Top i9 CPU for Gaming (2020)

After performing hours of marketing analysis on over 15 different Intel processors, we highly recommend the Intel Core i9-9900K as the best i9 CPU for gaming because of its high-end capabilities and incredible overclocking (read more of it below).

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Top Pick
Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel BX80684I99900KF Intel Core i9-9900KF Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo Unlocked Without Processor Graphics LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel Core i9-9900 Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0GHz LGA1151 300 Series 65W
Intel Core i9-9820X X-Series Processor 10 Cores up to 4.1GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA2066 X299 Series 165W
Intel Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition Processor 18 Cores up to 4.4GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA2066 X299 Series 165W Processors (999AD1)
Title
Intel Core i9-9900K
Intel Core i9-9900KF
Intel Core i7-8700K
Intel Core i7-7700K
Intel Core i7-6700K
Max Clock Speed
5 GHz
5 GHz
4.7 GHz
4.5 GHz (unlocked)
4.7 GHz (unlocked)
Core/Thread Count
8/16
8/16
6/12
10/20
18/36
Top Pick
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Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Title
Intel Core i9-9900K
Max Clock Speed
5 GHz
Core/Thread Count
8/16
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Intel BX80684I99900KF Intel Core i9-9900KF Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo Unlocked Without Processor Graphics LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Title
Intel Core i9-9900KF
Max Clock Speed
5 GHz
Core/Thread Count
8/16
Image
Intel Core i9-9900 Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0GHz LGA1151 300 Series 65W
Title
Intel Core i7-8700K
Max Clock Speed
4.7 GHz
Core/Thread Count
6/12
Image
Intel Core i9-9820X X-Series Processor 10 Cores up to 4.1GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA2066 X299 Series 165W
Title
Intel Core i7-7700K
Max Clock Speed
4.5 GHz (unlocked)
Core/Thread Count
10/20
Image
Intel Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition Processor 18 Cores up to 4.4GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA2066 X299 Series 165W Processors (999AD1)
Title
Intel Core i7-6700K
Max Clock Speed
4.7 GHz (unlocked)
Core/Thread Count
18/36

Best Intel CPU for Gaming

If you ask any high-end PC gamer or a very meticulous critic what is the best i9 CPU for gaming, they will tell you it is the Intel Core i9-9900K. Made with superior 8 cores and allotment for overclocking up to 5.0 GHz, this Intel processor is a mega monster in gaming.

Pros:
  • Very fast performance
  • Lots of cores
  • Great overclock speeds
Cons:
  • Some hiccups with multi-threading
  • Expensive
  • Overclock not as effective as high-end AMD Ryzen

The Intel Core i9-9900K could be considered as the Holy Grail of Intel right now because of all the possibilities you can do with it. Whether you want to just attach it and play the game on the fly or want to fiddle with its specs and test out its overclocking capabilities, the Intel Core i9-9900K will always impress you. Okay, so maybe its overclocking is not as consistent as a Ryzen 9 but it still counts as one of the best-performing CPUs for gaming out there. It is a future-proof processor that will surely live up to future games to come at least for the next 5 years. Make sure to put the i9-9900K as your number one in the list.

Best Value i9 CPU for Gaming

The Intel Core i9-9900KF is the baby sister of the i9-9900KF which includes some limitations in order to make this cheaper. That said, it does everything its superior version already performs with the exception of missing integrated graphics.

Pros:
  • Slightly more affordable
  • Still performs like a 9900K
  • Multithreading
Cons:
  • Discrete graphics card required
  • No integrated graphics
  • Has some inconsistent performance issues

Generally, you might be looking at the same model as the i9-9900K. But the truth is, the Intel Core i9-9900KF is much cheaper for vital reasons: no integrated graphics and only compatible with Intel 300 chipset motherboards. All else, this is much like the i9-9900K but cheaper and less consistent. If you benchmark the two, according to comparisons made by PC reviewers, you should be able to spot some jagged areas on modern games performing at max capacity. Nevertheless, it is much cheaper than the i9-9900K, making this beauty one heck of a bargain. Keep the Intel Core i9-9900KF on your list for when you are focusing on a not-so-budget gaming set-up.

