Anecdotal reports from frustrated shoppers have indicated that the supply of some AMD Ryzen processors at retail is improving recently, and analyzing the recent pricing trends for scalped chips on eBay suggests that could be the case. Pricing for at least a few Ryzen 5000 SKUs is on the downtrend, possibly indicating the shortage is receding for key models on our list of Best CPUs. The recovering supply couldn't come at a better time; Intel has cut its pricing on several of its key models to capitalize on AMD's supply struggles.
Finding an AMD processor of any ilk is a challenge right now, and that's largely due to the company's success. AMD's Ryzen 5000 has taken the lead over Intel's competing processors in every metric that matters, leading the company to sell over one million Ryzen 5000 processors last quarter in its best CPU launch in company history. That unprecedented demand, coupled with pandemic-induced supply chain shortages, has led to shortages of not only AMD's flagship Ryzen 5000 chips, but has also had a cascading effect on the company's previous-gen models, too.
A couple of weeks back, we wrote about Michael Driscoll (opens in new tab) tracking scalper sales of Zen 3 CPUs. We've taken the opportunity to run the open source code again (with some additional tuning to filter out junk 'box/picture only' sales) to see how things are going in the first six weeks of 2021. Here's the current state of Ryzen processor sales on eBay.
Ryzen 5000 eBay Price Trends
|Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 Series Processors||RCP (MSRP)||Current eBay Pricing||Total Sold (3 Months)||Current Retail||Cores/Threads||Base/Boost Freq.||TDP|
|Ryzen 9 5950X||$799||~$1150||913||~$805||16 / 32||3.4 / 4.9 GHz||105W|
|Ryzen 9 5900X||$549||~$780||1432||~$555||12 / 24||3.7 / 4.8 GHz||105W|
|Ryzen 7 5800X||$449||~$500||1278||~$455||8 / 16||3.8 / 4.7 GHz||105W|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||$299||~$350||1121||~$310||6 / 12||3.7 / 4.6 GHz||65W|
In the slides above, we can see the eBay/scalping pricing trend over the last three months, including the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping season. It's noteworthy that AMD's recommended pricing has rarely manifested at retail, with previous-gen Ryzen processors often coming at steep discounts in the past, while the new Ryzen 5000 chips tend to land slightly above RCP (Recommended Customer Pricing).
For two of AMD's key models, the Ryzen 5 5600X and the Ryzen 7 5800X, eBay pricing has steadily receded from peaks of $600 and $900, respectively, to roughly $50 over the MSRP of both chips. This steady decline in scalper pricing could indicate that either most of the demand for these chips has been satisfied, which seems unlikely given the shortages at retail, or that more chips are being sold through retail outlets, thus reducing demand for scalped processors. One thing is certain, and it's that we have seen improved stock of the 5600X and 5800X at retail outlets over the last few weeks. You'll also notice that the total number of 5600X chips (red line) sold on eBay has plummeted in recent weeks, and we see a steady decline for the 5800X, too.
For AMD, focusing on increasing its output of the 5600X and 5800X makes a lot of sense. These chips sell in significantly higher volumes than the pricier 5900X and 5950X. This also helps the company fire back at Intel's discounts that have been most pronounced in the $220 to $430 range.
The 5600X and 5800X also typically come with a single eight-core compute die per chip (there are exceptions), instead of the two die used in the beefier models. As a result, focusing on chips with a single compute die allows AMD to ship more finished products per wafer of chips. As you can see from the recommended pricing, selling the pricier models isn't always the best deal for AMD in terms of profits. The Ryzen 9 5900X has twice the number of compute dies but only costs $100 more than the single-die 5800X. The Ryzen 9 5950X also has two dies, but it doesn't sell for twice the price of the 5800X.
Things aren't as encouraging with the higher-end Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X, though. The current eBay pricing trends indicate that these chips are still selling far above their recommended pricing, and availability at retail outlets remains scattered, at best. The relatively steady number of 5900X and 5950X chips sold over the last few months, and the premium over MSRP, suggests that paying scalper pricing has been the only way to score these lucrative chips for quite some time.
Ryzen 3000 eBay Price Trends
If you can't get a latest-gen Ryzen 5000 chip, why not opt for an older model? Well, that thought process has obviously taken hold, at least to some extent, as AMD's shortages cascaded down to its Ryzen 3000 models over the lucrative Black Friday and Cyber Monday period.
We aren't going to dive too deep into these models, but the overall trend is undeniable. eBay pricing for these chips, especially models like the Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 9 3900XT, has fallen over the last several months. In contrast, some models, like the Ryzen 9 3900X and 3950X, have remained relatively steady, but with declines near the beginning of this month.
We should call attention to the Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100, though. These chips debuted with too-good-to-be-true pricing and performance for the value market last year... and, well, it was too good to be true. These chips have been plagued with availability issues since launch (long before the broader shortage), and that doesn't seem to have improved. eBay sellers only sold 12 Ryzen 3 3300X's and 38 Ryzen 3 3100's in the last three months, at least according to the monitoring tool. That makes sense given that these chips have never really existed in meaningful quantities, probably because of AMD's focus on selling higher-margin chips.
All in all, it does seem that AMD's chip supply is improving in some key areas, but AMD CEO Lisa Su told us recently in an interview that shortages will still persist until the second half of the year. Given the recent trends, it seems that those shortages will be felt more acutely on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, but mainstream gamers could find that the supply of the Ryzen 5 5600X and Ryzen 7 5800X improves significantly over the coming months.