Intel i7 4790K Devil's Canyon CPU Review

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The much anticipated release of Intel’s Devil’s Canyon CPUs were officially announced at Computex 2014, which we already mentioned in our launch day article. Review samples were a bit delayed, but we now have the i7 4790K on hand and can give you the performance numbers many of you have been waiting for. Make no mistake about it, the Devil’s Canyon processors are aimed at the overclocking and enthusiast crowd. With its higher base and turbo clocks, improved thermal design, and a more robust power delivery scheme, it certainly sounds good on paper. Let’s get started and find out what Intel has in store!

intel_i74790K (1)

Specifications & Features

I plucked the below specifications from Intel’s website, albeit a slightly condensed version. The big difference here is the base clock of 4.0 GHz and Turbo Frequency of 4.4 GHz. When compared to the i7 4770K, we have a 500 MHz increase in both of these values. That’s a heck of an increase for a “Refresh.”

Intel i7 4790K Specifications
# of Cores 4
# of Threads 8
Clock Speed 4 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency 4.4 GHz
Instruction Set 64-bit
Instruction Set Extensions SSE 4.1/4.2, AVX 2.0
Lithography 22 nm
Max TDP 88 W
Thermal Solution Spec PCG 2013D
Memory Specifications
Max Memory Size 32 GB
Memory Types DDR3-1333/1600
# of Memory Channels 2
Max Memory Bandwidth 25.6 GB/s
ECC Memory Support No
Graphics Specifications
Processor Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4600
Graphics Base Frequency 350 MHz
Graphics Max Dynamic Frequency 1250 MHz
Intel Quick Sync Video Yes
Intel InTru 3D technology Yes
Intel Insider Yes
Intel Clear Video HD Technology Yes
# of Displays Supported 3
Expansion Options
PCI Express Revision 3.0
PCI Express Configurations Up to 1×16, 2×8, 1×8/2×4
Intel Data Protection Technology
AES New Instructions Yes
Secure Key Yes
OS Guard Yes
Trusted Execution Technology No
Execute Disable Bit Yes
Anti-Theft Technology Yes

So, how was Intel able to get a 500 MHz speed increase over the i7 4770K? They will point you to two major improvements they implemented on the i7 4790K. The first being the additional capacitors used to smooth power delivery to the die. The other major improvement is the thermal design, in particular, the Thermal Interface Material. Intel says a new next-generation polymer TIM (NGPTIM) is now used that should give a greater amount of thermal headroom for overclocking.

intel_i74790K (2)

Other overclocking features include options to independently increase the iGPU graphics and DDR3 memory ratios, which the i7 4770K also supported.

intel_i74790K (3)

As expected, a quick glance at the Devil’s Canyon quad-core die map shows pretty much the same layout as the first generation of Haswell CPUs. We still have a 1.4 billion transistor count, and the die size remains constant at 177mm². The L3 Cache remains shared across all four cores and the on-chip graphics processor.

intel_i74790K (6)

Even though we’ll be concentrating our efforts on the i7 4790K in this review, it’s worth mentioning other newly released CPUs. There will be a Devil’s Canyon i5 4690K and a G3258 Pentium Anniversary Edition available for those on a tighter budget. Both of those are unlocked processors too… yes even the Pentium! The below slides give you a summary of features on all three of the new CPUs.

intel_i74790K (7)
intel_i74790K (8)
intel_i74790K (9)

Meet the Intel i7 4790K

Admittedly, a CPU isn’t the most glamorous component to photograph, but we’ll perform our due diligence nonetheless. Of note here is the last picture showing a side-by-side comparison with the i7 4770K, which gives you a good look at the additional capacitors found on the backside of the i7 4790K.

Engineering Sample Box

Engineering Sample Box

Intel i7 4970K

Intel i7 4790K

Intel i7 4970K

Intel i7 4790K

Intel i7 4790K

Intel i7 4790K

Intel i7 4790K Pads and Capacitors

Intel i7 4790K Pads and Capacitors

Intel i7 4790K Pads and Capacitors

Intel i7 4790K Pads and Capacitors

i7 4770K on Left - i7 4970K on Right

i7 4770K on Left – i7 4790K on Right

Test Setup

When we get to the benchmarks, the i7 4790K will be compared against the i7 4770K and the i7 4930K. Below is a list of the components used for all three CPUs.

