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Are Intel Core i7 CPUs Good for Gaming?

The Intel Core i series of CPUs are consistently voted as some of the best CPUs out there. For gaming, you need a PC with a bit more oomph to it so that games play smoothly and so you get a good framerate. I’ve been doing a bunch of research into the ideal CPU for gaming and thought I’d explain how good the i7 is for gaming.

The i7 is extremely good for gaming provided you have an average quality graphics card, and 8GB of RAM or more. The i3 is just good enough to play games on the lowest setting, the i5 can play games comfortably, and the i7 provides extremely good performance for gaming.

The i7 can be a bit too good for some types of gamers, there are also different generations of the i7 such as the 10th, 11th, and 12th generation CPUs. Below, I will explain what type of gamer the i7 is best suited to, the pros and cons of the i7 for gaming, how the generation of each i7 affects how good it is for gaming, and more info about how the i7 compares to the other Intel CPU choices such as the i5.

Is the Intel i7 the Best Choice for Gaming?

Gaming PC

The Intel i7 is the second most expensive Intel CPU and the only Intel CPU more expensive than the i7 is the i9. Gaming requires more computer power than using a computer for browsing the internet and creating and working with documents. For gaming, here’s whether the Intel i7 is the best choice. 

The Intel i7 is not the best choice for gaming. The best choice for gaming is the i9 as it provides the absolute best performance. But, this is performance is a bit much for many gamers. Generally, an i7 or an i5 is perfectly fine for playing the latest games and they’re cheaper than the i9.

The Intel i7 can be the best choice for gaming depending on your unique situation. This list shows what kind of person each of the Intel models is best suited for:

  • Intel i3 – Low graphics games like Minecraft
  • Intel i5 – Latest games, performs well
  • Intel i7 – Latest games, performs really well, high framerate smooth gameplay
  • Intel i9 – Latest games, performs exceptionally well, high framerate, and can run multiple applications at once such as streaming on Twitch

The i7 and i9 are suited to gamers that have a bigger budget or need far more performance because they’re a semi-pro to pro-gamer or are a streamer on Twitch for example. If you stream and play at the same time you need something with better performance. 

Running a streaming application and a graphics-intensive game at the same time requires more CPU performance than playing a graphics-intensive game on its own. 

For most people, the i5 11th generation is the best option. It provides good enough performance that it won’t have any problem playing the latest games on high graphics. And it also isn’t as expensive as an i7 or i9.

If you’re going to be streaming computer games you’ll want an i7 or higher. The i9 is considered by experts to be the best CPU for gaming on the market. But, is a bit overkill for a hobbyist gamer that enjoys playing the latest games on a high graphics setting.

The i3 is the cheapest option out of all of the Intel CPUs but it is never recommended for a gaming PC. I explained the reasons why in this article: Are Intel Core I3 CPUs Good for Gaming?

Pros & Cons of Using an i7 for Gaming

With most electronics and electronic components, there are trade-offs. Using an i7 for gaming has some pros and cons compared to the other options such as the i5 and the i9. Here’s what they are.

The pros of the i7 are that it is very powerful and loads games very fast, and provides a very smooth gaming experience even on the highest graphics settings. The cons of the i7 are that it is more expensive than the i5, and can be more than what a hobbyist gamer needs.

The two main considerations for whether or not you should get an i7 over an i5 or i9 are:

  • Your budget – do you have a few hundred dollars you don’t mind putting towards a better CPU.
  • Whether you’ll use your PC to stream (or you’re a streamer) – A streaming program like Twitch requires more CPU. An i5 can stream but you can get decreased performance in parts of a game that place a high demand such as a team fight in a game like Dota 2. 

Whereas, higher-powered CPUs like an i7 or i9 are far less likely to get any FPS lag during very graphics and CPU intensive parts of a game. But, the current internet download and upload speed are also factors.

Does the Generation Really Matter?

Each Intel CPU has a number that indicates what generation it is. For example, an 11th generation CPU will have 11xx after the model number, and a 10th generation will have 10xx after the model number. But, does the generation really matter for Intel CPUs?

The generation of an Intel CPU does matter. The newer generation CPUs offer superior performance to each subsequent generation. Many generations of CPUs aren’t compatible with the same motherboard because they have a different socket connector.

This is one of the main reasons that Intel CPUs keep their price. In order for a person to upgrade their CPU, they would need to buy a new motherboard and RAM. This creates demand for older Intel CPUs which makes them more expensive. I covered this phenomenon in-depth in this article about why old Intel CPUs are so expensive.

What Are the Benchmarks Saying

The main benchmarks for gaming are the framerate measured in frames per second (FPS), and the CPU usage as a percentage. If the CPU or graphics card is struggling during a part of a game the FPS will drop and the CPU usage will go up.

The i7 uses about 10% less CPU power than the same generation i5. Other than that the framerates are very similar. This means an i7 will load games 10% faster and has 10% more CPU space in the background for other programs.

How Does i7 Compare to i5?

The i7 provides superior performance to the i5. The difference between them is noticeable and if you have the budget the i7 is the better choice. But, for hobbyist gamers, the i5 is sufficient and will play graphics-intensive games smoothly on the medium-high to high graphics settings.

Also, you won’t really notice the difference between them unless you compare them side by side. If you were to take a person who doesn’t play games much and have them play on a computer with an i5, and then have them play on a computer with an i7 they would only notice a marginal difference. 

For people who play games a bit more seriously and play them quite a lot the difference in load times and parts of the game where the framerate drops due to increased demand on the CPU and graphics card will be a factor for them, and they would enjoy the performance improvements of an i7 over an i5.

If you are wondering how good i5 CPUs are for gaming, I explain this in this article: Are Intel Core I5 CPUs Good for Gaming?

Conclusion

The i7 is a solid choice for gaming. It’s the second-best CPU you can get for gaming performance. It can be a bit too much performance for an average gamer, and they’d be more than happy with an i5. But, if you’ve got the budget or want to stream your games, an i7 or an i9 is a better option.

I started building and fixing PCs in high school. After a couple of years of offering consultancy to a PC repair shop, I became the goto guy for all my acquaintances for PC/Laptop related buying advice or troubleshooting.