Just a little time ago the point of overclocking was seen in purchasing a cheap CPU and making it as fast as more expensive models. Enthusiasts could save quite a substantial amount of money through their skill and experience without losing anything in their computer performance. Rewarding for users, this practice was not profitable for the manufacturers who eventually changed the rules of the game. Intel, the major CPU developer and supplier, limited its offer of overclockable processors to just a few special models which were priced higher than their regular counterparts. No wonder this has affected the overclocking community. Overclocking has transformed from a common practice into a kind of sport. Still, there are quite a lot of enthusiasts left and it is for them that new overclockable CPUs are released.
Intel has taken on certain obligations with its special overclocker-friendly products, though. They are expected to have high frequency potential to make sense. And that’s where we’ve got a problem. When developing new CPU microarchitectures, Intel now focuses on energy efficiency rather than high clock rates. Since the release of the Sandy Bridge series, each new microarchitecture generation has been getting worse in terms of the frequency potential. While the Sandy Bridge processors could be generally overclocked to 4.0-5.0 GHz, the latest Haswell models stop at 4.3-4.5 GHz, which is just above their default clock rates.
The whole situation started looking like a financial and reputational threat for Intel because many users of classic desktop PCs refused to upgrade to newer CPUs exactly because of their poor overclockability. So in December 2013, six months after the Haswell release, Intel's top management made a decision to do something to improve the company's image among enthusiasts. That’s the background behind the Devil's Canyon – the overclocker-friendly Haswell which has been developed and launched as soon as possible.
The two new Devil’s Canyon processors (together with the anniversary overclocker-friendly Pentium G3258) were announced in June and came to retail later this summer. The basic quad-core i5-4690K and the flagship i7-4790K with four cores plus Hyper-Threading add to the Haswell Refresh processors released for the LGA1150 platform in May and look like a kind of enthusiast-targeted Haswell Refresh models which come to replace their predecessors Core i5-4670K and Core i7-4770K. The new CPUs have higher default clock rates, yet that’s not their only advantage. Intel claims they have much higher frequency potential and we’re going to check out this claim in our review.