8 Best Intel Core i5 Processor Laptops in 2020 (10th gen)

We all get it. You’re here because you’ve figured out that Intel Core i5 laptops are the most budget friendly yet high performance devices with enough power to do some pretty heavy stuff.

By heavy I mean being able to play high graphics AAA games like Call of Duty, OverWatch and World of Warcraft.

Throw in pretty heavy editing with PhotoShop & Adobe Premiere or even launch 3D Modeling software like AutoCAD & Solidworks.

Unfortunately…

Finding the best i5 laptop for the money you have ain’t that easy. 

In fact there are several rip offs that are infuriating to say the least.

For example some core i5 laptops don’t offer a dedicated graphics card (which are essential to do all of we just mentioned) and yet you can find models which can cost you the same as those but with a dedicated graphics card. Ain’t that a b?

I’ll show an specific example soon.

Another issue….

Is trying to figure out what the hell they mean by Core i5 9300H and how is it better than a Core i5 10210U? Actually a better question whether or not you should care about the difference? We’ll get to that later.

Intel has been pretty slick (and sneaky) in naming their processors and trying to figure out which processor will suit your purposes best is even more difficult these days with the release of 10th generation processors.

Let’s not forget that….

Like everyone else you’d also want to find laptops with the best specs/money ratio. Nobody wants to miss out on more RAM, better storage (solid State Drive) and extra cool features like fingerprint readers and backlit keyboards.

And most importantly a pretty “cool” laptop.

By that I don’t mean a “cool looking laptop” with a skull logo in the back and lots of antenna sticking out.

I mean a laptop that stays at cool temperatures so that the processor won’t  be overwhelmed by high temperatures and eventually melt down. 

Anyways, let’s stop beating around the bush and get down on it.

What will you find in this post?

I will list the 8 best intel core i5 laptops you’ll find in 2020 and give you complete guide that will teach you what exactly you need to know about  to find the best Core i5 laptops on your own.

That section is mainly written for those poor souls who are not in the US, UK or Canada and might not find the laptops I’m going to list online. You can jump right to it using the table of contents.

Before I list the 8 best intel core i5 processor laptops of 2020 but I’ll quickly summarize the things you need to look out for so that you can get the best performance out of a core i5 laptop.

CPU
Only look for laptops with a 7, 8 or 10 in the front. 10 are currently the latest of the latest but not necessarily the most powerful ones. Ex: Core i5 8300H, Core i5 9300H vs Core i5-10210U. Big difference!

Avoid processor that have a U unless you are interested in basic office work and light gaming.   Avoid Y processors unless you just want use Office and things like that.

RAM
4GB RAM is plenty for light tasks & office work. 8-16GB for the heavy stuff: gaming, editing & 3D modeling. Don’t pay attention to DDR4 vs DRR3 too much they don’t make much of a difference, you’ll always find DDR4 on the latest laptops anyways.

GPU
For light tasks & office work, don’t pay attention to it. 

Gaming & Editing can tolerate GPUs equivalent to 940MX or MX150.
3D Modeling will be better done with a 1050GTX equivalent or above.
See table below to check all the GPUs and what they can offer to you.

Storage
In reality there’s not much need to worry about storage speed or even space since most devices today offer +256GB storage. However having a solid state drive (SSD) is a must if you want your laptop to run faster than Ussain Bolt on crack.

Top 8 Best i5 laptops 

Remember 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.

Note that in these reviews, I’ll mention any important details you need to know before you buy each laptop and what kind of things you can do with them. I won’t re-state the specs or explain what they mean like most websites do. That’s pretty useless to do because the specs are already there next to the picture or listed on Amazon for you to compare and check them out.

If there are any terms you don’t understand, check the side bars and my posts for noobs. Computer specs are explained in more detail. 

This section is basically divided in laptops for two types of people.

Power Users(1-4):  Gamers & Professionals dealing with 3D applications or multimedia editing.

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, some light photo or video editing, etc.


1. Acer Aspire E5

Best i5 Laptop on Amazon

  Core i5 8265U 

  8GB RAM DDR4

   NVIDIA MX250

  512GB PCIe NVMe

  15” full HD IPS

  5.84lb

  5 hours

    No DVD Drive

 

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
1.6GHz 3.9GHz 8 4 8 6MB

  1 USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 port, 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (one with power off charging), 1 USB 2.0 port & 1 HDMI Port with HDCP support

Hands down the best deal you’ll find for a Core i5 laptop capable of doing pretty much anything with high graphics: gaming, photo or video editing and 3D Modeling.

