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Intel Corp. Cancels Coffee Lake-X Gaming Chip

By Ashraf Eassa - Dec 27, 2017 at 12:00PM

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It wouldn't have sold well.

Back in June 2017, chip giant Intel (INTC 0.32%) announced a new platform for the high-end desktop personal computer market, known as X299. 

As part of the X299 platform, Intel released a whole host of chips, spanning from a pair of quad-core chips based on the company's Kaby Lake-X architecture, to an 18-core monster based on its Skylake-X architecture.

Intel's X299 PCH.

Image source: Intel.

The Kaby Lake-X chips were essentially the same chips as their Kaby Lake-S counterparts designed for the mainstream desktop personal computer, but they were modified to plug into more expensive X299-based motherboards. 

After Kaby Lake-X, Intel was expected to introduce a follow-on part known as Coffee Lake-X. The Coffee Lake-X parts would've been the same as the Coffee Lake-S chips that Intel released earlier this year, but once again reworked to be compatible with the X299 platform. 

However, according to a recent leak of Intel's desktop personal computer processor launch plans, Coffee Lake-X is no longer expected to come out. The only new chips Intel seems to be planning for the X299 platform are the successors to the Skylake-X chips, known as Cascade Lake-X. 

Here's why this move makes complete sense. 

It wouldn't have sold

When Kaby Lake-X launched, it was panned by many reviewers. This wasn't because the chips themselves didn't fundamentally perform well -- they were, for example, quite capable chips for gaming. 

The problem is that people building their own computers could buy Kaby Lake-S chips paired with Z270 motherboards for much cheaper. The value proposition simply wasn't there. 

Now, Intel's pitch for Kaby Lake-X, per hardware review site Gamers Nexus, was that Kaby Lake-X "allows consumers to get into the Extreme series platform at a lower price and use it as an entry-level." 

Intel's Kaby Lake-X.

Image source: Intel.

In other words, Intel would have such customers buy into the X299 platform and a "cheap" Kaby Lake-X chip upfront, and then when the time came, those customers would replace those chips with Skylake-X chips with higher core counts. 

Customers -- at the very least, the do-it-yourself market these chips are clearly aimed at -- didn't buy into it. 

Kaby Lake-X, by all indications, was a poor seller in the marketplace. 

On popular hardware reseller Newegg.com, the highest end of the Kaby Lake-X models -- Core i7-7740X -- only has eight reviews, five of which were from verified owners. The other three appear to be complaints from people who don't own the product. 

The Core i5-7640X fared even worse -- it has just a single review on Newegg.com. The part seems to have been so unpopular that it's available on Newegg.com only through third party sellers -- Newegg.com itself doesn't seem to want to bother stocking such chips. 

By contrast, the Core i7-7700K, the Kaby Lake-S version of the Core i7-7740X, has 392 reviews, most of them overwhelmingly positive. The Core i5-7600K, the Kaby Lake-S version of the Core i5-7640X, has 132 reviews, and most of those are positive as well. 

Given that virtually the same exact chips are best-sellers on a cheaper platform but are commercial duds on a more expensive platform, it would be insane for Intel to invest resources in bringing a Kaby Lake-X successor to market. 

Kaby Lake-X was an interesting experiment for Intel, but the results showed that do-it-yourself desktop computer customers aren't interested in $200-plus processors to act as placeholders. They'll either buy the high-core count chips they want up front or buy the lower core count chips alongside the cheaper platforms.  

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