i7 4790K i7 4770K i7 4930K
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VII Gene ASUS Maximus VI Formula EVGA X79 FTW
Memory G.Skill TridentX 2X8 GB
10-12-12-31
G.Skill TridentX 2X8 GB
10-12-12-31
G.Skill Trident 4X4 GB
10-12-12-31
HDD Samsung 840 EVO 500 GB Samsung 840 EVO 500 GB Samsung 840 EVO 500 GB
Power Supply Corsair HX1050 Corsair HX1050 Corsair HX1050
Video Card EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified
Cooling EK-Supreme LTX Water Block
360 mm Radiator
MCP35X Pump
EK-Supreme LTX Water Block
360 mm Radiator
MCP35X Pump
EK-Supreme LTX Water Block
360 mm Radiator
MCP35X Pump
Operating System Windows 7 X64 Windows 7 X64 Windows 7 X64

Temperatures and Power Consumption

Before getting into the benchmark numbers, I want to provide a head-to-head comparison on temperatures and power consumption between the two Haswell CPUs. As previously mentioned, one of the improvements Intel implemented on the i7 4790K was a better thermal design. Even though the i7 4790K has a higher default core voltage and speed than its predecessor, the temperatures were still a bit lower when both CPUs were at stock speeds/voltages. This held true at both idle and when the CPU was under 100% load. I then tested both CPUs when set to an identical 4.6 GHz overclock using 1.35 V. Here again, the i7 4790K showed better temperatures. The difference isn’t huge, but better nonetheless.

i7 4790K vs. i7 4770K Temperatures
i7 4790K i7 4770K
Stock – Idle 28° C 29° C
Stock – Load 59° C 60° C
4.6 GHz OC @ 1.35 V – Idle
30° C 32° C
4.6 GHz OC @ 1.35 V – Load
76­° C 80° C

The i7 4790K carries a higher TDP of 88 watts versus 84 watts for the i7 4770K, which to no one’s surprise will mean higher power consumption. Couple that with a slightly higher default core voltage and you get roughly 10% higher wattage draw at the wall. Keep in mind that voltage is chip specific and will vary a bit from one CPU to the next. In the case of the two CPUs tested today, the default core voltage for the i7 4770K was 1.08 V, while the i7 4790K came in at 1.15 V (as read in BIOS). I tested both CPUs at their stock settings while idle and at 100% load. Keep in mind, the numbers below indicate total system draw, and your actual power usage will vary depending on components used.

i7 4790K vs. i7 4770K Power Consumption
i7 4790K i7 4770K
Stock – Idle 124 112
Stock – Load 211 189

So, we have better thermal performance and a little higher power consumption. The new NGPTIM seems up to the task of keeping the processor effectively cooled down, which comes as a welcome sight to Overclockers.

Benchmarks

Each test benchmark was run three times and the score averaged. All three CPUs used for comparison were left at their default speed and voltage with the memory set to 2400 MHz. Each graph is based on percentages with the i7 4790K being the basis, and thus always being 100%. A higher percentage is better on scored testing and a lower percentage is better on timed results. Below each graph is the raw data used to produce it.

The first set of benchmarks are the AIDA64 CPU, FPU, and Memory tests. What you’ll see throughout the AIDA64 suite of tests is the i7 4790K outperforming the i7 4770K, which is expected because of its faster clock speed. The i7 4930K comes out on top where its eight cores or quad channel memory support are taken advantage of. The AIDA64 CPU results show the i7 4790K beating the i7 4770K rather handily in these tests, but falling well short of the i7 4930K in the AES, Zlib, and Queen results. The Devil’s Canyon CPU did manage to beat out the i7 4930K in the Hash and Photoworxx runs.

AIDA64 CPU Benchmark Results

AIDA64 CPU Benchmark Results

AIDA64 CPU Benchmarks – Raw Data
CPU Queen PhotoWorxx Zlib AES Hash
i7 4790K 56243 22440 377.8 19979 4504
i7 4770K 49889 22363 335.9 17720 3998
i7 4930K 627857 21540 461.1 21102 4373

Other than the SinJulia test, the I7 4790K dominated the FPU benchmarks. Depending on the test, we see anywhere from an 11% to almost 20% advantage for the i7 4790K. The SinJulia test heavily favored the i7 4930X.

