Intel Devil's Canyon i7 4790K & i5 4690K Preview

Author: SKYMTL
Date: June 1, 2014
Product Name: i7 4790K & i5 4690K
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With enthusiasts firmly in their sights, Intel is preparing to launch a pair of new processors code named Devilís Canyon. Under the i7 4790K and i5 4690K guises these CPUs are among the fastest Intel has ever released and have the added benefit of (supposedly) featuring a ton of overclocking headroom without costing a dime more than the products they replace.

If all had gone according to plan, the normal suite of benchmarks and performance results would be attached to this article but that wasnít meant to be. Bringing these products to market hasnít exactly been a smooth process due to their high frequencies and the finely honed architectural backbone needed to insure long term stability. Despite the fact retailers have already been taking pre-orders for the i7 4790K and i5 4690K, Intel has decided to push availability and media sampling further into June.

Other than frequencies, you may be asking yourself: whatís so special about Devilís Canyon? A whole lot actually but quite a few things remain the same. While these processors are still based off of Intelís Haswell microarchitecture, theyíre meant as an interim update until Broadwell arrives sometime late this year or early next year. This means the i7 4790K and i5 4690K are pin compatible with both Intelís new 9-series motherboards and outgoing 8-series products as well.

To answer that burning question about backwards compatibility, according to Intel, Devilís Canyon is compatible with 8-series LGA 1150 motherboards provided manufacturers provide adequate socket current capacity and a thoroughly updated BIOS. Unfortunately, due to a fairly lengthy validation process involved with insuring full support, weíre not entirely sure how many older motherboards will end up with full forwards compatibility. Check very closely before assuming your mobo is compatible with Devilís Canyon before taking the plunge.

It goes without saying that 9-series boards have native support for the i7 4790K and i5 4690K or will have updated BIOSes rolled out in short order.

There arenít any new features visible to the naked eye but under their external heatsinks, Devilís Canyon processors sport an advanced Next-Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material (shortened to NGPTIM by Intel) and additional capacitors.

The thermal interface material is a key component thatís long been subject to critique from enthusiasts who claim the TIM used on older Haswell processors wasnít adequate. Truth be told, regulating the thermal output of 22nm 3D transistors is more easily said than done due to their relative density. This led to ďhot spotsĒ being created within the die package, an issue even the most advanced thermal compound couldnít contend with. This is why the NGPTIM is backstopped by a slight silicon layout revision which works to spread hot-running transistors across a slightly broader area. These two additions should guarantee lower temperatures relative to first generation Haswell processors.

Intel has also expanded the number of capacitors which supply current to the core due to the expanded power envelope of these new processors. These requirements also lead to the aforementioned incompatibility with many previous generation motherboards.

Past the claimed epic overclocking headroom, Devilís Canyon also lays claim to the highest clocked processor Intel has ever produced. The executive team threw down a gauntlet to the engineers: create a CPU that consistently runs at 4GHz, use an existing architecture and do it all within a few months. With the i7 4790K thatís exactly what they accomplished. It has a base clock of 4GHz and can hit an impressive 4.4GHz when TDP allows. Despite these impressive specifications, actual TDP has only increased by about 4W and its price hits just $339 or exactly the same as the well regarded i7 4770K.

The i5 4690K is a native quad core, quad thread processor that does without hyper-threading and, unlike it higher end sibling, it doesnít offer significantly better out-of-box performance than the i5 4670K it replaces. It does however include the same advanced thermal compound and optimized core design which could lead to some truly titanic overclocks. Once again, it doesnít cost a dime more than outgoing previous generation processor.

As a minor footnote to this Devilís Canyone launch, Intel is also introducing a much more affordable option: the limited edition Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258. This dual core 53W processor lacks a Turbo mode and hyper-threading but will slot in between the G3440 and G3240. At just $72 it offers a perfect welcome to entry-level overclockers who just canít justify spending hundreds on the best money can buy. Get them while theyíre around since itís doubtful weíll see another low end overclockable processor for a while.

That wraps up this quick preview for the time being. Itís unfortunate that we couldnít bring you any benchmarks for these CPUs but expect a full battery of tests in the next week or two. Until then, based on the specifications outlined above, it should be quite obvious where Devilís Canyon and the Pentium Anniversary Edition will land in terms of basic performance. Overclocking should prove to be interesting though.

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