Plenty Sandy Bridge boards on sale, in Taiwan

Not a single CPU in sight

AFTER HAVING SEEN that Intel’s upcoming Sandy Bridge processors had gone on sale in some parts of the world already we decided to head over to the computer market in Taipei to see if we couldn’t coax up a CPU, but alas, none of the shops we talked to had any in stock. On the other hand, we spotted plenty of motherboards, but they’re not going to be much good without a CPU.

Just about every single shop in the Guanghua computer market in Taipei had boards on sale, ranging from entry level H67 boards all the way to the high-end models. So far we’ve only spotted Asus and Gigabyte boards on sale and none of the shops we visited tried to hide them out of sight. In fact, you can see an entire collection of Gigabyte boards that we managed to snap in one shop, although most shops wouldn’t let us take pictures of their boards.

However, when asking for processors most shops either replied with a polite “next year” reply, while others didn’t seem to know at all, although some said that they expected to have CPU’s in stock by next week. This is somewhat surprising, but one of our sources informed us that this is part of Intel’s plan and that from now on the company is turning a blind eye to any sales of both processors and motherboards related to the Sandy Bridge platform in the retail channel. The reason behind this is that Intel wants to see a quick ramp of Sandy Bridge in the market and by selling products ahead of the actual launch; Intel can inflate its numbers to a degree in terms of launch month sales.

Board pricing seems to be pretty much the same between the various retailers where you’ll be able to pick up a basic H67 board for around $130-140 and P67 boards starting at around $170 ranging all the way up to $370, although that doesn’t include boards such as Asus’ Sabertooth P67 and the Maximus IV Extreme. It’s worth taking into account that motherboards are in fact on average more expensive in Taiwan than the US, despite many of the high-end models still being manufactured in Taiwan. It’s also likely that there is a little bit extra tacked on to these prices, as the retailers are trying to make some extra money ahead of the launch. To keep things in perspective, the price premium is actually quite small over current P55 boards and doesn’t amount to more than about $10-20 on most boards.

What struck us as slightly strange about the whole thing is the fact that only Asus and Gigabyte appear to have motherboards out in the channel, even more so as both companies appear to have their full line-ups – more or less at least – for sale, while their competitors have yet to offer any of their products up for sale ahead of the launch. Make what you want of it, but it does at least look like the two leading motherboard makers are ready, but we’re just going to have to wait and see what their competitors are getting up to.

In related news, Gigabyte has posted details of most, if not all of its Sandy Bridge motherboards on its website, minus some details that are still under NDA until the launch on January 5th. For those of you that are interested, the details can be found here.S|A

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