AIDA64 FPU Benchmark Results

AIDA64 FPU Benchmark Results

AIDA64 FPU Benchmarks – Raw Data
CPU VP8 Julia Mandel SinJulia
i7 4790K 7118 34882 18677 5607
i7 4770K 6310 30940 16563 4974
i7 4930K 6248 28492 15100 7275

As expected in the memory testing, the i7 4930K and its quad-channel memory support ruled the roost here. The two Haswell CPUs showed very little difference, but the i7 4790K did just a smidgen better. The biggest advantage for the i7 4790K was in the latency benchmark where it showed to be almost 4% better than the i7 4770K, and a whopping 47% better than the i7 4930K.

AIDA64 Memory Benchmark Results

AIDA64 Memory Benchmark Results

AIDA64 Memory Benchmarks – Raw Data
CPU Read Write Copy Latency
i7 4790K 36095 37663 34859 42.5
i7 4770K 36093 37667 34776 44.1
i7 4930K 41331 40927 40296 62.6

CPU rendering, compression, and video benchmarks will usually favor CPUs with more cores. The below Cinebench and 7Zip results bare that out with the i7 4930K coming out on top of all these benchmarks. The i7 4790K did outperform the i7 4770K by over 10% in all these tests, largely due to its frequency advantage. PoV Ray and x264 continue to show advantages for the i7 4930K, just as expected. The i7 4790K did come out on top in the x264 Pass 1 test, which is just a read only pass with no actual encoding performed.

Cinebench and 7Zip Benchmark Results

Cinebench and 7Zip Benchmark Results

Cinebench and 7Zip Benchmarks – Raw Data
CPU Cinebench R10
Cinebench R11.5 Cinebench R15
7Zip
i7 4790K 34395 9.67 905 27304
i7 4770K 30667 8.61 804 24439
i7 4930K 35077 10.94 969 32398
x264 and PoV Ray Benchmark Results

x264 and PoV Ray Benchmark Results

x264 and PoV Ray Benchmarks – Raw Data
CPU PoV Ray
x264 Pass 1
x264 Pass 2
i7 4790K 1831.70 211.53 54.99
i7 4770K 1622.95 181.98 49.01
i7 4930K 1962.41 185.97 58.95

2D benchmarks show a distinct advantage for the i7 4790K where single threaded testing is performed. The Intel XTU and SuperPi results show the i7 4790K coming out on top by as much as 21% over the other two CPUs. The wPrime testing showed the i7 4930K and its six cores with a sizable advantage.

SuperPi, wPrime, and Intel XTU Benchmark Results

SuperPi, wPrime, and Intel XTU Benchmark Results

Intel XTU, SuperPi, and wPrime Benchmarks – Raw Data
CPU Intel XTU
wPrime 1024M
wPrime 32M
SuperPi 32M
SuperPi 1M
i7 4790K 1118 164.473 5.333 429.282 8.159
i7 4770K 1017 185.408 6.004 483.834 9.344
i7 4930K 1082 137.999 4.612 521.961 9.469

Our suite of game benchmarks provides results just as expected. Most of these results show little difference between all three CPUs, which is based mostly on the fact the exact same video card was used. However, you will see the i7 4790K slightly outperforming the i7 4770K, which again is due to its faster frequency. For the most part, the Devil’s Canyon CPU also topped the i7 4930K. The graphs pretty much speak for themselves, so peruse at your leisure!

HWBot Heaven Results

HWBot Heaven Results

Heaven Valley Results

Heaven Valley Results

3DMark Fire Strike Results

3DMark Fire Strike Results

3DMark Vantage Results

3DMark Vantage Results

3DMark 11 Results

3DMark 11 Results

Batman: Arkham Origin Results

Batman: Arkham Origin Results

Battlefield 4 Results

Battlefield 4 Results

Bioshock Infinite Results

Bioshock Infinite Results

Crysis 3 Results

Crysis 3 Results

Final Fantasy XIV: ARR Results

Final Fantasy XIV: ARR Results

Grid 2 Results

Grid 2 Results

Metro: Last Light Results

Metro: Last Light Results

Overclocking

If you’ve read any of my Z87 or Z97 motherboard reviews over the past year, then you know I was able to get the i7 4770K stable at 4.6 GHz. I could get to the desktop at 4.8 GHz and run a quick pass of SuperPi 1M and wPrime 32M, but that’s about it. With the i7 4790K, I was able to get the CPU “AIDA64 Stress Test” stable at 4.8 GHz and still leave the memory set to 2400 MHz. This was accomplished with a core voltage of 1.35 V, however slightly higher voltage was required in order to complete a few of the benchmarks at this speed. I would imagine for complete stability across all benchmarks and stress testing upwards of 1.4 V would be required. Even better news is that the CPU temperatures hovered in the low to mid 70° C range, which is a good 10° C better than my i7 4770K using the same voltage at only 4.6 GHz. I’d say the improved thermals work pretty darn well.

