I5 vs I7 Midrange gaming performance test with GTX 850M

I5 vs I7: Midrange gaming performance comparison

Back to the I5 vs I7 debate. In this post I’ll test the I5-4200M vs the I7-4700MQ inside a W650SJ Clevo machine (Eurocom Electra 2.0 in this case). It is very compelling to get an I7 with twice the cores over the I5 for like 10-20% premium in some laptop and it is also known that some games in some cases can make use of the I7 capabilities and specifically, the 8 logical cores compared to the 4 cored of the mobile I5.

I5-4200M and I7-4700MQ basic specs:

CPU# of cores / threadClock speedGPUTDP
I5-4200M, 22nm2 / 42.5 – 3.1 GHZ (Turbo)HD4600. 0.4-1.15GHZ37W
I7-4700MQ / I7-4700HQ, 22nm4 / 82.4 – 3.4 GHZ (Turbo)HD4600. 0.4-1.15GHZ47W

 

Most benchmarks done in this field – or at least those that are quoted – are made with some monster GPUs, which eliminate to some high degree the GPU bottleneck. The result is that the CPU power is more pronounced in these cases. However, the case with a midrange GPU power is different. In most games, played with reasonable graphics settings on current $800-$1200 gaming laptop, you’d probably hit the GPU ceiling well before the CPU power can shine.

I’ve already posted a comparison between the Toshiba X70 with an I7-4700MQ and GTX 770M and the Y510p with GT 750M SLI and I5-4200M. If there was a significant advantage for an I7 for such configuration, it should show. The test was built around the BF4 campaign and multiplayer modes. The result was that an I5 would work a lot more, but generally for such a level of GPU, performance was about the same. The GTX 770M roughly equals the GT 750M SLI and GTX 860M in gaming performance. The GTX 850M is like the previous generation GTX 765M or GT 650M SLI. So I would expect to have around the same results.

 

Measuring performance and temperatures

System: Clevo W650SJ, equipped with an I5-4200M (system 1) / I7-4700MQ (system 2) and a GTX 850M, 1x8GB DDR3 and 500GB 7200RPM HDD. You can read the full review here.

The Clevo W650SJ uses the same fan for both the CPU and GPU so the temperatures of both of them are coupled and a CPU which is a bit hotter might overload the cooling system under full load of the GPU and CPU.

I5 vs I7 test: W650SJ inner components

Temperature tests:

  • Idle: Temperatures while Idling for few minutes
  • GPU only : Temperatures under Furmark load
  • CPU only : Temperatures under Prime95 load (CPU only test)
  • CPU + GPU load : Temperatures under Prime95 + Furmark load

 

Gaming performance test:

In test (all 1080p):

  • Battlefield 4: ‘high’ settings
  • Titanfall : highest settings, MSAAx4. Minimal FPS.
  • Total War II : ‘Ultra’ settings
  • Borderlands 2 : highest settings, Physx on ‘high’
  • Crysis 3 : ‘High’ settings, SMAAx2
  • World of Tanks : ‘High’ settings, FXAA on
  • Bioshock Infinite : Highest settings, no AO enabled in Nvidia Control Center.

I’ll add now a series of benchmarks I’ve done with the W650SJ using an I5-4200M and an I7-4700MQ:

I5 vs I7 midrange gaming performance, Battlefield 4, high settings

I5 vs I7 midrange gaming performance, Titanfall, highest settings I5 vs I7 midrange gaming performance, Total War : Rome 2, ultra settings I5 vs I7 midrange gaming performance, Borderlands 2, highest settings I5 vs I7 midrange gaming performance, Crysis 3, High settings I5 vs I7 midrange gaming performance, World of Tanks, High settings I5 vs I7 : midrange gaming performance, Bioshock Infinite, highest settings

Temperatures

I5 vs I7 - CPU temperatures I5 vs I7 - GPU temperatures
GPU temperatures are not a lot different – under full load of the CPU and GPU, the CPU does get hotter. Note that there are some differences in ambient temperature, so small differences say nothing actually.

