Intel Core i5 CPUs are what we call the “mainstream” CPUs. Whether a gamer or a professional, an i5 can give you excellent performance and value. As far as the question of how many cores an i5 have goes all depends upon the model in question.
Looking at Core i5s broadly, they can have anywhere between 2-10 cores. The newer 11th and 12 gen Core i5 offer 6 and 10 cores max, respectively. However, Intel Core i5s from the previous generation can even feature as low as two cores!
The amount of cores an Intel Core i5 has generally depends upon what generation it belongs to and whether it is a mobile or a desktop-based CPU.
In the following text, I will talk in detail about the number of Cores an i5 has, how the i5 has evolved across generations regarding core count, and the differences between laptop and desktop-based Core i5 CPUs.
Also Read: How Many Cores Does an i3 Have?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How Many Cores Does an i5 Have?
The number of cores an Intel Core i5 can range from 2 – 10. That is a relatively large range, considering all the i5s released since their inception.
Intel Core i5 features six cores for desktops-grade CPUs and 4 for laptops.
There are three types of Core i5 typically:
- Desktop Grade: 6-10 Cores
- Laptop Grade High Performance: 4-6 Cores
- Laptop Grade Low Performance: 2-4 Cores
You can tell which category a particular Intel Core i5 falls into by looking at its suffix.
Laptops-Based Core i5 Suffix Explained:
- H – High performance – High TDP – Have a High Core Count
- U – Low performance – battery saving – Low TDP – Low Core Count
- G – Low performance – battery saving – Low Core Count
- Y – Deficient performance – Lowest TDP – Lowest Core Count in a given generation
Desktop-Based Core i5 Suffix Explained:
- K – Desktop-based high-performance and unlocked (Overclockable)
- No Suffix – Desktop-based high performance
- F – Does not feature an iGPU
- T – Desktop-based power efficiency (Low TDP)
- E – Embedded (Soldered onto the board only found on OEM PCs; cannot be bought off the shelf)
Cores in 12th Gen Intel Core i5 CPUs
With the 12th generation, Intel has introduced a new architecture and core count configuration for their i5 CPUs.
Intel has bifurcated the cores into P-Core, Performance Cores, E-Cores, and efficiency cores. The P-cores are intended for heavy lifting, while the E-cores are designed for low-demanding tasks.
While this idea isn’t new and has already been used in ARM-based CPUs, particularly in smartphones, the 12th gen is the first time the idea has been brought into mainstream computing.
P cores are the CPU cores we typically see in PC processors. The new E cores allow the CPUs to perform well for lighter tasks while consuming low power.
Also, while P-cores currently offer multi-threading, the E-cores do not.
|Core i5 12400||Desktop||6 P-Cores||12||18504|
|Core i5 12500||Desktop||6 P-Cores||12||21073|
|Core i5 12600K||Desktop||6 P-Cores 4 E-Cores||12 P 4 E 16 Total||26603|
|Core i5 12500T||Desktop||6||12||–|
|Core i5 12450H||Laptop||4 P 4 E||8 P 4 E 12 Total||–|
|Core i5 12500H||Laptop||4 P 8 E||8 P 8 E 16 Total||–|
|Core i5 12600H||Laptop||4 P 8 E||8 P 8 E 16 total||–|
In desktops, note that the Intel Core i5-12600K, the flagship i5 CPU, features 12 performance and 4 Efficiency cores.
However, the rest of the CPUs feature the traditional architecture of 6 performance cores.
Also, so that you know, the flagship 12th Gen Core i5 12600K is about 25% more powerful than the flagship Core i5 11600K (as estimated by Passmark scores).
However, almost all models feature both P and E cores with laptops.
TL;DR: 12th Gen Desktop i5 CPUs have 6 – 12 cores and 12 – 16 threads. 12th Gen Laptop i5s have 8-12 cores and 12 – 16 threads.
Cores in 11th G11th-Gen Core i5 CPUs
The 11th Gen CPUs bring drastically in core configuration compared to the older series.
Here, all desktop-based i5s have six cores and 12 threads, whereas for laptops, the CPUs are bifurcated into three lines:
- Tiger Lake H – This offers six cores and 12 threads
- Tiger Lake H32 – This offers four cores and eight threads
- Tiger Lake UP3 – This offers four cores and eight threads – These have the G suffix
|Core i5 11400||Desktop||6||12||17129|
|Core i5 11500||Desktop||6||12||17763|
|Core i5 11600K||Desktop||6||12||19946|
|Core i5 11300H||Laptop||4||8||11212|
|Core i5 11400H||Laptop||6||12||15992|
|Core i5 11500H||Laptop||6||12||16629|
|Core i5 1155G7||Laptop||4||8||10881|
Cores in 10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPUs
Intel’s 10th generation brought plenty of changes in the core count for desktops and laptops.
This was the first generation to offer hyperthreading for desktop-based core i5 CPUs. It was also the first generation to offer six cores on a laptop CPU with hyperthreading (i.e., Core i5 10500H).
For desktops, things are pretty simple here; all desktop-based 10th gen CPUs feature six cores and 12 threads.
With laptop CPUs, most 10th gen mobile CPUs feature four cores and eight threads. The Intel Core i5 10500H is the only CPU in this generation to feature six cores and 12 threads in laptops.
|Core i5 10400||Desktop||6||12||12354|
|Core i5 10500||Desktop||6||12||13136|
|Core i5 10600K||Desktop||6||12||14571|
|Core i5 10400H||Laptop||4||8||9022|
|Core i5 10500H||Laptop||6||12||11762|
|Core i5 1038NG7||Laptop||4||8||9724|
|Core i5 1035G7||Laptop||4||8||8332|
|Core i5 10310U||Laptop||4||8||6703|
|Core i5 10310Y||Laptop||4||8||–|
There are a plethora and a wide variety of core i5 CPUs for laptops in this generation.
