Upgrading your PC is getting more expensive thanks to Intel

intel Alder Lake, processors on motherboard and on table
(Image credit: Future)

Intel has stealthily upped the recommended pricing for some of its Alder Lake processors, bumping up the MSRP by 10%.

This is not exactly an unexpected move, as Intel signaled its intention to hike pricing for the majority of its chip products by 10% to 20% last year – we just weren’t sure if this would apply to consumer CPUs. Now we know that it does, but the price hike does leave us in an odd situation where some Alder Lake processors are now pricier than their newer, faster Raptor Lake equivalents.

As Tom’s Hardware spotted, Intel hasn’t formally announced any price increase for the 12th-gen range but has updated the recommended pricing on its Ark database that lists all the Core family CPUs (and other products) to show the mentioned 10% price bump.

This means that the flagship Core i9-12900K now has an MSRP of $648 in the US, which is a $59 increase over the previous $589 price tag. That compares to the current-gen Core i9-13900K which still has an MSRP of $589 as listed on Intel’s database.

Similarly, other Alder Lake models are now pricier, like the Core i7-12700K with a new MSRP of $450 (up from $409), compared to the Core i7-13700K which is still at $409.

The Core i5-12600K, Core i5-12400, and Core i3-12100 have also had 10% heaped onto the previous MSRP.

Analysis: Raptor Lake must surely be next for hikes, and soon?

The first thing to note here is that this has only just happened in Intel’s product database, and the 10% rise isn’t yet reflected at the actual retailers selling these Alder Lake processors. In other words, as you’d expect, the Core i9-12900K can still be had for considerably less than the Core i9-13900K (at Newegg in the US for example, the former is $410 and the latter $610, at least at the time of writing).

These price hikes will take time to impact actual stock being sold at retailers, but make no mistake – they will manifest in time, as Intel is now charging more for these Alder Lake chips. Equally, while it is obviously rather ridiculous to have Alder Lake products pitched at a pricier level than faster Raptor Lake silicon, this won’t be the situation for long.

We expect this 10% hike – because it’ll surely be the same level of increase applied – to come to Raptor Lake processors pretty soon, because it just doesn’t make any sense otherwise. What we’d imagine could be the case is that Intel wants to push up Alder Lake first because Raptor Lake CPUs are so new, Team Blue wants to give it a little more time before notching up MSRPs on those, so as not to create any bad feelings around those price rises (or minimize them, anyway).

Clearly enough, this is a broad signal to consumers to expect Intel processors to get more expensive in the near future, and that means the company will look less competitive relative to AMD which recently cut prices on its Ryzen 7000 CPUs.

AMD’s Zen 4 processors came down in price in a big way for Black Friday, with those discounts staying throughout the Holiday season, and even now, some chunky price reductions still apply to many Ryzen 7000 models.

Given that cheaper AM5 motherboards are expected to arrive soon enough, and the overall cost of upgrading to Zen 4 will be reduced further – from an admittedly (relatively) costly level – Intel could be leaving the door open for AMD to get back into the game with Ryzen 7000. That’s something AMD has been struggling to do against Raptor Lake thus far, which was the reason for the aforementioned price cuts in the first place.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).