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  • McDaniel - Sunday, November 08, 2009 - link

    very interesting article, really i've seen a motherboard from Gigabyte("> i thought it has no chips from Intel .. Lolzz i was wrong but i felt there should be some other chips for motherboards. Reply
  • bh192012 - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    that makes me respect the cheap boards a little more. How do you manage something like this"> ? $35 aftetr rebates.

    $7 logistics, $7 labor, $1 audio, $2 NIC, $4 PCB misc, $5 PCB, $6 pwr, .01 cent heatsink, $10 chipset? = $42.01 ... so yeah, amazing.
  • bh192012 - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    Also, make a note of how Intel can screw us w/o a competing Nvidia chipset. They're making their CPUS looks price/performance competitive with AMD by shafting us on the motherboard. Maybe AMD should take up this tactic. Reply
  • Mugur - Sunday, August 30, 2009 - link

    I wonder if we'll ever see another non-Intel chipset for the core i cpus...? Reply
  • miahallen - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    You mention 4-layer PCB in the article...but in your cost analisys you put a 6-layer in the "low end" system and add licensing for SLI...that's a $10 investment in pur marketing as 99% of "low end" buyers will not use SLI.

    Useing a 4-layer PCB and saving $5 on SLI licensing would take the "low end" system cost down to $95...with a price tag of $100, that's a $5 profit on every board, and given that your prices are not factoring in volume discounts $ rebates, I'd say there's a strong argument for $100 P55 boards.
  • bob4432 - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    i was doing some modding and needed some custom copper heatsinks made - these were not modified off the shelf units but a different amount of fins, different thickness of base, different hole locations and i only needed 3 of them - pure copper and figure the size of a ~2U xenon heatsink - not a small ram sink but a larger, normal size cpu heatsink, and i was quoted $40/ea for 100% custom - and again, 3 total units, not 30, not 300, just 3. and this was for the good c10100 copper (i think that is the number - very high thermal transfers).

    sorry anand, you lose credibility w/ this post :(
  • SmCaudata - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    I was not too long ago in the buisiness of designing power supplies. I made point of load 10-50 amp cards that were designed to go into servers next to the bus and processors.

    A 30amp supply was much cheaper than the power solutions here. Granted these CPUs need more than that, but I still feel the estimate is high.

    The heatsings are WAAAY off. A aluminum finned headsink cost us much less than one dollar. These companies extrude off big chunks like a pasta maker and cut them to the proper length/width then buff out the edges. Custom sinks, sinks with individual pins, and sinks with heat pipes will cost some money but the standard power component and chipset sinks are likely in the neighborhood of $0.50 for the entire board.

    All the I/O and switches again are likely in the neighborhood of $5 for everything. These things are really cheap in mass quantities.

    I'm guessing that they can make the budget boards for about $75. Still doesn't give them huge profit margins. My bet is that the boards sell for 2x manufacturing cost initially and prices drop much slower than compenent cost so they can continue to make about the same $$ per board.
  • Rajinder Gill - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    Sounds about right for the off the shelf heatsinks.

    With reagrds to the CPU PWM, the best solution currently available (in specs) is from Volterra. The buck controller costs around $3 and each slave $2. That's around $23 + a little extra for the inductors and caps. Sounds like it should all come together under $35 (worst case). 10 phase with this solution is capable of handling peak loads upto 600w at switching frequencies over 1MHz if needed on the top-end boards. I guess some vendors go with what they feel is more marketable rather than soemthing technically superior.

  • JustPassing - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    It seems that what the article is saying is that a low-end P55 motherboard should cost about the same as a low-end P45 motherboard. Reply
  • Lunyone - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    These prices that are stated are if you were to walk into a shop or "their" shop and were going to ask for each individual part. The cost will be marked up at least 20-40% depending on what part it is. I believe most of this price breakdown is to convince people that you SHOULD buy an i5 mobo, becasue your getting such a DEAL. It's sorta like if you went down to your parts store and ordered every part for your car. It'll cost 5x or more than when you buy it off the car lot.
    I work in the semiconductor industry and I know that the part prices that the regular joe is going to pay, ISN'T EVEN close to what the part actually costs. This is normal business 101. I would bet that the lower end mobo's for the i5's are probably about 20% less, especially in bulk, maybe more. So when I see a $100 mobo price break down, I conclude that it probably is costing the manufacturer about $70-80, this would be including all costs involved (engineering, labor, etc.). Now some places have different profits, mainly because of the labor costs and the manufacturing costs, so there will be different profits to be had.
  • Wwhat - Saturday, September 05, 2009 - link

    There are 2 ways to go about in business, you can ask a high profit and sell low volume or ask a low profit and sell big volume, in the asian regions they prefer the low profit high volume method in the west they go for high profit and lower volume, and of course you get a focus shift when asian product hit western shores where reseller often make a mess of the asian system by adding too much profit for themselves, especially in he EU where for some reason the businesses are showing more a competition as to how high they dare ask (some research confirms this) whereas in the US the competition fortunately actually is about selling for less than the next man, outbidding him.
    I recently notice that also on an episode of the british TV show "dragons den", one of money people made an offer which was less than was asked, then another said "I'll match that offer" when you'd expect him to make a slightly better offer than his competitor for the contract.
  • r31nismoid - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    Totally agree.

