Core i5-4590 3.3 Ghz 4th Generation Processor offers a good middle ground in terms of performance and price. At the time of this review in early April, 2014, it was selling for $199. The Core i5-4570 is a very good compromise chip for buyers who have the occasional, non-work-related need for a processing engine that can run with the big dogs, and who don’t care about overclocking. (Conversely, if processing time is money for you, the Core i7-4770K will pay for itself before very long.) Just know that Hyper-Threading is disabled on this Core i5 chip, while its power-consumption rating remains the same as costlier models in the Core line. The lack of Hyper-Threading could be a strike against this chip if you use heavily threaded programs that would otherwise have been able to make use of the four “virtual” processing threads that Hyper-Threading enables in other quad-core chips. But if your content-creation activities are casual and not your living, you likely won’t miss it much.
And make no mistake: This is still a powerful CPU. If you rarely perform tasks that lean heavily on the CPU and all of its available cores, it’s probably overkill, and you could opt instead for a dual-core Intel chip such as the Intel Core i3-4130, which sports the same architecture and similar clock speeds for about $75 less. If you’re interested in gaming, in particular, you’d be better off spending less on the CPU and more on a dedicated graphics card, and that $75 differential could pay for a goodly chunk of one. But for an all-purpose power PC on a budget, the Core i5-4570 strikes an excellent balance between power in reserve and savings on that core silicon.
Architecture, Socket, and Chipset
If you were following closely in mid-2013 when the first Intel 4th-Generation Core processors launched, among them the Core i7-4770K (the family was code-named, and still frequently called, “Haswell”), then you know a bit about the chipset and new CPU socket that the Haswell chips demand. In case your memory is a bit foggy, though, here’s a refresher.
Like the 3rd-Generation Core (“Ivy Bridge”) processors that preceded them, the 4th-Generation Core chips, like the Core i5-4570 we’re looking at here, are based on Intel’s 22-nanometer manufacturing process and the 3D transistor technology that debuted with the company’s previous-generation chips. The manufacturing process and transistor tech aren’t really new. (Not to imply that they’re not impressive—they are!) But the degree of change was minor between 2012’s 3rd-Generation and the 4th-Generation chips, at least when talking about Intel’s desktop offerings in these lines. The major upgrades were ostensibly better branch prediction and a doubling of the bandwidth of both the L1 and the L2 caches. (For a much deeper dive into the Haswell architecture, be sure to check out the excellent coverage here, from our colleagues at sister site ExtremeTech.)
Looking at the basic specs of the Core i5-4570, this chip looks an awful lot like a stripped-down version of the Core i7-4770K. The Core i5-4570 has four physical cores, but, as mentioned, the chip lacks Hyper-Threading. In the Core i7-4770K, Hyper-Threading lets that processor tackle up to eight simultaneous threads under the right circumstances (which is to say, under a compatible OS, and with compatible software). Also, the Core i5-4570’s 3.2GHz-to-3.6GHz clock speed (it’s variable, depending on the thermal conditions and the type of workload) is a few ticks down from the Core i7-4770K’s range of 3.5GHz to 3.9GHz stock. And, as chip connoisseurs know, because there’s no “K” at the end of the Core i5-4570’s model number, it isn’t unlocked for easy overclocking.
That said, don’t expect any major power savings when stepping down to the Core i5-4570 from the more expensive Core i7-4770K chip. Both processors have a thermal design power (TDP) rating of 84 watts. To get to a lower power rating within Intel’s current desktop architecture, you’ll have to step down to a chip like the Core i3-4130. (That CPU has two physical cores, but it does have support for Hyper-Threading.)
Regardless, most enthusiasts wedded to desktops and prioritizing performance (particularly in the United States) don’t care a whole lot about a few watts one way or another; if they did, there are bigger ways to conserve power, in any case. It’s worth noting that the Core i5-4570 has the same power requirements as the higher-end Core i7-4770K, with a few less features and generally lower performance. But with that compromise comes some significant savings: When we wrote this, the Core i5 cost about $140 less than the Core i7-4770K’s price of about $340.
Of course, beyond the chip itself, other considerations affecting the system as a whole come into play with any CPU purchase. The 4th-Generation Core “Haswell” processors ushered in a new CPU socket, dubbed LGA 1150. That means that you’ll need to buy a new motherboard alongside your Core i5-4570 (or any other 4th-Generation processor), because presumably, most folks who already own an LGA 1150-based system aren’t yet seeking to upgrade the CPU; they’re all fairly recent. (It goes without saying: The need for a new motherboard makes any CPU upgrade a much more expensive and time-consuming affair.)
Also note that the complications for upgraders may be greater than needing a new motherboard—you may need a new power supply, as well. The 4th-Generation chips have a new low-power state that could put too much stress on the non-primary rails of a lesser power supply, causing it to switch itself off as a precaution. Power-supply maker Corsair, at least, has already addressed the issue, stating that most of its power supplies shouldn’t have an issue with Intel’s new chips. For a full list, as well as a brief explainer of the potential problem, be sure to check out this Corsair blog post.