The Haswell Refresh Processors

As a species that thrives on getting things done quicker or cheaper, a processor refresh should be welcomed. For the refresh, Intel is launching a total of 42 new SKUs, 24 of which are desktop but not all of them will make it into the land of retail. Prices for batches of a thousand will range from $42 to $303 on the desktop and $75 to $434 in mobile. Cutting to the chase, the new desktop SKUs are:

Intel Haswell Refresh CPU List (Desktop)
New SKU Cores  Base Turbo L3 Cache IGP TDP / W Intel
Celeron G1840 2 / 2 2800 - 2 MB HD (Haswell) 53 $42
Celeron G1840T 2 / 2 2500 - 2 MB HD (Haswell) 35 $42
Celeron G1850 2 / 2 2900 - 2 MB HD (Haswell) 53 $52
Pentium G3240 2 / 2 3100 - 3 MB HD (Haswell) 53 $64
Pentium G3240T 2 / 2 2700 - 3 MB HD (Haswell) 35 $64
Pentium G3440 2 / 2 3300 - 3 MB HD (Haswell) 53 $75
Pentium G3440T 2 / 2 2800 - 3 MB HD (Haswell) 35 $75
Pentium G3450 2 / 2 3400 - 3 MB HD (Haswell) 53 $86
Core i3-4150 2 / 4 3500 - 3 MB HD 4400 54 $117
Core i3-4150T 2 / 4 3000 - 3 MB HD 4400 35 $117
Core i3-4350 2 / 4 3600 - 4 MB HD 4600 54 $138
Core i3-4350T 2 / 4 3100 - 4 MB HD 4600 35 $138
Core i3-4360 2 / 4 3700 - 4 MB HD 4600 54 $149
Core i5-4460 4 / 4 3200 3400 6 MB HD 4600 84 $182
Core i5-4460S 4 / 4 2900 - 6 MB HD 4600 65 $182
Core i5-4590 4 / 4 3300 3700 6 MB HD 4600 84 $192
Core i5-4590S 4 / 4 3000 3700 6 MB HD 4600 65 $192
Core i5-4590T 4 / 4 2000 - 6 MB HD 4600 35 $192
Core i5-4690 4 / 4 3500 3900 6 MB HD 4600 84 $213
Core i5-4690S 4 / 4 3200 3900 6 MB HD 4600 65 $213
Core i5-4690T 4 / 4 2500 - 6 MB HD 4600 45 $213
Core i7-4785T 4 / 8 2200 - 8 MB HD 4600 35 $303
Core i7-4790 4 / 8 3600 4000 8 MB HD 4600 84 $303
Core i7-4790S 4 / 8 3200 4000 8 MB HD 4600 65 $303
Core i7-4790T 4 / 8 2700 - 8 MB HD 4600 45 $303

Every new desktop processor is a 100-200 MHz upgrade from the one named xx2x lower but at the same price point. Back when the initial processor price lists were announced, I made different comparisons from Celeron to i7 depending on what was relevant. For example, in the Celeron category:

Haswell Celeron
  Celeron G1840
2.8 GHz 
Celeron G1830
2.8 GHz 
CPU Speed 2.8 GHz 2.8 GHz
Cores 2 2
Threads 2 2
L2 Cache 512 KB 512 KB
L3 Cache 2048 KB 2048 KB
IGP HD (Haswell) HD (Haswell)
IGP Frequency ? 1050
TDP 53W 53W
Price at Launch $42 $52

Here we already have a Celeron processor with the exact same speed as one of the Haswell Refresh SKUs, but because it has been on the market for longer it is actually cheaper while providing the same specifications.