    No way they are costing anymore than $70-$75.
    Think about it, there is no way known to man a business is only going to be making $10-$15 on a $100 item. It is going to be signifigantly more than that.

    If you sell 500,000 units with $10 profit your only looking @ 5mil.
    Or 10mil if you sell a million boards... not a chance.

    500,000 x $30 = 15mil, a much more reasonable amount.
  • cactusdog - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    I agree. Its an interesting article but there is no way in hell motherboard makers are paying those prices for parts. The only somewhat accurate price is the chipset. Most of the other parts listed in dollars like different connectors etc will really be costing cents or lower dollars especially for makers like Gigabyte and Asus.

    $100 cost for the cheapest motherboard? Theres no way. The motherboard maker needs a profit, then the distributor takes his 10% and the retailer needs his 10%. I think the real cost would be 50% less than stated in this article. How is it possible for me to buy a $60 motherboard if these prices are true? Sure it doesnt have the newest chipset and has cheaper parts but it gives you an idea of overall maufacturing costs. I dont buy this article at all, sounds like a companies PR stunt to soften people up for higher prices.
  • BushLin - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    It is my understanding that the main reason for these "24-phase powa" circuits is that very cheap parts are used, they are often cheaper than a higher quality 8-phase solution which can handle more power and deliver it with less noise.

    Don't believe the (marketing) hype!
  • sanjeev - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    I too agree with Lunyone and yourself. But most of the time these values come down, based on volume, and over period of time.
    But in the article SLI License demands $30,000 up front. So, if the manufacturer only produces 100 motherboards ( say Limited Ed.)
    then you have have to pay the PREMIUM $300 more for your $60 motherboard.
    I guess the article was good enough to make your judgement on what value go into a $100 , $150 and $200 point of view. Anand should have covered this $30000 ( i assume this is a direct expense and not an administrative overhead for manufacturers ), based on avg units manufactured per year.

    Bottom line, these kind of articles make me a juidicious Customer before i loosen my purse.
  • just4U - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    What does crossfire cost the motherboard makers? Reply
  • InsaneScientist - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link


    There's no licensing fee for crossfire.
  • iwodo - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    I think the chart shows the WORST possible situation for a MB maker. In reality the component should be 10% and up to 30% cheaper with volume.

    Especially in the low end. Change the 6 layer PCB to 4 Layer. No SLI. That is 10 dollar cheaper already.

    Although you fail to add Support and Technical , Research and Engineering to the Chart. But with the Size of ASUS, 2 dollar per Motherboard should be enough to cover all of it.

    So the picture doesn't looks as grime
    But i always wonder, why the need for Audio Codec, Gigabit ethernet etc when everything is inside Southbridge already.

    And do we really need so many Phase of Capacitor?
  • Zab00 - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    >But i always wonder, why the need for Audio Codec, Gigabit ethernet
    >etc when everything is inside Southbridge already.

    That surely is one point I wonder about for long time now. What can e.g. a Realtek RT8111C do better than the one integrated in e.g. a G43?
  • squeezee - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    The southbridge doesn't integrate everything necessary for either of those functions.

    For sound, it integrates the HD Audio Controller, but that controller needs a CODEC to actually input or output audio.
    The Integrated ethernet controller also needs an intel PHY to work, i wouldn't be surprised if its cost was similar to a full NIC chip from realtek or marvell (which also can be used with nvidia/amd/etc. chipsets).
  • strikeback03 - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    Cheaper, apparently, as Intel charges for other components to make use of the integrated GbE. That is the rumor at least Reply
  • imaheadcase - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    The cost varies for the heatsink portion are pretty extreme, $25 on the chart for high end is 2nd most expensive component.

    I highly suspect this is not the actual case though. So many ways to cool with passive heatsinks. Some use copper, aluminum, or mix of both. Or none for that matter.

    Whatever happened to that awesome technology people was raving around cooling in the chips themselves with "mini fans" that would never wear out? :P
  • Wwhat - Saturday, September 05, 2009 - link

    Metals are expensive and shot up like crazy when he economic crisis got on its way, and by increased demand by the growing industry in burgeoning nations so it makes sense they can cost a lot, especially copper. Reply
  • buzznut - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    This is a great article. I've never really thought in depth about how much all the little components cost. I guess I thought that all these companies that build tech are making tons of profit on everything they sell. The licensing comes as a bit of a surprise too.

