The Core i7 and the i9 processors are the most power powerful CPUs in the Intel stable. Both options are excellent for experienced gamers looking for the fastest processing and brute power.
As you would expect, being the fastest and the most powerful doesn't mean that both processors are ideal for every setup. There are features and considerations you need to consider when choosing which of the two processor families will work best for your cause.
Why not also read: Intel i5 Vs i7
This review and comparison looks at what the i7 and i9 processors have to offer and some of the rigs that can benefit from each family of processors.
Intel i7 Vs i9 Breakdown
Core i9 Specifications
The Core i9 processor has several generations under its belt. For the sake of clarity, this comparison review will focus on the latest three generations, whose specifications are compiled in the table below:
|Model||Cores (Threads)||Base Clock||Boost Clock||On-Chip Graphics||TDP||Socket||Family Name|
|Intel Core i9-9900||8 (16)||3.1GHz||5.0GHz||UHD Graphics 630||65W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake-S|
|Intel Core i9-9900K||8 (16)||3.6GHz||5.0GHz||UHD Graphics 630||95W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake-S|
|Intel Core i9-9900KF||8 (16)||3.6GHz||5.0GHz||None||95W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake-S|
|Intel Core i9-9900KS||8 (16)||4.0GHz||5.0GHz||UHD Graphics 630||127W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake-S|
|Intel Core i9-10850K||10 (20)||3.6GHz||5.1GHz||UHD Graphics 630||125W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
|Intel Core i9-10900||10 (20)||2.8GHz||5.1GHz||UHD Graphics 630||65W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
|Intel Core i9-10900F||10 (20)||2.8GHz||5.1GHz||None||65W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
|Intel Core i9-10900K||10 (20)||3.7GHz||5.2GHz||UHD Graphics 630||125W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
|Intel Core i9-10900KF||10 (20)||3.7GHz||5.2GHz||None||125W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
Core i7 Specifications
|Model||Cores (Threads)||Base Clock||Boost Clock||On-Chip Graphics||TDP||Socket||Chip Family|
|Intel Core i7-8700||6 (12)||3.2GHz||4.7GHz||UHD Graphics 630||65W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake-S|
|Intel Core i7-8700K||6 (12)||3.7GHz||4.7GHz||UHD Graphics 630||95W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake-S|
|Intel Core i7-8700T||6 (12)||2.4GHz||4.0GHz||UHD Graphics 630||35W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake-S|
|Intel Core i7-8086K Limited Edition||6 (12)||4.0GHz||5.0GHz||UHD Graphics 630||95W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake-S|
|Intel Core i7-9700||8 (8)||3.0GHz||4.7GHz||UHD Graphics 630||65W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake Refresh|
|Intel Core i7-9700F||8 (8)||3.0GHz||4.7GHz||None||65W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake Refresh|
|Intel Core i7-9700K||8 (8)||3.6 GHz||4.9GHz||UHD Graphics 630||95W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake Refresh|
|Intel Core i7-9700KF||8 (8)||3.6GHz||4.9GHz||None||95W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake Refresh|
|Intel Core i7-9700T||8 (8)||2.0GHz||4.3GHz||UHD Graphics 630||35W||LGA 1151||Coffee Lake Refresh|
|Intel Core i7-10700||8 (16)||2.9GHz||4.8GHz||UHD Graphics 630||65W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
|Intel Core i7-10700F||8 (16)||2.9GHz||4.8GHz||None||65W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
|Intel Core i7-10700K||8 (16)||3.8GHz||5.1GHz||UHD Graphics 630||125W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
|Intel Core i7-10700KF||8 (16)||3.8GHz||5.1GHz||None||125W||LGA 1200||Comet Lake-S|
In both families, there are options for desktops and laptops. It is only on desktops that the processors can scratch their full potential. Expect a high-power draw and thermal output from both classes of processors to maximise potential.
In advanced gaming rigs, custom cooling rigs and larger power supplies might come in handy to make the most out of each processor.
Why not also read: AMD Ryzen 7 Vs i7
Expectedly, the core i9 puts out better figures in most performance benchmarks. But it is also power hungrier and has a higher TDP. This range of processors is best left for seasoned gamers who multitask and run streaming and other demanding applications on their gaming rigs as well.
There’s no huge gap between the two base processors from both families. The Core i7-880H and the Core i9-8950HK are both Hexa-core processors. They can process 12 threads at a time. While the two are relatively similar, the i9 has a higher clock speed and is overclockable. There’s also a difference in the cache where the i7 only handles 9MB while the i9 can hold up to 12MB and has the SmartCache feature.
On the surface, there isn't much difference between the two processor families. But there is a significant difference in the price. This massive difference between the i7 and i9 processors could be the deal-breaker for most gamers, especially those with a tight budget or looking to invest in several pieces of hardware.
Gamers that also have another profession on the side, like video transcoding, have more factors to consider when choosing the right CPU. In the video transcoding benchmark that measures how long a machine takes to transcode a 6.27GB, 12-minute, and 30 seconds video, the core i7 took 9 minutes and 6 seconds, which is well under the category average.
The i9 completed the same task in 8 minutes and 31 seconds. That’s a 35 seconds gap. When overclocked, the i9 completed the same task 8:23 increasing the gap between the i9 and the i7 series to 9.2%.
For pure gamers, the i7 and the i9 line of CPUs are a bit of an overkill. Enthusiasts and seasoned gamers doubling their gaming with streaming can make the best use of the processors. Most games in the market can only take advantage of four cores at a time. That makes the i3 and the i5 chips the best suited for most gaming applications.
Why not also read: Intel Core i3 Vs Intel i5
In terms of gaming performance, you can expect nothing short of pristine results from i7 and i9 processors. Both processors have high 3Dmark and AAA game scores, only differing by a few points between the different generations and classes of processors but impressive nonetheless.
Which Processor Should You Buy?
When choosing the right chip for your gaming rig, you need more than the differences and shortcomings of one processor to make the other one a better choice. You need to consider which of the platforms makes the most sense for its cost and power needs.
The i9 line is at the top of the consumer stack. It has the best features and is a representation of what Intel can do at its full potential. The i7 is still a premium option but is more modestly priced. It still makes practical sense for content creation and is a solid driver of most AAA titles.
What chip you choose boils down to your budget and what you use the PC for. If you only use the rig for purely gaming, the i7 series has some excellent options for you that will drive almost any game on the market. For additional applications like transcoding and video editing, you need some extra juice which you can find with the i9 series.