8 Best Intel Core i5 Processor Laptops in 2018

So you’ve figured out Intel Core i5 laptops are the most budget friendly yet high performance devices we have today. However, finding the best i5 laptop require you to know more than just that.

After all everyone wants the right features to go along with their laptop to maximize its performance regardless of what processor it has, right? Nobody wants to miss out on more RAM, better storage devices, a better display and perhaps even better & more extra cool features for the money you are paying for.

But when it comes to processors, it’s not that easy…

While RAM and SSD are easy to pick up among laptops (the largest storage and latest technology/largest capacity will do). Picking up a decent processor for it is a different story. Let alone finding an i5 laptop that’s affordable and quite reliable too.

Even among core i5 processors your choices can vary widely. They are entirely different depending on their lines ( HQ vs U vs Y ) , generations ( 5th , 6th or even 7th) and model numbers (6100 vs 6500).

That’s not all…

Just browsing for the the best i5 laptops online  is not going to be pleasant either, just look at all the results you get when you start looking for them.

How can we find the best i5 laptops then?

Don’t be scared by all the jargon used today and stay with me in article, I’ll show you all you need to know about core i5 processors as quick and as simple as possible. You’ll also learn how to find the best i5 laptops, what features to look out for your specific needs to maximize their performance and hopefully find one without breaking your budget.

For those who already know all about the intel core i5 processors today and just want to know what the best i5 laptops are, I am going over the top choices we have as of 2018 first.

If you are not acquainted with the terminology or how to shop for them , I’ve written eth long guide right after it which you can always refer  to if there’s something you need to clarify.

Top 8 Best i5 laptops 

Whatever your budget, your needs or your specific preferences are there is a laptop for each of you. I suggest you read each review carefully and take your time and keep scrolling down until you find your right pick.

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

I divided these laptops into two sections:

Basic Users(1-4): the general consumer; basic tasks such as multitasking with web browsing, watching videos, playing simple games and high end games at very low settings, some light photo or video editing, etc.

Power Users(5-8):  Gamers & Professionals dealing with 3D applications or multimedia editing.

Best i5 Laptop for Basic Users


1. HP Notebook 15-ay011nr

HP Notebook 15-ay011nr best i5 laptop

Processor Generation Cores Threads Speed Turbo Boost Cache Size
Core  i5-6200U 6 2 2 2.3 GHz 2.8GHz 3MB

RAM: 8GB DDR3L SDRAM | Storage: 1TB 5400RPM  |
 Intel HD
 | Display: 15.6″ full HD (1920×1080)

Let’s start with the best deal among the core i5 laptops for those not planning to run 3D applications or intensive MMORPG/Action Games that require a graphics card. As you’ll see here this is the cheapest core i5 laptop capable of giving you a snappy performance when it comes to regular consumer software and basic tasks.

The processor itself is one of the latest generations (the 7th being the latest) yet still fast and good enough for basic tasks and might even be enough for other heavy applications as well. The reason is, as I will point out later, that the increase in performance from the 6th to the 7th isn’t that big allowing you to spend the rest of your budget on other features that will make sure to give it a better boost in performance. 

Since all core i5 laptops lacks hyper threading with this one only has 2 physical cores, you’ll only get two threads  (1 per core) which is enough for multitasking especially due to the fact that these are “physical” or “real cores” rather than “virtual” or “fake” cores created by hyper-threading.

Leaving that aside, the clock speed and the amount of RAM (8GB) should allow you to have several chrome tabs open along with a full HD video playing in the background (or Youtube) or any type of multitasking without being slowed down. You can also throw in some light video and photo editing without facing any lag.

If you try to upgrade the RAM, then you can pretty much start throwing some heavy editing into the mix (up to 16GB RAM) with Photoshop and Premiere which only require a GPU as an option. The RAM is also of the latest technology used today which translates to a faster data transfer rates.

The only possible issue in terms of performance is the Hard Drive. It’s not the latest nor fastest one out there: 5400 RPM HDD. Although at prices like this you usually get 500GB of storage capacity with the same type of hard drive. However basic software and multitasking doesn’t have that much increase in performance from having a Solid State Driver.

If you ever run into a heavy application that would require you an SSD, this model also allows you to upgrade it or change the hard drive. Professional photo editing and video editing might benefit from this upgrade.

