The 8 Best Intel Core i5 Processor Laptops in 2022 (11th gen) – Laptop Study

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The 8 Best Intel Core i5 Processor Laptops in 2022 (11th gen) – Laptop Study


So you’ve figured out that Intel Core i5 laptops CPUs are the MOST BUDGET FRIENDLY yet HIGH PERFORMANCE processors out of the entire line of the Intel Core series.

Well that’s true….

A relatively recent Core i5 laptop can run AAA games like Call of Duty, OverWatch and World of Warcrat. without any stuttering.

You can even throw in some heavy duty Photo and Video editing with PhotoShop & Adobe Premiere.

What’s more,  the latest 11th and 12th generation Core i5 laptops, will even let you launch 3D Modeling software like AutoCAD & Solidworks without the need of a dedicated GPU.

Unfortunately…

Finding the most budget friendly Core i5 laptop can take several days.

In fact, the chances of you overpaying for a laptop or not getting your money’s worth is pretty high because the market is saturated with Core i5 laptops. More so than any other type of laptop.

Here’s an example…

Most core i5 laptops do not come with a dedicated graphics card (which is not required to do the above BUT will surely speed up performance and increase graphics quality tremendously ).

And yet you’ll find models with a dedicated GPU for the exact same price.

We’ll go over very specific laptops with this issue soon.

Another issue….

Is trying to figure out performance by their nomenclature.

“Is a Core i5 11300H that much better than 10300H? Should I really pay an extra 100$ for the former?”

And even better question that will save you tons of money is: 

“Do I REALLY need either for the games and software I run?”

What’s more…

Let’s not forget that high performance isn’t all down to the processor.

RAM and Storage technology have come a long way and now they have a tremendous impact on performance.  So obviously you want to get as much RAM and Storage out of your budget.

And lastly and most importantly

You want to a cool laptop.

Not a laptop that looks cool but actually a laptop with a well designed air cooling system . You don’t want your GPU/CPU to fail after just a year due to high temperatures, do you? 

Recommended Hardware Specs For Core i5 Laptops 

Anyways,  before we go over The 8 Best Core i5 Laptops in 2022.

Let’s go over a few things you need to know to pick up the best core i5 laptop on your own. I’ll make it very quick here but if there’s something you don’t understand please head to the last section where I try to break everything down and go over more details.

If you are reading this post from Canada, the UK, Australia or any other country. I suggest you at least give that section a few minutes because it is very likely the 8 Core i5 laptops listed here will not be available in your region.

CPU

Intel has been pretty sneaky in naming their CPUs. Trying to figure out which processor is better or which one is more useful for heavy duty applications has been made more difficult with the relase of newer series each generation brings.

So the key to get the best bang for your buck is to know how read processor nomenclature.

It’s a little more complicated but a good rule of thumb to follow is:

Any Core i5 CPU that has an H on it,even with another letter next to it (HK, HX), is good for any applications that requires HIGH graphics: gaming, 3D modeling, video editing. Ex: Core i5 11300H, Core i5 9300H, Core i5 10300H

Any Core i5 CPU that has an U or G somewhere in the label is made for everyday tasks , basic office work, a bit of 3D work and light gaming w/ settings down to low. Ex: Core i5 1135G7, Core i5 10210U

So far so good? Cool.

Now, you may have noticed they have different numbers at the front (7, 8,9,10, 11 or 12th).  These stand for generations, the more recent the generation the higher the number. 

Only pick laptops with either an 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 at the front

There’s nothing wrong with older generations but there’s a huge difference in performance going from 7th to 8th.
Likewise, performance is almost the same for 8th,9th and 10th generation CPUs.
The 11 and 12th generation CPUs are much faster than predecessors (the latter will be more energy efficient for multitasking with heavy apps: gaming + streaming ).

 

RAM

4GB RAM: 
As of 2022, almost non-existent on Core i5 laptops and that’s good because this is not enough for anything that uses Windows 10 Home. 
8GB RAM: Most Core i5 laptops will come with at least this much which is perfect for gaming, photo/video editing and any heavy software like 3D modeling
16GB RAM: Very very few Core i5 laptops come with this much. It’s super useful for photo/video editing. All Core i5 laptops can be upgraded to at least 16GB. I recommend you do this before blaming low performance on the CPU (only costs 20 bucks).

Storage

Most modern laptops SHOULD come with a Solid State Drive for storage. You do not want an HDD(hard disk drive) for storage. Although, it’ll be rare to end up with an HDD, just double check.

Today’s storage problem is mainly down to storage space since SSDs are more expensive so laptops come with low storage.

256GB:  Universal on Core i5 laptops. This may be okay for everyday tasks but for any type of real gaming or real work, you’ll run out of space pretty fast.
512GB:  Ideal amount for any kind of 3D work, for real gamers and photo/video editors. Rare on Core i5 laptops, you will probably need to upgrade it yourself (~40 bucks)

GPU
For light tasks & office work or school purposes, it doesn’t matter. Pay no attention to it. For any gaming, 3D work, photo/video editing, just beware of the following:

  MX450/350/Intel Xe Max  are several times weaker yet more expensive (most of the time) than a GTX 1650.  1650GTX should be plenty for everyone reading this. 