At the top end i7, the i7-4790 should actually be a replacement for the i7-4771 which was released in September 2013:

Haswell Core i7
  Core i7-4790
Core i7-4771
CPU Speed 3600 MHz / 4000 MHz 3500 MHz / 3900 MHz
Cores 4 4
Threads 8 8
L2 Cache 1024 KB 1024 KB
L3 Cache 8192 KB 8192 KB
IGP HD 4600 HD 4600
IGP Frequency 350 / 1200 MHz 350 MHz / 1200 MHz
TDP 84W 84W
Price at Launch $303 $314 (OEM) / $320 (box)

By releasing new mainstream processors into the desktop market, as well as the 9-series chipsets, Intel has afforded the system integrators another chance to sell newer systems and not to stagnate with older models.

For most of the performance enthusiasts reading this review, the question you might well be asking yourself relates to the Haswell Refresh overclockable CPU. At this point in time it is clear that the i5-4670K and i7-4770K models do not have refresh counterparts, both of which are also more marketable to system integrators as well as desired by home users. There is a simple explanation to this.

Nothing fundamentally changes with these refresh processors. It is the same design underneath. Now that Intel has been making Haswell wafers, the process is slightly more efficient over time (ironing out production) and the processor bins can all be shifted. If Intel were to release new overclockable CPUs that were a simple speed bump but ultimately had no performance gain of the current overclocking CPUs, there might be a backlash. 

To that end, Intel is going to release ‘Devil’s Canyon’ in due course. Devil’s Canyon has no official SKU name yet (i7-4970K or i7-4770X are my best guesses) but it was announced back in March as having an improved package and better thermal interface material. It will probably be the same silicon underneath as the i7-4770K due to the nature of the refresh, perhaps with a small design tweak that does not require new masks. We will review the new overclocking processor when we receive a sample from Intel, hopefully under something suitably extreme.

Today’s Review: The Intel Core i7-4790, i5-4690 and i3-4360

Back when Haswell was launched, we had only the chance to test the top line overclocking processor, the i7-4770K. This time around I was thankful to get the opportunity to expand our testing to the i5 and i3 segments of the processor line to find where they each stand in terms of performance. For comparison points we have the i7-4770K from our launch review, an i7-4765T from our ASRock M8 review, and an i3-4330 we picked up along the way.

The Intel Haswell Refresh Review
  Core i7-4790
Core i7-4770K Core i7-4765T Core i5-4690
Core i3-4360
Core i3-4330
Price $303 $340 $303 $225 $149 $140
Launch 5/2014 6/2013 6/2013 5/2014 5/2014 9/2013
Cores / Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/4 2/4 2/4
3600 3500 2000 3500 3700 3500
4000 3900 3000 3900 - -
IGP HD 4600 HD 4600 HD 4600 HD 4600 HD 4600 HD 4600
350 350 350 350 600 350
IGP Turbo 1200 1250 1200 1200 1150 1150
L3 Cache 8 MB 8 MB 8 MB 6 MB 4 MB 4 MB
TDP 84 W 84 W 35 W 84 W 54 W 54 W

Assuming all goes as planned, the small increases in frequency should provide a ~3% increase in benchmarks compared to the older Haswell processors.

Multi-Core Enhancement Isn’t Much Of An Issue

CPU benchmarking can be a bit of a nightmare in the current climate, especially on Intel platforms where turbo modes are possible. Back in 2012 I wrote an extensive news piece about Multi-Core Enhancement titled ‘The Debate About Free MHz’, wherein it is not actually Intel that set the CPU frequency for the processors but the motherboard. Where Intel might have a 3500 MHz base frequency and a 3900 MHz turbo frequency, a motherboard can detect that setting and override it for 3900 MHz on all cores by default. One motherboard went as far as increasing the multiplier +1 over the Intel specifications. The upshot of this is in multi-threaded performance benchmarks, where due to the extra frequency the final result is higher than Intel specifications. MultiCore Enhancement also means that the same CPU in different motherboards will give different results out of the box.

Most motherboard manufacturers that use this tactic (MSI, ASRock, GIGABYTE and ASUS all have this feature), as far as I can tell, limit the option to overclockable SKUs, and it is only implemented when XMP is implemented.

