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The Intel Core i7-4790K - Devil's Canyon Review and Overclocking

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

A refresh for Haswell

Intel is not very good at keeping secrets recently. Rumors of a refreshed Haswell line of processors have been circulating for most of 2014.  In March, it not only confirmed that release but promised an even more exciting part called Devil's Canyon. The DC parts are still quad-core Haswell processors built on Intel's 22nm process technology, but change a few specific things. 

Intel spent some time on the Devil's Canyon Haswell processors to improve the packaging and thermals for overclockers and enthusiasts. The thermal interface material (TIM) that lies in between the die and the heat spreader has been updated to a next-generation polymer TIM (NGPTIM). The change should improve cooling performance of all currently shipping cooling solutions (air or liquid), but it is still a question just HOW MUCH this change will actually matter. 

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You can also tell from the photo comparison above that Intel has added capacitors to the back of the processor to "smooth" power delivery. This, in combination with the NGPTIM, should enable a bit more headroom for clock speeds with the Core i7-4790K.

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In fact, there are two Devil's Canyon processors being launched this month. The Core i7-4790K will sell for $339, the same price as the Core i7-4770K, while the Core i5-4690K will sell for $242. The lower end option is a 3.5 GHz base clock, 3.9 GHz Turbo clock quad-core CPU without HyperThreading. While a nice step over the Core i5-4670K, it's only 100 MHz faster. Clearly the Core i7-4790K is the part everyone is going to be scrambling to buy.

Another interesting change is that both the Core i7-4790K and the Core i5-4690K enable support for both Intel's VT-d virtualization IO technology and Intel's TSX-NI transactional memory instructions. This makes them the first enthusiast-grade unlocked processors from Intel to support them!

As Intel states it, the Core i7-4790K and the Core i5-4690K have been "designed to be used in conjunction with the Z97 chipset." That being said, at least one motherboard manufacturer, ASUS, has released limited firmware updates to support the Devil's Canyon parts on Z87 products. Not all motherboards are going to be capable, and not all vendors are going to the spend the time to integrate support, so keep an eye on the support page for your specific motherboard.

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The CPU itself looks no different on the top, save for the updated model numbering.

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Core i7-4790K on the left, Core i7-4770K on the right

On the back you can see the added capacitors that help with stable overclocking.

The clock speed advantage that the Core i7-4790K provides over the Core i7-4770K should not be overlooked, even before overclocking is taken into consideration. A 500 MHz base clock boost is 14% higher in this case and in those specific CPU-limited tasks, you should see very high scaling.

Continue reading our review of the Intel Core i7-4790K Devil's Canyon CPU!!

June 7, 2014 | 01:35 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"It's not "budget" but most people's standards but getting this kind of performance with a $339 CPU helps everyone and Intel's good will gesture to the community at least indicates that the lack of competition on the high-end of the market isn't totally damning us all."

There is something wrong with this sentence.

June 7, 2014 | 10:07 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Fixed the typo, thanks!

June 7, 2014 | 01:45 AM - Posted by JxcelDolghmQ (not verified)

Thanks for the review. Decent pricing, for an Intel part, but they do not seem to be binning these chips for overclocking like some people were hoping or expecting. Funny to see the 8350 still topping the performance per dollar charts despite its age and lack of price drops. Really demonstrates the lack of progress in the higher end of late.

Couple of potential typos:
On the Test Setup page, you list the A10-5800K but it does not appear in any of the benchmarks.
In the conclusion, second to last paragraph, you write: "It's not "budget" but most people's standards", I think you meant "by most people's standards".

June 10, 2014 | 11:14 AM - Posted by Patrick P (not verified)

Eh, the performance for dollar rankings have never included the average power usage in the calculation. In reality 4690 > 8350 for perf/$ in the long run.

June 7, 2014 | 02:22 AM - Posted by renz (not verified)

so clock for clock how much improvement we are going to see from sandy bridge to this new line up?

June 7, 2014 | 02:45 AM - Posted by JxcelDolghmQ (not verified)

Same as Sandy to Haswell, IPC is not any better on these than regular Haswell.

June 7, 2014 | 10:08 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Correct, it's the exact same architecture, just higher clocks (than we have seen before) and new TIM and added caps.

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June 7, 2014 | 03:17 AM - Posted by Havor (not verified)

/Offtopic

Why do you use the X series when comparing price performance ratio's of S2011 CPUs, hell i would not even recommence a S2011 CPU for 95% of the people that buy them.

And i know my 3930K + R4E dose not have the best price performance ratio, but using 3970X and 4960X CPUs that no one in his right mind would buy over the x930K series is just muddying the waters.