If there’s something that’s not clear, I’ve included a long guide after these reviews to clear things up and to explain any terms you may not understand, etc.

Also if there are any basic terms you don’t understand, check the side bars to read my posts for computer noobs. Specs are broken down for the average Joe to understand.

This list has been updated as of Februrary 2022.

The 12th generation CPUs for laptops is not yet here but they should be coming out either in March or April. There’s a whole debate about how much faster those are but so far we can tell they’re only going to be useful for anyone who does HEAVY DUTY MULTITASKING like Gaming + Stream + other applications simultanously. They will not necessarily improve performance on any other single tasks.

Prices are dropping significantly so now it’s a good time to grab one of the best 11th gen Core i5 laptops. These are the 8 with the best bang for your buck but there’s I’d say 20 more deals with the same specs basically (just a little more expensive), I will list them on the following descriptions when necessary.

As for the descriptions, I will not re-state the specifications most websites do. They are already listed there for you to compare. You should have a pretty good idea of what they mean with the information at hand (if there’s more to talk about) I’ll include in the reviews.  

This section will be devided in two sections corresponding to two type of users:

Power Users(1-4):  Gamers & Professional video/photo editing or 3D Modeling Work. All these laptops have a dedicated GPU

  • Laptop 1: The Core i5 Laptop with the best specs/money ratio also the latest 11th gen Core i5 CPU
  • Laptop 2: The most budget friendly high performance Core i5 Laptop with a dediaca

Basic Users(4-8): the general consumer; basic tasks like web browsing, watching videos, playing simple games and high end games at very low settings, amateur photo or video editing, etc.


1. Lenovo Ideapad i3

Best i5 Laptop with 4GB vRAM Graphics Card

  11th Gen Intel Core i5-11300H

  8GB RAM

   GeForce GTX 1650 

  512GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  15” FHD 1080p IPS

  4.10lbs

  Windows 11

 

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
3.1GHz 4.4GHz 11 4 8 8MB

This is not necessarily the best deal for a Core i5 laptop but it’s got the best specs/money ratio out of the high performance laptops shown here. It doesn’t have any extravagant features, it’s just a plain old laptop with a lot of good hardware for the price. 

If your budget is around 750$, then you could just buy this one right away. If it’s much lower or much higher than you may need to check out the other 3 laptops.

Anyways let’s talk about performance.

 Performance

Despite the fact that the 12th generation of laptop CPUs have been announced a few weeks ago, we are still in the 11th generation and virtually all of the recent models have either an 11th generation or 10th generation CPU.  

If you’ve read my little guideline in the introduction, you can see this model does not have a “mobile” CPU, it’s a high performance CPU “H” which is designed specifically to handle heavy applications like AAA games , 3D modeling software and video editing.

Now there are about 4 different Core i5 CPUs that are “H” High performance in the 10th and 11th generation. And although some are significantly faster than others, they should all be equally good to handle the most graphical intensive games and even good enough for professional video editing. The difference in their performance all comes down to what GPU they come with.

GPU:  Luckily, they always pair the High Performance Core i5 CPUs with at least an entry level dGPU (on laptops obviously). So any 11th or 10th gen High performance CPU will come with any of the following GPUs : 1650GTX, 3050Ti, 1660Ti, 2060RTx and 3060RTX.

1650GTX: This is the GPU this laptop has and it sits right in the middle of an “entry level” and a “mid-range” GPU. Since GPU have come along way since the first one released, even this GPU has way too much power for most people and it handles all high end games like OverWatch, WoW, Call of Duty, WarFrame, Sims 4 at high settings with no issues. In fact, this is way too much power for mickey mouse games like LoL, GO, Dota 2, etc, which should get you framerates into the three digits.

Photo Editing:    Photo Editing software doesn’t necessarily need a dGPU but if you want to use GPU acceleration to apply effects on a large image or a large collection of images(to speed of applying GPU accelerated effects), the truth is any dGPU with 2GB vRAM will be good enough. Going for more powerful GPUs isn’t that useful. I have a separate article about photo editing but basically this 4GB vRAM 1650GTX should be plenty.

Video Editing:  If you want to throw in some serious professiona video editing, then you MIGHT benefit from dGPUs which have much more vRAM than this one. However, it would be much better for you to consider better CPUs too. It all isn’t just down to the GPU. Likewise, I have a separate article you may want to read but to make it short you will find dGPUs useful up 6GB vRAM (2GB more than this one), however since this one only a few gigabytes less almost 80% of video editors should find it useful especially with this latest Core i5 CPU which deeps into the 4-5GHz clock speed.

3D Modeling software.  Should handle medium sized projects with ease, far bigger than those you will see in engineering school. If you want more details on this check my posts on AutoCAD & SolidWorks & Revit. Bottom line is this 1650GTX should be plenty if you are a student or if you’ve just got a job that requires you to use 3D modeling software

 Design

Now there are dozens or even hundreds of laptops with a core i5 CPU but this is one of the few (which I can count with my fingers) that decided to put an 11th gen Core i5 CPU on it.

All of them will have about 2 hours of battery when you use the dGPU for say very heavy applications so they will all be mostly a plugged in experience. If you limit yourself to everyday tasks then make sure you deactivate the dGPU and you should get at least 6 hours out of it.