On top of this, Windows can also be a culprit. In different power modes, users can specify the percentage of maximum CPU frequency depending on what power mode is in play. This relates more to portable devices, but it is configurable with desktop systems as well.

For our review, as we only have one overclockable CPU in the test, we can adjust appropriately. For our testing we actually run SYSMark 2014 as our first benchmark, as the install prefers a fresh OS image to work with. This generates a consistent power profile which we maintain for the rest of the benchmarks. Had we run SYSMark mid-way through our testing period, it may have ended up with variable results, so we aim to keep our environment consistent and maintainable.

Test Setup

We would like to thank the following companies for providing test-bed support:

Thank you to OCZ for providing us with PSUs and SSDs.
Thank you to G.Skill and ADATA for providing us with memory kits.
Thank you to Corsair for providing us with an PSU,  CLC and memory.
Thank you to ASUS for providing us with the AMD HD7970 GPUs and some IO Testing kit.
Thank you to MSI for providing us with the NVIDIA GTX 770 Lightning GPUs.
Thank you to Rosewill for providing us with keyboards.
Thank you to ASRock for providing us with the 802.11ac wireless router for testing and other components.

Test Setup
Processor Intel Core i7-4790 ES (4C/8T, 3.6 GHz to 4.0 GHz)
Intel Core i5-4690 ES (4C/4T, 3.5 GHz to 3.9 GHz)
Intel Core i3-4360 ES (2C/4T, 3.7 GHz)
Motherboards ASRock Z97 Extreme6
ASUS Z97-Deluxe
Cooling Corsair H80i
Thermalright TRUE Copper
Power Supply OCZ 1250W Gold ZX Series
Corsair AX1200i Platinum PSU
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ 4x4 GB DDR3-1866 8-9-9 Kit
ADATA XPG 2x8 GB DDR3L-1600 9-11-9 Kit
Memory Settings 1600 9-11-9-27 1T tRFC 240
Video Cards MSI GTX 770 Lightning 2GB (1150/1202 Boost)
ASUS HD7970 3GB (Reference)
Video Drivers Catalyst 13.12 WHQL
NVIDIA Drivers 335.23 WHQL
Hard Drive OCZ Vertex 3 256GB
Optical Drive LG GH22NS50
Case Open Test Bed
Operating System Windows 7 64-bit SP1

Following recent reviews, we have added several new benchmarks to our testing, including SYSMark and Unity-based testing methodology. At present we have only tested a few CPUs on these new benchmarks.

Power Consumption

For our power consumption tests, we take the system as a whole with a GTX 770 installed and test at idle, long idle (monitor turned off by the OS) and OCCT (artificial CPU load).  We use the same PSU to keep efficiency on the same scale, although some of the data points are sub-20% efficienct for our power supply.  This means that arbitrarily the qualitative comparison is more important than the quantitative comparison.  Also of note is the Z97 motherboard we used for these tests implements an Adaptive voltage profile, meaning that artificial loads such as OCCT push the voltage higher than normal, increasing power consumption at load. Nevertheless the order of the results indicates a pattern from low power to high power.

Power Consumption - Long Idle  (GTX 770 Installed)

Power Consumption - Idle (GTX 770 Installed)

Power Consumption - OCCT  (GTX 770 Installed)

As expected, the 84W i7-4790 requires the most power, similar to the i7-4770K and i5-4690 that are also 84W.


Intel Core i7-4790, i5-4690 and i3-4360 Tested CPU Performance: Real World Benchmarks


View All Comments

  • etamin - Sunday, May 11, 2014 - link

    I feel that a whole lot of unnecessary effort was put into the benchmarks. But we appreciate the effort of course.

