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Intel Core i5-5200U vs Core i7-5500U – which one’s the better deal?

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , last updated on March 16, 2015

Most of the Broadwell U powered laptops you can find in stores right now are available with both Core i5 and i7 processors, and among them, the Core i5-5200Us and the Core i7-5500Us are some of the most popular options, as they are the base models in their classes (mid-range for the i5, high-end for the i7).

In this post we’re going to have these two side by side in a short comparison. At the time of this article I’ve already tested several configurations powered by the i7 CPU, as well as one powered by the i5 processor, the Dell XPS 13 2015 (here’s the full review).

Keep in mind that both of these are low-voltage processors from Intel’s Broadwell U platform, designed to provide a solid balance between performance and efficiency, but neither are very powerful and should not be your first picks if speed is what you primarily want in your laptop. If you do plan on getting a highly portable everyday laptop and don’t know for sure which of the two CPUS provides the best bang for the buck, then this post will answer most of your questions.

For starters, let’s have a quick look at the specs.

Intel Core i5-5200U (Ark)
Intel Core i7-5500U (Ark)
Processor Base Frequency2.2 GHz2.4 GHz
TurboBoost Max Frequency2.7 GHz3.0 GHz
Cache3 MB4 MB
TDP15 W15 W
Memory Sizeup to 16 GB DDR3, dual-channelup to 16 GB DDR3, dual-channel
GraphicsIntel HD 5500Intel HD 5500
Graphics Frequency300 – 900 MHz300 – 950 MHz

On a first look there’s not a lot extra offered by the i7 processor. It has 33% more cache memory and both the CPU and the integrated Intel HD 5500 graphics run at slightly higher frequencies than on the i5, but in everyday use you’ll hardly actually notice the difference between the two, if they would be placed on similar configurations (more about that in a second).

In fact, both can handle browsing, text editing, all sorts of multimedia content and even some casual or less demanding games. The i7 is 5-15% faster at high loads, but from my experience that’s nearly impossible to observe with the bare eye, even when having them side by side.

I’ve ran a couple of benchmarks and they also back-up what I’ve said above. Check the numbers. And make sure you also read the observations below.

Intel Core i5-5200U
Intel Core i7-5500U
Cinebench R11.5 CPU2.84 pts3.23 pts
Cinebench R11.5 CPU – single core1.18 pts1.43 pts
Cinebench R15 CPU259 cb290 cb
Cinebench R15 CPU – single core100 cb111 cb
x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 – Pass 186.66 fps99.14 fps
x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 – Pass 216.23 fps18.12 fps
Cinebench R11.5 GPU24.63 fps27.62 fps
Cinebench R15 GPU30.22 fps32.29 fps
3DMark 11P1147P1207
3D Mark – Cloud Gate50575557
3D Mark – Sky Driver27132770

And some gaming results, with all the titles running on 1366 x 768 px resolution with LOW graphic details.

Intel Core i5-5200U
Intel Core i7-5500U
Dirt 330 fps32 fps
Tomb Raider
46 fps48 fps
Bioshock Infinite29 fps31 fps

The numbers above are of course affected by the other hardware components in your computer and should only be taken just as a general reference.

Both test computers were running Windows 8.1, but the i5 was paired with 4 GB of RAM and an SSD, while the i7 was paired with 16 GB of RAM and a 7200 rpm HDD. On the other hand, one of the more recent laptops tested recently, which included the Core i7-5500U processor, 12 GB of RAM and an SSD, scored lower than the reference used above, as you can see here.

So what I’m saying is there are many variables that can affect benchmark results. But even so, the long story here is fairly simple: the Intel Core i7-5500U is not significantly faster in any way than the Core i5-5200U processor. And the difference between them is barely noticeable in daily use. 

The i7 is however more expensive, by about $100. Thus, if you want a thin and light ultraportable for casual daily activities, a Broadwell U Core i5 processor would suffice and the i7 won’t offer a lot more on top. The i5 will also be slightly more efficient, as it runs at lower frequencies, which should only translate in roughly 5-10% longer battery life (varies which each implementation though).

Still, there’s another aspect to consider. Most manufacturers tend to bundle the i5 CPU with lower-end configurations only. That could include in some cases just 4 GB of RAM (which is most of the time soldered on the motherboard, thus not upgradeable), limited storage space (which again might not be upgradeable, although that’s not usually the case), but also other features like a lower resolution display or slower connectivity options (Wi-Fi N vs AC). Thus in some cases you might just be compelled to get the i7 anyway, which will generally cost you several hundreds extra, as this processor will usually be bundled with other upgrades.

Wrap-up

So at the end of the day, while the Intel Core i7-5500U is not significantly faster than the Core i5-5200U processor, it does provide a 5-15% boost in some applications, especially those that require a great deal or resources. If that’s not the case and you only want a computer for casual use and everyday activities, the i5 should be your pick, if the available configurations suit your other needs and requirements (apart from processing power).

On the other hand, if you do need the speed, you should also consider the 28W versions of the Broadwell U processors, specifically the i7s, which are 10-30% faster than the 15W i7s and also bundle more capable graphics, but sacrifice battery life to some extent. Still, that’s something we’ll address in another article.