Just buy it now if you are looking for the best core i5 laptop without any extravagant features, avoid yourself the hassle of going over the other 7 laptops down the road (unless portability is a priority for you).

 Performance

I know we are in the 10th generaiton but a core i5 8th generation processor still has plenty of clock speed to handle pretty much any game or software out there. While there’s a 10th generation Core i5 laptop such as in this link, it won’t perform as well yet because Acer still hasn’t released a model with a dedicated GPU.

But ever since the 8th generation, all processors are way over the bar for most games and software.

What will limit your gaming experience or software experience these days is actually the graphics card . In this case the MX250 isn’t much powerful than a MX150 (probably about the same) but it’s definitely 4x faster than any integrated gpu.

So the MX250 with the Core i5 8th generation processor should handle  all high end 3D Games like OverWatch, Wow, Call of Duty, WarFrame, Sims 4 at medium settings and with a decent FPS. Mickey mouse games like LoL, CS: GO, Dota 2 should be able to run at high settings with three digits FPS.

Photo Editing and any software for it will only need a dedicated GPU (any) to have high performance when applying effects. So whether you are pro or a beginner photo editor, this is all you need.

Video Editing on the other hand will benefit from high end graphics card but this entry level should be able to get you started with the software. If you are professional you definitely need to opt for graphics card with a lot more vRAM ( 4-6GB).

As for engineers and those dealing with any 3D Modeling software. It will handle small to medium size projects. If you want to know what I mean by medium to small size projects check my posts on AutoCAD & SolidWorks & Revit. But the bottom line is unless you are a  professional 3D Modeler working for a company’s project, the MX150 should be plenty for anything else that includes school & out of the office CAD projects.

  Hardware

Typing this on this laptop, I can tell you that the hardware from the display to the speakers are decent. The screen has great brightness levels and seems to have very a accurate color reproduction, the speakers are pretty loud (you can ask my neighbors).  The trackpack is responsive & smooth, there are no click buttons so it might take some time getting used to (I just use a mouse). 

The Keyboard is not backlit and there’s no DVD/CD Driver (you can install one yourself though, but who needs that these days?). 

Lastly, note that it has an SSD (a PCIe NVMe actually) and that makes a huge difference on ANY laptop. Check my post on the advantages of an SSD over an HDD or my post on Solid State Drive laptops if you have been frozen in a cave for the past 10 years. To make short: it puts any laptop on turbo charge mod.

 Design

It’s entirely made out of plastic but not  as heavy as many other core i5 laptops with a dedicated graphics card. The battery is a bummer though, the full HD display along with a dedicated (recent) graphics card are to blame and there’s not much we can do about it.

The best part of the design is how easy it is to upgrade it. I will write a guide on how to upgrade this laptop step by step and explain exactly what you need to do it in the next few weeks. To make it short, you can install an additional 1TB HDD or M.2 SATA II SSD along with another 8GB RAM stick. I’d recommend doing the former over the latter because 8GB is plenty for most users out there.

If you think you can find a better deal on a 8th generation Core i5 laptop with a dedicated graphics card and a full HD display and an Solid State Drive, be my guest and please let me know. Unless you are looking for the best graphics cards on the laptop market, don’t waste your time and buy it.

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2. 2020 ASUS ROG Strix G  

Best i5 Laptop with 4GB vRAM Graphics Card

  Core i5 9300H

  8GBRAM DDR4 (up to 32GB)

   NVIDIA GeForce 1660Ti

   512GB PCIe NVMe

  15” full HD IPS 120Hz

  5.28lbs

  5-7hrs office-surfing / 3 hrs gaming-working

    No DVD Drive

 x2 USB 2.0 ports, SD Card reader, mini HDMI port, x1 USB 3.1 Type C port, x1 USB 3.0 Port(with power off Charging), RJ-45 Port (for Ethernet Connetions)

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.4 4.1GHz 9 4 8 8MB

This is one of the most affordable high performance core i5 laptop, if not the most affordable you’ll find on Amazon.

