What is Faster Than i9? Examining the Latest High-Performance Processors

Photo of author
Written By Dominic Howard

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur pulvinar ligula augue quis venenatis. 

The Intel Core i9 processor has long been held as one of the fastest consumer CPU options on the market. First introduced in 2017, the i9 series represented the pinnacle of Intel’s processing power for gamers, creators, and performance enthusiasts. However, as technology continues to advance rapidly, many wonder – what lies beyond the mighty i9? Is there anything faster and more powerful that has come to surpass even Intel’s flagship processor?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the landscape of high-performance processors and examine what alternatives now exist that outpace even the mighty i9. From new offerings by Intel themselves to competition from rival AMD, the world of bleeding-edge processing speeds continues to accelerate at a breakneck pace. By diving into detailed performance benchmarks and specs, we’ll find out what currently stands at the apex of computing muscle.

Intel Core i9 Processors

First, let’s start with a quick recap of what exactly Core i9 processors are and what they offer. Introduced as part of Intel’s enthusiast segment along with the Core X-Series, the Core i9 family represents the highest-end desktop processors in their stacked product lineup. i9 processors are optimized for power users, hardcore gamers, content creators, and productivity professionals who need uncompromising performance.

Some key capabilities and highlights of Intel Core i9 processors include:

  • Up to 18 cores and 36 threads – The highest core and thread counts of any consumer desktop processor offered by Intel, enabling tremendous parallel processing power for complex workflows and multitasking.
  • Turbo Boost Max 3.0 – Dynamically allocates power to the processor’s fastest cores to optimize single-threaded performance when needed. Enables higher boost clocks.
  • Thermal Velocity Boost – Opportunistic speed boosting that takes advantage of available thermal headroom for extra performance.
  • Support for quad channel DDR4 memory – Quad channel memory delivers higher bandwidth and lower latency for faster performance. i9 supports up to 128GB of RAM.
  • 40 PCIe lanes – Enables support for multiple high-speed NVMe SSDs and graphics cards simultaneously.
  • Intel Smart Cache – Up to 24.75 MB of shared L3 cache improves performance and allows cores to access data faster.
  • Soldered IHS – The CPU lid is soldered to the package for improved thermal transfer compared to paste. Helps maximize turbo speeds.
  • Premium Intel stock cooler (some models) – Enables out-of-the-box overclocking through unlocked multipliers.

In real-world usage, both productivity and creative applications along with gaming performance are tremendously accelerated by i9 processors compared to lower tier options. When they debuted, i9 CPUs provided a significant boost over previous high-end Intel chips. However, competitors have begun challenging i9’s dominance in recent years. Let’s look at some of the latest alternatives that can outrun even the speediest i9 processors.

Intel Core i9-13900K – The Fastest i9 Yet

Ironically, one of the most powerful competitors to the i9 actually comes from Intel itself. The company recently launched its 13th Gen Core processors, led by the flagship i9-13900K. Built on an optimized combination of Performance (P) and Efficient (E) cores codenamed Raptor Lake, this newest i9 iteration provides a substantial performance improvement over previous generations.

  • Here are some key specs and characteristics of the Core i9-13900K:24 cores (8 P-cores, 16 E-cores) and 32 threads
  • Up to 5.8 GHz boost clocks (1-2 core)
  • 15% faster single thread performance than i9-12900K
  • Up to 44% faster multi-threaded performance
  • 68MB Intel Smart Cache
  • Supported on existing Z690 and new Z790 motherboards
  • Unlocked for overclocking
  • New DDR5 memory support
  • 125W processor base power
  • Intel 7 process node

In both single and multi-threaded workloads, the i9-13900K shows sizable gains over its 12th Gen Alder Lake predecessor. The added E-cores allow heavily parallelized workloads like 3D rendering and video editing to accelerate even faster. And the turbo-boosted P-cores provide snappy responsiveness in games and applications that demand high clock speeds.

For creators and power users on older systems, upgrading to the i9-13900K will provide massive performance benefits in productivity, gaming, streaming, and content creation workflows. It currently reigns as the fastest mainstream consumer desktop CPU that Intel offers.

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X – A Serious Intel Challenger

Though Intel has held the high-end desktop crown with the i9 for many generations, perennial rival AMD has been hot on their heels. The company’s new Ryzen 9 7950X processor based on the advanced Zen 4 architecture poses a major threat to Intel’s dominance. Here’s a closer look at how the 7950X stacks up against i9.

  • 16 cores (all P-cores) and 32 threads
  • Up to 5.7 GHz boost clock
  • Approximately 29% faster performance than Ryzen 9 5950X
  • Up to 47% more performance than i9-12900K as per AMD
  • 80 MB of L3 cache
  • Dual-channel DDR5 memory support
  • 170W TDP
  • 5nm TSMC process node
  • AM5 CPU socket and X670 chipset
  • PCIe Gen 5.0 support
  • Unlocked for overclocking

With star features like a 5nm process node, bleeding-edge I/O, and massive cache, the 7950X demonstrates AMD’s push to take the processing performance crown. It shows massive gen-on-gen uplift over older Ryzen chips and competes head-to-head with Intel’s latest offerings.

Based on independent benchmarks, the 7950X can surpass both the i9-12900K and previous-gen Ryzen 9 5950X by significant margins in prosumer workloads. It lags just slightly behind the i9-13900K in some gaming tests but generally keeps up or leads in multi-threaded creative work. For creators and power users on a mature AMD platform, upgrading to the 7950X is an easy path to major performance gains.