For now, that’s about it. That’s what I consider you should know about the Intel Core i7-5500U / i5-5200U processors and hopefully the article will help you better understand the differences between the two and decide which is the better pick for what you need. If you’ve got any questions or anything to add to the post, the comments section is open and I’m around to reply. And if you’re interested in Broadwell ultrabooks, you should definitely check out this other article, a complete list of all the Broadwell powered ultraportables available in stores.

Disclaimer: Our content is reader-supported. If you buy through some of the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I've been covering mobile computers since the 2000s and you'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site.

132 Comments

  1. Bhooshan

    August 14, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I m confused with hp ab032tx and lenovo z51-70
    Blth have same specs except tge gpu hp has nvidia 940m 2Gb and lenovo has amd r9 M375 4Gb. Plz suggest me one from these both

    • PS

      August 17, 2015 at 11:46 am

      I had the same question before 2 days and i tried to find the answer, and i find that,
      On paper LENOVO z51-70(core i5) is better than HP’s ab032tx LENOVO has some more features like
      1. Backlite keyboard
      2. JBL speakers built-in
      3. More Graphic memory
      4. 8GB of SSD

      lenovo z51-70 is launched recently so i can’t find customer reviews on the web,

      one thing i wanna tell u that the performance of AMD R9 m375 4GB is approximately equal to NVIDIA geforce 940M 2GB in gaming…

      i find some customer reviews of ab032tx, reviews are good.

      And the plus point of HP pavilion series is HP is giving the warranty with ADP (Accidental Damage Protection).

      I don’t know why but i like z51-70 more the hp’s laptop…

    • Sanjay Disodia

      November 20, 2015 at 11:03 am

      i think Navidia is a best graphics than amd..navidia run cool and don’t make too noise…but amd is give a sould little bit while play games…and navidia is working smooth on old game also than amd…so in my point of view ab032tx is good

  2. Ashish

    November 30, 2015 at 5:36 am

    I Dont think so i amd graphic card are very good in gaming than nvidia i have hp ac082tx in which amd 2gb r5 m330 graphic card is there its performance so good i can play gta 5 in high very high texture settings so suggest R9 Series is the class 1 Amd series and you can buy lennovo it will give you great performance with this graphic card

  3. Gautham Reddy

    December 5, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Dell Inspiron 15 i5558-5717SLV Signature Edition (15.6-inch Full HD touchscreen, Intel Core i5, 8GB memory, 1TB HDD, Windows 10) with MaxxAudio.

    I’d b greatful to you, please review on that laptop.

  4. vieira

    January 14, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Hello,
    I would like to buy a new computer, i do mostly internet, office, pictures, music and i like to play at the game Sims3, thats it.
    i have 2 computers in mind but dont know which one to choose,the one i have now is 10years old still working and its an Asus, i dont know anything about Lenovo. Should i choose a I7 or the graphic?

    cdiscount.com/informatique/ordinateurs-pc-portables/lenovo-pc-portable-z51-70-80k6012kfr/f-10709-80k6012kfr.html#mpos=7|cd
    topachat.com/pages/detail2_cat_est_ordinateurs_puis_rubrique_est_wport_puis_ref_est_in10092903.html

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 17, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      WEll, those are standard laptops and not exactly the kinds I usually cover. I’d suggest heading to notebookcheck.net and search through their reviews, should offer more answers than I can.

  5. Jitze

    January 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Is it possible to upgrade the i5 5200u to a better processor? And if it can which one.

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 17, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      No, processors are not user upgradeable on 99% of the available laptops.

  6. Prakash Shrestha

    February 4, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    I have got dell 5200u. I’m unable to make keyboard back-lit on. Please, Guys help me out.

  7. Mohammad

    February 23, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Hi
    I am going to buy a laptop for cad work, I am considering asus k501lx or k556ub. The difference between them is as below:
    k501lx (configuration that fits my budget):
    core i5-5200u
    nvidia 940m
    1 TB HDD + 16 GB SSD

    k556ub :
    core i7-6500u
    nvidia 950m
    1 TB HDD (no SSD)

    And another difference is that k501lx weighs 2 kg, but k556ub weighs 2.3 kg and is somewhat thicker but it’s battery capacity is lower

    Which one do you recommend me for cadwork? One has better cpu and weaker gpu and the other one with better gpu but weaker cpu

    • Manuel Ayech

      March 31, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Hi Mohammad,
      You maybe have already picked one of the two that you mention.
      I can tell you that I am glad with my ASUS Q551LN Core i7 5500u nvidia 940m 1TB hdd no SSD. What I can tell you is that the only positive aspect that I see in the core i5 laptop is the hybrid HDD, and I can tell you that since it is only the bootable part of the disc that is faster, your CAD programs and 3d games will not be improved since they are allocated in the regular HDD. Summarizing, I think you will be better off with the core i7 asus laptop. I am pretty sure that the boot time of the core i5 is well compensated with the overall specs of the core i7 laptop.

  8. Alan

    January 25, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Is the i5-5200U CPU soldered into the Laptop PC or can it be pulled out?

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