Intel advertises the Core i9 lineup for high-end gaming and content creation. But do you really need an i9 for gaming? We compared a Core i9-9900K with the Core i7-8700K to find the truth behind the matter. Both the processors are overclocked to a clock speed of 5GHz and core clock of 4.7 GHz. All the games were tested @ 1080p using the very high to ultra settings with ShadowPlay.

TestBench

  • Motherboard: ASRock Z370 Taichi P4.00
  • CPUs: Intel Core i9-9900K OC 5Ghz vs Core i7-8700K OC 5GHz
  • GPU: EVGA GTX 1080 Ti, 2126 MHz
  • RAM: Hynix AFR 2x8GB DDR4, 3500 MHz
  • Storage: Transcend PCI-E NVME 220S 1TB
  • Cooling: Custom water-cooled system
  • Driver: 430.64

Benchmarks: Intel Core i7-8700K vs Core i9-9900K

A wide variety of games were tested ranging from third-person action to FPS. CPU intensive games such as Cities: Skylines were also included in the test. The results might surprise you. Starting off with a fairly new title – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Both the processors give a similar FPS with Core i9 leading with a marginal 2 average FPS over the Core i7.

Moving on to a more CPU intensive title – Cities: Skylines, Again both the CPUs perform almost identical at 1080p ultra settings.

A considerable difference in FPS comes in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI with the Core i9 leading the i7-8700K by 9 FPS. This might be because of higher cache memory in the Core i9-9900K, but looking at the lows, the deltas are marginal at best and FPS in excess of 100+ frames per sec doesn’t really add much value to the chip.

In Far Cry, The Witcher 3 and War Hammer, the difference between the two CPUs is negligibly low, ranging from 2-3 FPS while in GTA V the average frame rates are slightly higher for the Core i9, when it comes to the min FPS the 8700K manages to keep up with the Intel 9th Gen flagship being just 2 frames behind in terms of the 1% lows and 11 FPS in the 0.1% lows. Don’t let the double-digit scare you. These are the 0.1% of the lowest rendered frames and since it’s still well above 60, you won’t feel it.

So let’s cut to the chase. Do you really need a $480 Intel Core i9-9900K for gaming? Strictly speaking, if your usage is for purely gaming purposes, then the Core i7-8700K or the more recently launched AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is more than enough to do the job. But if you extend your workflow with content creation, an i9 would really cut down the render times as the higher core counts and the extra cache come into the picture. But then again, with the release of the Ryzen 3000 processors, the 3700X and the 3900X are much better choices.

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