When I picked up my latest laptop I opted for a model with an Intel Core i5-8250U processor after realizing that I’d have to spend several hundred dollars more to get a version with a Core i7-8550U chip… and most benchmarks I’ve seen suggest that the Core i7 chip is only a little faster.

But depending on a bunch of other factors, it looks like sometimes a notebook with a Core i7 chip could be slower than a model with a Core i5 processor from the same family.

Case in point: the folks at NotebookCheck recently reviewed two different configurations of the same HP laptop… and found that a version with a Core i5-8250U chip scored 10 percent higher in some benchmarks than a version with a Core i7-8650U processor.

It’s possible that software differences between the two laptops could account for the discrepancy. But I’m feeling pretty good about my recent laptop purchase… not necessarily because Core i5 is faster, but because the performance differences are likely to be negligible, while the cost differences are… not.

Here’s a roundup of recent tech news from around the web.

  • When cheaper is faster [NotebookCheck]
    NotebookCheck tested two version of the HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3.. and found that the model with a Core i5-8250U processor was faster than the pricier version with a Core i7-8650U chip.
  • WINE 4.0 released [WINEHQ]
    The update to this software that makes it possible to run some Windows apps on Linux and other operating systems includes with initial support for Direct3D 12, a complete Vulkan driver, better support for high-DPI displays, and more.
  • Amazon pulls its Echo Wall Clock due to connectivity issues [The Verge]
    I mean, does a clock really need an internet connection? (I guess it does if it’s supposed to work with Alexa to let you set alarms).
  • The Rise of Netflix Competitors Has Pushed Consumers Back Toward Piracy (Motherboard)
    Personally I’ve made peace with the fact that I can’t find everything I might want to watch on a single streaming service. I don’t have enough free time to watch everything on my Netflix and Amazon watch lists yet, but if I ever make it through those lists, maybe I’ll cancel for a few months and sign up for HBO, CBS, Disney, or whatever. 

You can keep up on the latest headlines by following Liliputing on Twitter and Facebook.

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13 replies on “Lilbits 346: You can’t always judge a laptop by its specs”

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  2. It’s probably less to do with software differences, and more to do with thermal overheads and how manufacturers most likely use the same cooling solution for both CPU’s because their rated TDP is the same, but in practice, the i7 will throttle more.

    1. Dang, you beat me to it.
      Also to add to that, the quad-core have less thermal headroom on a per-core basis. This means a dualcore might in real-world scenarios have better single-threaded performance, at the expense of total/multicore performance, and thus perform better on your Application. Hyperthreading can deliver only so much.

      Overtime this will shift, as software becomes more multithreaded and more optimised for modern usage. However, Windows with its massive backlog of software will suffer for year(s) to come. If you look at Apple’s OS X (ahem macOS) you will notice the platform is much more nimble with adopting new trends, so already the software is taking advantage of the hardware (quadcore vs dualcore).

      I think on Intel’s next microarchitecture and on better (<7nm) lithography, that will be the turning point, where the Quadcores will have better thermal headroom.

      I hope this sheds light on. The mystery.

      1. I believe a quad core can have 2 cores disabled in software (when running on battery power). I thought that the main difference between the i7 and i5 was cache (and thermal binning).

      2. That’s highly unlikely. It’s not 2012 anymore.

        Quad-core desktop CPUs have been around for a decade. Most of the non-specialized workloads are heavily threaded now, exacerbated by the popularity of Electron and other browser-based application frameworks — and what wasn’t already threaded at this point most likely won’t ever be.

        The only group where dual-core still is a majority (about 2/3) is Macs, so I really dunno about new trends.

    2. Most probably it’s an unsuitable turbo implementation in an attempt to race to idle which fails miserably under sustained workloads.
      The only big difference between i5-8250u and i7-8650u are turbo clocks (3.4 vs 4.2), and other differences are only base clock (1.6 vs 1.9) and L3 cache (6Mb vs 8Mb).

  3. If I could get an i5 with 16gb of memory in an ultrabook I would do it in a heartbeat, but most manufacturers only offer the 16gb with an i7, at least this is how it is where I live.

    1. I have the same issue with the Lenovo X1 Carbon need to purchase an I7 to get 16GB of ram.

    2. It’s similar when you buy a car/truck. If you want X, you also have to buy A, B and C, none of which are in any way related to X.

      1. Agreed. I only want a rear camera, not a panoramic roof, 18″ wheels, fog lamps, adaptive wipers…etc, which cost another 7-10k instead of 1k for the camera itself.

    3. Also, you must get a 4k screen.
      No, Dell, I just want 16GB, not a $K screen.

    4. If the device allows it (RAM is not soldered on the
      motherboard), pick the configuration with the least
      RAM and upgrade it yourself.

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