Intel Core i9 vs i7, which is better for gaming?
Updated: 20 February 2023 at 11.09
Intel Core i9 and Core i7 are both advanced CPU series with powerful, but also somewhat expensive processors. If you’re looking for a premium gaming processor, you may have to choose between the two. We are here to make the decision easier for you. In this article we find out: Is Intel i9 better than i7 for gaming?
What is Intel i9?
Intel Core i9 is a family of flagship processors. Some examples are the Core i9-11900, Core i9-12900KS, and the latest and strongest of them all (and currently the most powerful consumer-grade processor available), the Core i9-13900KS.
Intel Core i9-11900
Core i9 12900KS
P-core clock speed
3.4 / 5.5 (GHz)
E-core clock speed
2.5 / 4.0 (GHz)
Intel Core i9-13900KS
Intel Core i9 processors have industry-leading clock speeds and high core counts. The 13900KS, for example, has 24 cores, 32 threads and a maximum clock speed of 6 GHz at stock values.
However, Core i9 processors are also power-hungry and expensive.
What is Intel i7?
Intel Core i7 is a family of advanced processors such as Core i7-11700K, Core i7-12700K and Core i7-13700K.
Intel Core i7-12700K
Increase clock speed (single core)
Total number of cores / threads
Intel Core i7-13700K
P cores 3.4 GHz / E cores 2.5 GHz
Increase the speed
P cores 5.4 GHz / E cores 4.2 GHz
These CPUs have powerful specifications, with high clock speeds and core counts. The recently released 13700K, for example, is a 16-core, 24-thread processor with a maximum clock speed of 5.4GHz.
Core i7 processors also use quite a bit of power and are on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but they are much more affordable than Core i9 processors.
How does the Intel Core i9 compare to the Core i7 for gaming?
Before anything else, it’s important to understand what makes a processor suitable for gaming. Most games only use a few CPU threads efficiently. Therefore, it is important for these few threads to run as fast as possible (at a high clock speed).
The total amount of available threads doesn’t matter when you have more than a certain amount (usually 8 to 12 for modern games), as they usually just end up unused.
This is to say that the excessive core and thread counts of both the Core i9 and i7 processors don’t really come into play here. What comes into play are the clock speeds.
Core i9 processors have higher clock speeds than their same-generation Core i7 counterparts and outperform them in single-threaded workloads.
But the thing is, both Core i9 and Core i7 processors already have a very high level of single-core performance to begin with, so this difference doesn’t end up being much.
As long as you stick with a processor from one of the recently released generations (10th generation and above), you will end up GPU bound.
Ultimately, Core i9 processors do not give you a noticeable improvement in gaming performance compared to i7 processors.
Intel i9 vs. i7 – what is right for me?
If gaming is the only intention, a Core i7 processor will offer you almost identical performance to Core i9 processors while costing much less. Go with Core i7 and preferably 13700K.
The only reason to go for a Core i9 would be for productivity purposes, where the extra cores and threads of the Core i9 give it greater multi-core performance for workloads like content creation, video editing, and 3D rendering.
In other words, if you’re looking for a gaming + workstation processor, an Intel Core i9 starts to make more sense.