The arrival of AMD's Ryzen 3000 series CPUs brings more multi-threaded heft to the mainstream desktop and sweet new technologies like PCIe 4.0. Unfortunately, according to what we learned in an interview with MSI CEO Charles Chiang and from other vendors at Computex 2019, the platform will also bring higher pricing for the next series of AMD motherboards. As a result, X570 motherboard pricing could be similar to Intel's expensive Z390 motherboards, if not higher. In fact, even the lowest-end X570 boards could cost more than most previous-gen X470 boards, though Chiang stressed that pricing decisions are still not finalized.
That's a big change from AMD's traditional role of having significantly less expensive motherboards than Intel. When asked about the source of the higher pricing, Chiang said, "Technology wise, PCIe Gen 4 will contribute a lot of cost on the motherboard, and AMD right now they intend to sell X570 chipset for higher pricing."
AMD used an ASMedia chipset for its previous-gen motherboards, but the company now produces its own silicon for the task. Chiang told us that, while pricing isn't final, it appears that AMD could increase the cost of the chipset itself significantly. "But you know, [it is] still in the discussion. It's not finalized yet, but it appears that [we] will have a price gap between X570 and X470."
Chiang also says that AMD is changing its marketing strategy to focus on being a premium brand, as opposed to being the value alternative.
"Lots of people ask me, what do you think about today's AMD? I say today's AMD is completely different company compared to two, three, five years ago," Chiang said. "They have nice technology and they are there to put the higher spec with the reasonable pricing. But right now they say, "Hey Charles, lets push to marketing to the higher [end]. So let's sell higher-pricing motherboards, higher-spec motherboards, and let's see what will happen in the market. So I don't think that AMD is the company that wants to sell low cost here, low cost there."
That change in focus could make X570 motherboard pricing comparable to, or even higher than, many Intel Z390 motherboards. "I would like to say the price would be comparable, and even higher for some SKUs," Chiang said. "But I can tell that if an X570 is compared to our Z390, if the specs are equal and everything, I don't think we [are] going to price AMD lower. I don't think that's realistic because the cost of the motherboard [will] be higher, and maybe the pricing [of] the chipset [is] higher."
The heightened motherboard pricing also stems from several other factors. Chiang told us that PCIe 4.0, which requires more power, complicates design and requires faster switches, which will "contribute a lot of cost on the motherboard." We already know that, courtesy of PCIe 4.0, AMD's chipset has also increased power consumption to above 10W, which is a big jump from the previous-gen's ~3.5W.
Chiang said that means most X570 motherboards will come with active cooling via a fan, sometimes paired with a heatpipe that extends to the beefier VRM coolers. So far we know of only one announced X570 board with passive chipset cooling, Gigabyte's top-end X570 Aorus Xtreme. Like other vendors we saw at the show, MSI is also beefing up its power circuitry with more phases, which ultimately requires more cooling and adds another layer of cost to the equation.
"So, technology-wise the cost will be higher because of that. And then from the market strategy-wise, AMD also want to put that in higher segmentation. So, it's a situation. You can really expect this motherboard pricing will [have] a lot of gap between the X470s and 570s," Chiang said.
Chiang noted that X470 motherboards will remain in the market and could serve as the value alternative, and when asked how long MSI intends to keep producing them, Chiang responded, "Will X470 stay in the market? It's good question. It depends on the price gap. If the price gap [is] there, people still looking for reasonable pricing, they might go for X470."
We expect to learn more next week at E3, and will update as necessary.