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Intel i7 vs. i9 for Gaming: What Processor Do You Actually Need?

Intel i7 vs. i9 for Gaming: What Processor Do You Actually Need?

Key Points

  • The Intel i7 and i9 processors are popular choices for gaming PCs.
  • The 13700K offers a great balance between performance and affordability.
  • Both the 13700K and 13900K support DDR4 and DDR5 RAM.
  • The 13900K is Intel’s most powerful consumer processor.
  • The 13900K can experience thermal throttling even with liquid cooling.

Intel i7 vs. i9 for gaming: what’s the better choice? PC gamers have been spoiled for choice regarding processors and other components. When building a gaming PC, you can make one that fits just about any budget. However, one of the most crucial elements is the processor. Now, you can realistically choose whatever and hope that gives you the performance you need.

Issues arise when looking at high-end graphics processors like the RTX 4090. These are GPUs that demand top-tier components for the best performance. After all, you don’t want your computer suffering from performance loss when other components can’t keep up. Today’s comparison takes a closer look at Intel’s mid to high-end processors, as well as which are the best for gaming.

Intel i7 vs. i9 for Gaming: Side-by-Side Comparison

Intel i7-13700kIntel i9-13900k
Core Count1624
Clock Frequency3.0GHz3.0GHz
Boost Frequency5.4GHz5.4GHz
PCI-E Version4.0 and 5.04.0 and 5.0
RAM SupportedDDR4 and DDR5DDR4 and DDR5
CPU SocketLGA1700LGA1700
TDP125 watts125 watts
Intel Turbo BoostYesYes
Dependable and Powerful
Intel Core i7 13700K
$370.99
  • 16 cores (8 P-cores + 8 E-cores) and 24 threads
  • Intel UHD Graphics 770 included
  • Up to 5.4GHz unlocked
  • Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0
  • PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 support
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03/02/2024 03:09 pm GMT

Intel i7 vs. i9 for Gaming: What’s the Difference?

Now that we’ve got some of the broader details out of the way, it’s time to take a deeper dive into these processors. Both the 13700K and 13900K are well suited for a lot of gaming needs. That said, there is still a difference between the two to justify the massive price hike on the 13900K.

Performance

intel i7 vs. i9
Games like Counter-Strike excel on the 13700K processor.

The 13700K has stellar performance when it comes to gaming. When paired with a GPU like the RTX 4080, you shouldn’t notice any hitching or bottlenecks. The 13700K already boasts a 20% increase in performance for single-core and multi-core loads when compared to the 13600K from Intel. When looking at real-world gaming performance, it paints a favorable picture.

Games like Counter-Strike 2 aren’t known for their supreme graphical fidelity. Instead, even the most casual of players will look to maximize framerates. This gives you the ability to increase the overall responsiveness of your system and get an edge when it comes to Valve’s ranked system.

The 13700K fares well here, putting up average framerates of 484fps. The 13900K is a more powerful processor overall, boasting marginal increases in single-core workloads and up to 20% performance increases when used on multi-core applications. When looking at the same test bench using the 13900K on Counter-Strike 2, you’ll have framerates of around 499fps.

This is a definite increase, but not as substantial a jump as you might think. The performance gulf stays about the same when looking at other titles like Cyberpunk 2077, League of Legends, and Apex Legends. All of these titles when using the same GPU can hit great performance metrics, with the i9 processor giving that bit of an edge every single time.

Overclocking Support

Both the 13700K and 13900K are capable of overclocking. Now, I wouldn’t suggest doing so. These are power-hungry CPUs that require exceptional cooling to make the most of their performance. You could achieve stable overclocks with both processors, but you’ll likely want a liquid cooling setup to prevent thermal throttling.

The extreme heat and power draw is one of the biggest drawbacks to the 13900K as we’ll explore a little further. If you’re planning on using either of these in a gaming setup, you’ll want to use good quality thermal paste, strong cooling, and plentiful case fans to keep the temps low. These are powerful processors by default and require potent cooling to make the most of an overclock.

Memory Support

All of the Raptor Lake processors are the last processors to work on the LGA1700 socket. This does have its distinct advantages, as you can use both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM modules with your system. However, given the performance boost on both compared to previous generations of i7 and i9 processors, you’ll want to stick with the faster RAM.

