I5 vs i7 on MacBook Pro 2018

I am in the market for a 2018 MacBook Pro 13”. My wife will be getting my current 2017 MacBook Pro same size. I have already decided to consider 16 GBs for RAM, however I am undecided to pay for the extra CPU processor from i5 to i7.

I do not edit video or music; my use consists on managing email, slack, presentations, manage my photo album, excel (sometimes heavy) etc. Sometimes I play games but it is not my main interest. The 2017 MacBook has the i7 processor and handed my work perfectly.

I know the CPU was seriously updated from 2017 to 2018. I am not sure if an i5 of 2018 is better or same performance than an i7 from 2017. If the user experience is the same, then I can save the money. What do you think? Is it worth to pay for the i7 on the 2018’s MacBook Pro?

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FWIW, as far as Excel is concerned, we never bumped processors for our Accounting department. So they all had i5 or smaller and never complained.

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I think if you’re asking the question about whether or not to upgrade the CPU, it should be seen as a sign that you don’t need to do it. If you’re a person for whom the difference between an i5 and i7 is important, you probably already know it :slight_smile:


Yes, it is true… if you have not need it it means you probably won’t . Thx

For the workload you are talking about the i5 is more than enough, moving to the i7 won’t really do anything further for your day to day beyond possibly reduce battery life and increase the head of your MacBook Pro.

I’d take that additional money to help fund the largest SSD that I could afford, and also please ensure that you are getting 16GB of RAM!

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I have a kinda similar question. On my bike ride to catch transit for my morning commute, leaking overnight oats destroyed my MBP (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014) which had something like 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor. Day-to-day, I use my laptop to OCR larger documents for research, and this task is CPU intensive. I’m now looking at new MBPs. Any thoughts out there an appropriate model? I don’t need the screen real estate for the 15-incher, but maybe the 6-core machine would be useful?

I have a workload similar than you. The MBP 2018 i7 runs smoothly and I had no issues since I bought it. (Around 2 month ago). My CPU are usually 15 % use unless sometimes I use Optimize some videos from MKV to MP4 then I see all CPU goes up and the fan gets crazy. I have to say that maybe the i5 will be hitting the fans more so make sure that is not an issue for you the extra fan noise.


Thanks, Luis, for the feedback! Cheers.

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I retired last September, and I haven’t been keeping up with Apple’s latest hardware. There are others here better informed that can help you with specific models.

For many workers, IMO, the difference between an i5 and an i7 isn’t significant. If a spreadsheet takes 2 or 3 seconds longer to recalculate, and that is only done a dozen or two times a day, it isn’t worth the cost. They will lose much more time being distracted by email notifications.

They are better served with 16GB of ram. But if a larger processor can save you significant time then it is probably worth the extra money.

Sorry about the oats. When you get your new MacBook Pro may I suggest:


I’d get the i5 and put the savings into more storage and/or RAM. Photo libraries only grow :slight_smile:

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The processor speed will be a bigger factor than number of cores, though the two go somewhat hand in hand. The 2.6GHz model will, naturally, OCR faster than the 2.2GHz. The i9 at 2.9GHz would be faster still. Along with these base speeds, the turbo boost speeds increase too, which will come into play in cpu-intensive work. The i9’s turbo boost is 4.8GHz.

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Thanks. I hear what you’re saying. I’m also thinking that CPU output is my primary need for OCR.

Thank you. I was reading that turbo boost and threading may not have a major effect on OCR professes. I guess I’m not all that clear about corse vs core speed.

Imagine you have some sort of alien hive mind. You have four brains (appropriate number of eyes), and want to read books. You can read four books at some maximum speed, say, 2 pages per minute. Now imagine that you have six brains, and can read books at 3 pages per minute. Only one brain can read a book at a time, and you need to read War and Peace.
1225 pages ÷ 2 pages per minute = 612.5 minutes.
1225 pages ÷ 3 pages per minute = 408.3 minutes.
Since only one brain can read a book at a time, it doesn’t matter that you have four brains or six, what matters most is the pages per minute.
Number of brains is the equivalent of number of cores.
Number of pages per minute is the equivalent of clock speed (GHz).