Most of these laptops are made out of plastic and this one is no exception, what you should be more concerned about is how easy it is to upgrade because you will probably need 16GB RAM at some point (though unlikely when you have this much).  This one is easy to upgrade ONCE you know how to open it, the 2.5” Bay is not used so you just have to plug in a 2.5” storage drive if you want to up the storage (you will probably need to do if you’re running several AAA games or storing video projects). Likewise, it’s very easy to up the RAM, there’s one slot available so you can just insert an additional stick to make 16GB.

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2. MSI – GF63035

Best i5 Laptop for The Money

  Intel Core i5 10200H

  8GB RAM

   GeForce GTX 1650 

  256 PCIe SSD

  15” FHD 1080p IPS

  4.10lbs

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.4GHz 4.1GHz 10 4 8 8MB

 This is a much much cheaper laptop for the simple reason that the hardware is a bit older but performance for most of the stuff we talked about will be the same.

  Hardware 

That’s because it has the exact same dGPU: 1650GTX which has the exact same amount of vRAM. You also get the exact same RAM: 4GB of DDR4. 

Although you get 256GB of storage, the storage is still the same SSD so you should still get the exact same writing/reading speeds.

The only real difference here is the CPU which is a generation older and it’s really the only way to find something much much cheaper with a 1650GTX GPU on board which again makes all the difference for all the gaming, editing and modeling software you have in mind.

  Performance
 Now let’s not kid ourselves, if you look at the table of both CPUs, there’s a SIGNIFICANT increase of clock speed from this 10th gen and the 11th gen CPU we went over. However, for gaming, this means almost nothing because you’ll still be limited by the 1650GTX which both of these have. You will still be limited to high settings (you’d need a better GPU for epic settings).

For 3D modeling software, it also means nothing because you still have the same amount of vRAM and this is what makes the difference when rotating 3D models. So you will still be able to run moderately large 3D objects in any 3D modeling software. 

As for video editing and photo editing, you will still edit and apply effects with the same speed as the first laptop. What you will find different is:

Rendering: This is what’s really going to change. The rendering is going to be different be it for  3D modeling, video editing and photo editing software. It’s not necessarily going to be super slow but it’s going to be noticeable slower than what an 11th gen Core i5 would do.

  Design

The positive side of this laptop is the design. It’s slightly different than most laptops with a high performance Core i5. All MSI laptops are by default much much easier to upgrade AND they also have one of the two BEST Air cooling systems so even if you put this machine under strenous work, it should last you plenty of time. I would still install a temperature check software on ANY high performance Core i5 laptop you buy.

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3. Acer Nitro 5 

Best i5 Laptop CPU

  Core i5-11400H

  8GB DDR4

   NVIDIA 2060RTX

  256GB SSD

  15” full HD 144Hz IPS

  4.85lbs

 

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.7 4.5 GHz 1 6 12 12MB

Let’s go to the other side of the spectrum: going for a Core i5 laptop with the most powerful CPU available on laptops.

  Hardware

If you want to be nitty picky about it and you want the 11th gen Core i5 CPU with the highest clock speed performance then you’d have two choices: the Core i5 11400H and the Core i5 11500H. Both of these CPUs have TWO EXTRA cores  when compared to the Core i5 11300H.

The Core i5 11500H, as far as I’m aware of, didn’t make it really big on laptops so it is very likely you won’t find a single model with it.  The reason is simple, it’s got the same number of cores as the Core i5 11500H and slightly lower clock speeds (100-200Mhz). Another reason is that although very very powerful gamers want that Core i7 on their laptop when they’re paying good money for one.

Which brings to the most important thing to know about this laptop: it will cost you only 50$ more bucks than the Lenovo with the Core i5 11300H. I don’t think you should paying 1000$ dollars (most models charge this for a CPU this powerful). If you see this Acer Nitro’s price rise above 800$, don’t buy it.  

 Performance

But that’s really subjective, how exactly is this CPU going to make a difference. Is it worth paying more than 100$? 

Gaming:  For gaming it will make ZERO difference. Those extra cores aren’t going to increase framerates. What will increase your framerates is the higher clock speed of this CPU which isn’t that higher though so you will only see perhaps a 5 fps increase when you play at high settings.

Those extra cores would’ve made a tremendous impact on video editing/photo editing/3D modeling software, you know, “ACTUAL WORK”

3D modeling:   In the case of 3D modeling software, it will mostly help with rendering, that’s the final part of a project. It isn’t necessarily going to handle bigger models and apply effects faster than a Core i5 11300H because again clock speed difference isn’t significant. is really not that much.

Editing: This also applies for video editing, it’s going to help tons when rendering a final project and we all know this is the only part that sucks about video editing. Photo editing isn’t likely to be affected unless you’re using lightroom to render several dozens of high resolution images at the same time.

 Design

Let’s talk about the Acer Nitro 5 in particular, which by the way have been the best selling laptops for the past year (with a Core i5 High performance CPU on board). Why?