DDR4 is still fine for most mid-range builds. You’re not going to have the power out of your components to make the most of DDR5’s increased throughput. When you start looking at processors like the 13700K, the need for newer RAM is readily apparent.

As such, if you’re looking at purchasing either the 13700K or 13900K, I’d recommend going with a motherboard with support for DDR5 RAM. You don’t want any bottlenecks when it comes to overall performance from either of these processors. Going with the fastest supported RAM is a great way of making sure this doesn’t occur.

Thermals and Energy Draw

intel i7 vs. i9
The i9 hits thermal throttling even when using a liquid cooling system.

Both of these processors run hot, there’s no getting around it. If you’re looking at either one of these for your gaming rig, cooling is going to be paramount. When under stress tests, both displayed noticeably higher temps than previous iterations of the i7 and i9 processors from Intel. This is most glaring when looking at the 13900K. Tests had it reaching overall temps of around 102° Celsius, which is about 215° Fahrenheit.

This is the point of thermal throttling for any processor and doesn’t bode well for the i9 in more stressful scenarios. As such, if you’re considering either of these processors, you’ll want plenty of cooling. It does beg the question of what kind of systems Intel thinks are going to excel with these processors.

You’ll need to invest quite a sum to get the 13900K to levels where the thermals are ideal. In terms of overall power draw, both of these processors are a bit excessive in terms of overall use. The 13700K does get points for hitting 281 watts under load, considerably less than the 13900K’s 352 watts. As such, you’ll want a capable PSU when running either of these processors.

Best Value

It can be tempting to go with the biggest and best processor for a high-end build. However, given the higher thermal output and excessive power draw of the 13900K, I think the best value for your money is going to be the 13700K. The i7 processor still has phenomenal performance when it comes to gaming, and can easily match the power of something like the RTX 4090.

However, you’re not going to need to invest nearly as much into system cooling to make the most of your setup. Hopefully, the future Arrow Lakes due for release this year do something to address the excessive heat draw from the entire line of processors.

Superior Performance
Intel Core i9-13900K
$522.45
  • Compatibility for both DDR4 and DDR5
  • Up to 5.8 GHz Max Clock Speed
  • Optimized for intense gaming and multitasking
  • Features Thunderbolt 4 technology and Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+)
  • Unlocked and overclockable
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 03:14 pm GMT

Intel i7 vs. i9 for Gaming: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • The 13700K is a great value for high-end gaming rigs.
  • The 13700K offers a great mid-point between performance and affordability.
  • The 13700K has support for DDR4 and DDR5 RAM.
  • The 13900K is Intel’s most powerful consumer processor.
  • The 13900K can thermal throttle itself even on liquid cooling loops.

Intel i7 vs. i9 for Gaming: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Choose?

So, which of these processors is the best for your money’s worth? The 13700K would be my first choice for any gaming rig. You’ve got plenty of performance overhead, manageable thermals, and plenty of power for tackling the latest and greatest games. When paired with a good GPU, you shouldn’t notice any performance dips unless it is a poorly optimized title like Starfield.

The 13900K is a great processor from a performance perspective. However, it has too many drawbacks due to that power. You’re going to need to invest substantially more to make a viable system that isn’t suffocating itself with heat when it hits its first workload.

  1. Intel Core i7 13700K
    $370.99
    • 16 cores (8 P-cores + 8 E-cores) and 24 threads
    • Intel UHD Graphics 770 included
    • Up to 5.4GHz unlocked
    • Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0
    • PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 support
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 03:09 pm GMT
  2. Intel Core i9-13900K
    $522.45
    • Compatibility for both DDR4 and DDR5
    • Up to 5.8 GHz Max Clock Speed
    • Optimized for intense gaming and multitasking
    • Features Thunderbolt 4 technology and Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+)
    • Unlocked and overclockable
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 03:14 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the 13900K good for gaming?

Yes, it is an astounding processor for gaming.

Would the 13700K pair well with the RTX 4090?

The 13700K would be a fine fit with the RTX 4090.

Should I run DDR5 RAM with my computer?

DDR5 is the way forward, so getting a head start might be a great idea.

Is the 13900K hard to cool?

Yes, very much so. It runs hot to the point where you might want to undervolt things.

Should I overclock the 13700K?

You could overclock it, but the performance is already rock solid.

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