How much will AMD's Zen cost? Here's what we think

AMD's upcoming 8-core chip might cause a CPU price war. Here's why.

You know how many cores it has (eight). You know what motherboard socket it will fit in (AM4). But one tantalizing thing you don’t know about AMD’s much-hyped, and highly-anticipated Zen CPU is just how much it’ll cost.

All the benchmarks and all the talk of a clean-sheet design and a 40 percent IPC increase be damned. You just want to know if Zen (aka Summit Ridge) will be affordable or not.

Maybe we’ll see that today at AMD’s New Horizons live stream, where some news is expected, but in the meantime you’ll just stew in your cubicle wondering how much this processor will cost.

AMD isn’t doing this just to play with your emotions though. The company is currently engaged in a high-stakes poker game with Intel, the all-time reigning world-champion of CPU pricing, so this isn’t the time to act like a shirtless drunk in a Reno casino with the hole card.

The good news is AMD's reluctance doesn’t stop us from making guesses as to just where the 8-core Zen chip will be priced. Rumors have put it as low as $300 but I wouldn’t put too much faith in that number at this point.

zen pricing

So just where will AMD price Zen against Intel’s lineup?

One shot

Frankly, AMD has one shot to get this right and I’d expect it to shoot to be as disruptive as possible. That means getting the 8-core Zen as comfortably close to the Intel 6-core CPUs as it can. That forces Intel to lower the price of the 6-core chips to be competitive with Zen but which means Intel must then also cut the price of its quad-core chips too

If an 8-core Zen came in at $500 as some leaks would suggest, Intel really would have very little maneuvering room. And if that happens, does Intel actually chase Zen on price and cut the price of its own $1,100 8-core CPU too?

Even worse for Intel (potentially), Internet rumors say AMD is also working on a quad-core chip that somewhat competes with Intel’s $340 Core i7-6700K—but at the unbelievable price of $150. Imagine an incredible CPU price war that would leave the balance sheets sloshing with blood-red ink.

Or maybe not

An entirely plausible alternative scenario could also see Zen slot in right where there’s a hole: $800. At that price, Zen wouldn’t mess with Intel’s lower core count lineup and Intel might feel comfortable enough to just let AMD take some well deserved profit for once. Intel could continue to make bank on its CPUs, perhaps trimming its 8-core core offering to $900, and both would happily watch the cash registers ringing. Yes, the collective Internet of gamers and enthusiasts would groan in disappointment but such a scenario is also entirely possible too.

Why? Between of Win32 on ARM and its new found love of self-driving cars and the Internet of Things, Intel may no longer have the stomach for a CPU war in computers, too.

So what's the likely scenario?

My gut tells me old habits die hard and Intel, like AMD, is a competitive company—which means an 8-core Zen at a disruptive place is a likely course (though maybe not as low as some of the rumors suggest). Witness the aggressive $200 MSRP of the Radeon RX 480 as AMD battles Nvidia for graphical supremacy for precedent. 

So brace yourselves. I think we're in for a price war sure to make the PC stronger in the end.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AMD

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gordon Mah Ung

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?