An online retailer in the UK has started to take pre-orders on Intel’s upcoming Coffee Lake e5 4600 v3, specifically the socketed ‘S’ parts for desktop computers. As reported previously, the new processors will have more cores than their direct predecessors, but if the published pre-order prices are correct (and are not inflated because of their pre-order nature) then Intel’s new chips will also have higher MSRPs than the company’s existing products.
Lambda-Tek, the UK retailer, is currently taking pre-orders on six Coffee Lake CPUs which are expected to hit the market in the coming weeks. The CPUs in question are the Core i7-8700K, the Core i7-8700, the Core i5-8600K, the Core i5-8400, the Core i3-8350K, and the Core i3-8100. Each segment will get an upgrade over the previous generation in core counts: the Core i7 parts will run in a 6C/12T configuration, the Core i5 parts will be 6C/6T, and the Core i3 parts will be 4C/4T (similar to the old Core i5). The flip side of this is that, if data from the retailer is correct, each element of the stack will cost quite a bit more than their direct predecessors.
For example, the store charges nearly £354 for the Core i7-8700K, which converted to USD (and without tax) equals to around $400. This will be a substantial uptick in cost over the $340 that the Core i7-7700K retails for today. $400 may be too high for Intel’s top mainstream CPU, as Intel sells its six-core Core i7-7800X for $375. The HEDT requires a more expensive X299 motherboard and an appropriate DRAM kit, but might have an overall build cost similar to the $400 part.
The new quad-core Core i3 products will also get more expensive than their predecessors, with the calculated US price taken from the UK retailer coming to nearly $200 for the Core i3-8350K, up from $180. The per-core price will drop, which is perhaps not surprising, but the alleged price hike would put the Core i3 SKUs deeper into the Core i5 territory (the Core i3-7350K is already in the $190 ballpark), which will make it harder for many people to choose between different new i3 and older i5 models.
* UK prices, listed online, are always quoted with 20% sales tax included. US prices are typically listed without sales tax due to different tax rates in each state. Most of the world does not have this issue. Our UK prices are all taken from Lambda-Tek, US prices from Amazon on 9/15.
** Speeds of Coffee Lake CPUs have not been directly confirmed by Intel
If the pricing published by the UK retailer is correct, Intel will likely quote increased MSRPs. This would not the first time Intel has hiked prices of its mainstream parts: For example, Intel boosted the price of the Core i7-4770K to $339, up from $313 for the Core i7-3770K in 2013. The company did the same for the Core i5-4670K: it was priced at $242, up from $212 for the Core i5-3570K.
Increases and decreases of mainstream CPU MSRPs are not extraordinary events. Companies have different costs for different parts (because of different die sizes, yields, and other factors) and in a bid to maintain profit margins, they fluctuate prices. Since Coffee Lake chips are bigger than their predecessors because of the higher core count, it is logical for Intel to rise their MSRPs. However, the competitive landscape on today’s CPU market is different than it was from 2011 to 2016 as Intel could have to target AMD’s Ryzen in performance per dollar.