 

 Performance

 Despite having the same number of cores, it can hit 4.1GHz of clock speed with a bit more of cache memory. 

However what will make all the difference is the GPU: the 1660TiGTX with 4GB of vRAM.

Gaming: You will see around ~20fps increase when playing any high end 3D game like Overwatch at medium settings and around +30fps in openworld MMORPG games like WoW, PUGB so you’ll be hitting three digit fps numbers on both. Less hardware demanding games can be run on High/Ultra settings. Check my posts on how these games perform with specific GPUs to see a comparison of FPS/Settings you’ll be getting.  

Editing: Photo editing does not need the extra number of CUDA cores nor the extra 2GB vRAM from a 1660GTX. Video editing on the other hand will see a lot of reduction in the time it takes to render& export a video. This is the first GPU we recommend for heavy video editing.

3D Modeling: There’s a huge difference between the 1660Ti and the MX250.  If you are an animator or a hardcore professional CAD engineer, you should definitely consider this laptop to be your mail tool of work If you are starting with CAD software or only dealing with small assemblies, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money if you just got a MX250/1050 instead. 

  Hardware

The display quality is average but it is still full HD.

Because of its thin design it doesn’t have as many USB ports as many bulky laptops have. 

There’s nothing to say about the keyboard, no complaints there and it’s actually comfortable according to amazon reviewers. The TouchPad is not great but who uses a TouchPad anyways?

The speakears have high quality sounds but you need to stay close to the display.  

The main issue with the specs is just the RAM. It will probably bottleneck everyone except gamers. Heavy photo editing and professional video editing will require at least 16GB.

That’s one of the reasons why this laptop is under 1000 despite all the juice it has. Instead of buying a laptop with the same specs and more RAM, you’d save yourself a hundred couple of bucks if you can just do the upgrade yourself.

You can check on the Amazon reviews to see how people have done this step by step.

 Design

It has pros and cons, it’s not perfect. 

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to upgrade. Open up the backside and insert RAM or the SSD as you wish, should take you 5 mins.
  • Battery is decent ~5 hours with surfing the web and watching youtube videos
  • Fan is not too noisy, thermal control is superb.
  • Despite being a gaming laptop it’s not bulky
  • There’s a backlit RGB feature for the keyboard.

Cons:

  • It will heat up a lot where the CPU is located.
  • TrackPad isn’t great
  • Lack of RAM: 8GB might not cut it.
 
This laptop is great if you are on a budget and looking to have your laptop equipped with a high performance 9th generation CPU along with one of the latest mid-range GPUs. Although this isn’t the graphics card that will give you the highest performance for high end gaming, heavy video editing or 3D Modeling, the difference from the MX250 is huge. 

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3. MSI GF63 9RCX

Best i5 Laptop CPU

  Core i5 9300H

  8GB RAM DDR4 (Up to 32GB RAM)

   NVIDIA GeForce 1050Ti 4GB vRAM

  512GB PCIe NVMe

  15” full HD IPS Display 60Hz

  7.54lb

  6 hours

    No DVD Drive

 x2 USB 2.0 ports, SD Card reader, mini HDMI port, x1 USB 3.1 Type C port, x1 USB 3.0 Port(with power off Charging), RJ-45 Port (for Ethernet Connetions)

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.4GHz 4.1GHz 9 4 8 8MB

 

This is another high performance laptop with an entry level graphics card that’s a lot cheaper than the ASUS TUF with the 1660TI. You’re going to have to give up a few things if this is all you can afford though.

 Performance

Again what will limit the performance of the 9th generation processor is the graphics card. The 1050Ti has nearly the same performance as the good old 960GTX, which is the entry level GPU for heavy gaming. 

Gaming: Open world games like WoW or PUGB should run at 80fps on high settings, Overwatch can now run with High settings with a decent FPS as opposed to medium settings with the non 1050 Ti/MX250.  A few other games will be capable of running at Ultra Settings with 60fps (Crysis for Example).

Editing:  This is too much for Photo Editing. For Professional Video Editing it is the minimum card to go for. The 4GB of vRAM will allow you to edit with high resolution videos and bigger timelines with ease. The amount of CUDA cores & vRAM will also cut down rendering/exporting times significantly. If you do depend on accelerated effects & your timeline are of several hours, then you should consider the 6GB vRAM GTX GPUs like the 1660Ti or the laptops after this though.