Luckily, the display is of high quality having full HD resolution to make everything look neat and clear. The graphics card is obviously integrated and not capable for 3D Gaming but you should be able to handle any game at low settings unless the game requires a tremendous amount of memory which can be solved later by adding extra RAM to it.

Lastly the sound quality and battery life are both great. It’s actually unusually long for a laptop at the price: 9 hours. You probably won’t find another one with the same performance and price with it.

The only real caveat from this laptop is the touchPad. It can require more than force than usual to register a click but if you have problems getting used to it , an optical mouse can easily solve this (I don’t use a touchPad for anything these days).

You can try and look for more options , waste hours comparing prices and specs but you won’t find a better choice for the price and performance this one offers. Save for intensive gaming and the touchPad, everything else is more than sufficient for basic software and general computing tasks.


2. MacBook Air 


Processor Generation Cores Threads Speed Turbo Boost Cache Size
Core  i5-6200U 6 2 2 2.3 GHz 2.8GHz 3MB

RAM: 8GB DDR3L SDRAM | Storage: 1TB 5400RPM  |
 Intel HD
 | Display: 15.6″ full HD (1920×1080)

You’ve probably heard about the MacBook Air already but did you know you don’t have to spend more than a thousand dollars to enjoy one of the best (if not the best) laptop for general usage? If you stick with this configuration , the core i5 processor obviously, you’ll get near the same performance as the upgraded version that claims a faster processor if you stick with basic tasks and multitasking: web browsing, youtube, itunes, some photo & video work, high end games at low settings, etc.

This configuration is well below 1000$ but you definitely get what you pay for with that. Unlike the cheaper options with core i5 processors, you get the longest battery life in the market (this is no joke) and extremely good portability (3.0lb & very thin). Plus, you also get one of the best (if not the best) keyboard and touchPad quality among ultrabooks. Lastly, the overall design is made of rock solid aluminum which should be able to take a few hits with no problems. The design definitely comes in handy if you are always on the go or if you are a student going all over the place with a laptop.

In terms of performance, the RAM is ok for basic usage and heavy multitasking. Keep in mind, it is not upgradeable before or after purchase, so choose the configuration that suits you best ( 8GB heavily recommended).

There are two drawbacks with the Air though. One is the storage capacity (not the Air’s fault but it’s the configuration shown here) is only 128GB however if you go for 256GB or 512GB the price will increase significantly without having any significant increase in overall performance but it’s useful if you are storing tons of videos or high res. photos within it.

The other one is the display’s resolution, it’s actually not bad nor good either: HD+ (1600×1900) instead of the full HD the best ones out there offer you. But from a machine that has every feature near perfect it can be disappointing. It’s worth mentioning one of the reasons why the air has the longest battery life out there and probably why Apple hasn’t bothered to upgrade it is the fact that higher resolution displays will drain it much faster. 

These two drawbacks haven’t stopped users all over the world opting for the air as far as basic usage goes. And the price tag it has is actually the cheapest out of the entire MacBook Series.

Even if the clock speed is below average, the SSD RAM and overall design all make it up for ii. You’ll get snappy performance with pretty much any basic software you throw at it while being able to throw some editing with photoshop  as well as some 3d games in low settings.

Alternatively you can get the one with 256GB but that would make it over 1000.



3.  ASUS ZenBook UX330UA

Best i5 laptop Asus ZenBook UX303UA

Processor Generation Cores Threads Speed Turbo Boost Cache Size
Core  i5-7200U 6 2 2 2.5 GHz 3.1GHz 3MB

RAM: 8GB DDR3L | Storage: 256GB |
 Intel HD
 | Display: 15.6″ full HD (1920×1080) IPS

This is a great alternative to the MacBook Air, it pretty much has everything the Air has. The same core i5 processor , amount of RAM (8GB RAM) and the storage is actually higher (256GB) than the Macbook’s cheapest configuration (128GB).

It also has a better display and the most important feature from them recommended by nearly everyone: full HD (1920×1080).

In terms of connectivity, it pretty much has the same connections as the Air:  2X USB 3.0, 1X USB3.1 Type C (Gen 1), 1X headphone-out & audio-in Combo jack, 1X micro HDMI, card reader. With the exception of a Type C port (can’t be used for charging though).

This is nearly 150$ dollars cheaper than the Air’s lowest configuration but 300$ cheaper than the Air’s model with the same storage: 256GB.