    It looks similar to the situation where game console manufacturers lose money on hardware sales to make it back in software sales.

    How do motherbaord makers stay in business? Do they all have to diversify?
  • mcnabney - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    When I saw the heatsink prices labeled as $6-25 I rolled my eyes and started looking for the comments section. yeah, little bit of aluminum or copper that cost a dime to fabricate add 6-25 to the price. Yeah. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    That was my first thought too, and I still agree entirely with you. $6-25 for a few bits of aluminium (near the $6 end) or copper with a heatpipe or two for the chipset sink (towards the $20 end). That's madness.

    You could buy those sort of sinks in a high street store for less than that, so mobo manufacturers buying them wholesale in the tens or hundreds of thousands (most of the cheap sinks will be used across the whole mobo range they manufacture, regardless of chipset) will cost a fraction of that. I reckon less than $2 at the low end, $5 mid-range, and at most $15 at the very high-end.
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    The motherboard vendors don't fabricate the heatsinks in house, they commission a thrid party to do the work. I'd imagine running costs add up at that end too. Why would anyone want to sell at cost?

  • mindless1 - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Regardless, except for the fancy ones I too question the $6 to 25 figure. I don't buy high-end boards but frankly do not think any board I have ever bought had $10 cost added from the heatsinks. $6 "maybe" but even this I doubt due to the reuse of same sink on several boards so there was high volume.

    You can get a chipset 'sink one piece at a time shipped halfway around the world for $3 total. I figure $1 for a typical northbridge on a low end board, 50 cents each for the mosfet 'sinks if it has any, another 50 cent for SB.">

    When a heatsink manufacturer is doing nothing but making 'sinks, the running costs are fairly well absorbed and their greatest concern is to stay as close to max capacity as possible instead idle factories.
  • mcnabney - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    You guys really aren't getting to the cold fact that little bits of metal, simple chips, and rudimentary electronics are amazingly cheap when purchased OEM or wholesale in Asia. Seriously.
    Retail accessories and parts are ludicrously marked up.
  • Rajinder Gill - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    My point is that some of the elaborate ones do not cost the vendors a mere couple of cents to commission. DFI and ThermalRight are one example. I think I was told by DFI they were costing them in excess of $15 a piece. $25 is a little high for sure (worst case scenario perhaps?). I think there are plenty of sloppy examples out there that are cheap, but not all of them (if any) cost a only few cents unless you're just thinking about the cost of the metal.


  • lopri - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    You never cease to amaze me.

    What objective is this article set out to achieve? If I may ask. Oh and I'd like to know how much it cost to manufacture CPUs, too. And don't stop there. Please let us know how much it cost make GPUs as well. How about SSDs? I'd like to know the true cost of X25-E and X25-M.

    Thank you. ^_^
  • Titanius - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    If you have nothing better to say, STFU! We don't need people like you to waste comment space because you don't have anything better to do than criticizing everything you encounter.

    So once again, make your point or STFU!
  • RamarC - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    the point of the article was to A) give you a reasonable/rational expectation of how much a p55 mobo should cost and B) give you some tech info behind the pricing. i honestly don't see why any techie would be bitchin' about a 1 page article that has this info. i just got a q9550 to upgrade my p45 mobo, but if one of my buds has $400 to spend i can with certainty tell him/her they can get afford an nice i5 upgrade next month. Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    And what exactly are the reasons that an article like this should not be posted up Lopri? You've offered nothing constructive.

  • lopri - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    My comment wasn't directed to you, so I hope you don't take any further offense than you already have.

    When something is done/said, we know it is not just about that something. It is also about when, where, how, by whom it is done and said. And of course there is a question of 'Qui Bono?'

    As you can see from the various comments so far, users are not dumb. Plus, in my 'pervert' eyes this article serves exceedingly obviously a pretext for the follow-ups. Is it too much to ask for AnandTech to put users' interest as the utmost importance, instead of those of you-know-who's?
  • Rajinder Gill - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link


    Perhaps you're looking into this too deeply. I think the comments section does not always show the complete picture. The number of comments in comparison to reads is miniscule. A lot of users did not know how much the chipsets cost. People were asking why the boards cost so much and the goal of the article is to show that a significant portion of the costs are due to how much P55 costs before you've even thrown a component on the board (the rest is informative in many ways because some people do not know).

    The blame lies in how much Intel is charging for the base kit making it difficult for the vendors to segregate the P55 costs from i7 boards significantly as users expected it to be. At least within the first few months of launch.

