Intel Haswell CPU review – Core i7 4790K, Core i5 4690K, Core i4 4400K, and Core i3 4160K benchmarked

Test System

[CPU] Intel Core i7 4790K
[GPU] Gigabyte GTX 970 mini-ITX
[MOB] Gigabyte Z97-D3H (F7 bios)
[RAM] G. Skill Trident X 4GBx2 DDR3 @ 2400 MHz 10-12-12-31 2T
[HSF] Cooler Master Hyper TX3

Windows 7 64-bit with Service Pack 1
GeForce 350.05

CPU’s Tested

The Core i5, Core i4 and Core i3 were all simulated using Core i7. Hyper Threading and active core count was configured in the BIOS. Turbo was disabled for all CPU configurations.

Take note that Core i4 4400K and Core i3 4160K are just theoretical CPU’s. It was just included because I am curious as to how a triple-core CPU and an unlocked Core i3 would perform against a locked quad-core CPU

Core i7 4790K @ 4.2 GHz
4 cores / 8 threads

Core i5 4690K @ 4.2 GHz
4 cores / 4 threads

Core i5 4460 3.2 GHz
4 cores / 4 threads

Core i4 4400K @ 4.2 GHz
3 cores / 3 threads

Core i3 4160K @ 4.2 GHz
2 cores / 4 threads

Test Methodology

Video encoding, file compression, and 3D rendering will be used to measure performance in productivity applications.

POV Ray v3.7 – used the built-in render benchmark

HandBrake v0.10.1 – encoding a 1080p video from .m2ts format to .mp4 format. Input file is the “Earth from Above” demo video by Samsung. The demo video is free and can be downloaded here

x265 HD Benchmark v0.1.4 – a stand-alone benchmark tool for measuring performance in x265 encoding. It is free and can be downloaded here

7-zip v9.20 – the CineBench R15 ZIP file was unpacked then re-compressed using ZIP format. Compression level is Ultra and compression method is LZMA. You can download CineBench R15 here

Gaming performance will be measured by using FRAPS to record the frame rate and frame time. The settings used for each game are indicated below. All the games are updated to the latest version as of April 28, 2015.

For those who want to replicate my gaming benchmarks, check the YouTube links below to see what part of the game I benchmarked.

Crysis 3
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Texture Resolution: Very High
Anti-aliasing: SMAA T2X
System Spec: Very High

Tomb Raider (2013)
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Quality: Ultimate preset
Motion Blur: Off
Screen Effects: On

Grand Theft Auto V
Ignore Suggested Limits – ON
DirectX Version – 11
Screen Type – Fullscreen
Resolution – 1920 x 1080
Aspect Ratio – AUTO
Refresh Rate – 59 Hz
Output Monitor – 1
V-sync – OFF
Pause Game on Focus Loss – ON
Population Density – Maximum Slider Setting
Population Variety – Maximum Slider Setting
Distance Scaling – Maximum Slider Setting
Texture Quality – Very High
Shader Quality – Very High
Reflection Quality – Very High
Reflection MSAA – 2x
Water Quality – Very High
Particles Quality – Very High
Grass Quality – High
Soft Shadows – Softest
Post FX – Very High
Motion Blur Strength – Minimum Slider Setting
In-game Depth of Field Effects – ON
Anisotropic Filtering – x16
Ambient Occlusion – High
Tessellation – Very High
Long Shadows – ON
High Resolution Shadows – ON
High Detail Streaming While Flying – ON
Extended Distance Scaling – Minimum Slider Setting
Extended Shadows Distance – Minimum Slider Setting

Performance Results

The results below are the average of 3 runs


Here are game play videos of Crysis 3 comparing:
Core i7 4790K @ 4.2 GHz
Core i5 4690K @ 4.2 GHz

Core i5 4690K was simulated by disabling Hyper Threading of Core i7 4790K


In productivity applications, the interesting results are that of the Core i4 4400K @ 4.2 GHz and Core i3 4160K @ 4.2 GHz. An unlocked Core i3 would definitely not cannibalize the locked Core i5 4460. Even if Core i3 is running at a clock speed 31% higher, Core i5 was still faster. The Core i4 4400K @ 4.2 GHz, a triple-core CPU, was faster than Core i3 4160K @ 4.2 GHz and almost equals the Core i5 4460 3.2 GHz. I am wondering why Intel does not make a triple-core CPU when it is faster than a dual-core CPU with Hyper Threading. Alternatively, Intel could just drop the locked quad-core CPU’s and locked Core i3 CPU’s and just replace it with unlocked triple-core CPU’s.

The gaming performance was the more interesting part. Core i7 has an advantage over Core i5 in a CPU-intensive game like Crysis 3. The frame rates are almost the same but the frame time shows Hyper Threading improves performance by around 12%. Though, some may argue that the 12% improvement does not justify the 45% increase in price. Again, it depends on what you expect from upcoming games. For me, I think upcoming games would be more demanding on the CPU and Core i7 would be a good buy if your next CPU upgrade would be 3 to 5 years from now. As for the locked Core i5 4460 3.2 GHz, those who buy it and pair it with a high-end GPU may regret their decision a year or 2 from now. The performance difference between Core i5 4690K @ 4.2 GHz and Core i5 4460 3.2 GHz may not seem much when you base on frame rates but the frame times will show you that Core i5 4690K @ 4.2 GHz is around 20% faster. Moving on to the Core i4 4400K @ 4.2 GHz, we see again that a triple-core CPU without Hyper Threading is faster than a dual-core CPU with Hyper Threading.

5 thoughts on “Intel Haswell CPU review – Core i7 4790K, Core i5 4690K, Core i4 4400K, and Core i3 4160K benchmarked”

  1. Thats some useful info thanks. I have been torn between an i5 4690k and a Xeon E3-1231 (almost the same price). I am leaning more toward the Xeon due to my workload and the extra threads. After seeing your benchmarks here I think the Xeon may well be my best bet if I disable boost and fix the clocks to 3.8 in the bios. The E3 1231 is essentially a locked i7 4770 sans igpu which for the money should be ideal for my purposes, light gaming, 3d and photoshop work.

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