Monday, June 9, 2014

Devil’s Canyon overclocking? Yay or nay?


Devil’s Canyon is the code name for the two CPUs from Intel aimed at enthusiast overclocking. They are still based on the same Haswell micro architecture though. What’s different is that they have better TIM – something Intel calls next generation polymer based TIM – and few more capacitors underneath the CPU to smooth out the power delivery to the CPU. Would just these two changes be enough to win back the hearts of the enthusiasts.

However, in a previous post I mentioned that the Devil’s Canyon CPUs – especially the 4790K - weren’t performing up to my expectations. That was completely based on a review posted on Hexus, which didn’t even explore the overclocking capabilities of the CPU. It seemed like a rushed up job and they just wanted the initial swarm of people looking for the reviews to come to their website.

But today, two more reviews went online; one from PCPerspective and the other one from Digital Storm. Just like one would expect, they do explore the overclocking capabilities of the CPU. But neither sample was able to make me feel enthusiastic about the CPU. The one PCPerspective got only managed to do 4.7GHz at 1.365V. The one Digital Storm got only managed to do 4.8GHz at 1.370V. Those are pretty high voltages for CPUs built on the 22nm fabrication process. And neither managed to hit the magic 5GHz. In fact, there are people who own 4770K’s that can do 5GHz at as little as 1,3V but that is the cream of the crop CPUs. However, despite the high voltages, the coolers they used – AIO water cooler by PCPerspective and a custom water loop by Digital Storm – seem to have managed to tame the temps down to reasonable levels. At least that’s something. The new TIM seems to do it’s job just fine. Still, you would probably get much better temps with a delid and Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra TIM.

Since these CPUs come with a guaranteed 4.4GHz clock speed – at least in the case of the 4790K, every 4790K will be able to overclock past my current CPU – which can do a measly 4.3GHz – while keeping the temps lower. That means lower fan noise as well. If you look from that perspective, it seems upgrading to the 4790K still has some merits, even if I get a dud chip that can merely do 4.6GHz at 1.3V. The only way to tame the temperature with my current CPU is to delid, which I am hesitant to do as it would make reselling harder – especially with the clumsy clock scaling of my chip.

Even though the initial impressions are not that positive, I would still be waiting to see how the retail chips would overclock and the pricing of the chips in Japan. One would probably argue that Haswell-E is the way to go, but that could require a substantial amount of money.

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