CAD software: The 4GB vRAM will allow you to play with larger models and pretty large assemblies. Most professional CAD users who do not need to deal with +500 part assemblies in SolidWorks should be fine. As for AutoCAD, you can throw in much larger assemblies since it doesn’t depend much on GPU: 4GB vRAM is pretty much the limit.

  Hardware

The PCIe NVMe SSD is there, check. 8GB is not, :(.  You can either buy the upgraded version or do the upgrade yourself.

The KeyBoard feels great and looks cool too as you can see on the Amazon pictures. It’s also backlit. Nothing to note about the trackpad, it’s average.

IPS panel with FHD resolution is there, check. But…it seems some models may come with a defective screen.  If you happen to end up with one, no biggie just return until you get a perfectly manufactured screen.

 Design

The best part of the design is the cooling system, it’s a lot better than your avg gaming laptop and you’ll feel much less heat when you overtax the GPU & CPU. The fans are also very quiet.

The speakers however are rear mounted which severely reduces the sound quality and range, but this is probably the reason why the design has a much better cooling system . This is a fair trade off because your laptop will last you longer.

You will still however feel the keyboard surface a bit warm when gaming intensively for hours though but not as much as most gaming laptops.

There’s also an button to add “cooler boost” which like the name suggests will active the fans to work much harder to keep it cool.

Past models came with a DVD/CD Drive, this one (with the 9th gen Core i5 CPU) does not! In fact, no laptops from 2019 or 2020 come with an Optical Drive, that takes way too much space that can be used to fit in a powerful processor or GPU system.

The last chicken and guano is that it only has 60Hz refresh rates as opposed to the 120Hz the ASUS Tuf has, this is the major trade off you’ll have to give up if you can only afford  this model. Of course this is only an issue for very serious gamers out there.

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4. Dell Inspiron

Best i5 Laptop For The Money

  Core i5-9300H

  8GB RAM DDR4  up to 32GB

   NVIDIA GeForce 1650 4GB vRAM

  128GB M.2 SSD + 1TB 5400 RPM HDD

  15” full HD IPS 60Hz

  5.9lb

  6 hours

    No DVD Drive

  1x HDMI 2.0, 3x SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A including 1x with PowerShare, 1x 2-in-1 SD / MicroMedia Card slot, 1x Wedge lock slot, 1x Headphone/Mic 

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.4GHz 4.1GHz 9 4 8 8MB

This is another budget friendly laptop but kind of like an oddball. It does have the latest core i5 processor in it but a 1650Ti. Now what the hell is that? There’s the 1550Ti then there’s the 1660Ti. Is that something like in between those two?

In fact, it is. It’s just a bit more powerful than the 1550Ti. It’s got the same amount of vRAM than previous card but it does have a bite more CUDA cores and “clock speeds”. It kind works like the 1050Ti for most purposes except for gaming. You’ll be playing at around 50-80 fps  in most triple AAA games.
  Performance
 
Gaming: Open World games like WoW, PUGB will run at +80 fps in medium settings and 50fps at Ultra Settings. First shooter games like OverWatch, Call of Duty will still be able to run at high settings without stutter +60fps at Epic Settings.
 
Editing: For professiona video editing the sweet spot is a 1060GTX Card: the 6GB vRAM will allow you to edit videos with very high resolutions. This one is not a 1660, it’s a 1650 which has 4GB vRAM and behaves exactly like the  MSI laptop save for a bit better performance when rendering. 
 
CAD Design: This graphics is another entry level option for AutoCAD, Revit,SolidWorks . However if you are into Animation, game development or dealing with large assemblies  in SolidWorks  you’ll definitely be able with the second laptop or any other laptop with the 1660TI.  
  Hardware 

The display is an IPS Panel with great color accuracy and great viewing angles, the only issue is that it’s not too bright.

 The KeyBoard is simple, has the W A D S highlighted and very easy to use .

The track is average but precision is good and all funtions work with no issues. Unless you are used to MacBook like trackpads, you shouldn’t have a problem with it. Again who uses a trackpad these days?

The Wireless Card has no issues either, in fact, it’s well placed and works as it shoulds : no drop offs, you’ll consistently get 100MB on Wifi and 115 on ethernet just like every laptop with the latest Wifi Card should.

