Intel’s 9th Gen CPUs Are Still Hard to Find at Retail

Intel’s 9th Gen CPUs Are Still Hard to Find at Retail

When Intel launched the Core i9-9900K last week, some readers argued that evaluating the CPU at a $480 price was a mistake, because it had turned out to be both difficult to find at that price and difficult to find in-stock, period. We always give these types of comparisons at least a few days to settle (and for shipments to arrive), so we’ve waited to give an immediate verdict on the new CPU family.

When we spoke to Intel, the company confirmed it would prioritize shipments of higher-end chips, even though its 14nm production lines are suffering some demand-based shortages. At the same time, readers have reason to be skeptical of Intel’s ability to keep these products in stock — when the Core i7-8700K launched last year, it took months before it was in stock at MSRP. We don’t want to preemptively declare the 9th Generation CPUs will follow this pattern, but the early results don’t look great for Intel.

Intel’s 9th Gen CPUs Are Still Hard to Find at Retail
Intel’s 9th Gen CPUs Are Still Hard to Find at Retail

Does the Price Jump Change our Core i9-9900K Evaluation?

We haven’t reviewed the Core i5-9600K or Core i7-9700K, so we’ll confine our comments on price to the Core i9-9900K, specifically. Ironically, the price increases both do and don’t change our overall opinion of the CPU.

The Core i9-9900K is in a bit of a unique position. As a top-end halo product, it enjoys a certain cachet: If you want the fastest Intel mainstream CPU without paying for a huge premium on Core X hardware or a CPU that can often compete with the 10-core Core i9-7900X at a significantly lower price, the Core i9-9900K is the best deal in the Intel ecosystem at $480. It’s also still the best deal in the Intel ecosystem at $580. Obviously not being able to buy the chip is a practical impediment to deploying it, but if you’re willing to pay for the best solution or unwilling to use anything but Intel, the price increases don’t change much — except, perhaps, to make the Core i7-9700K look like a more reasonably priced alternative, since pushing the 9700K’s price up by 10 percent is a much smaller jump than shoving the Core i9-9900K up by 21 percent. Intel’s MSRP’s predict a 9900K that’s 1.28x more expensive than the 9700K, but the current pricing would have them 1.41x apart if you can buy either. Minor problem, that.

For buyers who do care about price/performance, obviously any inflation of Intel’s price tag makes the Ryzen 7 2700X shine that much more. But again — this was already kind of the case. The Ryzen 7 2700X is a ~$300 chip (I’ve seen it ranging from $295 – $310). The 9900K is roughly 1.15x faster, but (at MSRP) costs 1.63x more. The efficiency argument clearly favors the Ryzen 7 2700X already. Does it look even better with the 9900K at $580, making it 1.93x more expensive for 1.15x more performance? Yes. But if you were willing to swallow a 1.6x price premium for a 1.15x performance gain, I’m not sure you stop doing that when the ratio hits 1.93x for a 1.15x performance gain. Or, put in economic terms, I’m not sure how elastic the CPU market is at any given price point. It’s logical to think that people in the market for $100 CPUs respond differently to price changes than those in the market for $500 CPUs, but there was already a strong argument to make in favor of either AMD or Intel depending on where you land on this issue. I’m not sure how much the price shifts will change it.

Intel’s 9th Gen CPUs Are Still Hard to Find at Retail

Now Read:Intel Core i9-9900K Review: Welcome to an Intel-AMD 8-Core Slugfest, Intel Faces 14nm Shortage As CPU Prices Rise, and AMD Cuts Ryzen 7 2700X’s Price Ahead of Intel 9900K Launch

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