Unlike the Air however, it has 7th generation core i5 2.5GHz up to 3.1 GHz with turbo boost, which is a bit higher than the Air’s maximum of 2.7Ghz.

What’s the caveat?

The battery life and the keyboard quality, they can’t compete with the Air’s. The battery life is 9 hours which is pretty long but not near the Air’s 13 hours. The keyboard quality isn’t the best but not the worst either but again it can’t be compared with the air (not many laptops can really). Lastly, although it has an SSD for storage, which should give you a boost in loading all applications and launching your system faster than HDDs, it is oflower technology (SATA vs PCIe based of the Air). PCIe-based SSDs being the fastest on the market today.

If these minor issues aren’t important for you, you can get nearly the same performance and portability as the Air’s but paying a lot less for it.


4. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

best portable i5 laptop - Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Processor Generation Cores Threads Speed Turbo Boost Cache Size
Core  i5-6300U 6 2 2 2.4 GHz 3.0 GHz 3MB

RAM: 8GB DDR3L | Storage: 256GB SSD |
 Intel HD
 | Display: 12.5″ 2736×1824 PixelDense Display

The Surface Pro is another great option if you are looking for the ultimate core i5 laptop on the market. It’s actually a convertible tablet or laptop (whatever you want to call it) with insane portability (1.7lb) , the lightest intel core i5 laptop out of this list.

It comes with a whole range of different configurations for performance making them more accessible to all budgets and preferences.

If you do settle with the core i5 configuration,  not only does it become a bit more affordable (the highest configurations are extremely expensive) it’s also very powerful. You can do quite a lot of stuff than just running basic apps. Just like Air or the ZenBook, you can have: 3D heavy games at low settings, light photo & video editing and even throw some 3D modeling with it.

Just make sure you get the version with 8GB RAM otherwise you’re gonna bottleneck pretty quickly when multitasking.

One small caveat with the Pro is the battery life. It only last  6 hours, which is expected due to its touchScreen & high resolution display.

The resolution however is far higher than any of the models listed here. The touchscreen display and stylus, as you probably know, will allow you take notes /draw/design/play and do just about anything you would on a real notebook (a must for students).

The display is also an IPS Panel, has great brightness levels, contrast ratios and a wide coverage of the sRGB space(nearly 100%) making it an even more ideal choice for designing and editing with it.

Designers , students and basic users out there looking for the ultimate core i5 laptop with the best performance and portability should seriously consider going for the Pro.



Best i5 Laptops For Power Users

5. Dell Inspiron i7559-763BLK

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 series 7559 - best i5 laptop

Processor Generation Cores Threads Speed Turbo Boost Cache Size
Core  i5-6300HQ 6 4 4 2.3 GHz 3.2 GHz 6MB

RAM: 8GB DDR3L | Storage: 256GB SSD |
 | Display: 15.6-Inch FHD IPS, Wide-Angle, Anti Glare Screen.

Although this is an older model of the Inspiron line, it has exactly what you need for a fast performance with pretty much any high end game or software that requires a GPU.

Games like GTA V, D3, ARM3, Fallout 4, Wow, Skyrim, H1Z1 should give you a decent FPS and no lagging issues as long as you don’t go for the highest settings and adjust them accordingly (not the lowest either).  

Designers dealing with images or videos using 3D accelerated affects can rip off the advantages of the Dell’s graphics card too.

The reason behind its great performance is the fact that the dedicated graphics cards, GPU, 960GTX GeForce, is in fact the most recommended entry level dedicated graphics card for any application that requires one, especially for gaming as well as the turbo boost from the processor which actually goes up to 3.2Ghz.

To get both of these components working at their best for most of the time, consider investing on a cooling pad otherwise you may feel being slowed down when you try to push your laptop to its limits as the temperature will not allow it to reach its highest performance. This is not just a tip for this laptop in particular but any high end laptop from this list or any other list online.

It also comes with an SSD another factor in making your laptop work flawlessly with 3D Applications. 3D Modeling software  and 3D games like SkyRym particularly benefit from ot as the SSD has insane fast read out times of large files which are the case for open world games & huge scenes in modeling.

Although the RAM is only 8GB, it is sufficient for most games out there. However you can always upgrade it to 16GB if you ever feel the need to do.

On the flip side, out of the entire list shown here, this model has one of the easiest designs to upgrade its components (RAM or SSD), the design also makes it quite easy to clean out the dust/debris from them.