The Sound speakers are not the best , they are average and a little quiet even when set on max volume. Again this is a great trade off for all the performance you get with this one.

  Design

Like all the laptops shown above, it’s entirely made out of plastic but it doesn’t feel cheap at all. The Keyboard’s deck however is made of aluminum: so at least you’d have a premium experience when using typing on it .

Cooling system is average but an entry level card doesn’t need a great cooling system. It will only get hot for those instances you overtax it with settings that it wasn’t meant to witstand.

The computer itself doesn’t make much noise when web browsing and any other light tasks.Even when playing most games the fans are not that loud or distracting, so you don’t need to buy any external headphones. However very highly demanding games and at high settings such as PUBG will kick in the fans into overdrive, for which you’ll need a pair of headphones if you don’t like any distractions when gaming.

Another cool thing about the design is the fact that it only takes one screw to open up your laptop and upgrade it as you please (RAM & Storage).

I know it sounds ridiculous but the best thing about the design is how it looks. Why? Leaving the blue color around the keys aside,  it looks pretty much like a normal laptop. So you don’t really have to put something on the backside to hide the huge gaming logo because it doesn’t have one.  It’s not a laptop that screams  “High I’m a gamer”. 

I doubt you’ll find another laptop with a 16050 and a core i5 9300H within this price range.

You’ll come across with the Acer Predator Helios 300 that has a core i7 9750H but will cost you around 1400$ and only has one storage device: an SSD so you are still gonna have to pay for an additional SSD/HDD for about 100$.

Don’t forget that the Acer Helios and other gaming laptops usually have those red and black stripes screaming “I AM A GAMING LAPTOP…LOOK AT THIS LOSER”.

This Dell laptop and the MSI laptop will keep you under the shadows, give you high performance for any GPU intensive application and save you a lot of money . 

. Buy Now


The following 4 last laptops are made for those who do not plan to run any applications that rely a lot on 3D Graphics. They can be used for photo editing , light video editing and gaming at very low settings . You can also launch CAD software like Revit, AutoCAD and Solidworks with very low number of parts/ small models but expect some lag when using viewport. These are mostly designed for the office & school with portability in mind.

 5. ASUS VivoBook S14 S433 

Best i5 ASUS Laptop

  Core i5 10210U

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD 620

  512GB PCIe NVMe

  14”
display/13” bezel FHD IPS

  3.26lbs

  6 hours

    No DVD Drive

  x1 USB 3.1 Type C ; x1 USB 3.0, x2 USB 2.0, x1 HDMI, x1 Headphone Jack, x1 SD Card port

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

The 10th generation core i5 processor have unfortunately so far have only been released for ultrabooks.

That means you won’t find them on gaming laptops or paired up with a nice GPU for other heavy duty tasks.

So these laptops are aimed for the average joe.

  Design

Premium ultrabooks usually don’t have a lot of power but they can cost an eyeball and you may wonder why. The answer is right above you: Design.

The most highlited feature of this laptop it’s portability. It’s got a 14” display on a 13” bezel. It’s extremely light weight for the display it has: 3.2lb. This is almost the weight of the 15” MacBook Pro. Extremely thin too and bezels around the screen are nearly non existant. It’s got the FHD IPS panel , high brightness levels, color reproduction and so on.

A small detail that adds a bit to the cost is the maxed out PCIe NVMe SSD with 512GB of storage. The feature that really takes it to the price it has is the chasis. It’s made out of full blown aluminum. That means dropping and jostiling this thing all day isn’t likely to break this laptop. It also helps with cooling so in other words that means it’s gonna last you quite a long time.

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6. Surface Pro 7

Best 2 in 1 i5 Laptop

  Core i5 8250U

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD 620

  128GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  12.3”  2736×1824 

  1.7lb

  6 hours

    No DVD Drive

 x2 USB 2.0 ports, SD Card reader, mini HDMI port, x1 USB 3.1 Type C port, x1 USB 3.0 Port(with power off Charging), RJ-45 Port (for Ethernet Connetions)

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

The latest Surface Pro has also implemented the 10th gen core i5 processor in its latest model. The Pros never had something to desire from regular full blown non convertible laptops. As long as you pick up a Surface Pro with 8GB RAM you’ll be able to do any of the tasks that any laptop with the same specs can.

