AMD recently made its highly anticipated Threadripper CPUs available for pre-order from various online and retail sources long before the upcoming review embargo lift. It’s not surprising that the company opened the new multi-core monster processors up for pre-order before reviews were published; AMD also did this with the premier launch of Ryzen. But this time, AMD has implemented a different kind of embargo for a new product: the unboxing embargo.
What The Heck Is An Unboxing Embargo?
Many of you may have noticed an explosion of AMD Threadripper unboxing articles and videos hitting the internet last Thursday (we did our own picture story to commemorate the occasion, it’s pretty sweet), and it seems like anybody who’s anybody was able to get the new CPUs in their hands before they become available on August 10. However, you might also have noticed that the majority of these posts don’t go into detail about performance or testing, and that full reviews aren’t available yet. That's because those in-depth reviews have a separate embargo date, whereas AMD dictated an earlier embargo for the ability to show, analyze, and report on the product’s packaging, box contents, and appearance.
Why is this a big deal? Well, because this is the first time the company has used an unboxing embargo to promote a product, and it seems to be a concerted effort on AMD’s part to capitalize on Threadripper pre-orders. The unboxing trend became popular with YouTubers, and initially, many videos would break review embargoes, often to the manufacturer’s chagrin. Yet AMD appears to see the value of this new form of coverage, and we can surmise that adopting a specific and separate unboxing embargo is also an effort to maintain control over the company’s product reveals.
Does It Work?
We’ve been keeping an eye on the Amazon Best Sellers list for CPUs since Threadripper’s pre-order debut, and although this isn’t data that can be used to evaluate overall market share (it doesn’t take into account OEM sales, which is where the big bucks are), it is a decent metric to indicate where the consumer DIY market is spending its money on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis.
The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X went on pre-order on July 31, and by 4:15pm PT, it climbed to the No. 2 spot on Amazon’s Best Sellers list, bested only by the Intel Core i7-7700K. Approximately 35 minutes later, it slipped to the No. 3 slot. By 7:15pm PT, it had fallen to sixth place.
The next day, we observed the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X maintaining the No. 6 slot. However, by August 2, it fell down to the No. 9 position. On August 3, it dropped again, and by 8:15am PT it was sitting at the No. 10 spot on the Best Sellers list.
Then the unboxing embargo expired. By 12:30pm PT on unboxing Thursday, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper changed course and went back to the No. 8 slot on the Amazon Best Sellers list. It maintained this position (more or less) for at least 23 hours; we observed the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X holding its eighth-place position at 1:30pm PT on Friday, August 4. However, by 5:30pm, it continued on its decline by shifting down to the No. 11 slot. As of this writing (7:15am PT on August 7), the 1950X fell further down to the No. 12 spot on the Amazon Best Sellers list.
What can we determine from this data? Threadripper started off especially strong on the Amazon Best Sellers list, with a No. 2 position in the opening hours of its pre-order extravaganza. However, this was short lived, and by the next morning it had slipped to the No. 6 position. Right before the unboxing embargo expired, it was further slipping down the ranks (sitting at No. 10), but a fresh wave of unboxing content for the new CPU pushed it back up to the No. 8 slot a few hours later. It maintained this position when we checked the next day, but now it’s declining again.
The First CPU Over $350 In The Amazon Best Sellers Top Ten?
Any company releasing a new product wants to create as much hype for it as possible, and AMD’s unboxing embargo seems to have paid off in the form of additional Amazon pre-order sales after the initial wave crested. This is also the first time a CPU priced over $350 has ever been on the Amazon Best Sellers list, at least to our knowledge, which makes Threadripper's long stay in the top ten even more impressive.
The next highest-priced CPU currently in the top ten is the Intel Core i7-7700K, but the other competitors are Intel Celeron, Pentium, Core i5, Core i7, and AMD Ryzen 5 and 7 processors that are all cheaper than the 7700K. A $999 CPU without a shred of hard performance data out there being in the top ten for a few days in a row a pretty big deal, although we still highly encourage you to wait for the impending reviews (and you know they're a-coming) before placing your own order.
I'm sure Threadripper will be great, they don't need use marketing scams to get orders.
Your sarcasm is duly noted. I do think the point of the piece went beyond that, don't you? Buying/pre-ordering something (especially at these price points) goes a bit beyond "interest," doesn't it? Further, when it's a high-end and expensive product like this, we'd have thought people might want to see some performance data (ie, reviews) first. So the fact that AMD cranks up the hype machine and it works to the tune of people taking a plunk-down-my money action, without reviews, propelling that $999 product into a high spot on a best-seller list for a while, seems newsworthy and noteworthy to me.
Going by the title of the article, no, I don't think the point was as deep as you are trying to make it out to be.
If Threadripper had been released before Ryzen, you would have a point about buying unseen. With the established performance of 8 core Ryzen 7, what kind of surprise performance (good or bad) are you expecting from 12/16 core Threadripper?
I stand by my point that this article is just poor and misleading journalism. As semitope pointed out, the unboxing was not some cunning marketing choice by AMD. It could have been anything at all and it would have increased exposure for the CPU line. Do you really think anyone watched the unboxing and placed a preorder for a $1000 CPU based on the box? If AMD had released anything of substance, ie. benchmarks, it may have rebounded much higher than #8.
AMD have gone all-out with the unboxing content with Threadripper. I believe their extensive and personalised press packages with the hard case, massive retail boxing and the etched CPU paper weights are unprecedented. Those press kits would have been funded by AMD's marketing department as a conscious marketing tactic and that's noteworthy IMHO. I don't find it difficult at all to believe that some people placed pre-orders based on the hype-train boost from the unboxing content.
RE performance: we won't really know until reviews lift what the performance implications of the dual Zen die are going to be. The memory controllers, L3 cahce and PCIe lanes are connected to a single die only. We've already seen a performance hit on Ryzen when data has to frequently traverse the two CCXs. Most people believe that's why Ryzen's IPC looks worse in gaming relative to other workloads. Ryzen's Threadripper has two dies and four CCXs. We can pretty safely say that highly threaded workloads where threads generally run independently of one another (like Cinebench, Blender, etc), will be phenomenal on Threadripper. Gaming, on the other hand, is a different beast entirely. Quite why anyone would buy a 12 or 16 core CPU for gaming I don't know, but I've seen loads of comment threads full of people just assuming that Threadripper's gaming and lightly threaded workload performance will be identical clock-for-clock to Ryzen. That remains to be seen.
What kids endure b4 xmas.
Here is some pre-embargo lift teases. One OC'd.