    I'm looking forward to SATA Express. Are there any compatible consumer level M.2 SSDs currently available?
  • weilin - Monday, May 12, 2014 - link

    Yup, look for the models below in M.2 interface

    Intel: 530
    Crucial: M500, M550
    Misc: MyDigitalSSD, Samsung (only second hand/OEM stuff, no retail presence)
  • jjj - Sunday, May 11, 2014 - link

    But there is competition, more than they ever had. You got tablets and phones killing PC sales and Intel is just sabotaging the only PC segment able to create any hype around PC. There is nobody else that really gives a damn about their products but hey they would rather have 60% margins instead of 58% even if they lose us too.
    Instead of giving us a 300$ 8 cores chip with no GPU, they are giving away free tablet Atom because that will help.....
  • juhatus - Sunday, May 11, 2014 - link

    I totally agree, Intel should really push PC again, not replace schim's with better ones. Reply
  • bji - Sunday, May 11, 2014 - link

    Intel cannot generate sufficient returns on its R & D dollars anymore. Nobody in the consumer market cares that much about faster Intel chips except CPU enthusiasts, and it's not a market that can even come close to supplying enough money to fund the R & D necessary to significantly advance x86 performance.

    You can blame AMD for not supplying enough competition, but a bigger part of the equation is that faster Intel chips don't sell "enough more" than current generation ones to justify spending huge amounts of R & D money on them.

    You can look at this as a sad fact, but I actually like it. I can by a laptop now for cheap that is so overly spec'd for my needs that I essentially never need to upgrade, saving me money. Software companies cannot depend upon ever increasing chip speeds, they have to become better at producing efficient software in order to have the headroom for new features that used to be provided by ever increasing chip speed.

    Advances in mobile computing are where it's at, and everyone knows that already ...
  • Antronman - Monday, May 12, 2014 - link

    Buddy, you've never built a PC, and I'm assuming that you don't have a hardware-heavy job. Reply
  • bji - Monday, May 12, 2014 - link

    Wrong on both counts. Reply
  • Shadowself - Monday, May 12, 2014 - link

    To some extent you're correct, but the reality is that the reasons are interdependent.

    Current performance increases from one generation to the next (Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge to Haswell and anticipated into Broadwell) are only 10% - 20% per generation. I, and many like me, buy at the top of the performance range and now use that machine for a few years so that we get a significant performance jump with each new machine purchased. Back 20+ years ago when each generation was 50% to 100% faster I upgraded each generation. It's just not worth it to do so anymore for just a 10% - 20% increase. The aggregate cost of purchasing machines every generation over a few years for such moderate increases in performance is too high.

    Likely Intel (and AMD) are into the range of diminishing returns on performance increases. Unless there are huge architecture changes in the upcoming Skylake series I expect the 10% - 20% increase per generation to continue for at least three more generations -- Haswell to Broadwell, Broadwell to Skylake, and Skylake to Cannonlake -- (and maybe go to 5% -10% performance increase in the Skylake to Cannonlake transition).

    Small increases in performance keep people from buying every generation. People not buying every generation limits profits and what can be put into IR&D. Limited IR&D produces small increases in performance. And the cycle repeats.
  • alacard - Monday, May 12, 2014 - link

    The increases over the past few generations have been no where near 10-20 percent.

    Sandy to Ivy was ~5 with that increase coming solely from power management/boost tweak. Clock for clock the cores perform identical (to get this metric you simply disable all the power management/boost functions in the bios and benchmark from there) with Ivy offering a slight decrease in consumed wattage.

    The Ive to Haswell performance increase - with a few exceptions - is < 10% in almost all tests, with consumed wattage actually increasing from ivy.

    Unfortunately, the Intel performance curve over the past 4 years is actually far more compressed than you paint in your post. With the exception of a couple of new task specific instructions we've had essentially less than 10% performance gains during that time
  • BadThad - Monday, May 12, 2014 - link

    I agree Shadowself! I'm actually still mainly on a Q6600 system as it meets all of my needs. At last I'm at the point where I'm going to Z97 as the performance benefits and feature sets are finally worth it for my needs. Reply

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