Pros:

  • It’s much much easier to upgrade, in fact, you don’t even have to open the entire laptop. Most models only require you to remove one screw to open a slot for extram RAM and SSD insertion.
  • Fan is not too noisy, thermal control is superb.
  • It really looks like a high performance laptop.
  • The keyboards have the RGB feature which gamers love.

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4. GIGABYTE G5 MD

Best i5 Laptop with 6GB vRAM Graphics Card 

  Core i5-10500H

  16GB RAM DDR4 

   NVIDIA GeForce 3060RTX 6GB vRAM

  512GB PCIe NVMe

  15” full HD IPS Display 144Hz

  4.85lb

  2 hours

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.5GHz 4.5GHz 10 6 12 12MB

Now I’m sure virtually everyone reading this have already seen Core i5 Laptops with a 4GB vRAM dedicated graphics card. 

And a few of you are looking specifically to see if they can get a core i5 laptop with 6GB vRAM dedicated GPUs: 1660Ti, 2060RTx and 3060RTX. 

Well there are very very few Core i5 laptops with 6GB vRAM dedicated GPUs because most laptops with that much GPU power , as you probably know , are paired up with a Core i7 CPU.

Most core i5 laptops with either of those GPUs cost way too much money which makes it quite pointless to go for a Core i5 laptop in the first place right?

This is one of the four models worth checking out. Here are basically the only four worth your time:

 Performance

Now since the 3060RTX is the latest (as of 2022) REAL mid-range GPU from NVIDIA, you should see a HUGE performance boost across every applications that needs and in fact that might be as much power as most applications and (most) games will take (from a GPU that is).

Gaming: You will be able to play at epic settings without any issues. MMORPG games like World of Warcraft should run at epic settings witih three digit fps numbers. More graphically demanding games like Call of Duty anad WarHammer will just run at High settings though. Other much less hardware demanding First Person Shooting games should be able to run at epic/ultra settings.

The biggest difference will be when doing actual heavy duty 3D work:

3D Modeling: There’s a huge difference between a measly 1650GTX and the monster-like 3060RTX.  If you are an animator or a hardcore professional CAD engineer, this is as much as you will ever need from a desktop or a laptop. And in fact, most benchmarks for most of these software show that there’s no benfit when you for more powerful GPUs (with 8GB vRAM). 

Editing:  Overkill for any type of photo editing. However, for video editing, it should MASSIVELY improved GPU accelerated effects and also make faster previews.  You can apply effects to much much longer timelines too (6GB vRAM can accomodate a lot of more data). It won’t help much when rendering though that’s a CPUs job.

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BASIC USERS: All those laptops we went so far are mainly for people who to run very CPU and GPU intensive applications. Now it’s time to go for laptop for the average Joe or anyone who doesn’t need the high graphics performance of Core i5 “H” laptop CPUs.

You can still use any of these for Photo editing, video editing and  gaming but performance will be of course lower. You can also launch 3D CAD software but be limited to small models.

 These are mostly designed for the office, school , everyday use and some gaming (at low settings) but they’ll be much thinner and way more portable.


5. Dell Inspiron 15 3000

Best Budget Core i5 Laptop

  Intel Core i5-1135G7

  12GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD

  256GB SSD

  15.6” Full HD IPS

  5.26lbs

  3 hours

    WiFi 5

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.4GHz 4.2GHz 11 4 8 8MB

I know most of you reading this want to get your hands on the latest 12th gen Core i5 CPU. Unfortunately, the 12th generation line of Core i5 CPUs isn’t out yet but should be here by May. That’s four months away!

And honestly performance isn’t likely to be SUPERIOR to 11th or even 10th gen Core i5 CPUs especially if we are talking about the ultra-low voltage CPUs.

  Hardware 

As of 2022, the latest and most powerful Core i5 CPU for everyday users is this one : The Core i5 11G254 and if you scroll back to the High Performane Core i5 CPUs, it still has about the same clock speed which is stupidly fast for most people.

What I particularly like about the hardware is the RAM. 12GB is pretty much bullet proof, at least has been for me, for just about EVERYTHING: gaming, photo editing, video editing,etc. Of course taking out the high performance gains of dedicated GPUs which no Core i5 laptop below 700$ has.

  Design

Which brings me to the most salient feature of this Dell laptop: PRICE.

If you spend a few minutes looking around Core i5 laptops with the same CPU, you’ll quickly notice they are either +100-200$ expensive AND they don’t pack as much hardware as this one (8GB RAM vs 12GBRAM). The only cheaper options are those with 10th generation CPUs.

Anyways, this is the most budget friendly Core i5 laptop you’ll find and if you check out the reviews all units received so far have had no issues this date.

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6. ASUS VivoBook 17

Best ASUS i5 Laptop

  4-Core Intel i5-1035G1

  8GB RAM DDR4

  Intel UHD Graphics

  128GB PCIe SSD + 1TB HDD

  17.3” Full HD 4 way NanoEdge bezel display 

  5.07lbs

  5 hours

    WiFi 6

 

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
1.2GHz 3.6GHz 10 4 8 6MB

This is my favorite Core i5 Laptop in this list for the simple reason that it’s got a 17” display and very spacious keyboard. Since I mostly stay at home typing and staring at a computer screen, these are definitely my top specs when choosing a laptop.

