Intel has quietly reduced the price of its Core i5-12490F processor, which is exclusively available in China. While we do not typically care about regional price cuts, this price cut may be noteworthy as it may signal several things that may be important globally.
The Intel Core i5-12490F is essentially a byproduct of other Alder Lakes’s binning. The processor is a six-core, 12-thread chip with a base and boost clock of 3.0 GHz and 4.6 GHz and a 20MB L3 cache. While these specs are identical to the Intel Core i5-12500, the Core i5-12490F one has a larger (by 2MB) cache and lacks integrated graphics.
Mydrivers reports that the Core i5-12490F used to cost around 1,599 RMB (~$245) in China, but now it is sold for 1,349-1,399 RMB (~$207) at various etailers. So the chip got about $38 cheaper in just a few months.
The price cut of the Core i5-12490F unit might mean several things.
Perhaps, the yields of ADL chips in general (we are talking about the so-called ADL-6C silicon here) just got better, so Intel no longer needs this model and would prefer to sell a full-blown Core i5-12500 instead. In this case, the company might get more aggressive and cuts the price of other ADL-6C units to gain desktop/DIY market share in the U.S. and Europe. Alternatively, Intel could enjoy the situation and get a higher margin by selling its model Core i5-12500 instead of Core i5-12490F in China for a higher margin.
Another reason for Intel to cut the price of this unit is increased competition in China. Perhaps, AMD has managed to build enough mid-range parts and is now trying to address this market with these CPUs, which means Intel has to act locally. In this case, do not expect significant price cuts in the U.S. and Europe, at least for now.
Better yields and consequential desire to get a higher margin out of the same silicon or increased competition may be the reasons that drove Intel to cut the price of its essentially limited edition model Core i5-12490F. In any event, it's a potential sign that prices of Alder Lakes may be coming down.