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Overclocking the Intel Core i5-4690K: A New Challenger Appears

Not too long ago we took a look at Intel’s new Core i7-4790K, code-named Devil’s Canyon, and tried to determine if it lived up to Intel’s hype. The results were disappointing; while the new i7-4790K definitely overclocked better than the i7-4770K and did a far better job of dissipating heat, the rough peak of 4.7GHz we experienced on both of our samples still doesn’t come close to Intel’s claims of 5GHz on air.

Arguably, the more interesting Devil’s Canyon part is the Core i5-4690K. Intel’s i5s are tailor made for enthusiasts who don’t need the Hyper-Threading that the i7s offer and certainly aren’t willing to pay the extra $100 for it. Yet while the i7-4790K enjoys a healthy boost to its stock clocks, the i5-4690K is very incremental, with a nominal clock of 3.5GHz and turbo clock of 3.9GHz on a single core. Early press reports about this chip weren’t especially favorable either.


I’m happy to report our two samples have turned out to be healthy overclockers, though; one sample peaked at 4.7GHz at 1.375V, while the second went up to 4.8GHz at the same voltage and was doing 4.7GHz at about 1.275V. That lower nominal clock means you get images like the one above, with AIDA64 reporting a very impressive 37% overclock. We’re still not in 5GHz territory, but the i5-4690K isn’t as bitter a pill to swallow as the i7-4790K might have been.


Where things get interesting with the i5 is in its thermal performance. Without Hyper-Threading increasing heat generation (with corresponding performance improvements), the i5’s overclocking performance seems to be limited almost entirely by voltage and silicon. Under our Hydro Series H110, the i5 is able to go above 1.4V with core temps only spiking in the mid-80s and spending most of their load time in the low 70s. Given adequate cooling, the i5-4690K’s headroom will almost be limited by just how comfortable you are with the amount of voltage you’re running through it.

Increased testing with Devil’s Canyon and internal discussion also leads us to believe that the new Devil’s Canyon chips, despite not really being “new,” are actually worse for overclocking memory. It’s tough to explain when these new chips share the exact same silicon as the old ones, but we’ve had a harder time hitting DDR3-3000 or in some cases even DDR3-2933 with the Devil’s Canyon chips. As is always the case with overclocking, your mileage may vary, but we’ll continue to look into this and report back.


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