SOLVED: What is the Difference Between Intel Atom, Celeron, Pentium, i3, i5, and i7

This is a VERY large topic that I am going to massively simplify.

[ultimatetables 2 /]


In addition to the specs above, you need to know:

  1. I have provided specs for the current 2012 / 2013 CPU’s but that does not mean that is what you are looking at.  For instance, in January 2013 there are still many Gen2 i3 i5 and i7 CPU’s.  Make sure your starts with a 3 (ie. i5-3500) and the price difference is $0 but the performance difference is about 25%.  Note the Gold bar through the middle of the logo on all Gen3 “Ivy Bridge” CPU logos
  2. all of these CPUs (excluding Atom for now) MIGHT come equipped with ‘Intel HD Video’ “cards” built in.
    1. The i7, i5 and i3’s support THREE monitors when paired with the correct chipset and motherboard.  From experience I can tell you to be careful and verify with or your motherboard manufacture PRIOR to purchase to confirm your combination will work.  It MUST output TWO Display Ports and one VGA for three head to work.
    2. The Pentiums and Celerons support TWO monitors when paired with the correct chipset and motherboard, typically one VGA and one DVI.
  3. If your CPU provides Intel HD video it will be quite usable for all common desktop tasked including decoding DVD’s and playing slightly older games (produced before 2011?)
  4. The third generation of i3, i5 and i7 using Intel HD 4000 video are very very good and support even current games at lower resolution and frame rates.

To find, compare and contrast the specifications of the Intel CPU you are considering, just use Intel’s handy tool:






celeron_2012 atom_2012






  1. Avatar
    david March 14, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Thank you

Questions or Comments?