When building a gaming PC choosing the CPU is one of the most important decisions you will make. The CPU will determine how smoothly your games will run and how tasks will be handled. So, a really common question I get is: “Is intel core i7 good for gaming?“.
The short answer is yes. The Intel Core i7 is a good CPU for gaming, but there are many factors you need to consider before buying an i7 CPU. The i7 is one of the top CPU series that Intel offers (second to i9), but not all i7 Intel Core processors are created equal. There are different models and different generations of the i7, and this is what we will explore in this article.
Different Generations of i7 Processors
The first and more important thing to consider before buying an i7 CPU is its generation. There are 12 i7 generations, with each one being better than the last. The current i7 generation is the 12th generation and was released on Nov 4th, 2021.
In general, each new generation of the i7 offers better CPU performance and more features than the last. For example, there is a huge difference between a 12th generation i7 Intel Core i7-11700K and an 8th generation i7 Intel Core i7-9700K.
And because numbers always tell the whole story, let’s take a look at the benchmark scores of the same model of CPUs from different generations.
|CPU Name||Cores / Threads||CPU Clock Speed (Base / Max)||Benchmark Score|
|i7-7700K||4/8||4.2Ghz / 4.5Ghz||9,663|
|i7-8700K||6/12||3.7Ghz / 4.7Ghz||13,872|
|i7-9700K||8/8||3.6Ghz / 4.9Ghz||14,546|
|i7-10700K||8/16||3.8Ghz / 5.1Ghz||19,311|
|i7-11700K||8/16||3.6Ghz / 4.9Ghz||24,815|
|i7-12700K||8/20||3.6Ghz / 5.0Ghz||33,911|
As you can see in the table above, there is a huge difference in the benchmark scores of the different generations. The 12th generation CPU is almost 3 times faster than the 8th generation!
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Different Models of i7 intel core series
The second thing you need to consider before buying an i7 is the CPU model. The difference is not as big as the difference between different generations, but it is worth mentioning.
There are different models of the same generation of i7 CPUs, but not all of them are the same. The letters at the end of the model number (ex. i7-8700K) mean that the CPU has different features.
For example, the K at the end of the model number, e.g. (i7-12700K), means that it is an unlocked CPU. This means it can be overclocked to run to faster clock speeds than its base CPU’s clock speed.
The F at the end of the model number of the i7-12700F means that this motherboard doesn’t have a built-in graphics card. This is important because you will have to buy a graphics card separately.
The T at the end of the model number (i7-12700T) means that this CPU is a power-efficient CPU and runs at a lower frequency than other models to keep the power consumption low.
So, as you can understand, each i7 series processor is designed for different things. So let’s take a look at the specs and benchmark scores of a few different models from the same generation of processors to see the differences in performance.
|CPU Name||Cores / Threads||CPU Speed (Base / Max)||Benchmark Score|
|i7-12700K||8/20||3.6Ghz / 5.0Ghz||33,911|
|i7-12700KF||8/20||3.6Ghz / 5.0Ghz||33,944|
|i7-12700||8/20||2.1Ghz / 4.9Ghz||31,499|
|i7-12700F||8/20||2.1Ghz / 4.9Ghz||31,717|
|i7-12700T||8/20||1.4Ghz / 4.7Ghz||–|
As you can see, there are some differences in benchmark scores of the different models of the i7 Intel Core series. While the differences aren’t that big, you should still consider what each letter in the model name means before you make your purchase.
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Multi-Core vs Single Core Performance
It is a common misconception that the more cores a CPU has, the faster it will be.
While this is true in some cases, it is not always.
The number of cores is important when it comes to multitasking and running multiple programs at the same time, but it is not that important when it comes to gaming or other single-core tasks.
This is because most games and programs are not designed to take advantage of more than 4 cores.
Especially when we talk about MMO games like World of Warcraft, the number of cores isn’t that important.
These games were designed for massive adoption, not to take advantage of the 8 cores found on high-end CPUs.
The point I am trying to make is that your CPU won’t perform better just because it has more cores. If the game you are playing doesn’t take advantage of all the cores, then you are just underutilizing it.
To prove my point, I have gathered the benchmark of multi-core and single-core performance of a few different CPUs from the latest 12th Gen processors.
|CPU Name||Multi-Core Performance||Single-Core Performance|
As you can see in the table above, the difference between the Core i9 12900K and the Core i5 12600K is quite big when it comes to multi-core performance. However, when it comes to single-core performance is not that big. So, if you are only going to be using your CPU for single-core tasks like gaming or video editing, you might consider going for the i5 model to save some money.
Related Article: What Is AMD Equivalent To I5?
Popular Online Games and their CPU Requirements
Now that we have talked about the different generations and models of i7 processors, let’s see some popular online games and their CPU requirements.
Online Games Requirements
Counter-Strike Global Offensive
CPU: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E6600 or better
CPU: Dual-core from Intel
CPU: Single-core from Intel 1.6GHz. or better
League Of Legends
CPU: 4Ghz or better
CPU: Intel Core i3-3210 3.2 GHz
As you can see from the table above, some of the most popular online games do not require a very powerful CPU. So, an i7 CPU is more than enough if you plan to play these games.
