How Many Cores Does an i5 Have?

Intel Core i5 CPUs are what we call the “mainstream” CPUs. Whether you are a gamer or a professional, an i5 can give you an excellent performance and value. As far as the question of how many cores does an i5 have goes, it all depends upon the model in question.

If you look 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 previous generation can even feature as low as 2 cores!

Essentially, the amount of cores an Intel Core i5 has generally depends upon what generation it belongs and whether it is a mobile or a desktop based CPU.

In the following text I will talk in detail about the amount of Cores an i5 has, how the i5 has evolved across generation in terms of core count and touch on the differences between laptop and desktop based Core i5 CPUs.

Also Read: How Many Cores Does an i3 Have?

How Many Cores Does an i5 Have?

The amount of cores an Intel Core i5 can have ranges from 2 – 10. That is a fairly large range, because that takes into consideration all the i5s released since their inception. 

Typically nowadays, Intel Core i5 feature 6 cores for desktops grade CPUs and 4 cores for laptop grade CPUs.

There are three types of Core i5 typically:

  1. Desktop Grade: 6-10 Cores
  2. Laptop Grade High Performance: 4-6 Cores
  3. 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 – Very low 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 efficient (Low TDP)
  • E – Embedded (Soldered onto the board only found on OEM PCs; cannot be bought off the shelf)

Summary of Notable Changes in Core Across Generation

The table below shows how the core and thread count has evolved across generation.

GenerationDesktopLaptop
12th Gen
Q1'22
First to offer 10 Cores
- 6 Performance Cores
- 4 Efficient Cores
- 16 Threads
First to offer 12 cores
- 4 Performance
- 8 Efficient
- 16 Threads
11th Gen
Q3'20
6c/12t- H series offer 6c/12t
- G series offer 4c/8t
10th Gen
Q3'19
First to offer 6 cores WITH Hyper-Threading on a Desktop i5
-6c/12t
First to offer 6 cores WITH Hyperthreading
- H series offer 6c/12t
- Y series offer 4c/8t
- U series offer 4c/8t
- G series offer 4c/8t
9th Gen
Q1'19
6c/6tNA
8th Gen
Q4'17
First to offer 6 cores WITHOUT Hyper-Threading on a Desktop i5
- 6c/6t
First to offer 4 Cores on a Laptop Core i5 WITH Hyperthreading
- H series offer 4c/8t
- U series offer 4c/8t
- G series offer 4c/8t
- Y series offer 2c/4t
7th Gen
Q3'16
4c/4t- H series offer 4c/4t
- U series offer 2c/4t
- Y series offer 2c/4t
6th Gen
Q3'15
4c/4tFirst to offer 4 Cores on a Laptop Core i5 WITHOUT Hyperthreading
- H series offer 4c/4t
- U series offer 2c/4t
5th Gen
Q1'15
4c/4t2c/4t
4th Gen
Q3'13
4c/4t2c/4t
3rd Gen
Q3'13
4c/4t2c/4t
2nd Gen
Q1'11
4c/4t2c/4t
1st Gen
Q1'10
Min: 2c/4t
Max: 4c/4t
Min: 2c/2t
Max: 2c/4t

Cores in 12th Gen Intel Core i5 CPUs

With 12th generation, Intel has introduced a completely new architecture and core count configuration for their i5 CPUs.

Intel has now bifurcated the cores in P-Core or Performance Cores and E-Cores or efficiency cores. The P-cores are intended for heavy lifting while the E-cores are intended for low demanding tasks.

While this idea isn’t new and has already been used in ARM based CPUs particularly in the smartphones, the 12th gen is the first time the idea has been brought into mainstream computing.

P cores are basically the CPU cores that we typically see in PC processors. The E cores are something new allowing the CPUs to perform well for lighter tasks while consuming low power.

Also note that while P cores offer multi-threading at the moment, the E-cores do not.

CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
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 cores and 4 Efficiency cores. 

The rest of CPUs, however, feature the traditional architecture of 6 performance cores only.

Also note that the flagship 12th Gen Core i5 12600K is about 25% more powerful than the flagship 11th Gen Core i5 11600K (as estimated by Passmark scores). 

With laptops, however, almost all of the 12th gen models feature both P and E cores. 

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 Gen Intel Core i5 CPUs

The 11th Gen CPUs did not bring any drastic change in core configuration compared to the older series.

Here, all desktop based i5s have 6 cores and 12 threads, whereas for laptops, the CPUs are bifurcated into 3 lines:

  • Tiger Lake H – This offers 6 cores and 12 threads
  • Tiger Lake H32 – This offers 4 cores and 8 threads
  • Tiger Lake UP3 – This offers 4 cores and 8 threads – These have the G suffix
CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
Core i5
11400
Desktop 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 10th generation brought plenty of changes in core count for both desktops and laptops.

This is was the first generation to offer hyperthreading for desktop based core i5 CPUs. It was also the first generation to offer 6 cores on a laptop CPU with hyperthreading (i.e Core i5 10500H).

For desktops, things are quite simple here, all desktop based 10th gen CPUs feature 6 cores and 12 threads.

With laptop CPUs, the majority of 10th gen mobile CPUs feature 4 cores and 8 threads. The Intel Core i5 10500H is the only CPU in this generation to feature 6 cores and 12 threads of laptops.

CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
Core i5
10400
Desktop 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

Be warned that there are plethora of 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 6 cores and 6 threads for desktop i5s.

CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
Core i5
9400
Desktop 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 generations for Intel CPUs was also revolutionary in the sense that it improved the core and thread count configuration of the i5 CPUs.

This was the first generation to offer 6 cores for desktop grade i5 CPUs (albeit without hyperthreading).

It was also the first generation to enable hyperthreading for their laptop based 4 cores CPUs.

While all desktop CPUs in this generation feature 6 cores, for laptops, a majority of the CPUs offer 4 cores. Whereas, the ultra-low powered Y series features 2 cores only.

CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
Core i5
8400
Desktop 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 does an i5 have is just one of many factors.

You have to look at an i5 as whole in order to truly gauge where it stands compared to the rest of the CPUs out there.

The reason being that with every generation, the architecture of the CPUs evolve, resulting in drastic speed improvements.

Hence, even the Core i3s of today are far more powerful than the Core i7s from 7th and older generation.

The following chart compares the i5 CPUs across generation and against some of the Core i7 CPUs. I have used the Passmark benchmark here 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. 

how many cores an i5 have
Desktop based i5 CPU compared using Passmark scores

The first observation you can have here is that having a high core count does not necessarily mean a better performance.

Also Read: How is Processor Speed Measured?

Take for instance, the Core i5 11600K. Despite being a hexacore CPU, it beats the octacore 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 and the i5-11600K beats the i7-10700K in performance and so on.

laptop based i5 CPU compared passmark
Laptop based i5 CPU compared using Passmark scores

With laptops based Core i5, things get a bit confusing because you have the high performance line, often abbreviated with “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, whereas, a low powered CPU would be suitable for those who prefer mobility and a long battery span.

However, considering the high performance CPUs alone, we can have similar observation as with 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 powerful than the i7-9850H. 

Also Read: What is a Good Processor Speed for a Laptop?

Final Words

So to summarize how many cores does an i5 have, if looking at the 12th generation CPUs, then the i5 has 10 – 12 cores for desktop and laptops respectively.

However, depending upon what generation you are looking at, a core i5 can also have 2 cores, 4 cores and 6 cores with and without hyperthreading.

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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