Intel i7-4930K & i7-4820K Ivy Bridge-E Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: September 10, 2013
Product Name: i7-4930K / i7-4820K
Part Number: BX80633i74820K / BX80633i74930K
Warranty: 3 Years
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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Intel’s latest processors hasn’t been an easy task from our end. The Haswell i7-4770K hit a wall at 4.5GHz while even the 4960X –which is supposedly tailor-made for overclockers- edged it out at a mere 4.55GHz. Neither of those represents a particularly good result considering the 4.8GHz to 5GHz speeds we’d seen on previous architectures. Simply put, 22nm processors don’t seem to have all that much headroom….or do they?

As we’ve seen with Ivy Bridge-E, temperatures are kept to a minimum through the use of a revised IHS design which effectively disperses heat over a large surface area. This means the “hot spot” nature of Intel’s 3D transistor design doesn’t become a significant thermal roadblock like it did in mainstream Ivy Bridge and Haswell chips. On paper this should also mean the i7-4930K’s reduction in cache size should give it a bit more overclocking headroom. Consequently, the lower number of cores and a further reduced cache footprint on an i7-4820K should significantly reduce the amount of heat being produced and potentially lead to higher frequencies.

In theory, all of the items we mentioned above lead to better overclocks but they really don’t mean all that much in real life. Due to chip to chip differences, every processor will overclock to a different level. In the case of Intel’s 4960X, according to motherboard vendors, only one in ten samples will hit a frequency above 4.7GHz so anything above that should be considered a spectacular overclock. Among Haswell processors, one in fifteen i7-4770K's were able to hit 4.75GHz. On the other hand, preliminary information seems to suggest those numbers are improved this time around, with the 4930K and 4820K being able to go beyond 4.7GHz 20% and 25% of the time respectively.

With this in mind we set out to find the limits of our chips using both air and water cooling and set 1.35V as our absolute voltage ceiling with 24/7 stability being a prerequisite for a successful overclock. Believe it or not though, our Noctua NH-U14S and Corsair H100i returned identical clock speed results, proving that temperature wasn’t a limiting factor with either processor. Just bear in mind that our results are based on single-source samples and don’t necessarily represent what you will achieve.

Starting off with the i7-4820K, we were reasonably surprised and pleased to hit a stable frequency of 4.84GHz on all four cores / eight threads. That represents a great improvement over the 4960X’s rather anemic showing and outpaces our lackluster i7-4770K sample by a good amount. Unfortunately, after hitting this mark, we couldn’t go one iota further while still maintaining stability on air or water cooling.

The 4930K provided decent results here as well, though it couldn’t hit the same levels as its little brother. It ended up topping out at 4.65GHz but anything higher and our system simply gave up, refusing to POST until the CMOS was cleared.

All in all, we were satisfied with the overclocking results posted by these two processors. Neither was able to hit the 5GHz mark but they outpaced the i7-4960K and the i7-4820K may have just made a convincing argument in its favor over an i7-4770K.


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