Devil's Canyon: Intel Core i7-4790K OC'ing and Review

Overclocking Devil's Canyon

There has been plenty of discussion regarding the overclocking capabilities of Devil’s Canyon, since the first bits of information about the processor hit the web a few months ago. With Gigabyte’s Z97X SOC Force motherboard and a large Cooler Master air-cooler in hand, we decided to see how far we could push our particular sample with a bit of tweaking.

Overclocking Devil's Canyon
It's Just Like Previous Haswell Processors

Overclocking a Devil’s Canyon based processor is exactly the same as any other pervious Haswell-based Intel K-SKU processor. Though Intel has made some updates to the processor itself to improve thermals and power delivery, the overclocking process is the same. Because the processor is unlocked, it’s simply a matter of altering a few multipliers, massaging a few voltages, and dealing with the heat, of course.

We took a conservative approach to overclocking Devil’s Canyon to give you all an approximate “worst case scenario”. Our results should be repeatable, assuming you’ve got similar hardware. You shouldn’t need exotic cooling to pull off what we did here.

Here’s what CPU-Z reports for the Core i7-4790K (while under load) without any tweaking. Right out of the box, the CPU has a max multiplier of 44, which results in a peak Turbo frequency of 4.4GHz.

For some quick and dirty overclocking, we hit the one-touch overclocking option on our motherboard, which took the CPU right up to 4.5GHz. Not much of an increase over stock, but still a relatively high frequency versus previous Haswell-based processors. (The Core i7-4770K’s max Turbo frequency was only 3.9GHz.)

To really see what our sample could do, we manually cranked the core voltage up to 1.4v and shot right for 5GHz. We could get Windows to boot at 5GHz, but couldn’t get the system stable with our air-cooling setup. We experimented with different voltages but it just wasn’t happening. Things were better at 4.9GHz, but still weren’t completely stable. Tooling around Windows was fine, but the system would blue screen while browsing or running a strenuous benchmark. Ultimately, we had to settle for 4.8GHz, with a CPU core voltage of 1.375v. Not bad, but not quite 5GHz either.

Of course, we monitored temperatures while overclocked and didn’t see much improvements over older Haswell-based processors. With our particular setup, while overclocked, the CPU would idle right around the 36’C mark. But under 100% load, temps would shoot up to the mid-80’C range rather quickly. With more powerful cooling, we’re sure a hardcore overclocker could get more out of the CPU, in face, we’ve seen some colleagues hit over 6GHz with phase-change cooling already, but air that’s not happening.

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