In all honesty, I was hoping for a little higher stable overclock at this voltage. However, after reading around other review sites, it seems they’ve all pretty much landed right where I did. When you think about the i7 4790K basically being the same under the hood as the i7 4770K, the added capacitors and better thermal design do provide additional overclocking room and lower temperatures. At least in my case it has.

4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory - Stable

4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory – Stable

I went ahead and ran a few benchmarks at 4.8 GHz to illustrate the performance gains at that speed.

wPrime 32M / 1024M @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

wPrime 32M / 1024M @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 32M @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

SuperPi 32M @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

Cinebench R10 @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

Cinebench R10 @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

3DMark Fire Strike @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

3DMark Fire Strike @ 4.8 GHz / 2400 MHz Memory

Pushing the Limits

Ok, it’s time to get stupid. Stupid voltages that is. Once past 4.8 GHz, this CPU required a lot of voltage to go any further. In order to get to the desktop and complete wPrime 32M and SuperPi 1m runs, the highest I could get was 4.9 GHz. That took 1.5125 V and dropping the memory down to 1600 MHz, but get there we did.

wPrime 32M @ 4.9 GHz / 1600 MHz Memory

wPrime 32M @ 4.9 GHz / 1600 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M @ 4.9 GHz / 1600 MHz Memory

SuperPi 1M @ 4.9 GHz / 1600 MHz Memory

Conclusion

The Intel i7 4790K has probably taken this generation of CPUs about as far as they can go. The out-of-box 500 MHz speed increase is quite impressive in its own right. Being able to run faster at cooler temperatures alone makes this Devil’s Canyon CPU well worth the price of admission. Speaking of price, Intel has made this CPU available for the same cost of the i7 4770K ($339 at Newegg). A faster CPU that runs significantly cooler makes the choice between the two a no-brainer. You’ll have to wait a couple more weeks before the i7 4790K ships to customers, but it can be pre-ordered by following the Newegg link.

Should you run out and buy one of these if you’re currently sitting on a i7 4770K? Probably not, unless the 10% average performance boost is worth it to you. However, if you are building a new Haswell-based system, this is the go-to CPU right now and is definitely the way to go.

Overclocking will be CPU dependent with Devil’s Canyon processors, just as it is with its predecessor. Some people will get lucky with a “golden” piece of silicon, and others not so much. It’s just the nature of the game. My personal experience with the i7 4790K vs. the i7 4770K turned into a +200 MHz stable overclock, but that only tells part of the story. Even at the higher clock speed and same voltage, the i7 4790K ran much cooler. It’s hard to argue with that.

Wrapping things up here, Intel has done a good job tiding things over until Broadwell CPUs are released much later in the year. Until then, if you’re looking for the best Haswell-based CPU for a new system build, it’s right here.

Overclockers_clear_approved

Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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Discussion
  1. wingman99
    I would love to see bench test clock for clock with i7 4770k vs 4790k both at 4.4
    GHz

    i second this.
    also it seems to me that the TIM upgrade is not that big of an upgrade as i thought it would be :(. i guess de-lidding is still the way to go. (for me ill be sticking with my 2600K as long as i can. this thing @ 4.5ghz 1.28 volts under water does not go past 58C :D
    wingman99
    Good review. I would love to see bench test clock for clock with i7 4770k vs 4790k both at 4.4GHz

    Single thread and HT gain would be great.
    "2D benchmarks show a distinct advantage for the i7 4790K where single threaded testing is performed. The Intel XTU and SuperPi results show the i7 4790K coming out on top by as much as 21% over the other two CPUs. The wPrime testing showed the i7 4930K and its eight cores with a sizable advantage."
    Last sentence needs some correction.
    I'll have my 4770K test bench hooked back up tomorrow, I'll run a couple benchies at 4.4 GHz for you guys and report back. I seriously doubt there will be any difference though, but I'll check and let you know.
    I see that average OC of 4790K in most reviews is 4.8GHz ~1.4V ( +/- 0.05V ) what is nothing special but also gives hope that worse samples won't hit a wall at ~4.5GHz 1.4V like it was with many 4770K. There are also only ES results so maybe retail will clock slightly better ( I just hope that not worse ).
    Lvcoyote
    I'll have my 4770K test bench hooked back up tomorrow, I'll run a couple benchies at 4.4 GHz for you guys and report back. I seriously doubt there will be any difference though, but I'll check and let you know.

