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Should I get i3 , i5 or i7

daveyp

Member
The i5/i7 models will still perform better than an i3. Because of the thermal throttling, performance may be (possibly considerably) less than expected. The Surface Pros are first and foremost NOT gaming devices, though they offer some ability to do so with considerably reduced settings. As you might expect the i7 will be the best for gaming, the i5 less-so, and the i3 only minimally. Expect to choose low to lowest settings for any modern games to achieve a barely to modest playable experience

As far as general performance across PCs in general, I would put all surface pros in the 'very low end' category, with hope that future updates make the i7 (with Intel's HD 5000) break out of it.
 

Liam2349

Active Member
For any editing, probably go for one of the 8GB RAM versions.

Personally I was going to get the i5/128, but just changed to the i5/256.
 

double07

Member
i5/8/256 will probably do the job. If you don't care too much about ~$250 diff, i7/8/256 will probably do better. I have the i7 and I am very happy with its performance.
 

mahdi75

Member
Whatever device you get (i5/i7), you'll most probably need play games at 720p in order to have a good framerate.
 

GreyFox7

Super Moderator
Staff member
This is another great Internet meme which the editor of the OP's liked article addresses early on, never mind amateur benchmarking and performance guru's press on regardless.

Applying some averaging across systems and configurations the Passmark CPU database lists the aggregate performance score of those processors.
L i3 = 2201
M i5 = 3758 = i3 * 1.71
H i7 = 4217 = i3 * 1.92

The i5 SP3 will throttle, stabilize and run at 86% of max sustained, no tweaking, with 8/19/2014 firmware. 3758 * .86 = 3232. Even at its highest throttling it runs at 73% (2743) which is still higher than the max i3 performance.

All things being relative if the i3 runs in the same box (which it does) and we throttle to 10w TDP (total heat dissipation) the i3 will also throttle to some extent. Probably a lesser degree but still won't run at max sustained load.

The i3 4020Y is a lower power (11.5 w) lower performance processor compared to the i5/7 U series 15w power. By using the U series processors MS is able to achieve higher throttled performance than if they used the comparable i5/7 Y series processors.

The statement that the i7 performs like an i3 is complete hogwash.

BTW the Samsung Exynos Octa that performs on par or better than other ARM SOCs throttles... yep it produces too much heat at fill tilt to operate in a phone or tablet.

Welcome to low power computing, its a new age. Your thin light device isn't going to perform the same as it would in a bigger box with more heat dissipation capabilities.
 

GreyFox7

Super Moderator
Staff member
So Should you get an i3, i5, or i7. it depends. if the i3 meets your needs and your requirements fit within the limits of that device the i3 may be for you. if you know or believe your processing or storage requirements are higher look to the i5 or i7 keeping in mind you can insert an SD card to increase storage but CPU, RAM, and base storage are fixed.

Then you need to think to the future needs although honestly I don't know if 4 or 5 years usage is feasible. I don't mean that it might not be useable, I truly just don't know and there's not a track record to judge by. Yes a Windows desktop/laptop of adequate specs should be useable for that long although most laptops I've had near that long either had the battery replaced or had very short battery life and you become a wall hugger. Would 4 GB ram be adequate in 4 years? Would it be better to say 4GB ram/128GB storage is adequate for 3 years after which I will replace with a current higher spec. model that's thinner, lighter, faster, with more, more, more.

The answers to these are not the same for everyone, it depends on the specific needs. What you want is another matter.
 

mitchellvii

Well-Known Member
I have the i3 version and have been quite pleased with it surfing the web, reading emails and running Office (including Access). As far as Photoshop goes, you will probably run into issues if you enjoy using Bridge with it. I found Bridge on my i3 to be almost unusable and slow. My guess is Bridge is a ram hog (although it could be any number of things).

If you want to game, buy a desktop with a proper video card - there is no substitute (unless you don't mind playing at the lowest settings).

All around long term viability? Probably i5, almost more for the space and ram than for the speed.

** One thing I have noticed when browsing with the i3. If i scroll quickly I tend to get some checkerboarding. I'm guessing the gpu is just having a hard time keeping up. Minor annoyance.
 

Dswerdlove

New Member
Lots of talk about throttling reversing the advantages of a high performance chip and the risks of overriding it with hacks. Does this become moot if you use a cooling pad? Can you achieve optimum speed without throttling on an i5 or i7 by putting a fan under the Surface? Seems like a small concession for big results.
 

kristalsoldier

Well-Known Member
Lots of talk about throttling reversing the advantages of a high performance chip and the risks of overriding it with hacks. Does this become moot if you use a cooling pad? Can you achieve optimum speed without throttling on an i5 or i7 by putting a fan under the Surface? Seems like a small concession for big results.

How would one put a fan under the Surface?
 

Dswerdlove

New Member
How would one put a fan under the Surface?

Duh. I guess that would pose a problem.

I googled around and one person suggested that they can play games when they put their Surface on a cooling pad and run external monitors/keyboard. It's a shame that the docking station doesn't include a cooling fan. Someone else suggested that the very design of the Surface would make a cooling pad irrelevant.
 

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