  Hardware 

Again the only difference between last year’s model is the 10th generation CPU. It’s got the same number of cores but way more clock speed. 

Last year’s model had pretty much the same specs except for the CPU and the integrated GPU: Intel Iris Plus that comes with a 10th generation CPU.

Though they’re new technology they’ll have the same performance as any of the older models with an 8th generation Core i5 CPU. So if you want to save a few bucks and still be able to get all the benefits from the Pro just buy an older model.

Let me just reiterate that all Surface Pro models have the fastest storage device as well: PCie NVMe SSD which are x17 faster than the traditional HDD. So as long as you get something with 8GB you’ll still have crazy fast performance with basic tasks.

Lastly, the display on the Pro 7 model has better contrast rations than past versions, colors are more vibrant and there’s also the option to choose sRGB color mode for photo or video editors. The resolution (Pixel Sense) still maintains and needless to say it’s stunning and much better than any laptop on this list( perhaps on par with the Air’s retina display)

The backlight bleed has been gone since the Surface Pro 4 and it’s also not present in the newest version. It’s also much brighter than its predecessors which helps a lot if you happen to work outdoors or with stray sunlight getting inside your workroom.

  Design

Like any ultraportable convertible laptop, the main drawback is the number of ports. There’s a headphone jack, a surface connector port, a USB A 3.0 port and a mini display port that’s it.  This model does not have a USB type C or thunderbolt 3 port like many modern laptops or all the MacBooks have .

The huge improvement from past versions is the battery life. You can run MS office, youtube, One Note, etc, and still end up with 8.5 hours. Of course if you throw any CPU demanding task, mileage may vary but this gives you a rough idea of how long you can survive outdoors while doing some work that involves a lot  multitasking between simple apps.

Nothing wrong with the keyboard itself, great space and travel. TrackPad is still small but smooth responsive and accurate.

Despite being a 2-1 laptop, the sound quality is superb there’s not need for headphone jacks or bluetooth speakers if you want throw a jam in the background.

The cooling system is great, it rarely gets warm and stays completely silent. Isn’t that the point of Core i5 U processors? Well the Surface Pro 7 takes full advantage of that, it’s noiseless like all core i5 laptops should be.

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7. MacBook Air

Best Rated i5 Laptop SSD

  Core i5 8250

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD Graphics 617

  128-256GB Flash Storage SSD

  13.3” Retina Display

  4.41lb

  12 hours

    No DVD Drive

 x2 USB 2.0 ports, SD Card reader, mini HDMI port, x1 USB 3.1 Type C port, x1 USB 3.0 Port(with power off Charging), RJ-45 Port (for Ethernet Connetions)

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

I haven’t been able to get my hands on the new MacBook Air (but I plan to this year). However I have the Old MacBook Air with a non-retina display. I can tell you that if the Air I have is old but still lightining fast and blowing my 8th generation Core i5 windows laptop out of the water for pretty much any applicaiton that doesn’t involve high graphics, I can’t even imagine how fast the new MacBook Air is.

  Hardware​

Basically what makes it  fast and probably the fastest Core i5 laptop for basic task are two things:

  1. Its SSD. It doesn’t really have a name for it because the technology is propiety of Apple but it’s much faster than the fastest SSD: PCIe NVMe windows laptops offer. The Surface Pro 6 with a core i5 can’t compete with it. 
  2. The OS: Apple iOS is far better than Windows 10 and that’s not because they hired better programmers simply because its easier for them to make their OS ultra snappy because they only have to program it for a 3 or 4 MacBooks.

  Design​

The only drawback of the Air, which was the HD display, has been eliminated with recent models, it now boasts a retina display. The viewing angles have also been stewed to perfection.

So today it’s a flawless perfect machine. From the speaking system to the keyboard and trackpad and even the battery life, which is the longest known to ultrabooks (even with the high resolution display) with the exception of ChromeBooks and the Old MacBook Air which has a lower resolution ( and consumes much less battery).

It will last around 10-11 hours as opposed to the 13 hours the older non-retina versions had.  Low brightness levels is there for sure because trying to compensate for the retina display (there’s a huge increase in the amount of pixels which translates to more energy consumption). 