  Hardware 

Now this laptop has been very popular for the past years for those reasons and the fact that it’s relatively cheap for a 17” windows laptop that carries a powerful Core i5 CPU.

Despite the fact that it’s been released only a few weeks ago (at the time of this writing), it’s only got a 10th generation Core i5 CPU as opposed to an 11th generation and that’s exactly why it’s relatively cheap for a 17” laptop.

Let’s face it, at the end of day, average joes like us who aren’t really into high end gaming and neither do we run heavy duty software so most of us are going to be completely satisfied with the CPU shown here.

What’s really going to come in handy is the the RAM and the extra storage.

12GB is pretty much bullet proof, at least has been for me, for just about EVERYTHING: gaming, photo editing, video editing,etc. Of course taking out the high performance gains of dedicated GPUs which no Core i5 laptop below 700$ has.

The best part of this model is the extra 1000GB HDD storage on top of the 128GB SSD. That means you could store any software you use on a regular basis on the SSD ( Office, PhotoShop, Zoom, etc) to take advantage of the SSD reading speeds (which in turn will launch any software in split seconds) and any video,audio and document file on the 1TB HDD.  

  Design

The design is perfect for a desktop replacemenet laptop you want to use at the office or at home, it’s not only 17 inch in size but also has a bigger number of ports on each side. This laptop, unlike the Dell and most Core i5 laptops released in 2021, has a WiFi 6 too which will sligihtly increase internet reception at crowded places.

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7. Surface Pro 8

Best 2 in 1 i5 Laptop

  Core i5-1135G7

  8GB-32GB RAM

  Intel Xe Graphics

  128GB-1TB PCIe NVMe SSD

  13” IPS ‎2880 x 1920

  1.96lbs 

  +10 hours

    WiFi 6

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
1.2GHz 3.6GHz 10 4 8 6MB

The problem with almost every laptop we’ve went over so far is the weight. Although they are not that heavy, none of them are something you would take out anywhere to do some work on the go.

Now obviously there are hundreds of 3lb laptops with a Core i5 Chip on them and quite a few of high quality at that (The ASUS ZenBook 13 comes to mind) .

However, at the end of the day, The Surface Pro is going to be the most portable Core i5 laptop device you’ll find. 

  Hardware 

You can customize the hardware with the amount of RAM /Storage and the CPU you’re going to need.

Now, it’s adviceable to get as much RAM and Storage you can afford off the bat because the Surface Pro isn’t like a regular laptop, everything’s sealed and most hardware components will be soldered which makes them impossible to upgrade.

8GBRAM+ Core i5 CPU: You really do not need anything more than this configuration for pretty much every applications and for any type of heavy multitasking you have in mind. The Core i7 CPU+16GB RAM configuration is more useful for professional video editing and that’s about it, really. You can still game, photo edit , do some video editing and even run 3D modeling animation software with a Core i5, again, as long as you get 8GB RAM.

Intel Evo: Now just so you know although the seller’s description will say “Intel Core i5 Evo” that pretty much is another term for the latest 11th generation Core i5 1135G7 listed here.

Storage: You may  try to cut down prices by going for the 128GB but honestly that’s going to run out pretty quickly. Once you install Windows and your regular everyday software like Zoom, Office, PhotoShop along with a couple of videos and a few hundreds of family photos, you’ll be filling 75% of its capacity. I’d advice you to at least get 256GB so that you can have some headroom for other stuff you may need to try in the future.

Plus, as a good rule of thumb, you should always fill your storage to up to maximum of 75% unless you want to lag every now and then, this will happen regardless of what computer or CPU you get.

  Design

It’s a thin convertible laptop but that doesn’t mean it lacks ports: you still have a headphone jack, a mini display port and a USB A 3.0 port. It also includes a surface connector port which you can use to connect a docking station, the dockstation will basically let you turn your Surface Pro 8 into a full blown desktop-like computer by giving you all the ports you need to attach sound speakers, an external mouse and keyboard and several desktop monitors. 

2 in 1:  Remember that this is a 2-1 touchScreen laptop which means it can turn into sort of a tablet and once you buy the stylus it’ll pretty much act like an iPad Pro where you can draw, design, take notes,etc.

Battery:  Another cool feature of the latest models is their battery. Unlike the older models, the Surface Pro can now output ~13 hours of battery (on video playback). Of course if you throw any CPU demanding task,  you may get less battery but this is a good benchmark to get a good approximation of how long this is going to last when you’re doing actual work like surfing the web and writing documents. 

Keyboard + TrackPad: there’s nothing to remark about these two. Since it’s a laptop designed to compete with all the ultraportable devices like the MacBook Air, they’re of high quality: trackpad is not as big enough but still quite responsive and accurate. Since the Surface Pro is now 13” diagonally, it can fit in a full sized keyboard which still preserves the tactile feedback of past models. 

Lastly, the cooling system is great, it rarely gets warm and because it has a Core i5 CPU on it (as opposed to the Core i7), it’s completely silent as you would expect it to be from a Core i5 Laptop.

