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Top 8 Best Intel Core i5 Laptops: Ultraportables that balance price and performance

Laptops based on the Intel Core i5 are slotted between the budget Intel Core i3 and the premium Intel Core i7 in terms of price. But these are still very powerful machines, and we are here to tell you why you should consider the Intel Core i5 and 8 of your best options.

Performance Comparisons between Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7

When comparing the 10th generation Intel Core i5 against the Core i3 the performance gain is significant. Its effective speed gain is recorded at 11% while real world average gain is 21%. If you want a laptop with speedy processor, pick the Core i5 over the Core i3. The figures above are based on the comparison between average benchmarks at UserBenchmark between the following processors:

Now if you compare the PassMark Average CPU scores between the two, the Intel Core i5-1035G1 scores an average of 51% higher than the Intel Core i3-1005G1, see table below.

Ave CPU MarkSingle ThreadCross Platform
Intel Core i5-1035G17990236413589
Intel Core i2-1005G1525423078822

based on scores published on PassMark software at time of writing.

Now compare the same Intel Core i5-1035G1 to the more expensive Intel Core i7-1065G7 and we are looking at a smaller performance jump with the latter averaging a 2% gain in benchmarks scores according to UserBenchmark. Here are the processors we chose for this next comparison:

If you compare the PassMark Average CPU scores between the two, the Intel Core i7-1065G7 will invariably come up tops but with only a small 12.4% performance jump when compared to the Intel Core i5-1035G1. This puts the Intel Core i5 in a sweet spot. It is 51% faster than the Intel Core i3 but only around 11% slower than the expensive Intel Core i7.

Ave CPU MarkSingle ThreadCross Platform
Intel Core i5-1035G17990236413589
Intel Core i7-1065G78986249316530

Ultimately, choosing a laptop based on Intel Core i5 gives you more bang for your buck. Much better performance than budget laptops based on Intel Core i3 but not far off from the more expensive Intel Core i7.

Top 8 Best Intel Core i5 Ultraportable Laptops

With our points put to bed, here are eight of the best laptops based on Intel Core i5 you can buy right now. Note that while majority of the laptops are based on the 10th generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 some are based on the 10th generation Intel Core i5-10210U. The former is based on the new 10nm manufacturing process while the latter is based on 14nm process. This makes the Intel Core i5-1035G1 more powerful and more efficient. Here is a quick look at the Average PassMark scores between the two processors.

Ave CPU MarkSingle ThreadCross Platform
Intel Core i5-1035G17990236413589
Intel Core i5-10210U6537228412147
ASUS VivoBook S13 Thin and Light Laptop
  1. ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop 15.6-inch
  2. ASUS VivoBook S13 Thin and Light Laptop 13.3-inch
  3. HP Pavilion 15 Laptop 15.6-inch
  4. ASUS VivoBook S15 S532 Thin and Light Laptop 15.6-inch
  5. ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultra-Slim Laptop 14-inch
  6. ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop 13.3-inch
  7. LG Gram Laptop 15.6-inch
  8. Acer Aspire 5 Laptop 15.6-inch

BONUS: ASUS VivoBook S14 S433 Thin and Light Laptop 14-inch

Lets take a closer look.

1. ASUS VivoBook 15 F512 Thin and Light Laptop 15.6-inch

Full HD, Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Backlit KeyBoard, Fingerprint, Windows 10- F512JA-AS54, Slate Gray

ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop

The ASUS VivoBook 15 is a full size laptop with a big 15.6-inch display, yet thin and light. You can pay less and get the same VivoBook 15 with Intel Core i3-1005G1 and 128GB SSD storage or get our recommended version with Intel Core i5-1035G1 with a big 512GB SSD storage. Even with a big 15.6-inch Full HD display, those NanoEdge slim bezels at only 5.7mm wide help keep the footprint small.

Also, when opening the lid, it pushes the base and back-lit keyboard up, tilting it at an angle (2-degree), a great typing position. That full-size keyboard comes with 1.4mm key travel and a squeezed num pad to the right which also offsets the track pad slightly. But, you quickly forgive this quirk as it is a spacious track pad with a fingerprint sensor on the top right corner for secure login.


