Intel Core i7 vs i9: Which is the Best Intel Processor?

Published 30/05/2024

Both the Intel Core i7 and Intel Core i9 stand out as some of the best processors on the market. But should you spring for ludicrously fast – and expensive – Intel Core i9, or does an Intel Core i7 offer more than enough performance as-is? In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the difference between Intel Core i7s and i9s – not only in terms of performance, but also in price, intended use cases, and more. By the end, you should have a good idea of which Intel processor is best for you, so you can make a more informed purchasing decision. Let’s get started.


Intel Core i7 – High-End Performance

Intel Core i7 14700K

The i7 used to be the top dog of Intel’s Core lineup, and the delineation between entry-level i3s, mid-range i5s, and high-end i7s was clear. That was until the introduction of Intel Core i9 in 2017, which brought with it a whole new tier of performance: the ultra-high-end-end. However, just because the i9 usurped the throne as the fastest Intel processor doesn’t make the i9 slow – not by any means. The Intel Core i7 is still a seriously fast processor that, for the vast majority of use cases, will be plenty fast.

As detailed in our blog Intel Core i5 vs i7: What is the Best Intel Processor, the performance delivered by an i5 is more than enough for everyday computing. Think scrolling social media and filling in a basic Excel spreadsheet. It’s only when you’re targeting a high-end gaming experience I the hottest triple-A titles that you need to upgrade to an Intel Core i7, or if you’re a content creator, live streamer, or some other professional who regularly use CPU-demanding software.

Intel Core i9 – The Best Intel Processor Money Can Buy

Intel Core i9 14900K

So, if the Intel Core i7 is already plenty fast, where does that leave the Intel Core i9? Put simply, this mighty processor is for enthusiasts and overclockers looking to build a no-holds-barred, budget-be-damned computer. If you want the best-of-the-best when it comes to CPU performance, an Intel Core i9 (or, if you’re willing to consider AMD, an AMD Ryzen 9) is the way to go.

The performance of an Intel Core i9 is unlike that of any other processor. It’s absurd, really. i9s have more cores and threads than i7s, all while hitting much higher frequencies. For example, the 14th-gen Intel Core i9 14900K is armed with 8 high-performance “P” cores and 16 more efficient “E” cores boosting up to 6GHz. With Hyper-Threading, a technology which splits one physical core into two virtual cores (called threads), Intel Core i9 processors handle an astonishing amount of tasks and demolish even the heaviest of multi-threaded workloads.

However, all this performance comes at a cost. And we’re not just talking about the price of the processor itself, but also power consumption – more on that below.  

Price Comparison

When comparing Intel processors, the difference in price between i7s and i9s is large. So you need to seriously consider if it’s worth laying down the extra cash for an Intel Core i9 or if you’d be better off with an Intel Core i7.

Latest-generation Intel Core i7 processors range from £350 – £400. On the other hand, Intel Core i9 processors come in at £500 – £600, with the special edition “KS” chips (boasting even higher out-of-the-box boost frequencies) costing upwards of £700. This price difference carries over to Intel-powered laptops and desktops. You’re looking at £1,000 – £2,000 for an i7-equipped gaming laptop, whereas it’s a whopping £2,000 – £4,000 for an i9-equipped gaming laptop (with also a higher-spec GPU, to be fair).

If you haven’t got a virtually unlimited budget to spend on building a PC, it’s arguably worth picking an Intel Core i7 over an Intel Core i9. In most instances, an i7 will be more than fast enough, and the money you’d save with an i7 could be reinvested into the rest of the PC. This is particularly relevant if you’re looking to build a PC for gaming. You’ll get a lot more gaming performance for you money by spending £100 – £300 more on a faster GPU, rather than dumping it in an faster CPU. After all, it’s the GPU which usually has the biggest impact on your game’s frames-per-second. An Intel Core i9 is more for those willing to spend whatever it takes to get the best performance, even if it’s not necessarily the best value.

Intended Use Cases

The Intel Core i9 is the champion of the consumer CPU market. These processors are built for those who need the absolute best performance, no matter the cost. This makes an Intel Core i9 the perfect processor for extreme gaming, software engineering, scientific computing, and really any heavily multi-threaded workload. If you want to run complex simulations or edit ultra-high-res videos at breakneck speeds, or you just want to ensure your games run at the highest settings with no compromises, you need an Intel Core i9.

