Rendering and video encoding
Please note that I've left the overclocked 4770K at 4.7GHz out of the test results below. That's simply because it performs exactly the same as the 4790K at 4.7GHz. They're the same Haswell silicon. I just wanted to keep things simple. Also, I've included the two AMD processors solely for reference. They're AMD's fastest CPUs in its "extreme" and high-volume desktop platforms (save for those crazy 220W FX chips), but neither one costs as much as a 4790K, so they're not direct competitors.
Like I said earlier, the 500MHz clock speed boost for the 4790K versus the 4770K is a fairly notable generational increase. Overclocking the thing adds another step up in performance, but remember that it comes at the expense of nearly twice the power consumption (and probably more cooling noise, as a result.)
If you just glanced at the FPS average in our gaming test, you'd say all of these CPUs must be GPU-limited and therefore I must be a bozo for testing in this fashion. I won't dispute the bozo thing, but a closer look at the individual frame rendering times will tell you there's a real difference between these CPUs.
To get smooth gameplay, you want to eliminate momentary slowdowns. As you can see in the frame time plots, those slowdowns are present in a few places during the course of our test session—mainly as I'm shooting dudes with exploding arrows.
Our more sensitive frame-time-focused metrics capture the differences between the CPUs quite nicely. Flip through the results for our "badness" metric, which looks at time spent beyond various thresholds. The 4790K spends less than half the time that the 4770K does working on frames that take longer than 33 milliseconds to produce—and at 4.7GHz, those long frame rendering times are further reduced. I could feel the difference during play-testing—not always, but consistently in the same spots during combat when things were exploding onscreen. The 4.7GHz CPU felt best, followed by the stock 4790K. Even at the very same FPS average, the faster CPU produces measurably and subjectively smoother gameplay.
These aren't the dark days of computing any longer, but there's still something to be said for having the fastest per-thread performance possible.
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