Last updated on September 7th, 2023 at 10:17 am
If you are looking to build or upgrade your PC for high performance, then having a high-end i7 or i9 can help you do that.
However, depending on what you need your computer for and what you want to accomplish will help you determine which CPU is best for you and that’s exactly what we are going to do in this article.
Comparing Intel Core i7 and Intel Core i9
|Specifications||Intel Core i9||Intel Core i7|
|Cores||8 – 18||6 – 8|
|Threads||16 – 36||12 – 16|
|Base Clock Speed||3.6 – 4.0 GHz||3.0 – 3.8 GHz|
|Boost Clock Speed||5.0 – 5.3 GHz||4.4 – 5.1 GHz|
|L3 Cache||16 MB – 20 MB||12 MB – 16 MB|
|Integrated Graphics||Yes (Most Models)||Yes (Most Models)|
|Power Consumption (TDP)||95W – 125W||65W – 95W|
|Price Range (USD)||$400 – $700||$300 – $400|
Above is a chart that shows the general comparison between Intel Core i9 and Core i7 CPU models.
As you can see in some of the sections I provided you with a range because the specs vary within each series depending on the specific CPU model. It’s recommended to compare the specific Core i9 and Core i7 models you’re considering for the most accurate comparison.
We will be going through:
- Clock Speed
- Core Count
- Thread Count
Let’s get into it!
When it comes to your processor’s performance its clock speed is one of the most important factors.
When you look at a CPUs clock speed there are actually two different clock speeds you want to look at.
- The Base Clock Speed
- The Boost Clock Speed
The base clock speed is how fast your CPU will be right out of the box, and the boost clock speed is how fast your CPU can potentially be when you overclock it.
Both clock speeds are measured in GHz.
|CPU Model||Base Clock Speed||Boost Clock Speed|
|Intel Core i7|
|Core i7-8700K||3.7 GHz||4.7 GHz|
|Core i7-9700K||3.6 GHz||4.9 GHz|
|Core i7-10700K||3.8 GHz||5.1 GHz|
|Core i7-11700K||3.6 GHz||5.0 GHz|
|Intel Core i9|
|Core i9-9900K||3.6 GHz||5.0 GHz|
|Core i9-9900KS||4.0 GHz||5.0 GHz|
|Core i9-10900K||3.7 GHz||5.3 GHz|
|Core i9-10980XE||3.0 GHz||4.6 GHz|
|Core i9-11900K||3.5 GHz||5.3 GHz|
When comparing the clock speeds of the Core i7 processors and Core i9 processors you can see that the Core i7 models have more of a consistent range when it comes to the speed of the CPU ranging between 3.6 GHz and 3.8 GHz.
On the other hand, with the Core i9 processors you can see that it really depends on the specific model you choose.
At the bottom end, you can see that the Core i9-10980XE has a base speed of 3.0GHz, but if you choose the Core i9-9900KS you will get speeds as fast as 4.0GHz.
Now, to someone who doesn’t know computers you might think that 1 GHz isn’t that different, but in reality having an extra GH of speed makes a big difference.
When we look at the boost speeds of these CPUs we can see this is where the Core i9s take the stage with the majority of them reaching fairly high speeds.
However, if you are looking to overclock an Intel CPU you need to make sure you purchase an unlocked version of it which gives you the ability to overclock.
You can have two of the exact same Intel CPUs, but if yours is locked you won’t be able to achieve those boost clock speeds.
Now that you know the speeds of these processors it is also very important to understand why the speed and GHz of your CPU are important, and for that reason, you should read what GHz is and how it affects performance.
Core count is important for many things other than gaming performance. If you are looking for a high-end workstation or server computer, then in general you want to look for a CPU with a high-core count over a higher clock speed.
Your computer will benefit from higher core counts when doing very CPU-intensive tasks. This most of the time does not mean when gaming because gaming is more GPU intensive.
Someone looking to build a workstation computer will want to look at something like the Intel Core i9 because its advertising is targeted toward more commercial workstation setups.
However, this doesn’t mean that the Intel Core i7 doesn’t get the job done.
Both the Core i7 and Core i9 have a large core count that will help you perform whatever tasks you need at a high level of execution, but in the case that we are looking at pure performance the Intel Core i9 models will take the top.
Threads are virtual cores that help your CPU core split the tasks it’s performing into two. Modern CPUs tend to have 2 threads for every core they have.
That means if you have a Core i7 with 6 cores, then it will also have 12 threads. Threads and cores work hand in hand.
Cache is very important to performance especially when gaming. Cache stores temporary data and events that might happen. That’s why having more cache in your CPU is very important.
The more cache you have the more chances that your CPU will have the outcome planned out. If you have a low amount of cache and your CPU isn’t able to store this data, then it will slow down the overall performance of your computer to catch up to whatever application it is working on.
When comparing the Core i7 to the Core i9 there is a small jump from the amount of cache these two can store.
Intel Core i9 models can store anywhere from 16-20 MB of L3 cache whereas Core i7 models can store around 12-16 MB of L3 cache.
of course, there is also L1 and L2 cache to consider, but it is the same pattern in those as well.
If you want to learn more about this I have an article on Why CPU Cache is Important.
Another thing to consider when comparing two CPUs is the TDP or power consumption of your CPUs.
The Core i7 has a TDP range of 65W – 95W across the whole lineup of Core i7s, whereas the Core i9 has a range of 95W – 125W.
We obviously know that the Intel Core i9 has better specs all over the table when being compared to the Core i7, but the price of the CPU are buying is a big deciding factor for many people.
Core i7s usually cost anywhere between $300 – $400, whereas Intel Core i9s cost anywhere between $400 – $700.
By no means are any of these cheap, but there is a big price difference between these two CPU models, with the Intel Core i9 being very expensive.
From this comparison, you can see that there are both pros and cons to buying a Core i7 vs buying a Core i9 processor.
When we look at overall performance for gaming the Core i9 models take the top, but if you are looking for a high-performance CPU that costs a bit less then the Core i7 might be a better decision for you, just because the value is much better when you look at the price compared to performance.
This is especially true if you are just looking to game on your computer as well.
When gaming both these CPU types will do more than well compared to other lower-end models, but in reality, you don’t really need a Core i9 unless you want overkill.
If you use your computer for certain tasks and have a high workload, then this would be the only situation where I would say the Core i9 might be a better option, but this is usually rare for the consumer audience.
If you are still not sure what CPU is right for you, then you should check out “Choosing the Right Processor Guide.”