Advice: 3.20GHz Intel Core i3 vs. 3.60GHz Intel Core i5

Discussion in 'iMac' started by cxny, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. cxny macrumors 6502

    Jan 13, 2004
    New York
    My 16 year old son is demanding a new iMac to replace the aging pre-intel classic that we have. It will be a "family" computer but I have an iPad and the wife is a light user. Son is eBaying my whole CD collection that should raise $400-500 but it will still be $1,500.00 (w/ student discount). Here's the problem:Starcraft II! Now he says we have to upgrade to the 3.60GHz Intel Core i5 for an additional $180.00 - I disagree.

    Can someone tell me the significant benefit, I really can't justify the expense unless it's large and not just related to the refresh rate of a video game.


    PS: only a week left for back to school offer and free iPod that gets sold for $160.00 on eBay....
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    i5-680 might give a frame or two more in games. It's only worth it if you do something CPU intensive hour after hour, something like video encoding for example. For gaming and other average Joe use, I don't think it's worth it. BTW, is it 21.5" or 27" that you are getting? If it's 27", then pay the extra for ATI 5750, that will have fairly significant impact on games
  3. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Yeah, I'd stick with the i3. You honestly won't see a ton of benefit from the i5, aside from frame rates, like you mentioned. I don't believe SCII is really that intense anyhow, so you don't need a ridiculous computer to play it. I'd keep the extra cash
  4. Tigerman82 macrumors regular

    Jul 27, 2010
    You should really try 'seach' as this topic has been covered in at least two different threads. Anyway, I had a similar problem. I'm not into gaming that much but the iMac is going to be a long term investment (4-7 years). At first people were saying that the real-life difference between i3 3.2 and i5 3.6 is negligible -- even though the i5 has Turbo Boost. Then came the Geekbench-scores which showed that not only is i5 3.6 far better than i3 3.2, it is also considerably better than last year's quadcore i5 2.66 (and almost as good as this year's quadcore i5 2.8). However, many said that Geekbench doesn't really take advantage of multiple cores and that is why the dual core i5 could beat a quadcore i5.

    Finally, MacWorld tested the i5 3.6 and the results showed that the difference between it and i3 3.2 is quite small -- even in games. Most of us were so impressed over the Geekbench-scores that we chose the i5 3.6 -option -- like me. Even though MacWorld is saying that the performance enhancement isn't that much, I'm still pleased with this iMac -- I got the student discount as well.

    I would like to share another point of view. There has been speculation on whether these Built-To-Order iMacs (which the i5 3.6 iMac is) have smaller probability of having problems. It has been suggested that since BTO-iMacs come straight from the factory they have not took hits and blows as much as off-the-shelf iMacs. This is just a theory, though. My iMac is perfect except it has a little bit of that yellow tint problem. I can live with it, though, and otherwise this is easily the best computer I have ever owned (coming from Windows-PCs).

    Bottom line: It is probably wiser to get i3 although with the student discount the i5 is always tempting. If this is a long-term investment, though, I'd consider the i5.
  5. cxny thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 13, 2004
    New York

    The 27" looks amazing but it's in a bedroom so it will be the 21" - replacing a 17" it will be almost double the area anyway....

    To Tigerman82 I did see the other posts but this was really about the gaming angle as I know the performance will far exceed our aging machine.
  6. Tigerman82 macrumors regular

    Jul 27, 2010
    I see. Well there hasn't been much comparison gamingwise except in that MacWorld-test (Call of Duty 4 - 1024-by-768 with 4X anti-aliasing):

    iMac with i5 3.6 - 82FPS
    iMac with i3 3.2 - 81.4FPS
    (iMac with i5 2.8 quadcore - 88.1 FPS)

    I do think however that different games take advantage of the CPU in different ways so the gap could be bigger than this. Moreover, there has been reviews where for some reason Call of Duty hasn't worked as it should -- perhaps its not the best game to use in benchmarks for these iMacs.
  7. swajames macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2003
    Tigerman, as you say there were indeed a lot of posts that claimed that the Geekbench results were flawed as Geekbench wasn't optimized for multiple cores and multiple threads. They weren't, correct, however - Geekbench does actually take advantage of both features. Simply put, the i5 3.6 seems to me to be a much better processor than many posts on here would have you believe. Whether it is worth the extra investment is a personal judgement call but there's no doubt that it is markedly quicker than any of the current i3 processors and does indeed compare well to last year's i5 model.

Share This Page