2. ASUS VivoBook S13 S333 Thin and Light Laptop 13.3-inch 

FHD Display, Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, 8GB LPDDR4X RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, Windows 10 Home, Fingerprint Reader, Indie Black, S333JA-DS51

ASUS VivoBook S13 Thin and Light Laptop Front

Again from ASUS, this next laptop is a real ultra portable with a 13.3-inch display. The VivoBook S13 is super slim and is available in striking colours such as luminescence white, black, gaia green, resolute red or transparent silver. Here is a laptop that lets you stand out from the rest, enclosed in a metal chassis with diamond-cut edges, textured finish and distinct colours.

The first thing you will notice when you open the lid is the Enter key. The key comes with a bright fluorescent yellow accent. The laptop measure 14.9mm thin and comes with slim NanoEdge bezels for a more compact footprint and bigger screen-to-body ratio. Powered by Intel Core i5-1035G1 Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.6 GHz) with 8GB DDR4 memory and 512GB SSD storage, you are never short of processor cycle or space.

The back-lit keyboard with 1.4mm key travel and ErgoLift hinges makes it a delight to type on. Also from the S-series are the VivoBook S14 with 14-inch display and VivoBook S15 with 15.6-inch display.


3. HP Pavilion 15 Laptop 15.6-inch Touchscreen – Bigger memory

Full HD IPS Touchscreen, 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1 Processor up to 3.60GHz, 12GB RAM, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, Backlit Keyboard, HDMI, Wireless-AC, Bluetooth, Windows 10 Home

HP Pavilion 15

There are two versions of the HP 15 in the market right now when considering one with Intel Core i5. Depending on the generation of Intel Core i5 in use. You can choose one based on the 10th generation Intel Core i5 1035G1 quad-core with 1.0GHz base frequency and Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz. Or, you can pick up a newer 11th generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 quad-core with 2.4GHz base frequency and Turbo Boost up to 2.4GHz. It is still early days. You can expect 6-14% performance gain going with the newer generation but chances are, it will not make an enormous difference with real-world applications.

The 15.6-inch Full HD display and small bezel achieves 82% screen-to-body ratio, not as high as the VivoBook but still respectable. The unit we would recommend here is the one with bigger memory at 12GB RAM, storage at 512GB SSD as well as a touchscreen with 6.5mm micro-edge bezel. Cheaper versions with 8GB RAM memory and smaller 256GB SSD storage are also available.


4. ASUS VivoBook S15 S532 Thin and Light Laptop 15.6-inch

FHD, Intel Core i5-10210U CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, Windows 10 Home, IR Camera, S532FA-DH55-PK, Punk Pink-Metal

ASUS VivoBook S15 S532

Now, back to our favourite, the ASUS VivoBook S-series. This time we look at the S15 with a ScreenPad. You will be surprised at how affordable the full size laptop is even with that extra display that doubles as a track pad. The ScreenPad 2.0 is a spacious 5.65-inch touchscreen that together with ASUS utility apps offers quick key, num pad, handwriting, slide and separate app window for video or music playback.

The 15.6-inch screen is again wrapped in those tiny NanoEdge 5.2mm bezels to achieve a high 88% screen-to-body ratio. But what makes it truly stand are the colour options on the lid. Choose between Moss Green, Punk Pink or Transparent Silver to set a bold statement with side accents. Plus, as with all the VivoBook we have seen so far, the S15 comes with ErgoLift hinges for smooth and sturdy opening action and to lift and tilt the base and keyboard by 3° for a better typing position.


5. ASUS ZenBook 14 UX425 Ultra-Slim Laptop 14-inch Ultraportable

Full HD NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Core i5-1035G1, 8GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, NumberPad, Thunderbolt 3, Windows 10 Home, Pine Grey, UX425JA-EB51

ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultra-Slim Laptop

We are not done with laptops from ASUS. This time it is the thin and light laptops from the ZenBook series starting with the mid-size ZenBook 14. This is not one with a colour touchscreen for track pad but a back-lit trackpad that doubles as num pad. That big and spacious trackpad sits below  a full size back-lit keyboard and with the ErgoLift hinge offers amazing typing experience. As for the display, it is a super bright 14-inch Full HD panel surrounded by NanoEdge bezels for an ultra high 90% screen-to-body ratio.

Powered by 10th generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 it balances performance and energy efficiency with the 8GB DDR4 memory and 512GB PCIe SSD. All that is wrapped inside an ultra slim chassis. If you think the VivoBook S13 is slim, this is taking slim to a whole new level, it is ultra slim. So slim they had to include a USB to RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet network adapter. Still it manages to squeeze in HDMI, Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, USB Type-A and MicroSD card reader.

