Counterfeit Intel CPUs Are Circulating in China

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Large numbers of counterfeit Intel CPUs are circulating in the Chinese market, according to a report on Hong Kong-based IT online magazine HKEPC. The chips have landed in the hands of many shops in mainland China, and as people are catching on, the sellers are attempting to RMA the chips with Intel.

Among the techniques reportedly used is replacing the CPU's IHS with models stating higher makes. One particularly popular model appears to be the Intel Core 7-7700K, which doesn't come as much of a surprise given that the Kaby Lake CPU has thermal paste instead of solder between the CPU die and the IHS, making it extremely easy and safe to delid. Through this tactic, customers have ended up unintentionally purchasing Pentium and Core 2 Duo chips for the price of an i7.

There have been reports of counterfeit chips on AliExpress and Amazon, and some people have even been shipped CPUs that don't have a CPU die installed in them at all.

We don't know if the resellers themselves are producing the counterfeit chips or if they're getting them through their supply chain unknowingly.

Unsurprisingly, Intel is refusing RMA requests from resellers on counterfeit parts. If Intel accepted the RMAs, it would simply grant the scammers an easy target. 

HKEPC's report doesn't mention the scam hitting the U.S. market. But if you want to be safe, your best bet is to buy your hardware through an Intel Authorized reseller and to check out our story on how to avoid buying a fake CPU

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • King_V
    Unfortunately, I predict a spike in questions coming in about whether or not people should go for a "too good to be true" deal on Intel i7 chips from sellers based in China.
  • PsyaNyde
    I've seen them sold on Amazon in the UK too, some of the reviews from buyers have been a nightmare.
  • hotaru251
    AFAIK if this happens on amazon doesnt their policy allwo you to return and refund as it wasnt what u purchased?
  • chickenballs
    the regime wants to control everything from how you surf the internet to religious beliefs and yet they dont seem to care about low-lives selling counterfeit products
  • USAFRet
    hotaru251 said:
    AFAIK if this happens on amazon doesnt their policy allwo you to return and refund as it wasnt what u purchased?
    Within the first 30 days, yes.
    After that, it's between you and the seller/manufacturer.

    One of the many reasons you don't buy your PC parts over time, as we see many members here want to do.