/Intel Core i7-4790 Performance Quad Core CPU- Review

Intel Core i7-4790 Performance Quad Core CPU- Review

Since the dawn of PC gaming, the quest for a higher frame rate and graphics settings turned all the way up has been something of a never ending quest for gamers. No matter how new and shiny your hardware, inevitably, the honeymoon period only ever lasts a few months before that familiar hunger for new toys returns. Top of the gadget-lust shortlist? Graphics cards and CPUs. These are always the two most sought after gaming upgrades so naturally, when Intel offered us a loaner of their high performing Core i7-4790 CPU, we decided to take it for a spin.
First things first, the i7-4790 is one of two variants of Core i7 using this particular model number as a base. The other is the i7-4790K, and that little ‘K’ at the end makes all the difference if you fall at the ‘hardcore’ end of the PC gaming spectrum. The ‘K’ indicates that the CPU is the unlocked version and is suitable for overclocking; the plain vanilla i7-4790 offers almost no assistance to the budding overclocker. Is this a problem? Only if you plan on overclocking the thing. If you, like me, feel the performance you get stock out of the box is good enough, then you can save yourself around $100 by choosing the $460 i7-4790 instead (that’s the recommend retail price, you’ll likely find it cheaper if you hunt around).
Corei7-Processor-Box- H34695The retail box we reviewed comes with a small heat sink and fan (and some of the all-important thermal paste) which will save precious money if you’re on a budget. It can get a little whiny under load, so if noise matters, consider a larger, quieter fan — but for acceptable, no frills cooling, the one in the box will work just fine.
On the chipset front, the i7-4790 uses the LGA 1150 socket, so if you’re upgrading you’ll need to ensure your motherboard is a match. Compatible Intel chipsets to look out for are the newer Z97-based models or the older, yet still suitable Z87. Because the i7-4790 is simply an updated version of earlier Haswell-based chips, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to upgrade paths — this basic architecture has been kicking around since 2013.
Performance-wise, the i7-4790 is a decent, if unspectacular addition to the Intel line-up. As with anything, your mileage may vary depending on where you’re coming from. If you have, say, a Core i7-4770K, you’ll see very similar levels of performance between the two. However, if you’re coming from something much older, then this CPU will seem blazingly fast. Given the relatively wallet-friendly price tag of $460, the i7-4790 will make for a solid base in a budget gaming rig, or even a slim-line performance system given the fact you don’t need a massive heat sink and fan to keep it cool.
In our test system with an NVidia GeForce GTX770 and 16GB of DDR3 RAM, the i7-4790 scored 9580 in 3DMark. Compared to a typical high end system from 2010 (we have just such a machine handy to compare it with; a Core i7 920 with 3GB RAM) this is a big improvement on the 5760 that machine scored. We think this is a fairly typical upgrade pattern (I know I don’t feel I have my money’s worth until I’ve squeezed four years out of the machine), so if this is you, you should expect a big performance jump. On the other hand, if you’re a serial upgrader looking for the best performance, the gains will be far less significant and you’ll want to spring extra for an unlocked CPU with greater headroom for overclocking and outright speed.