An Intel Core i7-14700K slotted into a motherboard

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Intel’s Arrow Lake processors are already on sale, it seems – well, kind of, or at least pre-release samples of the silicon are being sold illegally.

As you’re doubtless aware, Arrow Lake is Intel’s next-gen range of desktop chips that won’t be out until much later in 2024 (or indeed 2025), but so-called engineering samples – early working versions of the CPUs – are up for grabs in China.

Tom’s Hardware reports that Yuuki_AnS on X (formerly Twitter) highlighted that Chinese outlet Xianyu is selling such engineering chips (via Sohu) that it has managed to get hold of somehow.

hmmm……Does anyone want to buy the CPU of ArrowLake-S LGA1851?(MechSample)—About 100 CNY or $14 each …April 29, 2024

If you want an Arrow Lake desktop processor that’s probably an old sample at this point, then it’ll set you back the princely sum of $14. Yes, we didn’t miss a zero off there, and as you might guess, these aren’t chips that are going to set the world alight with best CPU-level performance based on this not-much-more-than-ten-bucks price tag (and there are more issues besides, including the mentioned legality – which we’ll come back to in a moment).

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world of Arrow Lake, other spillage reported by Wccftech from leaker Xinoassassin1 (again on X) indicates that Intel will run with two main dies for the desktop CPUs.

There’ll be an eight performance cores + 16 efficiency cores die (the fullest version of which will be the Arrow Lake flagship, of course), and six performance cores + eight efficiency cores – with a bunch of variants therein on those dies. This is nothing that hasn’t already been floated on the rumor mill, mind.

Analysis: A chip off the very old block

Coming back to those Arrow Lake sample chips, despite the very low price, there are good reasons nobody should be tempted to buy them. Firstly, as noted, they are very old samples no doubt – indeed as Tom’s points out, the chip labels suggest they were produced over half a year ago. These might be the first functional test versions of the next-gen CPUs produced by Intel for all we know, or not far off it.

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Before taking a punt on one of these CPUs, any would-be buyers should also bear in mind that they’d be engaging in illegal activity (though it’s the vendor, of course, running the biggest risks here admittedly). And finally, with no supporting motherboard – Arrow Lake uses a new socket (LGA 1851) – the chip couldn’t be used anyway. Any buyer would need to get hold of a test motherboard to pair the Arrow Lake CPU with, as existing motherboards won’t work.

So, this is an odd one all-round, though it isn’t the first time pre-release samples have been sold online, and it doubtless won’t be the last. However, the seller may well be hearing from Intel’s lawyers very soon…

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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).

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