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Intel Kills Off Exotic Packaging For Core i9-12900K, Core i9-10980XE

Core i9-12900K
Core i9-12900K (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Intel has officially killed off its "exotic" CPU boxes for its 12th Gen Core i9-12900K, one of the best CPUs, and the Core i9-10980XE, the HEDT flagship, from three years ago. Instead, Intel will replace the packaging for each CPU model with the same smaller boxes as their non-flagship Core i9, i7, and i5 counterparts. Intel will begin enforcing these changes by September 4.

The Core i9-12900K box is getting the simplest update of the two, with its "exotic" 164 x 130 x 139mm gold wafer box getting replaced with the same box as other Alder Lake Core i9 models lacking an Intel cooling solution. This new box measures 116 x 44 x 101mm. Remember that this change is for the standard Core i9-12900K variant alone. The special edition Core i9-12900KS will retain its exotic packaging, featuring a chip-exclusive dark blue theme.

The most surprising twist is the box change of Intel's nearly obsolete Core i9-10980XE 18-core flagship from almost four years ago. Intel's last HEDT platform is still in production and needs a box art change right now for cost-cutting reasons. Like the Core i9-12900K, the core i9-10980XE box will shrink from its existing 138 x 138 x 61mm package into the smaller 116 x 44 x 101mm packaging from its non-flagship counterparts. But, the black and gold box art will remain the same to stay in line with the "Extreme Edition" lettering on the chips model name.

The box art change for the Core i9-12900K isn't surprising. Intel has done this habitually over the past few CPU generations, killing off the flagship box art just before releasing a new generation of CPUs, Raptor Lake, that may come out in October. Intel probably does this to ensure the next-generational CPU box art stands out much as possible.

But, the Core i9-10980XE's box art change is quite puzzling given the architecture's age. Intel has forgotten about the HEDT platform since Cascade Lake debuted in 2019, leaving AMD to dominate the space with its Ryzen Threadripper CPUs. So instead, the company has relegated itself to its mainstream platform and building up core counts on that front instead.

But, there is a chance this Core i9-10980XE box art change is more than a cost-saving measure from Intel. There have been rumors that Intel will return to the HEDT market relatively soon with a new architecture codenamed Fishhawk Falls (known as Alder Lake-X).

This new architecture would be a copycat of Intel's previous HEDT platforms, where the company takes its latest server architecture and transforms it into a high-end consumer desktop platform. For Fishhawk Falls, that architecture would be a HEDT variant of Sapphire Rapids - Intel's upcoming server architecture built on the same Intel 7 node as Alder Lake.

Anything beyond this information is pure speculation at this point. But, there is a chance this info could be genuine, with the Core i9-10980XE's box art change being the first sign of Intel returning to the HEDT platform. But that could be a while, with Intel constantly delaying Sapphire Rapids due to unforeseen bugs.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • bit_user
    Such a trivial thing, but since I'd never seen the packaging so I had to search out an unboxing video. Kinda cool, I suppose. I certainly wouldn't pay any extra, for such a box.

    IMO, Intel had the germ of a good idea with polyhedral packages that they used for Coffee Lake. I just wish they'd used polyhedrons where the number of sides matched the number of cores. That could have worked up until about Comet Lake, but I think it would have started to get a bit ridiculous with Alder Lake i9. And yes, I realize that the most obvious 6-sided polyhedron is just a boring cube, but they could've made it a little more exotic by making it a parallelogram.

    BTW, the article title made me think they were talking about like the lid of the CPU. Heh, I was right to be skeptical of that.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    I've always thought this was a pompous pretentious idea. I mean what are you going to do with the empty box after your build? Display it in an enclosed case or proudly on a bookshelf? That might work well for you if you work in tech and use all your empty hardware build boxes as a Team or Zoom meeting wall backdrop. How many millions did Intel spend on this packaging that winds up in a landfill?
    Reply
  • Lorien Silmaril
    gotta cut some costs in lieu of the earnings report!
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    What's so special about the 10980XE box? Looks like they took a nondescript black rectangular box and made a smaller nondescript black rectangular box.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Lorien Silmaril said:
    gotta cut some costs in lieu of the earnings report!
    Oh yeah cardboard, that's the real money sink...
    Every time a CPU gets replaced as the best they lose their special packaging, with the 13900k being released soon there is nothing new here.
    https://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-kills-off-core-i9-9900k-speciality-dodecahedron-packaging
    Reply
  • bit_user
    TerryLaze said:
    Oh yeah cardboard, that's the real money sink...
    I think the main cost point is the gold-colored, molded plastic "wafer" case, with the foam inserts. Not that I have any clue about these things, but I could believe it adds like $0.25 over their standard packaging. Not earth-shattering, but also not nothing.

    It really would've helped if they'd at least included a pic in the article.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    bit_user said:
    I think the main cost point is the gold-colored, molded plastic "wafer" case, with the foam inserts. Not that I have any clue about these things, but I could believe it adds like $0.25 over their standard packaging. Not earth-shattering, but also not nothing.

    It really would've helped if they'd at least included a pic in the article.
    https://cdn.videocardz.com/1/2022/08/Core-10980XE-packaging-1-768x511.jpghttps://cdn.videocardz.com/1/2022/08/Core-i912900-box-768x529.jpg
    Reply
  • bit_user
    spongiemaster said:

    https://cdn.videocardz.com/1/2022/08/Core-i912900-box-768x529.jpg
    Yeah, and I saw that image but I really had to watch an unboxing to appreciate the gold wafer thing. From that image, it wasn't obvious to me that it's a plastic container which holds the actual CPU.

    P.S. I've been away for a while. Glad to see you're still here!
    : )
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    10tacle said:
    I've always thought this was a pompous pretentious idea. I mean what are you going to do with the empty box after your build? Display it in an enclosed case or proudly on a bookshelf?

    I imagine buyers in the enthusiast segment would definitely keep the box, in order to maximize resale value when time comes to upgrade to the next best thing.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    10tacle said:
    I've always thought this was a pompous pretentious idea. I mean what are you going to do with the empty box after your build?
    Some geeks actually do decorate their space with their expensive hardware boxes. If there is a remote chance you are selling parts when you are done with a system, you should also save the boxes for re-packaging. At the very least, you really should keep boxes for the duration of the warranty in case of RMA.
    Reply