Today Intel is announcing its Devil’s Canyon series of Haswell Refresh processors aimed at enthusiasts and overclockers. There are two models in this refresh a Core i7 SKU and a Core i5 SKU, and a third Pentium SKU that isn’t technically a Devil’s Canyon chip but it launching at the same time and aimed at the same market. The Core i7-4790K is on its face a mildly clock bumped version of last years i7-4770K and the same is true of its i5-4690K counter part. But the devil is in the details and that where these chips get really interesting.
These new chips are fully compatible with all Intel 9 series motherboards and most 8 series motherboard depending on the manufacturer. Instead of the awful thermal interface material that Intel has been using since it launched Haswell these chips come from the factory with a new, different, and supposedly not terrible TIM that should enable more heat to leave the chip’s package and disperse into the heatsink rather than hanging out and slowly cooking the chip.
But perhaps the biggest difference between a vanilla Haswell chip and a Devil’s Canyon chip is the additional power circuitry that Intel’s engineers have installed on the under side of the chip package to enable both cleaner and higher volume power delivery. For hobbyist overclocks these changes are a godsend coming off the heels of an otherwise disappointing period of mediocre Haswell overclocking.
Let’s take a look at what Intel is giving users control of with these K-series chips. You can set the Turbo ratio, DDR3 ratio, base clock multiplier, power and voltage limits, and the graphics multiplier. All of the big areas for tuning performance are covered and it should be pretty easy to clock these chips a fair bit higher.
By far my personal favorite chip of this launch cycle is Intel’s Pentium Anniversary Edition. It’s a dual core Pentium branded and heavily binned Haswell chip should retail for less than $100 and offer an unlocked clock multiplier. Long gone are the days when you could buy a cheap Intel CPU and then clock it to the moon to get i7-like performance levels with out the cost. And while Intel has disabled so much of this chip that it will likely never challenge it’s i7 or even i5 chips when overclocked, it still looks to be an excellent proposition for budget gaming builds where single core performance per dollar is more important than any other metric.
Devil’s Canyon is proof that Intel still cares about overclockers. By offering unlocked chips that are specially designed to cater to enthusiasts at the same prices as their vanilla counterparts Intel has reset the bar for “makes a good K-series offering”. That said while it would be presumptive to expect Intel to continue offering chips like these ones in the future, it would be a major oversight on their part not to.S|A
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