Caveat Emptor: Counterfeit Intel CPUs Are Popping Up in China
Fake computer chips have been an ongoing problem Intel and AMD have struggled to deal with for decades. It seems that such behavior is on the rise again, with more fake Intel CPUs showing up on the Chinese market.
The post by HKEPC via THG steps through some of the examples of how this sort of scam is pulled on unsuspecting customers. The methods vary. In some cases, companies will grind the label off the front of a CPU and repaint the lid, but you ultimately wind up getting a CPU that’s compatible with a motherboard you might attempt to stick it into, even if what you discover is that you’ve paid 9900K prices for a Pentium Gold G5400.
As crappy as that is, the situation only declines from there. Some scammers have been known to repurpose entirely different CPU families. What’s worse than getting a Pentium Gold G5400? How about getting a Core 2 Duo that’s been rebadged to look as if it’s a Core i9?
In some cases, the scammers don’t even bother with a CPU. Here’s a Core i7-7700K die that’s been glued on to a green PCB.
Also? That’s a terrible paste application. Off-center. Very shoddy.
Intel has notified customers that it will not honor warranties for mislabeled silicon and/or green paperweights with CPU lids glued to them. It’s hard to blame the company. Pledging to simply replace the product would be a golden opportunity for scammers to flood the market with bad parts and count on Intel to make up the difference. CPU lids from the Core i7-7700K are reportedly popular because that CPU has paste underneath the lid instead of solder, and is therefore relatively easy to de-lid. Given that these people are selling counterfeit parts in the first place, I suspect they’re more concerned with preserving the lid in an easy-to-rehab condition than with ensuring that the CPU underneath actually functions.
It’s true that you can sometimes pick up great deals in Eastern markets — some of you may recall that buying cheap Korean 1440p panels was a thing people did for a few years. While the build quality and presentation of some of these displays was rough on the edges, the actual panels themselves were well-rated. Such situations, however, are rare. More often than not, a cheap Chinese product claim, like an abnormally cheap Core i-9900K, is going to be a scam. While it’s pretty rare to get a scam CPU in the United States, it can definitely happen.
If you’re buying a CPU from eBay or an individual reseller elsewhere online, don’t be afraid to ask for pictures of the product. Compare them to die shots from multiple angles, front and back. Counterfeit CPUs almost always have at least one telltale feature that they aren’t legitimate, whether it’s an inexact label or a nonstandard notch layout as shown above.