Best Budget i9 CPU for Gaming

If you do not require overclocking but still desire the power of what the best i9 CPU for gaming can do, then you should turn your attention to the Intel Core i9-9900: the vanilla version of both the i9-9900K and the i9-9900KF.

Pros:
  • Good 8 cores
  • Still good for high-end PC gaming
  • Beautful cover
Cons:
  • Still pricier than any Intel CPU below i9
  • Poor stock cooler
  • No overclocking

The Intel Core i9-9900 treats itself as the “plain” version of the more popular i9-9900K. The only main difference here is that it uses stock parts and it does not include overclocking. However, the specs remain the same: 8 cores, 16 threads, 5.0 GHz max clock speed, and a beautiful cover. Since this is the vanilla version, you will need to tinker with it before you can make it properly work: update the BIOS and – at some point – replace the lackluster stock fan with something significantly better (although it would just be more rational if you buy the i9-9900K instead). Overall, if overclocking is not your thing and you still need to be aware of your excessive expenditures on a gaming rig, the Intel Core i9-9900 will fit you just right.

Best i9 CPU for Gaming and Multitasking

Sometimes, 8 cores are just not enough. The Intel Core i9-9820X expands up to 10 cores and 20 threads, allowing you to do more than just gaming. It is a great companion when you are live streaming, video editing or graphic designing.

Pros:
  • Up to 10 cores
  • Unlocked clock speed
  • Best for streaming and editing
Cons:
  • Hard to find
  • Very expensive
  • Excessive cores not necessary

If you wish to turn your PC into an all-in-one station for both work and play, then you should get the Intel Core i9-9820X – a monstrous CPU that does more than just give you the coolest gaming performance possible (no pun intended). Sincei it is fitted with 10 cores and 20 threads, you will never have to worry about overheating when opening at least 5 tabs on Google Chrome. You can run up to 3 different Crysis games at the same time (according to a PC user who reviewed the CPU). Above all else, its max clock speed may be 4.1 GHz but it is unlocked to reach limitless potential. Get this for when you are power-hungry over your PC.

Best Powerhouse i9 CPU for Gaming

Just when you thought you cannot get even further beyond, the Intel Core i9-9980XE’s power level is literally over 9000. Equipped with whopping 18 cores and 36 threads, this grand CPU is the end of all CPUs.

Pros:
  • The ultimate CPU
  • Extremely powerful
  • 18 cores
Cons:
  • Only ideal for industrial PCs
  • Excessively expensive
  • Extra cores not needed

Some of us on Earth just can never get enough of anything – including PC gaming. With that said, say hello to the Intel Core i9-9980XE: a CPU so powerful, it should be considered a NASA terminal at this point. Buffed up with 18 cores and 36 threads, you would not ever even need to activate multithreading in order to keep things stable. Speaking of which, you can run 5 different Google Chromes, 4 running ModernWarfare.exe files and play a Minecraft world full of TNTs to blow up in seamless 120-60 FPS. What more can we ever say except that it is just so powerful, that only those with large investments can afford it. And if you happen to be one of those investors, then enough said about the Intel Core i9-9980XE.

What We Would Buy

The i9 is quite frankly the most expensive CPUs in the market. However, Intel is doing what they can in order to compete with the archrival AMD Ryzen – even if it means releasing a processor full of excessive cores. Whatever your preference may be, here are the list of the best i9 CPU for gaming. Of course, realistically speaking, the Intel Core i9-9900K is best for gaming with its good overclocking. But if you are looking for something cheaper than that, the alternate versions – i9-9900KF and i9-9900 – are good too. The KF version does not include integrated graphics, requiring you to buy a powerful GPU that can match the Intel processor. The i9-9900 is a stock version that still carries the same traits as our number one CPU. But if you want more power, then we suggest getting the Intel Core i9-9820X and the Intel Core i9-9980XE; both of which that goes way beyond gaming…like powering up a house or starting a space shuttle.

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.