Lastly, 3D designers and multimedia editors should not be concerned with the display this model offers (more recent models can have pretty bad displays, watch out!). The display from this one is actually decent: full HD resolution, great brightness levels, decent color accuracy with an IPS panel display (way better than the TN Panels you’ll see from other models).

In summary, this should be a great alternative for both gamers and professionals needing a high performance laptop and not wanting to overspend on one for it.



6. Acer Aspire E5-573G

Acer aspire 15 best i5 laptop


Processor Generation Cores Threads Speed Turbo Boost Cache Size
Intel Core  i5-7200U 7 2 2 2.3 GHz 2.8 GHz 3MB

RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 256GB SSD  |
 Intel HD
 | Display: 15.6″ full HD (1920×1080)

This is the best choice out of the entire list for those on a really low budget or those who simply want a high performance laptop having a dedicated GPU.

Yes, the processor is less powerful than a i5 HQ which has four physical cores shown above, however the clock speed difference isn’t abysmal which is more important when trying to run heavy applications than having a multicore CPU.

One advantage of the U series is that if you plan to use it for casual computing & simple games  it will outlast the battery life of higher end processors while giving you pretty much the same performance.

Although the manufacturer has claimed 12 hours,  as usual it’s actually lower. You’ll get 8-10 for basic tasks and of course far lesswhen using heavy duty apps for professional work or gaming.

Most importantly the graphics card is dedicated. It’s not the recommended 960GTX entry card for 3D applications and games but the 940GTX is a vast improvement over integrated graphics which should let you play most games at low-medium settings with high frame rates.

Designers and editors for video or photos should see the same improvement in performance from both cards the 960GTX and 940GTX as the software for editing does not rely on dGPU power but only one having one.

The RAM is only 8GB which is sufficient for general computing, heavy multitasking and it’s of DDR4 which is of the latest technology however if you reach a bottleneck with a new game or software, you can always upgrade to 16GB RAM. This should be the case if you try to dwelve into open world games or much larger models when designing.

Surprisingly the storage devices is not HDD but an SSD and with 256GB which should be plenty for all of you. However if you are an avid multimedia editor constantly dealing with large files this laptop also allows you to insert either another SSD or a high storage capacity HDD. A HDD would be more economic and more practical though, that way you can have all of your software/OS within the SSD for fast loading times and the large capacity HDD for all other files.

What kind of games can you expect to play with the NVIDIA 940MX? Pretty much most of them with the most demanding ones needing adjustment to low medium settings. WarFrame, Rocket League, Sims 4, CSOGO, LOL, Mass Effect, Guild Wards should be OK while for modern games like Overwatch might need low medium settings with full HD to maintain a decent FPS.

The display isn’t the best out of the list but it’s still full HD which is the most important feature coming from screens for both gaming and professionals. As a bonus it has an anti glare finish to protect your eyes from long sessions of usage when reflections are constantly hitting your screen.

Lastly, while many would expect its design and sound quality to be pretty bad due its low price,  neither are bad at all. Of course it’s not made of aluminum like most expensive laptops (The Air, Dell XPS 15, Lenovo’s ThinkPads) however it’s got a solid build to it. If you are student constantly on the move constantly putting stress on your backpack you may want to invest in some sort of protection plan as you would for any laptop.

Casual gamers, designers and professional not in need for the best performance out there should see a vast improvement with this one over settling down with any other laptop near that price range. It’s also a great option for students who need something relatively lightweight (~5lb) but also enjoy high end gaming and need to run professional editing software.





Processor Generation Cores Threads Speed Turbo Boost Cache Size
Core  i5-6300 HQ 6 4 4 2.3 GHz 3.2 GHz 6MB

RAM: 8GB DDR3 | Storage: 512GB SSD  |
 NVidia GeForce GTX 960 4GB 
| Display: 15.6″ full HD (1920×1080)

If you aren’t budget restricted and can afford to spend a little below 1000$, this is the best deal you can get for when shopping for i5 laptops with the highest performance. As of 2018, this is also ASUS’s best deal in terms price/ratio for high performance laptops.

Don’t be fooled by its huge gaming tag on top of it, this is a laptop that can serve professionals and multimedia designers as well. As you can see, it also comes with one of the latest processors with the highest clock speed among this list while being having a quad core processor at the same time. It has the most recommended graphics card too: NVIdia 960GTX.