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8. MacBook Air

Best Rated i5 Laptop SSD

  10th Core i5 8250U

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD Graphics 617

  128-256GB Flash Storage SSD

  13.3” Retina Display

  3lb

  12 hours

    No DVD Drive

 

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
1.6GHz 3.4GHz 9 4 8 6MB

The Newest MacBooks no longer have an Intel Core i5 CPU and will probably never board an Intel Core chip again. They came up now with the M1 Chip which is actually much much much faster than any 11th Core i5 low voltage  U or G CPU. The M1 Chip (the weakest one because they have now come up with the M1 Chip Pro) is actually pretty close to an 11th gen Core i7 “G” CPU.

Anyways,  the point is those MacBooks are way way too fast for everyday usage. They’re probably will be more useful if you’re a programming doing some data science and you need all the 8 cores it boasts. But most of us will just be happy to have all the perks of the MacBook : the keyboard, the premium built quality, the awesome huge trackpad, the retina resolution display and of course the ultra long battery life. All of these features are perfect for doing actual work like the one I’m doing right now.

Luckily, the older models are still available, especially those with Core i5 CPU chips (they’re from 2019) so you can still get all the good stuff from MacBook with a good performance but at a much much more affordable price.

  Hardware​

The Core i5 CPU on 2019 models are actually 8th generation CPUs. There was no 9th generation low voltage “U” processors released that year so they had to settle with an 8th gen. Anyways 8th generation Core i5 CPUs are still plenty fast for everyday tasks, it’s not that old really, you can still multitask like crazy: run Zoom, Discord, Office, +50 tabs in Chrome, etc.

  Design​

And it because it’s a macBook and has OSX instead of Windows 10, it’s probably going to be even faster than your average 10th gen Core i5 Laptop because OSX is much more energy efficient and much more tailored for MacBooks.

SSD:  Another cool feature that you can even find on older models are the SSDs which aren’t like the SSDs you find on Windows laptops, it’s slighty faster and works better with OSX, it’s technology propietary of Apple but basically it’s the modified PCie NVMe SSD you find on Core i5 laptops. This makes launching software and booting the computer slightly faster than a Windows machine (at least faster than a 10th generation Core i5 Laptop).

Retina:  Another unique feature of the MacBook is their retina display which has more or less twice the number of pixels (therefore 2x the resolution of FHD laptops). This is only found on post 2018 models though and it makes them quite expensive. 

You know the rest…the trackpad…the keyboard…the speaking system and even form factor are probably better than most premium windows ultrabooks. 

The battery of the older models though isn’t as long as the newest model, it’s  about 10 hours as opposed to 15 hours (2020 MacBook Air) so that’s only as good as an average windows laptop with a low voltage CPU.

There’s stil one huge drawback. Yes, you know what it is….

The price.

In fact, the more stuff you add to it the more it gets close to 1000$ which is basically the price of the M1 Chip MacBook Air.  However, the far you go back in time, the cheaper they are and actually they will last you just as long as any windows laptop (if not a few more years). I have a refurbished MacBook Air with a 5th gen Core i5 laptop still kicking strong after 5 years of everyday use.

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For this article, I’ll just talk about Core i5 laptops and Core i5 CPUs especifically.

If you are interested in knowing more about the other line of CPUs. Check out my other articles on Core i3 and Core i7 laptops, head to the last section where you’ll find a guide exactly written like this one. 

For this article, I’ll asume you have some knowledge of basic computer JARGON since you’re interested about Core i5 laptops which performance and budget wise have the best performance/money ratio

If you don’t, please check out my posts on the side bar so you can get a quick general knowledge of basic computer terminology and concepts.

Processor

Obviously the best place to is by talking about the processor.

Before you learn all the mumbo jumbo you need to know to be able to read the labels of Intel Core i5 CPUs (generation, performance, cores,etc).

I think it’d be best for us to talk about the features of all Intel Core i5 CPUs. 

Cores vs HyperThreading

You probably know what cores mean and what a multi-core CPU means, RIGHT? Well if you don’t,  cores are basically physical extra CPUs embedded on a processor.

A multi-core CPU is basically several CPUs embedded into one chip.

What that means for performance is that you get to use “several brains”  to handle your every day tasks. They’ve revolutionzed the way we do multitasking for the obvious reasons of the extra available CPUs on each chip. Now we can use Zoom and game in the background and use discord instead of paying attention to a zoom meeting right? Multitasking = several programs at once.

HyperThreading extends this idea even further by using an algorithm and embedding it into the chip, it’s not something physical as an object, it’s just a set of instructions that create “virtual cores”. Basically, extra virtual CPUs, to have even more cores for multitasking.

So far in 2022, hyper threading only multiplies the amount of cores you have on a CPU by two. That’s probably going to change a little bit in the 12th generation where we’ll have the introduction of P cores and E cores.

Anyways, at least for now, it’s all we have and say a 4 core 11th gen Core i5 CPU can have “8 virtual cores” thanks to hyperthreading.

This is not only helpful for multitasking but also helpful for video editing, photo editing and work-related software that needs to apply effects/run calculations. For ex: if you want to render a video, it’s always best to have more cores. Let’s say you’ve finished editing your graduation video and you’ve applied all kinds of funny and cool effects to and now the time to render has come. If you have hyper threading and multiple cores, each thread can work on 1/8 of the video, making this process x8 faster.