June 7, 2014 | 10:09 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Well, to be honest, these are the parts we have in-house for testing.

But the comment is noted and we'll try to include more of the product range when doing future reviews. Maybe for Haswell-E, for example.

June 7, 2014 | 04:16 AM - Posted by Martin Trautvetter

I really like that Intel went with a much higher default clock on this one, not just a 100 MHz bump, and agree with your assessment that that makes the 4790K a great choice even if you never plan to overclock. 400 MHz extra for just $25 over the regular 4790? Who wouldn't buy the K?

Interesting results, though the (sometimes) stilted scaling and conspicuously higher idle power consumption look a bit odd. Hope the latter will be fixed by newer UEFIs, and is not an inherent trait of DC Haswells!

I wouldn't worry about the pricing, the 4770K will be sold off, with the 4790K replacing it at the same price soon.

Personally, I can't wait to see when (if?) Gigabyte updates my Z87's UEFI to include DC support.

June 7, 2014 | 04:51 AM - Posted by arbiter

if they don't then its gigabyte that decided to, I have an Asus Z87 board and they have bios for DC cpu out.

June 7, 2014 | 08:27 PM - Posted by John H (not verified)

The K parts miss some of the virtualization features the non-Ks have..

June 8, 2014 | 07:29 AM - Posted by Martin Trautvetter

While that was true for the old Ks, VT-d and TSX-NI are enabled on the new DC Ks:

http://ark.intel.com/compare/80807,80806,75123

_
BTW: How cool is it that the ARK-references for the i7 Haswell refreshes could be read as "eighty-eighty-six" and "eighty-eighty-seven"? /geek-out ;)

June 8, 2014 | 04:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Wow that's good to know.

June 9, 2014 | 07:03 PM - Posted by John H (not verified)

That is good to know! I want a i666 inside my system now!

June 7, 2014 | 05:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Ryan,

What would your temps on the 4770k have been had you put it at 4.7GHz (the same as the 4790k) and reduced the voltage to the bare minimum to sustain that frequency?

If the temperatures in that case would be in the 70's or 80's, which is warm but still acceptable, I really don't see the point in this product from an overclocking prospective.

June 7, 2014 | 10:10 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I would agree with that statement if my overclocking results were to be the definitive results, but it is possible that the 4770K that I got happens to be a GREAT overclocking part and the 4790K I got happens to be a poor overclocking part. There is still a lot of luck in this business.

June 7, 2014 | 03:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The point is that they cost the same, but the 4790k has better thermal properties, which is huge for overclocking. Even if it can't clock higher, it can reach the same speeds with much more stability without requiring a risky delid.

June 7, 2014 | 07:48 AM - Posted by CB (not verified)

Ryan, any chance you could tell us what the fastest stable OC you got was without a voltage bump? It'd be interesting to see that OC temp without voltage increases...

June 7, 2014 | 10:11 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

The only data I have on that is at 1.2v, which is where I started overclocking testing. On that, I could hit 4.5 GHz, but no more.

June 7, 2014 | 10:47 AM - Posted by Robogeoff (not verified)

"Temperatures during load of Core i7-4970K at 4.7 GHz"

4790K or 4970K?

I would think it weird for this Haswell refresh to get a model number that's higher than my Ivy-E 4930K.

June 7, 2014 | 01:52 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Fixed, thanks for pointing that out...

June 7, 2014 | 10:52 AM - Posted by polu (not verified)

Can you pls cut the IHS and see if there is a weak TIM or is it soldered as SB, pls?

June 9, 2014 | 04:40 AM - Posted by Earnest Bunbury (not verified)

YES, er... YES!

June 7, 2014 | 11:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Could you run tests using a z87 motherboard also? Would really like to see if there are any limitations on using the new chips with a z87 board.

June 7, 2014 | 11:51 AM - Posted by geekthem (not verified)

http://geekthem.com/future-of-intel-based-smartphone-chip/

June 7, 2014 | 12:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why am I not seeing 8core cpu for decent price yet.

fuk this shit, fuk intel, goto devil canyon hell.

June 7, 2014 | 04:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hopefully they skip Broadwell on the PC. Can't see them releasing Broadwell this year if they're dropping a Haswell "Refresh" this late. Not to mention it's going to be a disappointment for desktops anyways.

Can't even get excited for the Haswell 8 core part being that it's only for the $1,000 model. My fricken $500 i7 3930K is an 8 core part with 2 cores disabled. No reason why they shouldn't offer an 8 core part for the $500 range either. Intel being Intel.

June 8, 2014 | 12:49 AM - Posted by Humanitarian

Lel, "[Intel]8core cpu for decent price"

Are you high?

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