Intel’s 16-core i9 offering is going to be $1699, and it looks like, for the same money, you could buy two 16-core AMD Threadrippers. Or just buy one and get lots and lots of change.
Threadripper might hit a previously unseen bang-for-buck ratio, but which chips out today are the best value for money? Check out our guide to the best gaming CPUs to find out.
Tech site Bits and Chips speculated on Twitter recently that AMD’s upcoming 16-core Ryzen Threadripper CPU could be selling for $849. That’s half the price Intel’s 16-core offering, the Core i9 7960X, will be retailing for. Hell, it’s less than the 10-core 7900X.
What about the entry-level 16C/32T ThreadRipper @ $849? ;)— Bits And Chips - Eng (@BitsAndChipsEng) June 1, 2017
Intel may have won the core-count contest with their biggest HEDT chip boasting 18 cores, but it sounds like AMD may (as is tradition) will beat the blue team on price. Bits and Chips’ sources have revealed a Threadripper CPU will cost around $110-120 to create. Even when you add in the retailer’s margin, shipping, and R&D costs, AMD will still be looking at a pretty profit margin even if they really are able to sell at half the price of the Intel competition.
According to my sources, a ThreadRipper 16C/32T (Dies+Package+Testing) cost AMD about 110-120$. 849$-110/120$ = 739/729$ Not bad. :)— Bits And Chips - Eng (@BitsAndChipsEng) June 1, 2017
This would make sense given AMD’s confidence about Threadripper. Their chief technology officer, Mark Papermaster, explained the company’s view at a brokers' conference last night.
“The new i9 announcement, there's not a lot of details,” he said. “It looks to have been pulled in. We know the high-end price point is $1,999. So, it's quite expensive. It does have 18 cores, but I think what we look forward to is just head to head match-ups in performance. Again, we're quite confident in Threadripper and what it will deliver to our consumers.”
He also confirmed AMD are remaining focused on delivering value to their users: “Consumers want value, they want performance and they want performance per dollar and that's what we're focused on.” That speculative $849 price tag is looking more and more realistic, then.
Clock speeds for both Threadripper and Intel’s four most powerful i9 SKUs have yet to be released. At double the supposed price of Threadripper’s 16-core model, the Core i9 7960X will need to be thrashing AMD’s CPU in terms of speed if it wants to have any hope of being competitive.
Bits and Chips go on to speculate that the highest-clocked 12-core Threadripper variant will likely be priced higher than the entry-level 16-core, giving customers a choice between the highest speed or the highest core count. Though that sounds even more wildly speculative than their pricing.
This doesn’t mean red team acolytes will suddenly find themselves with a full wallet, though - the accompanying Threadripper motherboards are likely to be more than a little expensive. The X399 boards have 4,094 pins in the CPU socket, a whopping 2,763 more connections than the 1,331 in their previous AM4 platform, and almost twice as many as on the LGA 2066 socket Intel are using for their X299 boards.
The fiddly components in the socket will also make it a lot easier for the boards to get damaged, resulting in more of them being returned by consumers. This is one of the inherent issues with land grid array (LGA) sockets, with pins in the socket rather than on the chip. You can see from the image of Asus' X399 demo board above the pins are pretty easy to damage.
AMD have previously extolled the virtues of the pin grid array (PGA) setup where cheaper manufacturing means they can pass savings on to the consumer, but the new TR4 LGA socket, with its massive pin-count, is going to be far more expensive.
Gigabyte confirmed to us at Computex last week the X399 motherboards will be a lot pricier than AM4 models. Making such an intricate piece of kit isn’t cheap and getting the manufacturing process right for fiddly new tech is costly. They also explained they’d had some issues with the manufacturing of the new socket because of the huge number of pins involved, though they have now been ironed out.
It’s yet to be seen, however, exactly how much of a financial hit the customer is going to take as a result of these boards, but that's half the fun of new kit, right?