Threadripper PRO 5000 Series – King of Workstation-Class Performance

For those who need sheer compute muscle for intensive workstation tasks and applications, AMD’s Threadripper PRO series has long reigned supreme. These processors offer workstation-grade features like 8-channel memory, 128 PCIe lanes, and ECC support for mission-critical reliability.

The newest entrants are the Threadripper PRO 5000WX-series, which comes armed to the teeth with cutting-edge cores, cache, bandwidth, and I/O.

Some highlights of Threadripper PRO 5000 chips:

  • Up to 64 cores / 128 threads
  • Up to a whopping 288MB of L3 cache
  • 8-Channel DDR4 memory support
  • 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes
  • Support for 2TB of RAM
  • 4nm TSMC process node
  • 280W TDP
  • AI acceleration via AMD Instinct MI200 GPU

With their sheer muscle for chewing through massive datasets, complex simulations, 3D rendering, and heavy multitasking, the Threadripper PRO 5000 series dominates many workstation benchmarks. These processors offer unmatched performance for demanding professional applications.

Of course, such overkill power requires specialty TRX40/WRX80 motherboards and comes with a staggering price tag. But for those who truly need the best-of-the-best processing power for productivity and creativity, Threadripper PRO has no equal. Even the mightiest consumer i9 can’t keep up.

Apple M1 Max & M1 Ultra – Breaking x86 Convention

Beyond the world of Windows PCs and traditional x86 processors, Apple is trailblazing its own path into high-performance computing. Custom processors like the M1 Max and M1 Ultra are offering laptop-class chips that can compete with far more power-hungry x86 desktop CPUs.

Here are some of the most impressive capabilities of these Arm-based Apple silicon processors:

M1 Max

  • 10-core CPU with 8 high-performance cores and 2 energy-efficient cores
  • Up to 32-core GPU
  • 400GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 32GB of unified system memory
  • 57 billion transistors
  • 5nm TSMC process

M1 Ultra

  • 20-core CPU with 16 high-performance cores and 4 energy-efficient cores
  • Up to 64-core GPU
  • 800GB/s of memory bandwidth
  • 64GB / 128GB unified system memory
  • 114 billion transistors
  • Packaging that interconnects two M1 Max dies

Thanks to their unified system architecture and software/hardware codesign, both the M1 Max and M1 Ultra deliver extraordinary performance while using just a fraction of the power of comparable x86 hardware. The M1 Ultra can rival or exceed the performance of 16-core Ryzen and Core i9 chips while running cool and quiet with no need for fans.

For creative pros on the go, Apple silicon like M1 Pro, Max, and Ultra allow workstation-class performance in impressively slim and light mobile form factors. They represent a seismic shift in the computing landscape and a true challenge to the x86 status quo.

Core i9 – Still a Processing Powerhouse

Despite the increasingly fierce competition, Intel’s Core i9 processors still reign supreme for gamers and performance enthusiasts building cutting-edge desktop rigs. The i9-13900K currently holds the crown as the fastest gaming CPU that money can buy. And even previous-gen i9 chips like the i9-12900K and i9-11900K still outpace most other processors on the market.

Some reasons why Core i9 remains a top choice:

  • Strong single-threaded speeds for maximum FPS in games
  • Refined architecture optimized for desktop usage
  • Wide software support and stability on mature platforms
  • Favorite brand of many system builders and overclockers
  • Highly tuned memory support for overclocking DDR4/DDR5 RAM
  • Excellent thermals and heat dissipation with proper cooling
  • A long history of steady evolution and generational improvements

For building an uncompromising high-end gaming PC or workstation, the Core i9 should still be strongly considered. With each new generation, Intel incrementally perfects the desktop CPU formula combining peak clocks, ample cores, smart cache, and advanced I/O. And into the foreseeable future, the iconic Core i9 family will stand tall among elite processors.

What Lies Ahead for Cutting-Edge CPUs?

Consumer processors have come a very long way from their humble beginnings. Today’s high-end chips like i9 and Threadripper would have been the stuff of supercomputers just decades ago. And the future continues to promise massive leaps in power efficiency, parallelization, AI acceleration, 3D stacking, and more.

Both Intel and AMD will continue vying to push the limits of x86 performance with upcoming chips supporting advanced packaging, hybrid designs, and new architectures. Intel’s delayed Sapphire Rapids for instance will bring HBM memory stacking along with compute die disaggregation for Xeon servers. AMD has its 3D V-Cache technology on the horizon offering sizable speedups through vertically stacked cache.

Apple seems poised to keep aggressively iterating their potent Arm-based processors for Macs as well. Each new generation so far has made monumental leaps over previous designs. They may lead a vanguard that brings Arm into the data center and high-performance computing traditionally dominated by x86.

With so much innovation across the playing field, it’s an exciting time to be a CPU enthusiast! i9 and its latest incarnations will continue holding strong through the advent of DDR5 platforms, PCIe 5.0, and Windows 11. But the competition is hungrier than ever to claim the processing performance crown. The race to drive silicon to its limits is truly heating up like never before!

No matter your performance goals or computing needs, current high-end processors offer tremendous muscle. While i9 remains a stellar overall package, exciting alternatives exist to satisfy every use case from gaming to content creation and beyond. One thing is certain – today’s fastest CPUs already run circles around the vast majority of chips. And the future looks exceedingly bright for ever-bigger performance gains!


Leave a Comment