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Watch out, there are fake Intel CPUs about

These Intel Core i9 14900K processors are definitely not the ones to look out for. Performance isn't just lower, it's non-existent.

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Fake Intel CPU packages, specifically the Intel Core i9 14900K, have been found on sale in China that are completely missing a silicon chip underneath their heatspreader. The CPUs were being sold as “loose” chips packaged only in a clear plastic container, but with a legitimate-looking security sticker suggesting they were the real deal.

However, once one buyer got what should have been one of the best gaming CPUs home and tried to use it they found the supposed Intel CPU didn’t work at all. Upon further investigation, including the removal of the heatspreader, they discovered the complete lack of an actual CPU die – there wasn’t even a fake die or blank slice of silicon. Just thin air.

The discovery has been reported by Hong Kong tech site, HKEPC on its X/Twitter account. The site describes how Korean overclocker SoonHo Jeong – known as safedisk – told the site about the finding after purchasing the chip and trying to get it to work.

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The site documents the discovery with compelling images showing the unopened CPU, then a delidded version where there clearly isn’t a CPU die where there should be one. The underside of the chip, where all the LGA1700 socket connections are housed, is also shown, alongside a real version of the CPU. The similarity is striking, so it’s easy to see how buyers could be fooled into buying one of these fakes.

It’s not entirely clear why there are so many pictures of the CPU before being opened or delidded, and one of the pictures (top right in the image below) clearly shows the top of the CPU being completely blank rather than having the usual CPU name and other markings on it. As such, the full story about what happened here is a little unclear. It’s possible the whole situation has been faked, or that safedisk has shared photos of multiple CPUs without all the details.

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However, what is clear is that you should be sure to only buy your CPU from trusted retailers to avoid this sort of shopping nightmare. Occasionally, a rogue actor can intercept your purchase before it gets to you, even when buying from your favorite retailer, but usually there’s a significantly lower chance of this happening than when buying direct from mainland China.

Of course, the other factor to consider here is that the 14900K isn’t actually the CPU we’d recommend most PC gamers buy anyway. It’s a bit overpowered and power-hungry, while offering lower performance in many games than the AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D. The latter is the chip we recommend buying instead, though still make sure you buy from a trusted store.