The reasons for the high cost of motherboards on Intel

The reasons for the high cost of motherboards on Intel Z690 are named – many new components are more expensive

With the announcement of the new generation of Intel Alder Lake processors, many wondered why the motherboards designed for them on the Z690 chipset turned out to be much more expensive than their predecessors based on the Z590 chipset. There are many factors behind this, but only a few are key. The portal told about them TechPowerUp

Image source: Tom's Hardware

Image source: Tom’s Hardware

Within the PC community, various speculations have been voiced about the reasons for the rise in prices for boards for 12th Gen Intel Core processors. Many were related to assumptions about the higher cost of manufacturing printed circuit boards (PCBs), on the basis of which the motherboards themselves are built. This assumption is correct, but only partially, since this factor adds only a couple of dollars of markup to the final price of the motherboard.

Image source: TechPowerUp

Image source: TechPowerUp

As it turned out, a significant part of the cost to motherboards for new Intel processors is added by the LGA 1700 processor socket. More precisely, its locking mechanism, which, as indicated TechPowerUp, it turned out to be four times more expensive to produce than the LGA 120 socket for the same 11th Gen Intel Core processors. It was not possible to find out the exact price of sockets. For comparison, you can take the price of the LGA-115x processor socket, which in small wholesale sales is about $ 5. However, motherboard manufacturers buy these parts in much larger quantities, so the price for them should be generally lower.

But even with all this in mind, the price of the LGA 1700 connector should be about $ 10-15 per piece, even with large-scale purchases, the resource writes. In fact, the LGA 1700 processor socket is the second most expensive single component in motherboards after the Z690 chipset, which costs $ 51, which is a dollar more than Intel’s Z590 chip.

1638985838 744 The reasons for the high cost of motherboards on Intel

Another factor driving up the cost of the Z690 motherboards was the change in their power lines, namely the move from IMVP8 to IMVP9.1. In other words, instead of DrMOS (Driver MosFet) chips, the new boards use power phases with Smart Power Stage (SPS) technology. It turned out that these components are more expensive than the previous ones, and their supplies are somewhat limited. As a result, the price of one phase of power supply for Z690 boards has approximately doubled compared to boards based on the Z590 chipset.

The advantage of the new power scheme is its increased efficiency and lower temperature indicators during operation compared to the scheme where DrMOS components are used. The price of new components is predicted to decline over time. The downside is that the new boards are equipped with a larger number of power phases than before, so their introduction has become the second most expensive design change in the new generation boards. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to save some savings here by reverting to the old IMVP8 power scheme, since it is not suitable for Z690 boards. The only possible saving option may be considered using fewer power phases.

Image source: ASUS

Image source: ASUS

Some flagship models of motherboards with the Intel Z690 chipset use two PCIe 5.0 slots at once, so here you need to use a PCIe 5.0 retimer – a microcontroller responsible for synchronizing signals with increasing track length on the board. It was not possible to find the cost of such a controller for the PCIe 5.0 standard, but a version of the retimer with support for 8 PCIe 4.0 lanes is sold in small wholesale for about $ 45 per unit. For motherboard manufacturers who buy these components in large quantities, the cost per unit should be around $ 20-30. Fortunately, for most motherboards on the Z690 chipset that use one PCIe 5.0 slot, a retimer is not needed.

Image source: ASUS

Image source: ASUS

The cost of the PCIe 5.0 slots themselves is about 10-20% higher than that of previous generations. The difference in purchase cost over PCIe 4.0 per slot for motherboard manufacturers is only a few cents. However, the installation process for these connectors, as well as the accompanying SMD / SMT components, has changed. Previously, PCIe slots were added to the board manually, simply by installing them into pre-made holes on the board itself using plastic legs (clips). Now they are installed using automated production using special machines. Probably the cost of purchasing and operating this hardware is included in the price of each motherboard manufactured.

It should also be noted that among the factors mentioned above that form the final price of motherboards based on the Intel Z690 chipset, the current global shortage of semiconductor components is not mentioned. when prices increase, as well as a shortage of almost every component and material for the production of a motherboard, from aluminum to resistors and capacitors. It should also be noted that most motherboard manufacturers previously ordered components 3-4 months before the start of production of their products. However, in the current reality, this is impossible. Most board manufacturers now have to wait up to 52 weeks for their orders. This leaves its mark on how supply contracts are negotiated, and ultimately can also affect the final cost of the finished product. As writes TechPowerUp, there is already talk in some quarters that prices for some motherboard components may rise again next year.

About the author

Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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