i7 vs i9

In our last post, we talked about Intel’s newest processors – the Core i5 and the Core i7. With their latest architecture release, they’ve brought in a whole new line of CPUs: the Core i9! Which of these two processors differs from the other?

What is Intel Core i9

Core i9 is Intel’s top-end non-Xeon processor naming convention. As a model number, it’s less of a sub-brand, and it’s honestly pretty random. With 7th Gen Core X (aka Skylake-X) released alongside the i7 line in June of 2017, I9 was first introduced. As of Skylake-X, all 10-core and higher Core processors are designated as i9s, whereas in previous generations they were designated as i7s. Then with 9th gen Core (aka Coffee Lake) in 2018, Intel integrated cores marked at I9 into the high end models; namely when they launched their new flagship CPU – the 9900k processor which has 8 cores but can turbo up to 5Ghz on 4 core operations or 3.5 Ghz across all 8 cores simultaneously – making it an incredible value proposition at $359 USD.

i7 vs i9 – How do they compare?

This answer can depend on which Intel architecture you are referring to. As I mentioned, whether a processor is called an i9 can sometimes be arbitrary; however, let’s clarify some things here:

Generally speaking, an i9 is just a faster processor than an i7. They’re also built with more cores and higher clock speed; they also come equipped with more cache memory. They differ primarily in their ability to perform Hyperthreading. For example, the 11th Generation of Intel Core Processors features 6 Cores but no HT (Hyperthreading).

Intel Core series

Core-X has its own set of rules. Here, the general sentiment is the same. However, Intel’s old rule sets have gone out the window; instead opting for a new, arbitrary naming convention for their processors with different features for each processor size ranging from 10 cores to 19 cores at this point in time. 10 cores or more? It’s an i9! 8 cores? You guessed it – it’s an i7! And that’s just about all there is to say about these simple and easy changes from Intel… except for one exception.

Intel Core X-series Processors

In Core-X, there are many more rules. Generally speaking though, the opinion remains unchanged: I9 processors outperform i7 with a higher core count and cache size – but the names are less definite too. 10 cores or more is an I9 processor; 8 cores equals an I7 processor; anything below that isn’t given such status anymore either. With 10th Gen Core X, Intel decided to give every processor the rank of an I9 processor in order to simplify things.

Core i7 Pros

  • Higher or comparable clock and turbo speeds
  • Better, cheaper value for many application

Core i9 Pros

  • Newer cores
  • More Level 2 and Level 3 cache
  • Highest clock speeds, though usually limited to a maximum of 100-200MHz
  • All of them have Hyperthreading

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