Demand for Intel’s Skylake CPUs has been very high since the introduction of the company’s latest processors in August. Even though the manufacturer has ramped up the supply of its Skylake CPUs since its launch, not all users can get these new CPUs. In fact, demand for higher-end Core i5-6600K and Core i7-6700K is so high that retailers recently increased prices of such chips. As a result, the quad-core top-of-the-range Skylake-S microprocessor is now more expensive than even the previous-generation six-core Haswell-E series.

Officially, the recommended customer price of one boxed Intel Core i7-6700K processor (four cores with Hyper-Threading, 4.0GHz/4.20GHz, 8MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 530 core, unlocked multiplier) is $350, according to Intel’s ARK. The recommended price of the Core i5-6600K chip (four cores, 3.50GHz/3.90GHz, 6MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 530 core, unlocked multiplier) is $243. However, at the moment it is not easy to buy thse CPUs without overpaying in the U.S. In fact, not all retailers even have the chips in stock, something that rarely happens to products released over three months ago.

For their part, Amazon does not currently have any Intel Core i7-6700Ks directly in stock. Instead the only 6700Ks available via Amazon are through their third-party marketplace sellers, starting at $499.99, which is nearly $150 higher than the recommended customer price. According to CamelCamelCamel, a price-tracker that monitors Amazon and its partners, the price of the chip began to increase in early October. Meanwhile Newegg sells the Core i7-6700K for $419.99, a smaller increase than Amazon but still higher than both Intel's original price recommendation and the price Newegg was charging at launch. Looking at Newegg's pricing history over at PriceZombie, it looks like Newegg increased the price of the chip beginning in November.

As for Intel’s Core i5-6600K, it's available at Amazon and Newegg for $289.99 and $279.99, respectively. The price of the chip has been fluctuating in both stores and at present the product costs slightly above its $243 MSRP.

Given these prices, it is noteworthy (and somewhat surprising) that Intel’s Core i7-5820K processor (six cores with Hyper-Threading, 3.30GHz/3.60GHz, 15MB cache, unlocked multiplier) is down to $389.99 these days, which makes it cheaper than the Skylake 6700K. The fact that the 5820K has to be paired with more expensive LGA2011-3 motherboards as well as quad-channel memory kits ultimately drives up the price of the total kit compared to a Skylake system, but that a still very performant hex-core CPU (ed: with solder!) is cheaper than Intel's flagship quad-core is something we rarely see. If nothing else it's a sign of just how unbounded quad-core pricing has become, though at the same time it thankfully provides a reasonable alternative to the 6700K and some counter-pressure to keep i7 prices from getting even higher.

When we asked Intel about what was going on with Skylake prices, they said in an emailed statement that they had not increased the MSRP of the 6600K/6700K - in other words, they had not increased prices on their end. Instead they suggested that select stores might have increased their prices because of strong demand for such chips, which is a pattern we've seen before with video cards and other components.

It goes without saying that retailers do not usually increase prices without a reason, as the intense competition among the online PC component retailers makes it difficult to hold too large of a margin under normal circumstances. All of this in turn points to an insufficient supply of microprocessors, with demand significantly exceeding supply. In fact, according to Nowinstock, which monitors availability of various products, many well-known U.S.-based stores did not have high-end Intel Skylake CPUs in their stocks at press time.

Intel has previously mentioned that the costs of producing CPUs on their 14nm manufacturing process were higher than the costs of 22nm CPUs due to initially lower 14nm yields. However, the company has never revealed whether yields are a reason why higher-end Skylake-S processors are currently in short supply, or if the problem lies elsewhere in the production chain. With any luck we may find out a bit more once Intel hosts their next earnings conference call in January.

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  • drzzz - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    I see that "sold by line" and concede I may have not noticed it not being Amazon.com on the product listing earlier but when I added it to my cart just now it said sold by hard2findparts in the checkout section and the price in cart was $475.00. Very fluid on Amazon.com right now but have not seen $499.99 as a starting price yet. I will back off on this one a bit for now. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    Glad to see you guys were able to work this out.=) Suffice it to say, Anton and I did check Amazon directly when this article was being written, and again when it was finalized for publication. Amazon proper has not had a 6700K in stock on either occasion.

    Meanwhile when we did finalize this, $499 was the cheapest marketplace seller available. And the marketplace sellers are something very different; it's akin to buying on eBay (with all of the risks thereof), which is why we don't count them as Amazon.
    Reply
  • BMNify - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    @drzz: I don't think you understand how Online stores work, the stock situation can change within minutes. Reply
  • smilingcrow - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    Calling BS on your post as Amazon has no stock now. You do realise that stock levels vary as do Amazon's pricing! ;) Reply
  • metayoshi - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    I'm actually surprised people are eating up the 6700K so fast. I went black friday shopping for a new gaming/video editing PC for my girlfriend, and while I saw a ton of people lining up for the 6700K at $350, I simply got the 4790K for $250. That was at a local Microcenter, but I'm sure you can find just as good of a deal, if not better, for that CPU, while the 6700K is still at full price, or as this site puts reveals, even higher than MSRP. That's just a crazy amount of money just to be on the latest and greatest when the last couple of generations were more than good enough and on sale. Reply
  • extide - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    $100 for a die shrink, and 2 gen newer CPU? Really in the overall cost of a new PC, that isnt that much, at least IMHO. Reply
  • mrdude - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    You'd see a greater return reinvesting that $100 saved into a GPU or even better/newer peripherals. The performance improvements just aren't there over Haswell. The platform goodies are enticing, but that's about it.

    Of course, 'platform goodies' are the reason we have far-too-many chipsets for the desktop and server platform as it allows another route of milking. If the processor isn't doing it, maybe the chipset will
    Reply
  • blzd - Friday, January 1, 2016 - link

    On the same train of thought you could take it evenfurther. Why even buy a 4790k for $250 when a cheaper i5 will get the same FPS?

    Save another $100 and get the i5. Why are people recommending i7s for gaming systems anyways? Hyper Threading on 4 cores does little to nothing for games.
    Reply
  • santosmurillo - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    My tastes probably sound rather plebian but I just purchased an 8350 which I oc'd it to 4.6ghz and am playing all the games at high(not ultra) with framerates at 60. For $139 it serves it purpose rather well. Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    Been running an FX-8350 for a couple of years now. Looked it up in Anandtech Bench on say 7-Zip or POVray (I do a lot of general mathematical compute) and found the 6700K is only 15-30% faster, while being more than 2x the price of course. Reply

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