Overall and Final Verdict
Hardware wise the i7-4790k really isn’t a big step forward over the 4770k Haswell. Intel took an already good processor and improved its thermals and gave it a substantial base clock speed improvement. The base clock on the 4790k is actually higher than the turbo clock speed of the 4770k. This made for big jumps in performance in some of our benchmarks, especially benchmarks that focus on single threaded performance or benchmarks that rely on clock speed. This put the i7-4790k at the top of the charts in most of our gaming benchmarks, even better than the much more expensive Ivy Bridge-E CPU. The better thermals also helped improve overclocks slightly while still reducing the temperatures. With an overclock of 4.7GHz my maximum temperature was 71 degrees while the i7-4770k only managed 4.5 at a temperature of 80 degrees.
Really my only complaints about the i7-4790k came with its onboard graphics. When I tested the i7-4770k last year its onboard performance was good at the time. After a year those numbers aren’t keeping up with the competition It would have been nice to see a small bump in clock speed on the GPU side to match the CPU clock speed increase. Of course with this being more of a higher end build CPU I would expect a lot of you to still be going with a dedicated video card.
My opinion on if this is a good buy stays about where I was when Haswell launched. I wouldn’t run out to upgrade your 4770k with the latest and greatest. But if you are already on the market for a new PC build this is without a doubt the best option to go right now unless you need the additional memory bandwidth that the 2011 socket will give you (or more cores). AMD doesn’t have anything that compares to this sadly. If you are on a budget I would also recommend checking out the i5-4690k. Dropping hyperthreading, a small amount of cache, and going down to the same clock speeds of the 4770k you can save $100. That is nearly a 30% drop in price! Either way Devil’s Canyon will be in my next build, now I just need to break that to my wife!