This time it’s also sleeker, smaller, has thinner bezels, a thinner case. Long story short even more portable than before. You also get a touchId and just like the Iphone 6s will recognize your fingerprint in a split second.

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

The price.

The more perks you add to it : +512GB storage device or 16GB RAM the more ridiculous the increase in price gets.

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8. ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultra Thin

Best Budget Core i5 Laptop

  Core i5 10510U  

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD 620

  512GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  14” full HD IPS 

  3.2lb

  8 hours

    No DVD Drive

 x2 USB 2.0 ports, SD Card reader, mini HDMI port, x1 USB 3.1 Type C port, x1 USB 3.0 Port(with power off Charging), RJ-45 Port (for Ethernet Connetions)

Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
1.6GHz 4.2GHz 8 4 8 6MB

I’ve always called the ZenBook the ghost of the MacBook Air and with the release of the 10th generation processors for laptops, the ZenBook has also been updated to compete with the full blown MacBook Air for those who still want the portability & performance of the Air.

Of course you would have to trade a lot of the perks of the MacBook Air and I don’t just mean the huge apple logo in the back but the TouchID, retina Display, ultra fast storage device & ultra long battery life as well as the top-notch keyboard and trackpad quality and the noiseless fan…I mean I could go on.

But the bottom line is that the ZenBook will give you everyting the Air does but with all of it with average quality: a regular full HD display, a regular PCIe NVMe SSD (which is still several times faster than slow 5400 RPM HDDS), 9 hours of battery life, an average keyboard+trackpad and sound quality. 

However the RAM & CPU & GPU are the same as the Air as well as the portability of the Air.

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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 because I don’t want to bore you to death for no reason.

I am assuming you have some knowledge of basic computer terminology since you’ve spotted the best core out of three(Core i5 is in my opinion the best choice) for most users. If not, head to the side bar for a quick overview of the basic computer components we all need to know. 

Anyways, here’s what you need to know:

Processor

Obviously the best place to start looking for the best core i5 laptop 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 use your CPU’s clock speed much more efficiently.

Some tasks benefit from hyper threadingso 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. The same thing can be said for photo editing or 3D modeling (though this is rare). But it’ll mostly be useful for multitasking while running a very intensive applications like gaming at ultra settings while streaming it.

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 sees 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).

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

U vs HQ vs M  vs H Lines

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

U

U stands for ultra low power, these processors deliver high speeds but not as high as HQ/H series. They have 2-4 cores per CPU, each core can support 2 threads by using hyper threading. 

So you get 4-8 threads if hyper threading is enabled. All U series have hyper threading.

HQ or H

The HQ/H series have the highest speeds per core. HQ stands for High performance graphics and Quad core and H is the new label for HQ processors. 

These processors can have up to 4 cores as well. You may ask then what’s the difference with U processors?

More clock speed and usually more Cache memory. That’s about it.

M or Y series

These have very low performance and consume much less power but they  still don’t seem to offer better battery lives than U processors.

These are not good for nothing though. They are designed to fit inside  ultra-books like the new MacBook.Basically they’re used to make laptops ultra small and thin

They’re still good enough for multitasking with basic apps.

Which Core i5 line should I aim for?

HQ/H series:

  • If you deal with editing be it audio, images or videos. HQ/H processors are the way to go. Higher clock speeds means faster calculations  and therefore faster editing/rendering.  
  • Gamers and 3D designers will also benefit because they offer faster clock speeds.
  • Actually for anyone planning to put their laptop under heavy workloads they will become for the most part their only option because these processors are always paired up with a relatively powerful GPU, most of the time they can’t be avoided.

U series:

  • However, most U processors from the 8th generation forth have the same amount of cores as H/HQ processors. The only difference between these and H/HQ processors is just a slight decrease in clock speed which means if you are a on budget you can opt for one regardless of what kind of app you decide to run (games,video editing,modeling,etc) as long as you get a dedicated GPU along with it. That’s because  the clock speed and the GPU becomes much more relevant.
  • If you are limited to general computer usage and don’t expect to carry out heavy workloads when gaming and video/photo editing, you should only consider these. They’ll save you tons of bucks and you won’t have to buy the extra power of H/HQ processor for no reason.

Y/M 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 but you’ll get a super small portable machine with just the right amount of power to avoid lag when running basic apps.

