Top i7 CPU for Gaming (2020)

After researching of over 15 different Intel processors, we picked the Intel Core i7-9700K as our best i7 CPU for gaming due to its high end performance, game support and price point. See our full top 5 picks below to find out if it’s worth buying an i7 for gaming in 2020.

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Top Pick
Intel Core i7-9700K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 4.9 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel Core i7-7700 Desktop Processor 4 Cores up to 4.2 GHz  LGA 1151 100/200 Series 65W
Intel Core i7-8700K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.7GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel Core i7-7700K Desktop Processor 4 Cores up to 4.5 GHz Unlocked LGA 1151 100/200 Series 91W
Intel 4512 Core i7 6700K 4.00 GHz Unlocked Quad Core Sky Lake Desktop Processor, Socket LGA 1151 [BX80662I76700K]
Title
Intel Core i7-9700K
Intel Core i7-7700
Intel Core i7-8700K
Intel Core i7-7700K
Intel Core i7-6700K
Clock Speed
4.9 GHz
4.20 GHz
4.7 GHz
4.5 GHz
4 GHz
Core/Thread Count
8/8
4/8
6/12
4/8
4/4
Top Pick
Image
Intel Core i7-9700K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 4.9 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Title
Intel Core i7-9700K
Clock Speed
4.9 GHz
Core/Thread Count
8/8
Image
Intel Core i7-7700 Desktop Processor 4 Cores up to 4.2 GHz  LGA 1151 100/200 Series 65W
Title
Intel Core i7-7700
Clock Speed
4.20 GHz
Core/Thread Count
4/8
Image
Intel Core i7-8700K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.7GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Title
Intel Core i7-8700K
Clock Speed
4.7 GHz
Core/Thread Count
6/12
Image
Intel Core i7-7700K Desktop Processor 4 Cores up to 4.5 GHz Unlocked LGA 1151 100/200 Series 91W
Title
Intel Core i7-7700K
Clock Speed
4.5 GHz
Core/Thread Count
4/8
Image
Intel 4512 Core i7 6700K 4.00 GHz Unlocked Quad Core Sky Lake Desktop Processor, Socket LGA 1151 [BX80662I76700K]
Title
Intel Core i7-6700K
Clock Speed
4 GHz
Core/Thread Count
4/4

Best i7 CPU for Gaming

To many PC gamers, the Intel Core i7-9700K is a must-buy processor should you wish to go the i7 route. This is due to the 8 cores included and the overclocking that comes along with it. When you have the budget, make sure that this is your top choice.

Have you considered an i5? If you have a lower budget an i5 is still a great choice, see our best i5 gaming CPU’s for 2020.

Pros:
  • Consistently stable
  • 8 cores
  • Good overclocking
Cons:
  • No multi-thready
  • Pricey
  • Overclocking isn't as powerful as Ryzen

Experience Intel processor users will surely tell you that the Intel Core i7-9700K is highly regarded as the best i7 CPU for gaming. The best part about the 9700K is how wonderfully stable it is compared to its 8th gen predecessor, the i7-8700K. It overclocks at normal temperatures, loads up games at top speed and can multitask with ease.

Looking for an i9 power house processor? Check out our review of the top i9 CPU’s for Gaming and find out if an i9 is worth buying in 2020…

The only criticism we can give for the 9700K is that it is quite more expensive than the Ryzen 7 3700X. But when you are focused on Intel because of its stable performance over the more “risque” Ryzen processors, you can bet your bucks that the Intel Core i7-9700K is a joy to have for your high-end PC.

Are You Intel Fan? See our best Intel gaming CPU review and find out if you should buy Intel in 2020.

Best Value i7 CPU for Gaming

If you are still intrigued with the i7 lineup but cannot afford something as grande as the 9700K, then the Intel Core i7-7700 is a budget-friendlier approach with its decent performance that works best on mid-range computers. Just do not be surprised if there are some hiccups while playing.

Pros:
  • More affordable than most i7 CPU
  • Best for mid-range gaming
  • Multithreading
Cons:
  • No overclocking
  • Only 4 cores
  • Stability issues

If you happen to not be interested in overclocking or any custom configuration with the CPU (because you are either on a budget or just want a processor that is treated as a plug and play), then the Intel Core i7-7700 is a good choice – especially if you are in the mid-end field of PC gaming.