What’s the point of me telling you all of this? Well, just in case you want to wait it out to get a 12th gen Core i5 CPU instead. Why?

12th generation Core i5 CPUs:  Because 12th gen Core i5 CPUs will extend this idea even further. How?

Although 11th generation Core i5 CPUs are able to launch and run different programs simultaneously like the Zoom+game example, they don’t really do a good job when you have more computionally intensive tasks. The hyperthreading and the core distribution isn’t that great. 

The 12th generation CPUs will open up the possibility for a more flawless and heavy duty multitasking. It’s really only going to be useful if you do some insane multitasking like GAMING + Streaming your game at the same time. 11th gen Core i5 CPUs can do it but 12th gen Core i5 CPUs will do so much more efficiently by assigning each task to a more suitable thread for the job (E and P cores). 

Turbo Boost

Everyone at this point knows about turbo boost. When a CPU description says “Up to XX GHz” that just means that to get up there (say 4GHz) it will use Turbo Boost and only do so when it says the need to. Most of the time, especially for everyday and less intensive apps, it will operate at the base speed.

It’s not very healthy for a CPU to be turbo boosting all the time because that jeopardizes healthy tempeartures as the higher clock speed the higher the temperatures and the more likely the processor will melt, that’s why it’s important to get a good cooling system ESPECIALLY on laptops because they are much much more smaller and crowded.

Labels: U, G vs M, Y vs H, HQ  

Now to the most important part: the letter on each processor.

HQ or H

The stand stand for “HIGH performance” . HQ used to stand for “High Performance QuadCore” but that was several years ago. Now a CPU with 4 cores isn’t that  uncommon so they took the “Q” out and they are now left with “H” .

Regardless, these CPUs have the highest of the highest clock speeds (at least on laptops). They also have more CACHE MEMORY, cache memory basically acts as extra RAM which improves performance when interacting with software especially the parts that need data to be read.

U or G

U stands for ultra low power and G for “graphics”. Ignoring what those stand for, these CPUs basically deliver very high speeds but not as big as High Performance CPUs (H and HQ). As of 2022, all U and G CPUs support 2-4 cores and each core support hyperthreading giving them x2 the number of total threads for multitasking .

 All U and G series CPUs have hyper threading.

M or Y series

These are the weakest types of CPUs. They were designed to be used on very very thin and small ultrabooks such as the Surface Go. Past generations of these CPUs are really really slow but the newest ones (8th gen onward) are pretty damn fast even for hardcore multitasking.  They usually won’t have hyper threading but they will have at least 2 cores.

Q: Which Series is good for me?

H series:

  • Obviously, if you want to play very graphical demanding games you want a high performance CPU on a laptop. These usually come paired up with a dedicated GPU as well.
  • This is also true if you want to do some professional video editing and 3D modeling software. You’ll need the high clock speeds and the extra cores these have to apply effects quickly and faster rendering respectively. 
  • Any other application that operates better with more clock speed will basically benefit from these extra cores and significantly faster clock speeds. 

U or G series:

  • Most people do not do all of that though so for the average user High performance CPUs are unnncessarily expensive.
  • U make the best choice for two reasons:
    • They have enough clock speed for pretty much the applications every runs for work and research
    • They have just about the right number of threads for the kind of multitasking we all do.
      • Since they don’t have extra cores or extra clock speed, these consume much less power which means way more battery life.
        • This also means they will a lot more cheaper than H Core i5 Laptops.

Y/M series

  • You can’t choose to have an Y/M CPU on a laptop, laptops will only have these IF they’re very very thin and very very small. The people who want those laptops basically use them for traveling purposes or just to do some web browsing and doc writing on the go. These CPUs have enough powerr for that but not enough for gaming and video editing though at least a semi professional level.

Generations: 5th, 6th , 7th, 8th,9th , 10th ,11th and 12th

Past generations of Intel Core i5 CPUs do not necessarily become extinct the moment a new generation is released. So you will still see a variety of laptops of CPUs with the generations listed.  Sometimes you may have no choice but to opt for an old generation CPU so let us go over a few general knowledge facts about each of these: 

  • There’s a significant improvement with 6th generation core i5 laptops over 5th generations in every area : battery, speed and graphics.  This is due to a vastly different architecture implemented on 6th generation CPUs.
  • If we go from the 6th to the 7th, there’s little to no improvement so it’s not worth going for a 7th generation CPU over a 6th generation CPU if the latter is cheaper.
  • There’s on the other hand, a huge performance boost with the 8th and 9th generations over the 7th and 6th.
  • 10th generation CPUs on the other hand only have their clock speeds boosted they mostly keep the same number of cores.
  • 11th generation CPUs do basically the same thing, increase clock speeds, keep the same number of cores excepet for a few rare cases.
  • the 12th generation will a huge leap in performance especially about this multi-core hyperthreading ability, but that’s still a few months away.

Wait, What about the 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st?

These CPUs are way way too old and not good for anything really. I’d say they’re only useful to launch one application at a time and they might not even tolerate WIndows 10 home so you may have to install a different and much older (and security riskier) operating system like Windows 7 or XP.

