This past week saw the release of Intel’s eight generation consumer CPUs. They’re high clocking, high core count parts with a mind to compete on price, and definitely on performance with AMD’s Ryzen chips. But the rapid fire release of products from Intel this year have made me wonder at it all. Rather than the usual summary of weekend news, this time we’ve got some Weekend Musings on this topic.
So in summary, Intel’s consumer products this year has seen:
- Kaby Lake launched in January this year to yawns and criticism of its specifications even though Intel knew what AMD was doing,
- X299 launched with products that made little sense on the high end, some with stunted PCI-E lanes and all sorts of other questionable choices,
- Coffee Lake comes out and sends arrows into the knees of people who bought lower end X299 chips.
Now, there has been a lot of good performance reviews of Coffee Lake, or Intel’s iX-8xxx series processors. There’s a lot to like too, with four core i3 chips, six core i5s and i7s with six cores and Hyperthreading enabled. That’s all well and good. But Kaby Lake only came out eight months ago. On top of that, we have Intel’s own latest high end CPUs with similar core counts (like the i7-7800X) and much more expensive X299 motherboards. It really made me wonder whether Intel is leading or reacting.
Just remember that Intel hasn’t actually made any gains in the raw processing power stakes since Skylake. Instead, Coffee Lake relies on high clock speeds and an increased number of processing cores to force a victory. You’re essentially buying the third version of the same processor core. Some will point out that it’s built on a more refined manufacturing process, but that’s like painting your Ford Falcon in rosso corsa and calling it a Ferrari.
Credit where it’s due, Intel has demonstrated clearly that it’s flexible and capable of change. Its research and development budget is huge and enables Intel to make such rapid changes to its products. But to be forced into doing this when Ryzen and then Threadripper (heh, cool name) stormed the beaches of Intel’s market share is mind boggling.
Not to mention that those who have just invested in an X299 or higher end Kaby Lake system will wonder why they didn’t wait that little bit longer. Intel has just ruined the value of their own products.
The other thing about Coffee Lake, which has come up in these weekend musings, is just the way the new wave of products have been launched. Stock is low, prices are high, especially if you take into account the fact that only Z370 motherboards are available at launch. Even if you didn’t want to overclock or need any of the high end stuff, you have no choice. The other stuff looks like it’s coming next year.
It shows clearly that Intel has chosen to launch its latest product as a pure marketing exercise. It’s doing this to distract people from the success of Ryzen and to steal sales. Never mind it will probably cannibalise its own sales of X299 and Kaby Lake components. Sort of poisoning its own well, so to speak. Yet this kind of launch, with high prices and low stock has seen very little criticism from the press. Yet if AMD has low stock on launch, like Vega, everybody jumps up and down.
These weekend musings about the technology world has brought to light just how cut throat Intel is about business. Given it was willing to bribe its partners into excluding AMD chips in the past, it should come as no surprise. In the meantime, competition is good for the consumer, as long as you can get your hands on the product itself for a decent price.