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Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4790K Review

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Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4790K Conclusion:

Intel announced Devil's Canyon in a flourish that showed Intel was once again looking after the enthusiasts among us. Intel boasted about 5GHz clock speeds on air with a cooler running core thanks to the use of a new thermal interface material and rework of the power circuitry to the core. The biggest knock on the 4770K, outside of the very defined overclocking abilities, was that under load the chip is essentially one of the hottest running ever, especially when pushing core clock speeds and voltages out of spec. As far a cooling on the 4790K goes, the NGPTIM does help out with reducing overall peak CPU load temperatures by roughly 5 to 7 degrees Celsius over the 4770K. There are however limits to this additional thermal grace period, as the sample I have still starts kicking and screaming at 1.32v applied in the BIOS when running a custom Prime 95 load test. Unfortunately, the lower temperatures did not translate into higher overall clock speeds during my overclocking testing.

Before I started overclocking, I had high hopes that Devil's Canyon would do much better than Haswell in the clock speed department thanks to the improved thermals and power supply work. Sadly, I found that its Haswell roots run deep and ultimately limited my overall clock speed to 4.6GHz. I was able to run the ring ratio as high as 45 while keeping the clock speed at 4.6GHz. Running higher speeds was possible with some jaunts to 4.8GHz, but the voltage needed to reach the number was not worth the effective cost to get there over the long term. 4.7-4.8GHz is great for some quick and dirty benching, but not possible on this particular chip even running under water. At this time, I have to surmise that overclocking on the Core i7 4790K is going to be the same as we get when overclocking any Haswell chip. As the third Haswell-based chip I have tested, I have seen a 4.5GHz, 4.6GHz, and 4.7GHz chip, confirming my suspicions. I can't fully condemn overclocking on Devil's Canyon, but it will be the luck of the draw as much as it was with Haswell.

When you look at baseline performance, Intel's Devil's Canyon is easily faster than the Core i7 4770K in every test, as it should be thanks to the 500MHz boost in clock speed before Turbo Boost 2.0 kicks in, driving it up to 4.4GHz. Even when you account for Turbo Boost 2.0, the Core i7 4790K is the faster of the two CPUs. Compared to the best AMD processor currently on the market, the Core i7 4790K is generally faster any way you cut it. As an upgrade to the Core i7 4770K, spending an extra $320 for the 4790K is only a good buy if you really need the improved cooling performance and don't want to take a chance delidding your chip. If working on a new build, there is no real reason to step into a Core i7 4770K when you can get this K SKU chip instead, currently for less money than the lower clocked Core i7 4770K. Better cooling, higher clock speeds, and better performance make it the smart buy for a new build.



  • Faster at stock speeds than the 4770K
  • Comparable pricing
  • Cooler running
  • Virtualization tech



  • Haswell overclocking variability


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