RAM

8GB:  Virtually all Core i5 laptops come with this much and that’s a good thing because this is about as much as everyone even gamers will need to run everything flawlessly.

16GB: There aren’t many Core i5 laptops with this much I haven’t come across one. It’s usually the Core i7 or Core i9 laptops that have these. Again it’s not useful for most people, they only useful becoming useful for 3D modeling software and video editing software and even then the instances are rare (very very huge timelines or very very big 3D models).

Storage

Solid State Drives (SSDs) vs Hard Disk Drives (HDDs)

Virtually every modern Core i5 laptop (w/ either a 9th,10th, 11th and 12th generation CPU) will come with an SSD as opposed to an HDD. If you’re getting an HDD, you’re being ripped off, especially if you’re paying around the same price another laptop with an SSD has. It would only be a good ideal if somehow all specs are equal and you’re getting the HDD laptop for 100$ less, that’s very unlikely to happen though: most core i5 laptops now have SSDs.

SSDs Storage

SSDs are much much faster than HDDs so it’s a good thing they’ve now made the transition to SSDs. If you’re doing actual work the benefits are even higher because opening up software and even heavy files and booting up your machine can now be done in seconds as opposed to minutes this all adds up over the course of the week to save us several several hours. 

256GB: Now the problem is that SSDs have low storage (HDDs have at least 1TB HDD) and this much (256GB) isn’t really going to cut it if you’re a gamer or a video editor/cad engineer, you’ll run out of space pretty quickly.  Luckily, all Core i5 laptops are upgradeable so you can buy an extra SSD drive and add it on top of the 256GB SSD to have 512GB or even an extra 1TB of SSD. If the extra SSD seems expensive to you, then you can also add an HDD (1TB is much much cheaper for HDDs). However, you’ll have to deal with slow reading/writing speeds of all the things you store in that 1TB HDD.

Graphics Cards

Dedicated GPUs are available on Core i5 laptops (not on core i3 laptops) so you’ll get a mixed of integrated and dedicated GPUs when you shop for one:

Integrated Graphics Cards

This is the default graphics cards ALL laptops have even those with dedicated GPUs most of the time will have it and switch to integrated when you’re not using an application that requires it. It’s pretty pointless to talk about their performance because they will all perform more or less the same: pretty awful for high end 3D graphics applications. 

However, they’re all good for the everyday stuff we all do: Zoom, streaming, youtube, basic video and photo editing, etc. You can also game with the most popular AAA franchises provided yo uset everything to low settings (only a few games will not even tolerate this kind of GPU).

Intel UHD:  Just so you know these are the latest found on Core i5 laptops they can be Intel UHD 610, 615 or 620. These all have basically the same GPU: same architecture and just a slight increase in memory.

NVIDIA or AMD dedicated graphics

This is what you want if you’re running any application that requires HIGH HIGH graphics or GPU accelerated effects: 3D modeling, video editing and perhaps photo editing.

If you see a Core i5 laptop with a “HIGH performance ” CPU , it will by default come with a dedicated GPU. They will mostly be NVIDIA GPUs , AMD still doesn’t hold a strong position in this market so I’ll just give you some pointers for the dGPUs you will see when shopping for core i5 laptops.

  • Red/Green:  These are good for light gaming and run AAA franchises at medium settings. These are also good to get started with video editing software and 3D modeling software. This is as high as you should go for Photo Editing (anything more for PhotoShop/LightRoom may be unncessary). The Green ones are much much more useful though since they have more vRAM.
  • Blue:  This is as much as most people will need. Even 3D CAD engineers will find this sufficient. These are also as much GPUs power as you’re going to get from Core i5 Laptops
  • Purple: Because the purple ones which are the most expensive ones can only be found paired up with Core i7/Ryzen 7 laptops
Name Cores vRAM Speed
MX150 384 2GB-4GB 1532
MX250 384 2GB-4GB 1582
1050 640 2GB-4GB 1493
1050Ti 768 4GB 1620
1650 1024 4GB 1560
1060 1280 6GB 1670
1660 Ti 1536 6GB 1590
1070 2048 8GB 1645
1080 2560 8GB 1733
2060 1,920 6GB 1680MHz
2060 Super 2,176 8GB 1650 MHz
2070 2304 8GB 1620 MHz
2070 Super 2560 8GB 1770
2080 2944 8GB 1710
2080 Super 3072 8GB 1815 MHz
2080 Ti 4352 11GB 1650
3050Ti 2560 4GB 1485
3060RTX 3584 8GB 1780
3070RTX 5888 8GB 1730
3080RTX 8704 10GB 1710

Battery Life 

Battery life is obviously going to be a lot better with Core i5 Laptops.

  • If you’re going for high performance Core i5 laptops though (especially those laptops with powerful dedicated GPUs) . You can’t expect to get more than 3 hours of battery when you game, video edit and so on.  They’re still good for a single trip to the office or to your house though but it’ll be mostly a plugged in experience.
  • If you want a lot of battery then you have to choose Core i5 U laptops or G laptops over everything else. They will not output 10 hours as more Core i3 laptops will but they will definitely output a lot more hours than Core i7 laptops and if you turn/off bluetooth/WiFi/set brightness to a tolerable amount who knows you might get slightly more. 

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