MacBook Pro i7 vs i9: Which One Is Right For You?

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Good question! First things first, both the i7 and i9 MacBook Pro models have the same visual appearance. No matter what specs to customize them with.

The difference comes down to their CPU and GPU performance. The i9 model is much better for multi-thread applications (video editing, Blender, Photoshop) while the i7 model only has 6 cores.

If you’re into graphic rendering applications, I strongly recommend you go with the i9 model. Its 8 cores CPU will run these applications like a charm. You can also customize it with an 8GB Radeon 5300M graphic card.

For gaming, there is almost no difference in performance between the i7 and i9. I tested with the game “Battlefield 5” on medium settings and averaged 70 fps on both i7 and i9 MacBook Pro’s.

I also played “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” and, again, the gaming performance was the EXACT SAME on both i7 and i9 models. I had around 40 fps on average.

I know, it’s not that great.

Still, you might be thinking, why isn’t the i9 more performant than the i7?

That’s because the video cards are the limiting factors on both models. They are not very powerful graphic card, making gaming performance very low on both MacBook models.

Table of Contents

Which one is better for video editing?

The i9 model is better for video editing. This is because video editing is heavily CPU based, and obviously, the i9 is stronger than the i7.

Don’t get me wrong, video editing with the i7 is still very possible though. It’s just slightly less good.

The i9 model also comes with a Radeon 5500M video card, which is 25% faster than the i7’s 5300M. This will result in faster playback speed than on the i7.

Exporting/Rendering

I exported a 4K video using Final Cut Pro with both models. The i7 export took 10min20sec, while the i9 took 9min55s. Not a massive difference, you might say.

But then I exported a 20 minutes 8K footage, and that’s where the real difference jumped to my eye. The i9 only took 30min, while i7 took 2hrs!

That’s a shocking difference. The i9 was almost 4 times faster. This is due to the i9’s 8GB of video memory.

If rendering time is important to you, I STRONGLY recommend you go with the i9 model.

But if you don’t care about rendering and just want a smooth video editing experience, go with the i7.

You’ll save a few hundreds of dollars too.

Which one is better for gaming?

The gaming performance is almost the same on both models. This is because gaming is usually intensive on the
GPU.

And both models have a weak GPU, making gaming performance very low on both models.

You can upgrade both MacBook’s GPU with 8GB video memory.

It will give a slight boost in FPS, but not by a lot. It will help with faster video rendering though!

I tried with a few games, including Battlefield V and Shadow of the tomb raider and got an average performance of around 60 FPS on both MacBook models.

In summary, the video card will be bottlenecked. So, whether you choose the i7 or i9 CPU won’t make a noticeable difference on gaming performance. Gaming performance is pretty average.

Advantages of MacBook Pro (Core i7)

I kid you not, the i7 sometimes performed better than the i9 in multitasking. This was caused by the CPU overheating less, and resulted in faster processing power.

The i9 is an extremely powerful processor. It runs faster than the i7 95% of the time. But inside a laptop, it behaves differently, and heats like crazy. Hence why the i7 sometimes performs better.

The i7 is also cheaper than the i9 model. Which, I think, is great if you simply want a good MacBook Pro for productive work. The base model has plenty of storage (500GB), a decent video card and 16GB of RAM.

It will perform extremely well with heavy software like Photoshop and Final Cut Pro.

It can smoothly run small games like CS:GO, Valorant and League of legends. You will get around 70 FPS, sometimes even up to 120 fps!

I use the i7 MacBook Pro for CPU intensive chemistry apps and it works well.

If you’re also going to need a MacBook for CPU intensive tasks, why not go with the Core i9? The difference in price is not that much and will definitely be faster for CPU intensive tasks.

Advantages of MacBook Pro (Core i9)

The biggest advantage of the i9 that it’s way better at handling multi-threaded applications such as After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Blender, 3DS Max, etc.

Its 8 cores will have better performance in these kinds of applications, allowing you to be more productive.

But that’s pretty much it about the processor. It won’t be better at gaming. Because games are not designed to use many CPU cores at once. That’s why the i7 and i9 have the same CPU gaming performance.

If your budget allows it, max it out as much as you can. You will assured to get the best performances possible and help you become more productive.

I used to buy a new laptop every 2 years. But in 2011, I bought a MacBook Pro with an i7 and 16GB of RAM. It lasted me for more than 8 years.

Thankfully, it had really good specs and is still relevant to this day!

In fact, I used it last week to write on one of my blogs.

So yeah, max it out with the best specs if you can afford it. MacBook’s last for years and won’t deceive you!

When to choose the i7 MacBook Pro?

Get the Core i7 model if you simply want a fast, powerful laptop for productivity while saving a few hundred bucks.

MacOS is still extremely well optimized, which really helps in the process.

The i7 is also great for video editing. The playback will play smoothly and almost never lag. The only downside is rendering 8k footage, which can take about an hour for a 10min long video. Personally, I don’t mind long export time, since I always do something else in the meantime.

Photoshop and graphic editing software will run really smooth.

You won’t really experience any lag. Honestly, I couldn’t tell the smoothness difference in image editing between the i7 and i9 models.

Computer programming is going to be a piece of cake with the i7.

No matter what you’re using, this laptop will handle every bit of code you export, or run.

High-end 3D rendering like Blender will run fine. Though, 3D rendering will be slightly slower than with the i9 model. If you’re serious about rendering as fast as possible, upgrade the video memory to 8GB and 32GB RAM.

For music production (Logic Pro x), the i7 MacBook Pro will be more than fine for users. I personally tried loading as much VST plugin as I could. The system starting working hard, but the smoothness was kept very consistent.

For the i7 verdict, the i7 MacBook Pro 16” is still an incredibly fast laptop. Even the base i7 MacBook 2020 is so more powerful than any top spec MacBook’s from two years ago.

When to choose the i9 MacBook Pro?

First off, the i9 is better in every way.

More importantly, the MacBook Pro i9 will stay relevant much longer than the i7 since software technology is slowly shifting to an average of 8 cores CPU usage.

The i9 will perform better for multitasking. The difference won’t be huge, about 7% performance gain on average over the i7. In best case scenario, it could have 25% gain in multitasking performance over the i7.

Running single core applications, though, will be the same as the i7.

Video editing is great, with smooth video playback and great overall editing experience. But if you want the fastest rendering speed possible, max out the video memory to 8GB.

Gaming is possible, depending on the intensity of the game/graphics. CS:GO for example will run smooth like butter. 120 fps is usual for 2020 MacBook Pro gamers. Even Battlefield V will run extremely well, with 60 fps and more!

Even CPU intensive games like GTA V will run acceptably well, at around 40-60fps.

If your budget allows for it, max out every spec on this laptop and you’ll basically have the ultimate laptop for productivity.

Get the MacBook Pro i7

Brand

Apple

Model name

MacBook Pro 16-inch

Display size

16 inches

Processor

9th Gen Intel Core i7

Operating system

MacOS

Storage

500GB Ultra-fast SSD

Video card

AMD Radeon Pro 5300M

Get the MacBook Pro i9

Brand

Apple

Model name

MacBook Pro 16-inch

Display size

16 inches

Processor

9th Gen Intel Core i9

Operating system

MacOS

Storage

1000GB Ultra-fast SSD

Video card

AMD Radeon Pro 5500M

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