Difference Between Intel Pentium vs i5

Intel Pentium and Intel Core i5 are in a completely different performance price categories. They are so further apart in terms of differences that a simple comparison is simply ridiculous. Yet, more often than not, those who are completely new to PC hardware often ask about the differences between Intel Pentium vs i5. 

Simply put, Intel Pentiums are entry level CPUs whereas an Intel Core i5 is a mainstream CPU. The current generation of Intel Pentium CPUs offer 2 cores, whereas, the current generation of Intel Core i5 offer 6-10 cores.

Hence as far as the performance goes, the Core i5 CPUs are light years ahead. However, Intel Core i5 CPUs are also far more expensive and are often reserved for enthusiasts, gamers and also professionals. 

In the following text I will compare Intel Pentium vs i5 in several parameters including:

Differences Between Intel Pentium vs i5

To establish how the Intel Pentium compares to i5 I will look at the following parameters:

  1. Clock Speed and Core Count comparison
  2. Performance comparison
  3. Price and Value comparison
  4. TDP comparison
  5. Use cases comparison

1. Clock Speed and Core Count Comparison Between Intel Pentium vs i5

Pentium CPUs have a very low core count. Even the best ones at the moment are dual core CPUs.

Intel Core i5s, on the other hand offer 6 cores for laptops and desktop variants.

The 12th gen CPUs, however, have introduced a completely different core count configuration featuring Performance and Efficiency cores.

Also Read: How Many Cores Does an i5 Have?

The following table explains more:

CPU Specs
Intel Pentium Gold 6405U 2.4 GHz
2 Cores
4 Threads
Flagship and Popular laptop based Intel Pentium CPU
Intel Pentium G6400
4.0 GHz
2 Cores
4 Threads
Desktop Popular; desktop based Pentium CPU.
Intel Pentium G6600
4.2 GHz
2 Cores
4 Threads
Desktop Flagship; desktop based Pentium CPU.
Intel Core 
4.6 GHz Max
6 Cores
12 Threads
Flagship and Popular laptop based Intel Core i5 CPU
Intel Core i5-12600K 4.9 GHz Max
6 P-Cores
4 E-Cores
12 P-Threads
4 E-Threads
Desktop Flagship and Popular; desktop based Core i5 CPU.

You can see from the table above that there is a huge difference in specs when comparing the latest Pentium and i5 CPUs for desktops and laptops.

For Desktops, the 12th Generation flagship i5 CPU, the Core i5-12600K features 10 Cores (6 performance cores and 4 efficient cores). In addition to that, it features 16 threads in total and has a very high clock speed of 4.9 GHz.

On the other hand, the desktop flagship Pentium Gold G6600 only features 2 cores and 4 threads with a max clock speed of 4.2 GHz. 

The Laptop Intel Pentium and Core i5 CPUs are also drastically different in terms of performance. While flagship laptop Pentium 6405U only has 2 cores and 4 threads, the current 11th gen flagship laptop Core i5 11500H offers 6 cores and 12 threads. 

2. Intel Pentium vs i5 Performance Comparison

As mentioned earlier, the Intel Core i5 CPUs are light years ahead in terms of performance compared to Intel Pentium CPUs.

In order to gauge the performance difference, I will use the scores from PassMark and Cinbench R15 benchmarks to compare desktop Pentium and Core i5 CPUs.

Also Read: How is Processor Speed Measured?

Performance Comparison of Intel Core i5 and Pentium Desktop CPUs

Difference Between Intel Pentium vs i5
Intel Pentium vs i5 Desktop CPUs Passmark Scores
Intel Pentium vs i5 cinebench single core
Intel Pentium vs i5 Desktop CPUs Cinebench R15 Single Core Scores
Intel Pentium vs i5 cinebench multi core
Intel Pentium vs i5 Desktop CPUs Cinebench R15 Multi Core Scores

No matter what benchmark you use, you will almost always find the Core i5 CPU significantly more powerful than the best Pentium CPUs.

According to PassMark the flagship Intel Core i5 12600K is more than 6 TIMES as powerful as the flagship Intel Pentium G6600 CPU (26,917 vs 4396)!

Hence when it comes to performance, there is literally no comparison between the two Intel series.

3. Price and Value Comparison

To determine the value of a CPU, you have to look at its performance/dollar value.

To determine this, we can simply take the PassMark score of each CPU and divide it by the MSRP in USD of the CPU.

For simplicity sake, I will take the flagship desktop CPUs from both series.

CPU PassMark
Intel Pentium G6400
4141 $64 64.7
Intel Pentium G6600
4396 $93 47.26
Intel Core 
17775 $202 87.99
Intel Core i5-12600K 26917 $299 90
  • To calculate performance/dollar value I am taking the PassMark score and dividing it by its MSRP. 
  • Higher the Performance/Dollar score, the better the value.
  • MSRP taken from Intel.com

You can see here that not only are the Intel Core i5 better performing, they have a much better performance/dollar value compared to the Intel Pentium i5 as well.

So much so that the Intel Core i5 12600K offers almost twice the value for money as compared to Intel Pentium G6600. 

4. TDP Comparison

TDP or Thermal Design Power loosely defines the electricity the CPU uses and also the amount of heat it generates.

Generally, the higher the performance of a CPU, the higher would be its TDP.

A higher TDP means, you have to provide adequate cooling to the CPU, which adds to the cost of the overall build.

Intel Core 
Intel Core

As expected, higher performing CPUs often have a very high TDP. This is particularly true for flagship Core i5 CPU for desktops such as the Intel Core i5 12600K.

Even the best desktop-based Intel Pentium CPUs have a far lower TDP compared to Intel Core i5s.

Laptop CPUs have the lowest TDP so much as so that some laptop CPUs can even have a TDP of even 8W. Laptop CPUs have lower TDP in order to conserve battery life.

As such, a Laptop Pentium and a Laptop Core i5 have a weaker performance as compared to desktop counterparts.

Read in Detail: Laptop vs Desktop CPUs

5. Use Cases of Intel Pentium and Intel Core i5

Both Intel Pentium and Core i5 serve a very different market segment. 

In the Intel performance hierarchy, Intel Pentium is on the bottom rung. The Intel CPU hierarchy looks something like this:

  1. Intel Celeron
  2. Intel Pentium
  3. Intel Core i3
  4. Intel Core i5
  5. Intel Core i7
  6. Intel Core i9

Where the Intel Core i9 are the most powerful commercial Intel CPUs.

Intel Pentium Serves the Budget Market Segment

Intel Pentium is an entry level series that caters to users on a budget or to those who just require basic productivity.

They are great for day to day computing and also sufficient for office use.

They are not built for gaming or for using professional editing and designing software.

Also Read: Is Intel Pentium Good for Gaming?

Intel Core i5 Serves the Mainstream Market Segment

Intel Core i5 are some of the most capable CPUs and also among the most popular among gamers and among budding editors and designers.

As far as their Single Core performance goes, they are as capable as the i7 and i9 CPUs. The only major difference between an i5 and i7/i9 is the core count.

In terms of multi core performance an i5 is weaker than an i7/i9 however, UNLESS you are a professional editor who renders tons of videos or if you a regular streamer who streams games while playing them on ultra high settings, an i5 should more than suffice.

Also Read: Does Motherboard Matter for Gaming?

Final Words

It is funny to even draw a comparison between Intel Pentium vs i5 since an i5 is literally a beast in front of Pentium. 

However, for the uninitiated and new PC builders, things can get confusing particularly given the fact that Intel has so many different lines of CPUs and understanding each and their sub models can give even adepts a headache. 

Also Read: Difference Between Intel Celeron vs i3

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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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