For gaming specifically, the reason why you’d consider an Intel Core i9 is to minimise the chance of ‘bottlenecking’. This is when the performance of a slower component limits the performance of a faster component. GPUs (most notably the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090) have gotten so ridiculously fast nowadays that, even at a full-fat 4K and the highest settings, they’re often still limited by the CPU. This problem is only exacerbated when using image reconstruction technologies like NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), or if you’re trying to hit those ultra-high frame rates on a lower-resolution but higher-refresh rate gaming monitor. A 3,440 x 1,440 ultrawide clocked at 165Hz, for example.

So to ensure that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your ultra-high-end graphics card, it only makes sense to pair it with an ultra-high-end processor like an Intel Core i9. Otherwise, you could be leaving performance on the table. This is no good when you’re dropping potentially thousands of pounds on components.

Real-World Scenarios

Steve, a Gamer: Steve has played games on consoles for the longest time, but he’s finally decided to make the jump to PC. Coming from a relatively inexpensive console, Steve doesn’t want to spend thousands and thousands on CPUs, GPUs, and all the rest of it. At the same time, Steve wants a truly transformative difference in performance – not something that just matches or slightly betters a console. To run the latest games at higher-than-console settings and frame rates, Steve picks up an Intel Core i7 processor and pairs it with a high-performance dedicated graphics card. An i9 would’ve been even more impressive, but the price was too high for Steve to justify.

Tim, also a Gamer: Like Steve, Tim is also looking to build a gaming PC. The difference is that money is no object to him. Tim wants to play the likes of Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, Alan Wake 2, and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora at their absolute best, regardless of cost. This requires a seriously beefy graphics card, like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090. To ensure this GPU’s performance isn’t held back (or bottlenecked) by the CPU, Tim drops a big chunk of change on an Intel Core i9 – one of the very best processors money can buy. These two components alone cost the same as two mid-range gaming PCs, but for Tim, it’s worth it.

Lucy, a Scientist: Lucy is a scientist specialising in climate modelling. Her work involved running highly detailed simulations to predict weather patterns. These simulations are computationally intense, requiring an immense amount of processing power. An Intel Core i9, with all its cores and threads, allows Lucy to run multiple simulations simultaneously without significant slowdowns, speeding up her workflow.

Technical Comparison


Total Cores

No. of “P” Cores

No. of “E” Cores

Total Threads

Max Turbo Frequency


Base Power Usage

Turbo Power Usage

Intel Core i7 14700K









Intel Core i9 14900K









It’s worth noting that an Intel Core i9 processor can consume far more power than these ‘Turbo Power Usage’ wattages suggest. When all the cores are hit at once, an Intel Core i9 can actually hit 300, 350, or even 400 watts.

This is because by default, CPU power limits are disabled on most high-end Intel motherboards to ensure the best performance possible, energy efficiency be damned. You can reinstate Intel’s default power limit in the motherboard BIOS to reign in an i9’s power consumption somewhat. But if you’re forking over the kind of cash for an Intel Core i9, you’re likely going to want to disable these power limits regardless.

i9s Run Hot

However, just be aware of the potential difficulties that come with running a watt-guzzling Intel Core i9 processor. For one, an i9 will have an affect on your electricity bill at these wattages, especially if you’re pushing the processor hard all day long.

Then there’s also processor temperatures to consider. Dumping 400 watts’ worth of heat into a system is something that can’t be ignored. Unless you want an i9 to thermal throttle at the slightest load, you need to invest in a proper cooling solution. This would ideally be an all-in-one water cooler with a hefty radiator and rows of fans.

And, naturally, an Intel Core i9 processor won’t exactly be viable in a small form-factor case. It’d generate too much heat in such a little space. If you’re after a more efficient processor that’s still powerful, you might want to consider an Intel Core i7 or alternatively an AMD Ryzen 7/9.

Should You Buy i7 or i9?

There’s no doubting that the Intel Core i9 is the best Intel processor where raw CPU performance is concerned. However, this performance comes at a cost – a big one at that. The Intel Core i7 is still a high-end processor, so it has its own costs associated with it. Compared to the outlandish performance, price, and power consumption of the i9, however, the i7 is much more reasonable offering for the average user.

  • Buy i7 if… you need more performance for high-end gaming and content creation than a mid-range i5 can offer. An i9 might take the performance crown, but the i7 is still a high-end eight-core processor that’ll crush multi-threaded workloads without completely breaking the bank.
  • Buy i9 if… you want the fastest Intel processor around, whatever the cost. With heaps of cores and threads, an i9 will chew through whatever’s thrown its way. Just be sure you also invest in an adequate cooling solution, otherwise an i9 won’t be able to hit its super-fast frequencies.

Whether you opt for an Intel Core i7 or i9, head on over to ebuyer and explore our wide range of Intel processors and Intel-powered laptops and desktops. You’re sure to find the best deals for your needs.

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