During a J.P. Morgan conference this week, AMD CEO Lisa Su admitted what we all knew was happening anyway: Amidst a crippling industry-wide silicon shortage, AMD is prioritizing supplies of higher-end (and thus higher margin) CPUs and graphics cards.
When J.P. Morgan’s Harlan Sur asked if the company could be shipping more if it had more fabrication capacity available, Su (partly) replied that “I think like most of the semiconductor companies, we would say that demand exceeds supply. That’s certainly true…There is some compute that we’re leaving under serviced. I would say—particularly, if you look at some of the segments in the PC market, sort of the lower end of the PC market, we have prioritized some of the higher-end commercial SKUs and gaming SKUs and those kinds of things.”
It’s a tacit admission but not a surprising one. AMD’s kick-ass Ryzen 5000 desktop CPUs launched all the way back in November yet still suffer from availability issues, and there aren’t even any affordable Ryzen 3 processors announced (much less shipping) yet.
AMD also started with an enthusiast focus on the GPU side of things. The company’s new RDNA 2-based Radeon 6000-series graphics cards include the $1,000-plus Radeon RX 6900 XT, but the most modest current GPU available is the $380 Radeon RX 6700 XT—well above the $250 or so segment widely considered to be the mainstream market. (We called it “a good GPU that—understandably—costs too much” given the current GPU drought.)
On the plus side, you’ve been able to buy those high-end Ryzen 5000 CPUs more frequently in recent weeks, and AMD already teased a lower-end Ryzen 3 APU with onboard Radeon graphics for later this year. Su also said that “I do believe that you will see more and more capacity come online as we go through the next couple of quarters.”
Fingers crossed. For now, however, budget PC builders are much better off going with an Intel 10th- or 11th-gen Core processor, as our guide to the best gaming CPUs advises—a stunning reversal of the norm for the past decade or so.