Are you a Streamer? See our top 5 CPU’s for Streaming in 2020

Mostly, the performance is well – given that you are not maxing out all the settings of a resource-demanding game like Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2, Resident Evil 3 or Modern Warfare. It also allows for multi-threading, resulting in a safer pace for your CPU even if you are multitasking. Just don’t expect much of it while live streaming though. But overall, Intel Core i7-7700 is a great budget processor that is fit for mid-end gaming.

PRO TIP: Keep your CPU cool, consider buying a decent AIO water cooler they are easy to install and offer lower noise, cooler temps and higher overclocking… While you’re at it see our NEW guide for the top thermal paste freshly updated for 2020.

Best Multithreading i7 CPU for Gaming

The Intel Core i7-8700K is quite on par with the 9700K were it not for the price difference. It does a solid job at running games at a steady pace for a high-end processor, marking this as one of the best i7 CPU for gaming.

Pros:
  • Steady performance
  • Good for high-end PC
  • Multithreading
Cons:
  • Limited overclocking
  • Only slightly cheaper than the 9700K
  • Ryzen 5 3600 still performs better

The Intel Core i7-8700K is the predecessor to the 9700K and won our award for the best CPU for gaming. And while you may think this is an older version, it is certainly not obsolete. In fact, it can run games better at times than a 9th gen i7. It carries 6 cores but with 6 threads – letting you perform resource-hungry programs and games at the same time at safe temperatures.

On a Budget? The i7 is not a cheap processor, see our best cheap gaming CPU review if you need a budget gaming processor.

Plus, it is much cheaper than the 9700K. Of course, the “K” is nothing without letting you overclock; however, we have to admit that the Ryzen 5 3600 outdoes this Intel CPU by a mile. But, do not be discouraged by it since it is still an overall solid pick especially if you prefer Intel over AMD gaming CPU’s.

Best Mid-Range i7 CPU for Gaming

If you have plans on snagging the best possible i7 CPU for mid-range gaming the Intel Core i7-7700K makes a good choice especially when you are planning to overclock to reach full gaming potential.

Pros:
  • Multithreading
  • Performs at a safe pace
  • Can multitask with ease
Cons:
  • Inconsistent overclocking
  • Gets outperformed by Ryzen multiple times
  • Only 4 cores

The Intel Core i7-7700K is the much more enhanced version of the 7700 (as if that was not obvious). What we like about this mid-range processor is that it does not take up a lot of resources when overclocking. Sure, other CPUs may perform better when overclocking (case in point, the 9700K or any competing Ryzen processor) but it still does what it does best: running modern games at a steady pace withing medium settings. Plus, the price is quite more affordable than any of the higher-end spectrum of the i7 series. Let the Intel Core i7-7700K be your must-have.

Best Budget i7 CPU for Gaming

If you are truly in need of the cheapest possible i7 for gaming, the Intel Core i7-6700K does your tight budget justice. Not only does it work properly on mid and low-end PCs, it can also let you overclock it too.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Good low-range/mid-range performance
  • Can still work on modern games
Cons:
  • Limited to 4 GHz
  • Inconsistent overclocking
  • No fan included

The Intel Core i7-6700K is the best option for when you still find the 7700 still expensive. This 6th generation i7 may have seen it all but it is certainly not obsolete (yet) in the gaming community. This works well for when you in the low-end or mid-end gaming budget and you need a decent processor to go along with it. The 6700K can still perform properly on modern games but in the lowest settings. The only downside we can give to its standard is that the maximum clock speed it can do is 4.0 GHz flat. But, since it is just a budget CPU, it performs neatly – it is just that you would be better off with a Ryzen 5 2600.

What We Would Buy

These are the best i7 CPU for gaming. While they are all great, we have to give it to the Intel Core i7-9700K for its best performance on the list. Besides, every penny is worth it with this powerful CPU. But if your wallet is crying, you can always go with something safer such as the Intel i7-7700 – great value that costs significantly lesser. Yet, if you prefer something more powerful, the 8th gen i7-8700K will make your dreams come true. But if you are on the mid-end spectrum of PC gaming, do consider the i7-7700K a try. Although, when you want the cheapest possible i7 processor that can run modern games properly, the i7-6700K lets you do that PLUS it can overclock too.

Still can’t decide? Check out our gaming CPU hierarchy for an overview of Intel & AMD processors.

Editor & reviewer of gear from iOS control pad’s to high-end PC gaming hardware. He’s been gaming since the 1980s and mostly plays CS GO & Overwatch.