Did we say it is ultra light too, weighing only 1.13kg. The battery last for up to 22 hours on a full charge with support for fast charge to take it back up to 60% in under 50 minutes. Finally, the ZenBook 14 passed drop tests and operating at extreme altitude and temperature to meet the MIL-STD-810G U.S. military standards making not only good looking and ultra slim but rugged too.


6. ASUS ZenBook 13 UX325 Ultra-Slim Laptop 13.3-inch – Ultraportable

Full HD NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Core i5-1035G1 Processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD, NumberPad, Windows 10 Home, Lilac Mist, UX325JA-AB51

ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop

Just when you think they could not make it any smaller and lighter, comes the ASUS ZenBook 13. While this ZenBook 13 has the same thinkness as the ZenBook 14 at 13.9mm, it weighs 60 gram less at 1.07kg. It is not short on ports either with HDMI, Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, USB Type-A and MicroSD card reader just like its bigger sibling. To be fair, the 13.3-inch Full HD display is just a smidge smaller than the 14-inch. And, like the ZenBook 14, it also lasts up to 22 hours on a full charge with Fast Charge support. This is thanks to the ultra efficient processor and 1W low power display. Yet, that display is capable of 450 nits brightness. Just don’t expect to get hours and hours of use if you set it at high.

The iconic NumberPad2.0 dual function touchpad is also featured here under the full size edge-to-edge backlit keyboard that tilts at an angle of 3-degrees for easy typing. It doesn’t stop there, the ZenBook 13 has been tested against a battery of demanding MIL-STD-810G tests for reliability and durability, so it doesn’t only look good but works well under the most demanding conditions.


7. LG Gram Laptop 15.6-inch

Full HD IPS , Intel 10th Gen Core i5-1035G7 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB M.2 MVMe SSD, 18.5 Hours Battery, Thunderbolt 3 – 15Z90N (2020)

LG Gram Laptop 15

Next, we have the LG Gram 15.6-inch with Intel Core i5-1035G7. You can get an even bigger LG Gram with 17-inch display or smaller 13.3-inch with option for Intel Core i7-1065G7 but as we are focusing mainly on balanced performer, this 15.6-inch fits the bill. It comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i5 1035G7 processor and 8GB of RAM memory. The storage, however, is just half that of the average found here, using only 256GB M2 NVMe SSD. Now, this may not be the lightest 15-inch laptop but it does pack enough juice for up to 18.5 hours of battery life based on MobileMark 2014 benchmark which makes it a mobile workhorse.


8. Acer Aspire 5 A515 Laptop 15.6-inch

Full HD IPS Display, 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1, 8GB DDR4, 256GB NVMe SSD, WiFi 6, HD Webcam, Fingerprint Reader, Backlit Keyboard, Windows 10 Home

Acer Aspire 5

Finally, we have a budget entry from Acer. This Acer Aspire 5 may not have the bigger storage, but it still packs a punch with Intel Core i5 1035G1 processor and 8GB memory. With its full size 15.6-inch Full HD display with IPS technology, plenty of connectivity options and WiFi 6 support, it bodes well as an all-rounder. It even comes with a back-lit keyboard and track pad with built-in fingerprint scanner. The only let down is that the battery life is only single digit at 8 hours.


BONUS: ASUS VivoBook S14 S433 Thin and Light Laptop 14-inch

FHD Display, Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, Windows 10 Home, Indie Black, S433EA-DH51

ASUS VivoBook S14 S433 Thin and Light Laptop

Here is something to look forward to, a laptop with the next generation Intel Core i5. The VivoBook S14 S433 is powered by the 11th generation Intel Core i5-1135G7. You won’t find many of these around yet. The Intel Core i5-1135G7 is also a 10nm part with these differences, it has a much higher base frequency and an even higher turbo frequency as well as bigger smart cache. See processor specification comparison below.

Early user benchmarks show that the newer Intel Core i5-1135G7 has a 14.6% performance gain over the Intel Core i5-1035G1.

Ave CPU MarkSingle ThreadCross Platform
Intel Core i5-1035G17990236413589
Intel Core i5-1135G79155274017294

PassMark scores snapshot at the time of publication.


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