Four reasons to beware fake Intel CPUs

Intel is investigating reports that Newegg sold as many as 300 fake Core i7 processors

Reports have been circulating that online retailer Newegg sold as many as 300 counterfeit Intel Core i7 processors. The inferior packaging, blatant spelling errors, and blank product manual were major red flags for observant customers in this case, but the issue highlights the fact that fake CPU's are out there. You might think your computer is "Intel Inside", but is it?

If you knowingly purchase counterfeit hardware, at least you know what you are getting yourself into, and you would ostensibly be purchasing the fake processors at a substantial discount over their authentic, name brand counterparts. It's not a practice I would encourage, but at least the mantra that "you get what you pay for" applies.

When counterfeit Intel processors are passed off as authentic, though, buyers get an inferior product, but still pay top dollar for the hardware. Here are four reasons to be concerned about fake processors, and extra vigilant about ensuring the authenticity of your CPU.

1. Performance. Authentic Intel Core i7 processors contain a number of innovative technologies to improve performance. Core i7 chips have an integrated triple-channel memory controller. They also replace the archaic front-side bus architecture with Intel's new QuickPath Interconnect system, and use hyperthreading to turn the Core i7's four physical processor cores into eight virtual cores.

A fake processor would most likely not have these cutting edge advantages, resulting in inferior performance compared with the authentic Intel processor.

2. Lifespan. Fake processors may not be properly calibrated for the operating voltages or clock speeds intended for the legitimate Intel equivalent. Operating at an incorrect voltage or overclocked processor speed can damage the processor, or significantly reduce the lifespan of the processor.

3. Motherboard. Processors installed in the processor socket intended for Intel chips may not meet the same design specifications as authentic Intel processors . Inferior quality or anomalies in processor engineering might have an adverse impact on the motherboard. Counterfeit chips may also run hotter than authentic Intel processors, shortening the lifespan of the processor, and possibly affecting other components in the computer.

4. Warranty. Arguably the worst news of all for customers duped into purchasing counterfeit Intel processors is finding out the hard way that the chip is fake and not covered by warranty--at least not by Intel. Intel provides a three-year limited warranty for boxed processors purchased directly from Intel. The warranty provided for processors installed in OEM systems varies, but suffice it to say that Intel will not be providing warranty support of any sort for counterfeit processors.

Obviously, Intel has a vested interest in identifying and weeding out counterfeit processors. Customers who believe they purchased genuine Intel CPU's will form an opinion of Intel based on the performance of the processor they have. Poor performance, short lifespan, and damaged motherboards will tarnish Intel's reputation--even if it is determined that the processor was counterfeit.

Businesses purchasing computer systems or processor upgrades should put some due diligence into ensuring the authenticity of the hardware being purchased. Buying off-brand computer systems to save a buck is all fine and dandy--but if the price is too good to be true there is probably a good reason.

Caveat emptor.

Tony Bradley is co-author of Unified Communications for Dummies. He tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW, and can be contacted at his Facebook page.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intelCore i7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?