Notebookcheck

Our Core i9 verdict: It’s just not worth it on laptops

Our Core i9 verdict: It’s just not worth it on laptops
Our Core i9 verdict: It’s just not worth it on laptops
With almost a dozen Core i9-8950HK laptops under our belt, we have a pretty good idea about how these unlocked CPUs can perform. Average CPU performance is just 8 to 9 percent faster than the average Core i7-8750H laptop for a disappointing first year debut.

Intel formally announced the Coffee Lake-H series for laptops on April 2018 consisting of new Core i5 and Core i7 SKUs to supplant the previous generation Kaby Lake-H Core i5 and Core i7. While the refresh itself wasn’t surprising, the revelation of new Core i9 options certainly was. Can such a high-power processor really run on a laptop form factor?

After testing over 10 different laptops with 45 W Core i9-8950HK processors, we can safely say that the performance advantages are minor on average and significantly smaller than the jump between Core i5 and Core i7. At best, users can expect a raw multi-thread performance boost of 25 percent over the average Core i7-8750H, but performance can actually be slower than the Core i7 at worst depending on the laptop.

The Dell XPS 15 9570 and MacBook Pro 15 2018 Core i9 configurations are perhaps the best examples of this. In order to best exploit the Core i9 CPU,  the processor must run at high Turbo Boost clock rates for long periods. Unfortunately, most laptops like the Dell or Apple just don’t have powerful enough cooling solutions for the task and so performance throttling inevitably occurs to keep core temperature in check. The CPU would swiftly stabilize at its base clock rate to ultimately be just a hair faster than the Core i7.

Our chart below compares the CineBench R15 Multi-Thread scores of numerous Core i9 laptops against the average Core i7-8750H taken from a sample set of almost 70 different laptops. Many OEMs charge $300 or more just to upgrade from a Core i7 to a Core i9, but we highly recommend standing firm with the Core i7 option and then spending the extra cash on other key specifications such as higher storage capacity, RAM, or a faster GPU.

Users who really want Core i9 on a laptop ought to consider Clevo or Eurocom models as these systems carry standard LGA1151 sockets specifically designed to run desktop CPUs at comparatively higher TDP ceilings.

Working For Notebookcheck

Are you a techie who knows how to write? Then join our Team! Especially English native speakers welcome!

Currently wanted: 
News and Editorial Editor - Details here

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Asus Chimera G703GI
Intel Core i9-8950HK
206 Points ∼94%
MSI GT75 8RG-090 Titan
Intel Core i9-8950HK
205 Points ∼94%
MSI GT75
Intel Core i9-8950HK
203 Points ∼93%
Eurocom Q8
Intel Core i9-8950HK
202 Points ∼93%
Acer Predator Helios 500 PH517-51-93LS
Intel Core i9-8950HK
198 Points ∼91%
Alienware 15 R4
Intel Core i9-8950HK
197 Points ∼90%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK
  (185 - 206, n=14)
196 Points ∼90%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Intel Core i9-8950HK
192 Points ∼88%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
Intel Core i9-8950HK
191 Points ∼88%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
Intel Core i9-8950HK
190 Points ∼87%
Dell Precision 7530
Intel Core i9-8950HK
187 Points ∼86%
Aorus X9 DT
Intel Core i9-8950HK
185 Points ∼85%
CPU Multi 64Bit
MSI GT75
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1391 Points ∼32%
Aorus X9 DT
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1388 Points ∼32%
MSI GT75 8RG-090 Titan
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1378 Points ∼31%
Asus Chimera G703GI
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1312 Points ∼30%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK
  (1051 - 1391, n=14)
1210 Points ∼28%
Dell Precision 7530
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1166 Points ∼27%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1163 Points ∼27%
Acer Predator Helios 500 PH517-51-93LS
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1148 Points ∼26%
Eurocom Q8
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1099 Points ∼25%
Alienware 15 R4
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1083 Points ∼25%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1074 Points ∼25%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1051 Points ∼24%
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Average Intel Core i7-8750H
  (163 - 177, n=85)
172 Points ∼79%
Asus Zephyrus S GX701GX
Intel Core i7-8750H
170 Points ∼78%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Asus Zephyrus S GX701GX
Intel Core i7-8750H
1218 Points ∼28%
Average Intel Core i7-8750H
  (863 - 1251, n=92)
1109 Points ∼25%

Source(s)

Own

static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 02 > Our Core i9 verdict: It’s just not worth it on laptops
Allen Ngo, 2019-02-22 (Update: 2019-02-28)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.