Cores in 9th Gen Intel Core i5 CPUs
9th generation i5 CPUs are only available for desktops.
Keeping in line with the previous 8th generation, this generation offers six cores and six threads for desktop i5s.
|Core i5 9400||Desktop||6||6||9501|
|Core i5 9500||Desktop||6||6||9789|
|Core i5 9600K||Desktop||6||6||10796|
Cores in 8th Gen Intel Core i5 CPUs
The 8th generation of Intel CPUs was also revolutionary because it improved the core and thread count configuration of the i5 CPUs.
This was the first generation to offer six cores for desktop-grade i5 CPUs (albeit without hyperthreading).
It was also the first generation to enable hyperthreading for their laptop-based four cores CPUs.
While all desktop CPUs in this generation feature six cores, for laptops, a majority of the CPUs offer four cores. At the same time, the ultra-low-powered Y series features only two cores.
|Core i5 8400||Desktop||6||6||9224|
|Core i5 8500||Desktop||6||6||9611|
|Core i5 8600K||Desktop||6||6||10179|
|Core i5 8400H||Laptop||4||8||8061|
|Core i5 8269U||Laptop||4||8||8055|
|Core i5 8260U||Laptop||4||8||7889|
|Core i5 8300H||Laptop||4||8||7544|
|Core i5 8305G||Laptop||4||8||7073|
|Core i5 8210Y||Laptop||2||4||2862|
Most of the CPUs from this generation have been discontinued.
Also Read: Laptop CPU vs. Desktop CPU
Performance of the Latest Core i5 CPUs
If you are trying to understand the prowess of an i5 CPU, then figuring out how many cores an i5 has is just one of many factors.
You have to look at an i5 truly gauge where it stands compared to the rest of the CPUs.
The reason is that with every generation, the architecture of the CPUs evolves, resulting in drastic speed improvements.
Hence, even the Core i3s of today are far more powerful than the Core i7s from the 7th and old generations.
The following chart compares the i5 CPUs across generations against some Core i7 CPUs. I have used the Passmark benchmark, which takes the overall CPU performance.
To understand the single-core and multi-core performance of a CPU, I recommend looking at the Cinebench scores.
The first observation is that having a high core count does not necessarily mean better performance.
Also Read: How is Processor Speed Measured?
Take, for instance, the Core i5 11600K. Despite being a hexacore CPU, it beats the octa-core Intel Core i7-10700K in performance.
Another generalized observation we can make here is that every flagship Core i5 CPU beats the flagship Core i7 of the previous generation.
For instance, i5-12600K beats the i7-117700K, i5-11600K beats the i7-10700K in performance, and so on.
With laptops based on Core i5, things get confusing because you have the high-performance line, often abbreviated with the “H” suffix, and then you have the standard-powered, low-powered, and ultra-low-powered CPUs.
For instance, taking the samples from the 10th gen:
- Intel Core i5-10500H is a high-performance CPU with a TDP of 35W
- Core i5 1038NG7 is a standard-powered CPU with a TDP of 28W.
- Core i5 10310U processor is a low-powered CPU with a TDP of 15W
- Core i5 10310Y processor is an ultra-low powered CPU with a TDP of 7W
Now, of course, all of these CPUs have their different uses. For instance, a high-performance CPU would be suitable for gamers and professionals. In contrast, a low-powered CPU would suit those who prefer mobility and a long battery span.
However, considering the high-performance CPUs alone, we can observe similarities to the desktop CPUs above. Every flagship i5 of a given generation is more powerful than the flagship i7 of the previous generation.
So, for instance, the Core i5 11500H is more powerful than the Core i7-10870H. Similarly, the i5-10500H is more potent than the i7-9850H.
Also Read: What is a Good Processor Speed for a Laptop?
To summarize, how many cores does an i5 have? Looking at the 12th generation CPUs, the i5 has 10 – 12 cores for desktops and laptops, respectively.
However, depending on what generation you are looking at, a core i5 can also have two cores, four cores, and six cores with and without hyperthreading.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What types of applications or tasks benefit from a higher number of processor cores?
Applications or tasks that involve complex calculations or multitasking can benefit from a higher number of processor cores. For example, video editing, 3D rendering, and gaming can all benefit from a higher number of cores. In general, the more cores a processor has, the more tasks it can perform simultaneously and the faster it can complete those tasks.
2. Can the number of cores in an i5 processor be upgraded or changed?
The number of cores in a processor is a fixed characteristic and cannot be upgraded or changed. However, you can upgrade your processor to a model with more cores if your motherboard and other hardware components are compatible. Before upgrading your processor, it is important to check its compatibility with your motherboard and other hardware components.
3. What is hyper-threading and how does it impact the performance of an i5 processor?
Hyper-threading is a technology that allows each physical core in a processor to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. This means that a quad-core processor with hyper-threading appears to the operating system as an eight-core processor, with each core being able to handle two tasks at once. Hyper-threading can improve the performance of certain applications and tasks, especially those that involve multitasking.
4. What other factors besides the number of cores should you consider when choosing a processor for your computer?
When choosing a processor for your computer, you should consider factors such as clock speed, cache size, power consumption, and compatibility with other hardware components.
Clock speed refers to the frequency at which the processor executes instructions, while cache size refers to the amount of memory available on the processor for frequently used data.
Power consumption is important for energy efficiency and heat management, while compatibility ensures that your processor will work with your motherboard and other hardware components.