Surface Book i5 vs i7

Surface Book i5 vs i7

A while back, I did a comparison between the different Surface Book 4 options. Now, let’s look at the Surface Book i5 vs i7 choice that may be stumping you.

Let’s face it, there’s a price difference of (at least) a couple of hundred dollars between the i5 and i7 models.

With the Surface Book, there are only 2 CPU options (vs. 3 with the SP4) which simplifies a direct comparison between the CPUs.

The Surface Book comes with one of the following sixth-generation Intel chips (Skylake):

  • 6th Gen 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6600U processor w/ an Intel HD graphics 520 GPU
  • 6th Gen 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-6300U processor w/ an Intel HD graphics 520 GPU

In case you’re curious what Intel has to say about these two chips, they have a comparison chart of the two chips you can take a look at.

Surface Book i5 vs i7: CPU Performance

For this Surface Book i5 vs i7 comparison, I’m going to use benchmarks from GeekBench and Userbenchmark because I can get the results from multiple sources for the same CPU model in order to come up with an average score.

I feel this is better than simply running the same test multiple times on the same device since it allows me to include data from multiple devices which is something you usually can’t do when bench-marking hardware (unless you have a huge hardware budget – which we don’t).

Let’s start with the Geekbench results. Since Geekbench just gives you a number, I made a graph for easier visualization. In order to make the graph, I took the latest 12 results and averaged them for both the single and multi-core scores:

Surface Book i5 vs i7 GeekBench

As you can see, the i7 does indeed outscore the i5 but only by about 12% for the single-core test and 11% for the multi-core test. If you want to look at the raw data, just follow these links:

Now let’s look at the UserBenchmark scores. Unlike the GeekBench scores, I can’t easily test results that come from just Surface Books but, I do get a chance to compare the CPUs “head-to-head” which is still valuable. Here’s what I came up with (Click for a larger version):

As you can see, the effective speed rating is about 13% in favor of the i7 model (which is right in line with the GeekBench results), so we can be fairly confident in their accuracy.

If you want to see the full results on the UserBenchMark site, take a look at them HERE. Also, a little bit of advanced searching on their site resulted in a list of 213 results from Surface Books (just in case you’re interested).

Bottom line, you can expect the i7 versions of the Surface Book to have about 12% more processing power than the i5 versions.

Surface Book i5 vs i7: What about GPU Performance?

Yes, I’ve been ignoring the GPU. I’ve done so, mostly, because while all of the i7 models come with an NVIDIA dGPU in the keyboard, only one of the i5 models offers the dGPU. This makes a comparison of graphics benchmarks more an apples to oranges thing. In the one case where it isn’t, since the dGPU, RAM, and SSD are identical, it still really comes down to processing power so why should I muddy the water?

That said, in a previous post, I did do a comparison between the Intel 520 graphics included on the processor and the NVIDIA dGPU that you might find interesting…

How Much Does the Surface Book dGPU Improve Performance?

TL:DR Version: If you need better graphics capabilities, get the i7 with a dGPU.

Surface Book i5 vs i7: Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the i7 will give you a little better performance than the i5 (dGPU aside). Whether or not it’s worth the price difference of, at least, $200 USD, is up to you and your pocketbook but, at least, you’ll be making an informed decision.


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