But what if you are interested in playing more graphics-intensive games?
AAA Games CPU Requirements
We already saw that the i7 series would be more than enough for online games. But what if you are interested in playing some of the more graphics-intensive games?
Let’s see some of the top AAA games and their minimum and max CPU requirements.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Minimum: Intel CPU Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz
Recommended: Intel CPU Core i7 3770 3,4 GHz
Minimum: Intel i5-4440
Max: Intel i9 11900k
Minimum: Intel Core i5-2500K
Recommended: Intel Core i7-6700K
Dying light 2
Minimum: Intel Intel Core i3-9100
Recommended: Intel Core i5-8600K
Minimum: Dual Core 2.4 GHz
Recommended: Dual Core 3.0 GHz+
God of War
Minimum: Intel i5-2500k
Maximum: Intel i9-9900k
Minimum: Intel Core i5-8400
Recommended: Intel Core i7-9700K
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Minimum: Core i5-4460
Recommended: Core i7-9800X
Minimum: Intel CPU Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz
Recommended: Intel CPU Core i7 4790 4 GHz
Death Stranding Director’s Cut
Minimum: Intel Core i5-3470
Recommended: Intel Core i7-3770
As you can see from the AAA games requirements, if you want to play these games on minimum settings, you can use a less powerful CPU series like the i5. However, if you want to play these games on recommended settings, you will need an i7 CPU or better.
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What Makes Benchmark Scores Important?
Before I wrap up this article, I want to quickly talk about benchmark scores and why they are so important when you are judging a CPU.
Benchmark scores are important because they give you an idea of how a certain CPU will perform when it comes to certain tasks.
It is way better to look at benchmark scores than at plain CPU specs because the specs can be very misleading.
The benchmark scores are based on real-world tests that are conducted by experts. So, if you are looking to buy a CPU and want to know its gaming performance or how it performs in other tasks, then you should look at the benchmark scores.
The Final Verdict: Is intel core i7 Good for gaming?
Ok, we have been analyzing a lot of data in this article. So, it’s time to answer the question, “is the Intel Core i7 good for gaming?” based on our findings.
The answer to that question is yes, the Intel Core i7 is good for gaming, but I would like to put an asterisk next to it.
What I mean is that the Intel Core i7 is a good gaming processor if you plan on playing some of the higher-end games. It is a CPU series that, in a lot of cases, is recommended by the game developers themselves, which is a good indication of its power. The only thing you should pay attention to is the generation of the Intel Core i7 that you are buying because the difference in performance can be significant from one generation to the next.
On the other hand, if you are looking to play some of the less graphics-intensive games, you can probably get away with a less powerful processor and save some $$ to spend on other components of your build.
In any case, the Intel Core i7 is a good investment for a gaming computer, and it will not disappoint.
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What about gaming and streaming?
If you plan on streaming your gaming sessions on Twitch or YouTube, you will need to get a processor capable of handling that load, and a late-generation Intel Core i7 is a really good option.
When you are streaming and playing at the same time, you are putting a lot of stress on your CPU, and this is where you need a higher core count and a high frequency, and that is exactly what series like the Intel Core i7 was made for.
So, if you want to start streaming your gaming sessions, I would highly recommend going with an Intel Core i7-10700K or better. That will give you the best possible performance.
Intel Core i7 Gaming FAQ
Which i7 Processor Is Best For Gaming?
At the time I am writing this, the best i7 processor for gaming is probably the Intel Core i7-11700K. The 12700K was released just a few months ago and is still very expensive. The 11700K is a tested and proven processor that will give you great gaming performance. Plus, now that the 12th Gen is out there, probably its price will go down.
Is Core i5 or i7 Better For Gaming?
There is not a clear-cut answer to this question because it depends on the generation and model of the processors that we are talking about. In general terms, the Core i7 processors are more powerful than the Core i5 processors. However, that is not to say that the Core i5 processors are bad for gaming because they are not. They are just not as powerful as the Core i7s.
Is i9 Faster Than i7?
The i9 series is the most powerful line of Intel CPUs. In that essence, they are faster than the i7 processors. But, it all depends on the generation and models you are comparing. So, it is not really fair to say that the i9 is always faster than the i7.
Is Ryzen 7 Better Than Core i7?
The good ol’ Intel vs. AMD processors debate. The Ryzen 7 processors are AMD’s equivalent to the Intel Core i7 processors. I can dedicate a whole article to this topic, but I will just say that both are good for gaming. It all comes down to personal preference.
I am sure that now you have an answer to your question: if Intel Core i7 is good for gaming? And this answer is yes, I7 is a top-of-the-line processor series that will give you great gaming performance. However, you need to make sure that you are getting a generation that is right for your needs because the difference in performance can be significant.
Also, if you are not planning to play demanding games, you should consider saving money and getting a less expensive processor. But, for gaming and streaming, I would highly recommend going with an Intel Core i7-11700K or better.
Thank you for reading! Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions.
Nick Ryley is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love for playing games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings, and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building