Unlike the other choices on this list, this one has enough storage capacity to satisfy any type of power user be it 3D designers or multimedia editors.

Although it only has 8GB RAM like most of the choices here, another feature that makes it different from the rest is the fact that it can be upgraded up to 32GB RAM (x2 16GB Slots) but I doubt any of you would need that much memory for sure. The Hard Drive can also be upgraded, you can add up a high storage capacity SSD or just add another HDD in it.

Having so many options for upgrading doesn’t come without a caveat though, it’s quite thick but it also supports a Blue Ray DVD player which other laptops with the same performance lack.

Another reason behind it’s thickness is the fact ASUS is known to care more about design than just putting up powerful components for the consumers. Their high performance laptops seem to have great cooling systems (plenty of space for its components) and well positioned fans to make sure it does keep performing at its best nearly at all times. Unlike other options , you may not need to spend on a cooling pad with this one.

As a result, you can expect high graphics games to run decently at high settings and great at low settings. A few users report having open World Games like Skyrym running at 50FPS at ultra high settings. Again , having an SSD with huge storage capacities allows for faster reading/loading times of large files, this is not helpful for this situation only but for professionals having several applications that rely on previwing/loading large editing files.



8. MSI GL62 7QF-1660 

MSI GL62 7QF-1660 Best i5 Laptop

Processor Generation Cores Threads Speed Turbo Boost Cache Size
Core  i5-7300 HQ 6 4 4 2.5 GHz 3.1 GHz 6MB

RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB (7200 PM)  |
 NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 2GB GDDR5 
| Display: 15.6″ full HD (1920×1080)

Lastly this is for those wanting to max out on both graphics cards and processor while staying under well below 1000$. Not many laptops offer you with that option at this price , this one does but you may have to deal with a few caveats.

As you can see the specs are pretty high end in terms of performance especially its graphics card being  one of the latest, from the 10×0 series ,which are all VR -Ready. Despite having one the latest core i5 laptop processor (7th generation), the graphics card is the main component that should allow you to play most games and at high/ultra settings with decent frame rates too. These two features aren’t upgradeable so they’re the most important ones to look out when shopping for a high performance laptop.

The RAM is only 8GB but of the latest technology too :DDR4 . Nonetheless it can be upgraded to 16GB.

Although it has an HDD as opposed to an SSD, has plenty of storage: 1TB HDD. The speed is 7200RPM though, which has a far better performance than the 5400RPM many other options offer. Storage technology shouldn’t be an issue unless you need an increase in performance when dealing with massive open world games or large scenes in other professional software. If you do need it, it can also be upgraded with an SSD. The BIOS , in fact, allows you to upgrade it with the fastest of its kind: NVMe protocol based SSD) which no other laptop on this list offers.

As a bonus this also has a pretty good cooling system which may save you from buying a cooling pad to keep your laptop running at nearly the same speed all the time while also keeping it from dying over the years.

While everything may seem perfect for the price, the performance and the components it offers, there are two major drawbacks you should be aware of. the display quality and battery life.

The battery life is expected to be low for the high end hardware it comes along with but the display can be a huge disappointment for many who are used to or need to have decent color representation and IPS panels, this one has a TN Panel but full HD nonetheless. The battery life is quite low even for basic computing tasks so you’ll definitely want to avoid this one if you plan to use it regularly away from outlets.

Overall this is the best option for gamers out there looking for the best performance core i5 laptop and users who do not care much about having the a below average display.

Professionals & multimedia editors however should consider and think seriously about whether or not going for this one if you care about displaying quality. The other options above have a better display than this one but not near the same performance. For the price is a good trade off, whether it might be worth to you exactly depends on what kind of projects/usage you plan to do with it.

Gamers and casual users can safely take advantage of the high performance it offers without going for higher end processors and overspending money to have one of the latest graphics card.

In summary, this laptop should run most heavy duty software and games for the next years to come without issues . For the price you are going to have a difficult time finding one with the same performance.



How To Buy The Best i5 Laptop

I have written an entirely different article on everything there is to know about the entire line of core processors. For this article, i’ll just keep everything relevant to core i5 laptops otherwise you may not be able to finish reading it.

I am assuming you have some knowledge of basic computer terminology since you’ve spotted the best core out of three (in my opinion) when it comes to laptops for nearly every user. If not, head to the side bar for an explanation of basic computer components. 