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

Intel core processors come with different generations. 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  over the 6th generation which is not worth the extra cash. You would be better off spending your cash on other specs we’ll discuss next.
  • The highest performance processors are the 8th and 9th generation ones, not the 10th. Intel hasn’t released 10th generation processor with “H”igh graphics performance or the H label just yet.
  • The 8th and 9th generation are pretty similar and they only differ in a small amount of clock speed.

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

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

Don’t bother with these unless you get them for free (and even then think it over because they’re frustratingly slow for today’s software/games). They’ll be useful for web browsing and microsoft word though.

Here’s a complete table of all the core i5 mobile processors released.

RAM

  • 8GB is the maximum you should go for basic apps and multitasking with them (16GB will be useless you wont feel the difference) and 4GB the minimum (all core i5 laptops offer 4GB RAM anyways).
  • 16GB is recommended size for video/photo editors, gamers and 3D designers or users. 8GB will be fine for most photo editors but the rest of the power users will struggle with heavier loads.

Storage

HDD

These bricks are horribly slow. At this point they’re just good for back up drives or extra storage you should always opt for an SSD if you don’t want to be frustrated when working with pretty much anything. Software/Games today already assume you don’t have these bricks, that’s why!

SSD

SSDs are several (up to x17 faster than HDDs). There are two types to pick: SATA or PCIe SSDs. The latter becomes extremely useful if you’re doing actual work. If you’re a gamer the latter will only help with Open World Games and the like that.

Graphics Cards

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

HD Graphics (Intel HD XXX)

The default graphic cards that all laptops will have. You can actually game/run 3D applications and edit videos with it but it’ll be much slower and put heavy loads onyour CPU. If you set everything to low when gaming and try to use simple edit/models you might be fine with these but you should totally avoid them unless you’re just looking to run basic computer apps.

Intel Iris/Iris Pro
Though a bit more powerful these are just as useful as Intel HD cards.

NVIDIA or AMD dedicated graphics

These are dedicated GPUs and if you are a power user, you have to know what each model can do for you and what it can’t do for you.

Luckily Intel Core i5 laptop are only limited to the GPUs on the table below which are not labeled with RED, so the choice becomes easier.

  • If you want to step into “high end stuff” be it gaming, video editing or 3D modeling (not photo editing), try to get the orange ones.
  • If you just want to light gaming, video editing and basic 3d models get the blue ones.
  • Photo editors only need to look at the blue ones because more powerful GPUs won’t make photo editing software run faster.
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
1070Ti      
1080 2560 8GB 1733
1080Ti 3584 11GB 1600
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

 

Battery Life 

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 their 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 choosing a core i5 U processor to get more battery out of it. 

Now if you put an H into the mix from both parties, let’s say Core i7 – 8750H vs Core i5-9300H or Core i5-8265.

  • You’ll get far more battery with U processors.
  • You’ll get about the same battery life with both Core i5 and Core i7 H processors.

Bottom Line

The Core i5 processors will, for many, offer the best value for money if we talk about the U line. Small battery life improvement but with near the same performance  as Intel core i7 U processors.

The Core i5 H series will more than likely perform just as good as a Core i7 H processor provided your application (actually most of them including gaming) doesn’t rely heavily on “hyper-threading” because Core i5 H processors have less cores than their Core i7 counterpars.

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 or even Core i7 processors.

Comments?

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

 

 

2 thoughts on “8 Best Intel Core i5 Processor Laptops in 2020 (10th gen)

  • December 30, 2018 at 12:11 am
    Permalink

    A few mis-statements in your article.

    Firstly ;
    ….”what the hell they mean by Core i5 8750H and how is it better than a Core i5 8300U?”…..
    Actually an 8750H is an i7 “not” an i5

    There is no such thing as an 8250 as you have listed, only an 8250U

    The 8300H is at least 20% faster than the 8250U although you have placed the 8250U devices in the 5-8 bracket which you say are for heavier use. I would disagree with this.

    Also the MSI at number 3 with the NVIDIA GeForce 1050Ti etc is a power user machine. Perhaps you have your grouping back to front ?

    Cheers

    • December 30, 2018 at 3:42 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks for your contribution I really appreciate !

      Im still updating the article. As you can see the fonts don’t even have the proper size. It should be finished by tomorrow.

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