Processors

Intel Core i7-4770K Review – Haswell on Desktop

4770K Review

Test Setup
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K
Motherboard Intel DZ87KLT-75K
Memory Kingston HyperX T1 (2x 4GB) 1866 MHz
Cooling Thermalright Venomous X
Power Supply Xigmatek NRP-MC 1000W
Storage Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB
OS Windows 7 x64 Service Pack 1

Overclocking:

I’ve been avoiding writing about the Haswell overclocking because it makes me sad but unfortunately I wouldn’t consider our review complete without any overclocking information. Overclocking scene has changed a lot since the launch of Sandy Bridge. It isn’t what it used to be.

With LGA775 and LGA1366 sockets, people actually used to buy low end, cheaper processors and overclock them to achieve the performance of faster and more expensive SKUs but with the launch of Sandy Bridge, most of the overclocking was limited high-end unlocked parts with K suffix. However, there was still a lot of fun because almost all of the unlocked Sandy Bridge processors were able to hit 4.8-5.0 GHz and it provided a significant performance boost over stock frequencies with a 5 GHz CPUz shot as a bonus.

Then enters the Ivy Bridge and this is the point where overclocking got really bitter. It had high thermals partly due to the use of thermal paste inside the CPU instead of solder and partly due to the heat density inside the chip because of 22nm design. All in all, the absolute maximum you could hit came down by a few hundred megahertz to the range of 4.6-4.8 GHz and that too came at the expense of very high temperatures.

And now we have the Haswell and it’s even worse in terms of overclocking. To begin with, Intel has moved the voltage regulation to CPU resulting in slightly higher TDP of 84W as compared to 77W in its predecessor. This results in higher thermals. Secondly, as a result of mobile-first design focus and power saving measures, the maximum overclock is again lowered to like 4.6-4.7 GHz. According to Intel, we should expect anything between 4.3-4.7 GHz from most Haswell chips.

However, Intel has done a little bit right for the overclocking enthusiasts. The variable BCLK option has been added with this platform. Adjusting the BCLK in Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge caused some serious stability issues but Intel somehow fixed this with Sandy Bridge-E HEDT and now that option makes its way to Haswell. It provides you four pre-defined values of 100, 125, 167 and 250 MHz. Last one is only available on some motherboards and is generally not usable. These provide you with a little bit flexibility in terms of overclocking.

Furthermore, there are quite a lot of settings you need to adjust to overclock your CPU. Those good days are gone when you would just increase the multiplier and vCore and that’s it. If Intel hadn’t provided their 17 page overclocking guide with the review kit, I would have embarrassed myself.

Anyway, with a little bit of fiddling we were able to hit 4.5 GHz with 100 MHz BCLK and around 1.3v vCore. And even at these settings, the processor was hitting mid-80s. We tried to go further but didn’t have any luck.

4770K 4.5 GHz

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