Here’s everything you need to learn and look out for to get the best i5 laptop from any store or website. In order of priority:


Obviously the best place to start is the processor. Before we get into what each type of core i5 processors. It’d be best for you to understand or recall what features the core i5 processors have or lack:

Hyper Threading

In summary, it means your processor is capable of taking two different tasks at a time by using it. For example, one “thread” can be assigned to Skype, while the other can be assigned to whatever else you are doing while skyping. Perhaps web browsing or typing a doc. This will make running both tasks much faster and efficiently than having a “single thread”.

Some applications even though benefit from hyper threading as well, so it’s not just for multitasking. Think of applying some effect to your entire graduation video, making the entire thing black and white and saving it with that effect. One “thread” can work on half of the video and the other “thread” can work on the other half. 

Not all applications benefit from this however, very few do but it’s still a nice feature to have especially for better multitasking. If my explanation wasn’t clear here’s a video that can do it better:

Warning! or Maybe not…

What this guy didn’t tell you is the fact that not all core i5 processors have hyper threading,  probably it would make the whole thing more confusing. We’ll get to that soon.

Turbo Boost

Turbo Boost is very easy to grasp. It just means your CPU will get faster and process your tasks, calculate problems and do everything else faster when it seeds the need to do so and when it’s allowed to do it (it won’t do it if your computer it’s too hot you can guess why).

Luckily all core i5 processors have this feature regardless of what model number , series or generation they are.

U vs HQ vs M Lines

The most important part when choosing an intel core i5 processor is the Line.


U stands for ultra low power, these processors deliver high speeds but not as high as HQ series. They have 2 cores per CPU, each core can support 2 threads by using hyper threading. Without it, it would only have 2 threads !

So you get 4 threads for multi threading software and multitasking if hyper threading is enabled. All U series have hyper threading.


The HQ series have the highest speeds per core. HQ stands for High performance graphics and Quad core. You will get the fastest performance with these series but…. oddly enough it doesn’t support hyper-threading as the U series does.

But you have four cores, each core can have a thread or each core can take care of a single applications. In other words, you get 4 threads with this one too.

On the good side, these are “real threads” or “real cores” referred as physical cores . No treat or tricks like hyper threading. They will they perform better than the U series using “fake threads” with hyper threading. It’d be nice if they had hyper threading on top of it though, as you would have 8 threads ! The next brand has it , it all it’s lines.

M or Y series

Beware that this line has very low performance and consume low power but they don’t offer better battery lives overall as can be checked by many reviewers and third party testers.

These can indeed appear to be good for nothing but they are designed to fit inside  ultra-books like the new MacBook to make the m smaller and ultra thin, that’s the only advantage of having them apparently.

They’re  still good enough for basic tasks and multitasking with them though.

Which Core i5 line should I aim for?

Here’s a good guidelines (very accurate) to follow:

HQ series:

  • If you deal with editing be it audio, image or videos. An HQ processor for the most part will generally be more beneficial since they have higher clock speeds (process things faster) and also have “physical cores” that can multitask much better than the ones with “virtual cores”. It’s a huge bonus but not something required.
  • However, gamers and 3D designers will benefit far more with the four physical cores of the HQ line series since they offer faster clock speeds most of the time and a few games/3D apps might take advantage of the 4 physical cores.

For a full list of which app takes advantage of more than 2 cores,  check my article on the side bar.

U series:

  • If you are a gamer or editor on a budget, you can safely rely on the U series as long as you focus on other features and you also have a decent dedicated graphics card. Most importantly aim for the highest clock speeds from the U series far more important than the number of cores.
  • If you are limited to general computer usage and not any professional work, this is your best option. You won’t get issues with any type of multitasking and how many basic programs you run. The only difference is with the HQ series is: you’ll get better battery life with the U series.

Y series

  • If you do nothing more than web browsing , some light multitasking with simple apps like word editors, movies, etc. You can safely land a netbook or small sized laptop with this one. You won’t get better battery lives or better performance over the U series. Again this is only good to make your laptop super small yet with enough performance for not having any lag when doing basic tasks.

Generations: 5th, 6th , 7th

Intel core processors come with different generations too. Latter generations offer improvements over the older
generations in terms of battery life, speed and graphics. Without going into much detail into how much and what features are improved here’s a good guideline to follow.

