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Some Intel Core i9 laptops are not running any faster than a Core i7

Intel Core i9 offers very little benefit over Core i7 for mobile (Image source: Intel)
Intel Core i9 offers very little benefit over Core i7 for mobile (Image source: Intel)
There are generational performance leaps, and then there is pure marketing. The Core i9 series has so far been leaning towards the latter in terms of raw performance. In some cases, the CPU may even be slower than the Core i7.

Coffee Lake-H offers a measurable performance boost over the Kaby Lake HQ series largely because it introduces two additional physical cores for up to 12 simultaneous threads. Jumping from the last generation Core i7-7700HQ to the new Core i7-8750H, for example, can bring a 40 to 50 percent increase in multi-thread performance according to CineBench benchmarks.

The Coffee Lake-H Core i9 series, however, has been a mixed bag. When compared to the Core i7-8750H, the Core i9-8950HK can range from anywhere between 0 percent to 30 percent faster in multi-threaded workloads. In other words, some laptops are selling at premium Core i9 prices while providing a performance level very similar to that of a cheaper Core i7 configuration.

We've already tested a handful of Core i9 laptops including the Aorus X9 DT, MSI GT75, Asus Chimera G703GI, Alienware 15 R4, and the Eurocom Q8. The latter two in particular return disappointing CineBench R15 results with scores not unlike some competing laptops with the less expensive Core i7-8750H. The graph below illustrates how a number of Core i9 laptops are curiously underperforming despite being an unlocked HK-class processor.

The takeaway message here is that users may want to double-check if a high-end Core i9-8950HK SKU is really worth the investment especially when Core i7-8750H alternatives are widely available. Depending on the model in question, there may only be just marginal performance benefits at best. The Core i9 XPS 15 9570 and Core i9 MacBook Pro 15 2018 come to mind as their respective OEMs are demanding a high premium for the Core i9 name even if the performance boosts are dubious at best.

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Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Asus Chimera G703GI
Intel Core i9-8950HK
206 Points ∼100%
MSI GT75 8RG-090 Titan
Intel Core i9-8950HK
205 Points ∼100%
MSI GT75
Intel Core i9-8950HK
203 Points ∼99%
Eurocom Q8
Intel Core i9-8950HK
202 Points ∼98%
Alienware 15 R4
Intel Core i9-8950HK
197 Points ∼96%
Aorus X9 DT
Intel Core i9-8950HK
185 Points ∼90%
Schenker XMG A517 Coffee Lake
Intel Core i7-8750H
176 Points ∼85%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Intel Core i7-8750H
176 Points ∼85%
Schenker XMG A707 Coffee Lake
Intel Core i7-8750H
174 Points ∼84%
MSI GT63 Titan 8RG-046
Intel Core i7-8750H
174 Points ∼84%
Razer Blade 15 2018
Intel Core i7-8750H
172 Points ∼83%
Schenker XMG Neo 15
Intel Core i7-8750H
172 Points ∼83%
Asus Strix GL703GM-DS74
Intel Core i7-8750H
168 Points ∼82%
Zotac ZBOX Magnus EK71080
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
161 Points ∼78%
CPU Multi 64Bit
MSI GT75
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1391 Points ∼100%
Aorus X9 DT
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1388 Points ∼100%
MSI GT75 8RG-090 Titan
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1378 Points ∼99%
Asus Chimera G703GI
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1312 Points ∼94%
Schenker XMG A517 Coffee Lake
Intel Core i7-8750H
1176 Points ∼85%
Schenker XMG Neo 15
Intel Core i7-8750H
1154 Points ∼83%
Schenker XMG A707 Coffee Lake
Intel Core i7-8750H
1112 Points ∼80%
Eurocom Q8
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1099 Points ∼79%
MSI GT63 Titan 8RG-046
Intel Core i7-8750H
1091 Points ∼78%
Alienware 15 R4
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1083 Points ∼78%
Asus Strix GL703GM-DS74
Intel Core i7-8750H
1015 Points ∼73%
Razer Blade 15 2018
Intel Core i7-8750H
983 Points ∼71%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Intel Core i7-8750H
915 Points ∼66%
Zotac ZBOX Magnus EK71080
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
738 Points ∼53%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit
Asus Chimera G703GI
Intel Core i9-8950HK
2.34 Points ∼100%
MSI GT75 8RG-090 Titan
Intel Core i9-8950HK
2.33 Points ∼100%
Alienware 15 R4
Intel Core i9-8950HK
2.28 Points ∼97%
Aorus X9 DT
Intel Core i9-8950HK
2.1 Points ∼90%
Schenker XMG A707 Coffee Lake
Intel Core i7-8750H
1.99 Points ∼85%
Schenker XMG A517 Coffee Lake
Intel Core i7-8750H
1.98 Points ∼85%
Schenker XMG Neo 15
Intel Core i7-8750H
1.96 Points ∼84%
Razer Blade 15 2018
Intel Core i7-8750H
1.95 Points ∼83%
Asus Strix GL703GM-DS74
Intel Core i7-8750H
1.92 Points ∼82%
Zotac ZBOX Magnus EK71080
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
1.84 Points ∼79%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Asus Chimera G703GI
Intel Core i9-8950HK
15.14 Points ∼100%
Aorus X9 DT
Intel Core i9-8950HK
15.13 Points ∼100%
MSI GT75 8RG-090 Titan
Intel Core i9-8950HK
15.05 Points ∼99%
Schenker XMG A517 Coffee Lake
Intel Core i7-8750H
13.35 Points ∼88%
Schenker XMG Neo 15
Intel Core i7-8750H
12.89 Points ∼85%
Alienware 15 R4
Intel Core i9-8950HK
12.39 Points ∼82%
Schenker XMG A707 Coffee Lake
Intel Core i7-8750H
12.2 Points ∼81%
Asus Strix GL703GM-DS74
Intel Core i7-8750H
11.2 Points ∼74%
Razer Blade 15 2018
Intel Core i7-8750H
10.51 Points ∼69%
Zotac ZBOX Magnus EK71080
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
8.13 Points ∼54%
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 07 > Some Intel Core i9 laptops are not running any faster than a Core i7
Allen Ngo, 2018-07-18 (Update: 2018-07-18)
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.