel i5 vs. i7 for Gaming: What’s the Difference?

As you can likely tell, most of the differences between the i5 and i7 are marginal at best. This is even reflected in the price of both the 13600k and 13700k. Now, Arrow Lake CPUs are looming on the horizon, so the figures cited above are likely to change. However, at the time of writing, it is a fair representation of both processors.


intel i5 vs. i7 for gaming
The Intel i7 is a powerful processor when it comes to gaming and heavier workloads.

When it comes down to raw performance, the i7 is just a little bit ahead in most areas compared to the i5. If you’re looking for a great mid-range processor, the Intel i7 is going to handle most workloads with ease. It might not be enough for more robust AI processing and the like, but it should handle games with ease. When paired with a powerful GPU like the RTX 4080, you aren’t going to have any hitches.

The i5 does an admirable showing at most workloads. In a vacuum, the 13600k is certainly a powerful processor. However, you’re looking at a 10% decrease in performance overall when looking at synthetic benchmarks for single and multi-core performance.

This is further reflected in overall gaming performance. You’ll see performance differences of around 30% or more toward the Intel i7 when using an identical motherboard, memory, storage, and so forth. Now, that massive difference in performance means the average user is going to have to choose if the extra cost is worth the jump in performance.

Core Count and Threads

The 13600k has a fairly robust amount of cores and threads. You’re looking at a total of 14 cores and 20 processor threads. IPC across these processor cores is quite strong and it does well when handling typical household tasks, gaming, and so forth. Where the big difference arises is when you start needing to distribute workloads across multiple cores.

The 13700k by comparison has 16 cores and 24 threads, which isn’t that big of an increase. However, when you look at the performance in benchmarks and real-world scenarios alike, it paints a different picture. I would suggest the Intel i7 for those looking for cost-effective platforms for games, office work, and anything else where raw computational power might be needed.

Headroom for Overclocking

intel i5 vs. i7 for gaming
You’ll want to run liquid cooling to maximize performance for the i5 and i7 when overclocking.

I honestly wouldn’t suggest overclocking for either of these processors. Both the 13600k and 13700k do come with support for overclocking on supported motherboards. However, they are both so power-hungry by their very nature that it honestly seems wasteful. There is plenty of overhead to get a decent overclock to stabilize performance.

That said, both have boost frequencies above 5GHz, so why risk the extra heat on your components? If you’ve got a tidy AIO cooler setup, I’d lean toward overclocking the i7-13700k. Builds with mostly case fans and blowers, I’d steer clear.

The main benefit of overclocking either of these processors would be to bring the performance and efficiency cores further in line. You’re looking at marginal increases in framerates on your favorite games in the best-case scenario.

Memory Support

The Raptor Lake processors are the last of the Intel product line to have support for DDR4 RAM, but they do come with support for DDR5. Given the prevalence of DDR5 on the market, I’d go with a newer motherboard if centering a build around the i7-13700k. You’ll want to maximize the throughput of your RAM to make games an utter breeze to play.

The 13600k pairs well with DDR5 as well. DDR4 RAM modules are also highly performant and relatively cheap to find at retailers. I could honestly see the 13600k swinging towards either RAM standard when it comes to maximizing performance. That said, you could make a killer sleeper build with the 13600k if you get one at a decent sales price.

If you can afford the DDR5 RAM, I’d say go for it. Either processor will serve you quite well when integrated with a thoroughly modern build. When paired with a good GPU you should easily run games like Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty.

Best Performance
Intel Core i7 13700K
  • 16 cores (8 P-cores + 8 E-cores) and 24 threads
  • Intel UHD Graphics 770 included
  • Up to 5.4GHz unlocked
  • Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0
  • PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 support
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02/19/2024 03:27 am GMT

Intel i5 vs. i7 for Gaming: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Both the 13600k and 13700k have support for DDR5 RAM.
  • The Intel i7 is a better overall choice for gaming.
  • The Intel i5 can handle gaming just fine but suffers under heavier workloads.
  • The Intel i7 excels at higher resolutions with the right GPU.
  • The Intel i5 is a solid choice for beginner or budget builds.

Intel i5. vs i7 for Gaming: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Choose?

If you have the means to afford the Intel i7, that’s honestly what you should get. There isn’t anything wrong with the Intel i5 for gaming, but the i7 is simply better. It isn’t a substantial difference in terms of performance, but it is noticeable. Now, for just playing games like Warzone or League of Legends, just pick what you can afford.

However, if I was building a PC right now, I would purchase an Intel i7. When you consider the current price difference is only $90 between the two of them, the extra cash gets you quite a performance increase. Either way, it’ll come down to complete user preference. I lean toward the i7 for sheer performance.

That said, I could see a great budget build for 1440p with the i5 at the heart of the setup. As with any comparison, this guide doesn’t account for the cost or components of your build. At any rate, either of these processors should be a great fit for your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the i5 good for gaming?

Sure, with the right GPU and RAM you should make easy work of any game.

Is the i7 better than the i5?

Yes, in all metrics, but you’ll have to decide if the increase in performance warrants the extra cost.

Does the Intel i5 support DDR5 RAM?

Yes, the latest Intel i5 processors support DDR5 RAM.

Are the new Intel i7s efficient?

Not at all, they’re quite heavy when it comes to power consumption. You’ll want a good cooler and solid PSU to make the most of it.

What is the most important component for PC gaming?

There isn’t any one component that is going to rule the roost, as it is a collaborative effort. That said, a strong GPU is going to go further than a strong CPU with a weak graphics card. You’ll want to minimize the potential for bottlenecks where you can, however.

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