  • There’s a significant improvement with 6th generation core i5 laptops over 5th generations in every area : battery, speed and graphics. This is because there’s a new architecture ore a new design in the 6th generation.
  • There’s little improvement with the 7th generation (the most recent as of 2018) over the 6th generation which is not worth the extra cash. You would be better off spending your cash with the features we are going to discuss next.

If you want more details read my articles on the side bar.

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

Don’t bother with these unless they are extremely cheap or better yet for free and you’re limited to basic tasks with little multitasking if any. These are too old to discuss or consider here.


There’s not much to say here don’t worry, it’s almost over.

Generally aim for the largest amount you can afford:=, that’s it:

  • 8GB is the maximum you can go for basic tasks and multitasking between them (16GB will be useless and not feel any different) and 4GB your minimum (all core i5 laptops offer 4GB RAM anyways).
  • 16GB is the recommended size for editors, gamers and 3D designers or users. 8GB is fine too but you may struggle from time to time with it.

Solid State Driver


As you might already be aware, an SSD drive will speed up any laptop out there. If you are a gamer, 3D designer or multimedia editor, it’s almost a must if you don’t want to overspend on a laptop with a higher core model. You might want to invest on an external hard drive too since SSD devices come with poor storage capacities unless you spend quite a lot of cash which defeats the point of having an core i5 processor in the first place.


If you are just a regular user looking for something future proof and only stick with regular tasks then an HDD will suffice.

Graphics Cards

There are three types of graphics you’ll encounter with core i5 laptops:

HD Graphics

These will be fine for watching movies and anything that doesn’t require 3D Graphics. Though you could run some 3D apps including apps & programs at the lowest settings for games and with some lag for programs. It shares the same resources as the CPU so it’s going to be slow when dealing with heavy graphics. 

Iris/Iris Pro
This is still not enough for 3D programs. Fine for mid level gaming performance and to face less issues with 3D applications in general. Not worth the investment but if it comes with the laptop alongside, can’t complain. It’s better than HD graphics since it has its own memory on board (albeit very small).

NVIDIA or AMD dedicated graphics

Now we are talking, if you want the best i5 laptop capable of handling everything else beyond basic apps. This is it. Stick with 960GTX M Nvidia graphics card at the very least. It won’t break your budget and it’ll give you a deccent performance if not more than enough performance to deal with 3D Modeling apps and most 3D games. If not, any dedicated graphics card is better than nothing (Intel HD / Iris).

Keep in mind that:

  • Most i5 processors with U line label come with either Iris or HD Graphics*. There are a few that have dedicated graphics card.
  • Nearly all i5 processors within the HQ line will come with a dedicated graphics card.
  • The best graphics cards and more recent ones are reserved for the next brand name of core series ( 7 ) .

Battery Life & Overall Performance

How much battery life do you get from i5 over higher end processors?

Comparing both battery life and overall performance over its archi rival the core 7 , you are going to be surprised by the results. According to LaptopMag which did some testing using the same laptop just with different processor configurations (i5-7200U CPU and the other with a i7-7500U), the following was concluded:

  • You won’t notice any difference between battery lives unless you push both processors to its limits. For basic tasks or web browsing the difference was around 30 min favoring the core i5.
  • Performance wise with all kinds of applications tested: video encoding, numerical computations and 3D games the difference was minimal. In other words, you made the right choice staying with the core i5 U line. It’s not worth paying the extra cash for the higher end processor.

Now if you put an HQ into the mix from both parties, it’s a whole ‘nother story:

  • In terms of battery life, you’ll get far better battery lives with U series over HQ series.
  • in the HQ line the i5 core processor will not perform as good as its higher model counterpart because it lacks hyper threading, now you know why Intel was sneaky enough not to include hyper threading on the i5 HQ Processor!

Bottom Line

The Core i5 processors will, for many, offer the best value for money for the U line. Small battery life improvement and near the same performance compared with higher line processors.

The Core i5 HQ series will more than likely perform just as good too provided your application (like most of them out there) doesn’t rely heavily on “hyper-threading”.

Finding the best i5 laptop is not all about the processor though, as long as you can max out on graphics card, storage and RAM you’ll get near the same performance for 3D Games & 3D Applications and other heavy apps out there compared to the same model with the higher end core processor.


If you have any suggestions, questions  or recommendations. Please leave a comment below.