Now, some software can take advantage of multiple cpus, and in that case, the number of cores can improve performance.

To further complicate things, some software can use the graphics processor (GPU) to process a lot of things in parallel.

My guess is that your OCR software is not multi-threaded, does not use the GPU, and the CPU speed will make the most difference.


I just looked up Abby Fine Reader 14, and they say:

High-speed conversion of multi-page documents with productive multi-core processing

So more cores would help if you’re using Abby. Interpreting their statement: each brain would be assigned a page, so War and Peace is ~300 minutes with four cores.

Aside: someone will probably mention that each core can have two threads. My analogy was a means of explaining the concepts without overcomplicating things.


Cores vs core speed: Some computational jobs can easily be divided so that smaller portions can be worked on at the same time (mostly) independently. These types of workloads benefit greatly by having more individual processor cores to work on them.

Other types of jobs can’t easily be broken up like that: their components are such that they have dependencies such that one must be completed before the other. These types of workloads do not benefit from multiple cores, but benefit from faster single cores.

The calculations involved in doing graphics rendering for CGI effects is an example of a job that benefits from multiple cores (and CPUs), whereas calculating a driving route is an example of a job that benefits from having a faster single core.


OCR is interesting to think about: If the OCR system is using purely graphical character recognition techniques then I would think that it would benefit greatly from having multiple cores. On the other hand, if it is also attempting to use semantic techniques (that is, working out the likely correct recogniaiton of a character or word based, in part, on the preceding ones) then it may be that you won’t get as much benefit from multiple cores as you do from faster ones. This gets muddied even further if in the second scenario, the recognition process of any single character benefits from multiple cores.

In short, it’s complicated :slight_smile: (In general, single core CPU speed isn’t the limiting factor that it was 10 years ago: It’s probably better to go for 4 i5 cores vs 2 i7 for nearly everything these days)

FYI a year ago I went with i5 in my Retina 27" iMac after reading numerous reports from people (on Macrumors forum as well as Reddit) complaining that the fan kicked in too much with the i7. (More precisely, it’s not that the machine necessarily gets louder but that it gets hot/loud early - and earlier than previous models.) It was a good decision for me, as speeds are fine in everything (including my most demanding apps: Lightroom, Photoshop and Ableton Live) and in 18 months I’m not sure I’ve even heard my fan go on.

This 3-month-late admission from Intel came as a result of complaints that people were getting fans turning on when merely scrolling with computers using the then-new i7 chip:


As someone wrote on another thread, if you don’t know why you need an i7, you don’t need an i7. The biggest advantage of an i7 is the higher thread count thanks to hyperthreading which isn’t available for the i5, which is particularly useful in apps that take advantage of it, like Final Cut Pro, and substantially less beneficial for writing, websurfing or apps like Lightroomwhich doesn’t take advantage of hyperthreading.

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Excellent. Thanks for the hive-mind analogy and the Abby explanation. I appreciate the help,@JohnAtl! I am using Prizmo which may in fact also bring in the GPU in some way–at least their website seems to suggest something like this. Anyhow, I now have a clearer understanding of how the hardware and software interact, and better information with which I can make my purchase. I have contacted Prizmo to get some additional about info about how their tool works.

Oh, I wish my old rMBP was still alive so I could peek under the hood while running an OCR.

Thanks again.

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Super. Thanks, @ACautionaryTale. So, in simplistic terms, I need to find out if Prizmo, my OCR software, chops up a job into multiple chunks so that it can distribute it to multiple cores, or if it needs to look at the job sequentially; if the latter is the case, the job goes to a single core, thus speed would be more important than the number of cores. Very helpful.

I have an i5 2017 13” with 16gbs of ram. I love the machine, except the darn keyboard. But that’s an old story by now. If you can wait i’d try to wait to see if they revise the keyboard.

I’ve never really had any issues regarding slow down or waiting on my MacBook. I often use it with an external monitor and find the lapto is very snappy. I do hear it spin up when handling big jobs (e.g. OCR 100 pdfs). If they release a new keyboard it’s very likely I’ll upgrade again and I’ll likely go with the same configuration.

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