However, the CPU front is a different thing. The CPU would get 15C hotter under full CPU+GPU load and 12C under full CPU load. This is a significant difference in favor of the I5-4200M and also remember that the I5-4200M was not throttled, it was set on 3.GHZ-3.1GHZ while as the I7 clocks was set on 2.6-2.7GHZ.

I5 vs I7 : I5-4200M temperatures under Prime95 + Furmark with GTX 850M

I5 vs I7 : I7-4700MQ temperatures under Prime95 + Furmark with GTX 850M

It is quite obvious that the I7 is a lot hotter which is no surprise. The laptop in test is the Clevo W650SJ (Eurocom Electra 2.0) which uses the same fan for both the GPU and CPU. That’s true that in some other laptops with two separated fans for the CPU and GPU the results might be different, but they usually cost more and will come with a GTX 870M and up.

 

Conclusion

It’s quite obvious that the I7 has no real advantage in FPSs, even in Crysis 3 where is it known to use the abilities of an I7. This is the case with midrange GPU level of a GTX 860M or GTX 850M – the GPU bottlenecks way before t he small advantage of the I7 kicks in.

I haven’t tested the difference in BF4 multiplayer in this one, but according to my previous tests, though the CPU does make more effort, the difference in gaming performance is not significant. I’m not saying that an I7 won’t have benefit with future 3D Engines, but currently, for such a GPU level, the difference is minimal and might have some benefit only in extreme cases.

Bottom line, if there is a big premium for an I7 laptop, I would seriously suggest considering the I5 version (like in the Y510p I5 vs I7 case) as the I5 version not only delivers around the same gaming performance, but also produces considerably less heat. In laptops like the Clevo W650SJ with a single fan for both the GPU and CPU, this is significant issue. The same goes for the Lenovo Y510p, Clevo W230SS (GTX 860M), Asus N550JK (no I5 version though) and more.

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cuzildaozild2
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cuzildaozild2

Hi Junky, nice article,do you think that the performance of a laptop, with an i5 processor (4200m) vs an i7 (4710mq), with a gtx980m GPU, would be significant? The i7 one is 200 dollars more expensive.

Frozen
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Frozen

Hi Junky, excellent review. Really liked it. Thanks for this 😉 After this review I started looking for gaming laptops with i5 cpu as I want less heat issues. However the i5 available in my country is not the standard one but rather i5 4210H cpu which uses 47W! and it’s coupled with GTX 850m/860m gpu. All these models: Lenovy Y50-70, Acer Nitro VN7 and MSI GS60 have this option available. The price difference between i5 4210H and i7 4710HQ models are huge, ranging between 400-600 US dollars depending on rest of configuration. That is alot of money to save… Read more »

Mr Happy Face
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Mr Happy Face

The whole quad core vs dual core thing is actually very interesting, almost ironic actually.

Everyone seems to think “more cores = faster”. Few people understand that it really is just not that simple. If you think it is that simple, then the dual vs quad decision will not affect you at all. If you understand why it’s not that simple, then you will already know whether it’s worth the money to begin with.

Luis Dudamel
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Hi, sorry for reviving such an “old” thread. I would like your opinion on my laptop buying decision. Im a student photographer, and a long time gamer. Dota 2 (mainly), and recently BF4 & Hardline. Hopefully will expand my gaming preferences with this new laptop purchase. I’m looking at this one http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LO3K002/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2L77EE7U53NWQ , for the IPS display that i need for “emulate” that MBP retina display that every photographer has. I’ve already seen that with an i5 you could get good gaming performance, with less heat (that didn’t started to concern me until now), but i would be processing large… Read more »

Ogrey
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Ogrey

Hey, could you give me a hint considering I5 and I7 with 850M? (MSI) I have 3 specifications of different laptops from MSI with everything the same but processor and graphic card (DDR). Cheapest version (of course i5 and ddr3) GP70 i5-4200H (2.8GHz, 3MB Cache 2 cores) with GTX 850M 2GB DDR3 Those two comes at the same price GP70 i7-4700QM (2.4, 6MB Cache 4 cores) with GTX 850M 2GB DDR3 GE70 i5-4200H (2.8GHz 3MB Cache 2 cores) with GTX 850M 2GB GDDR5 What I’m wondering – which one is better, because if I’m going to have bottlenecks and not… Read more »