    I hope you do that, I'm dying to know if they updated Haswell architecture any.:popcorn:
    RubyBeats
    I think you don't gonna notice any differance in next gen gaming between a overclocked 8 core FX amd chip and this one.

    Except lower temps and much lower power usage. Still games that use 2 cores will run much faster on Intel ( there is still a lot of new games like that ).
    Woomack
    Except lower temps and much lower power usage. Still games that use 2 cores will run much faster on Intel ( there is still a lot of new games like that ).

    Fair point, It's just that i can 'almost' buy three 8 core AMD chips for that money :p
    Thanks Dino, looks good. It appears they did help the thermals a bit with their new TIM which should help most users. I'm also curious as others in a direct comparison , interested to see if the new chipset actually has any benefit?
    RubyBeats
    Fair point, It's just that i can 'almost' buy three 8 core AMD chips for that money :p

    I don't want to argue about that as it's pretty pointless but there will be 4690K soon which is also faster than any FX 8000 series and cost not much more.
    You can also buy i3 CPU cheaper than FX and not much worse in most games. In some titles it will be even better.
    Woomack
    You can also buy i3 CPU cheaper than FX and not much worse in most games. In some titles it will be even better.

    I think multicore has the future look at games like BF4 that already uses 8 cores and don't forget the lazy console ports :D
    Yes but so far not many games are using more than 2-4 threads and FX is running more like 2-4 cores not 8. Results in games on i3 ~3.5GHz and FX/APU 4 thread series ~4.5GHz are about the same while there is ~1GHz difference in clock.
    FX looks better when screen resolution is higher and more graphics cards are in use. Most gamers are still using 1080p so more cores are the future thing. Till next year we will see 3 new Intel chips. So far no news about even 1 from AMD.
    The only games where more threads really count are maybe BF4 in multi and some online mmo games.
    I'm not saying that because I hate AMD or something like that. I'm not on any side and I like to test everything. I had FX8120 and 8320 so I could compare performance and everything else so it's also not something that I just found somewhere in the web.
    I also had i3 4330 which I sold 2 weeks ago and I have A8 6600K which is about as good as FX series on similar clock so everything is easy to compare.
    I think that new K Pentium will be something more interesting than i5/i7 and unlucky for AMD it will probably take large part of cheap CPU market as 2 core Pentium won't be much worse than any 4 thread AMD.
    wingman99
    Good review. I would love to see bench test clock for clock with i7 4770k vs 4790k both at 4.4GHz
    It will be the exact same thing... or should be at least. There were no enhancements on this CPU outside of slightly better binning, a better TIM, and added caps... its all there in the Intel slides. No instruction set changes or updates, nothing.
    Still worth it to confirm, but... the performance gains you see are due to the clockspeed increases only. ;)
    Woomack
    I have A8 6600K which is about as good as FX series on similar clock so everything is easy to compare.

    FX is a much more powerful series overall with a higher multi-threaded performance. APU's will always have less CPU power.
    EarthDog
    It will be the exact same thing... or should be at least. There were no enhancements on this CPU outside of slightly better binning, a better TIM, and added caps... its all there in the Intel slides. No instruction set changes or updates, nothing.

    This :)
    I have to swap out the M7G and 4790K to the M6F and 4770K today, so I'll set the 4770K to 4.4 GHz and run a quick check on a few benchmarks.
    Johan45
    Thanks Dino, looks good. It appears they did help the thermals a bit with their new TIM which should help most users. I'm also curious as others in a direct comparison , interested to see if the new chipset actually has any benefit?

    I've already tested the 4770K on a few Z97 motherboard reviews, as has Joe. The difference between Z87 and Z97 chipset performance is pretty much non existent.
    Yep. The only difference in the chipset, for the most part, is the addition of M2/SATAe(xpress), DC and Broadwell support.
    M7G wont run the 4770K Dino? Just drop the CPU in and go. ;)