  • mufdvr3669 - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    We will be sure to run the next article thru u to get your approval before posting it to make sure it is up to your standards on what is deemed acceptable. Reply
  • taltamir - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    why in the blazes would the lowest of low end P55 mobos have dual gigE (remember the intel P55 include one gigE) and SLI? Reply
  • Pneumothorax - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    That's what bugs me about the latest iX mobos. WTH are tehy putting 2 crappy Marvell / realtek gige when they can put a superior intel one instead for the same price! Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    Probably because they already have stock of the said parts due to volume purchasing.
  • ViRGE - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    SLI is because the manufacturer already ponied up the $30K+ license fee, so they've already paid their fixed cost. They're going to want to spread that cost around as much as possible by making everything SLI capable. Reply
  • blyndy - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    [quote]The bulk of the 1156 socket isn’t the cost of the device, but rather the licensing fee that has to be paid to Intel for each socket.[/quote]Another reason why CPU sockets should be international standards. Ultimately, with signalling fast enough we should see chipless motherboards with no integrated silicon and just functioning as an interconnect by having ~12 PCIe v4/5 slots.

    PS where's the preview button? The quote function doesn't work.
  • Sagath - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Where is the associated cost of R&D into these boards? Electrical Engineers have to be paid to design, redesign, and redesign the redesigns to get these boards out the door.

    I'm sure its hard to put a quantitative price on this, since every extra board that is produced lowers the 'overhead' of these costs. But on the high end boards that are (figuratively) limited quantities, I'm sure this can add up.
  • Spoelie - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    BIOS writers? Reply
  • Penti - Saturday, September 05, 2009 - link

    BIOSes and tools are bought from Phoenix or AMI. Makers should do much engineering except there custom layouts and hw settings. It's something that pretty much identical on all boards. AMI and Award aren't huge companies like the ODMs/contract manufacturers are. Costs is likely not large. Reply
  • proneax - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    based on the quality of many BIOS I'm guessing unpaid interns? Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    We also need to factor in long term support costs, additional staffing requirements the list goes on. On top of all of this, there has to be a profit margin that makes the whole excercise worthwhile for the vendor.

    I think the per phase costs might be a little off as the capacitors used are subject to volume purchasing (companies tend to use the same value in microfarads across most of the board and product line). Further, the 16 and 24 phase solutions from ASUS and Gigabyte are multiplexed - not even 'real' phases. ASUS use an 8 phase buck controller, employ some phase shifting downstream and then market this as an extreme 16 phase solution. Base switching frequency is 250KHz with an idle ripple in the region of 90mv in some cases (around 50mv) under moderate loads. Gigabyte are employing phase multiplying too. Based upon some slides I've seen recently, it's nothing like 24 phase at all.

  • plonk420 - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    is there a "big list" anywhere of what NB/SB licensing costs? (also TDP) i've been curious about this for quite some time (well, moreso after buying an X58) Reply
  • blyndy - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    [quote]The bulk of the 1156 socket isn’t the cost of the device, but rather the licensing fee that has to be paid to Intel for each socket.[/quote]

    Another reason why CPU sockets should be international standards. Ultimately, with signalling fast enough we should see chipless motherboards with no integrated silicon and just functioning as an interconnect by having ~12 PCIe v4/5 slots.

    PS where's the preview button? The quote function doesn't work.
  • dawp - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    back in the day, the socket for all processors was the same. didn't matter id the chip was intel, amd or some other maker, they all used the same socket. if i remember right, that changed when cpus went to slots and dropped sockets for a short time. Reply
  • johnsonx - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    Socket 5/7 for Pentium/Pentium MMX & AMD K6/K6-2/K6-3 was the last time Intel and AMD shared a socket and used the same signaling. Cyrix also had processors that fit that socket, the M-II among others.

    With the Pentium II/III & AMD Ahtlon, Intel and AMD used the same physical slot (Slot 1 for Intel, Slot A for AMD), but the signalling was completely different (GTL+ for Intel, DEC Alpha EV6 for AMD) as were the chipsets. I believe AMD did not have the market clout and/or money to get AMP to make a socket or slot connector just for them, or to get the mobo makers to tool-up to make a unique AMD mainboard that was significantly different than the Intel boards making up 98% of sales. It was much easier to get Slot-A mainboards made if they were physically similar to Slot-1 boards.

    With the Athlon XP, AMD finally got it's own socket, Socket-462.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Intel's got the master list and doesn't like sharing it publicly. The prices generally break down like this:

    Mainstream chipsets: $30 - $40 for NB

    South Bridge: $3 - $7 (although I've seen south bridges as high as $14, but it looks like they are a lot cheaper these days).

    The older "value" chipsets will be priced below $30 but they generally suck in one way or another :)

    Take care,
  • plonk420 - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    (for both Intel as well as AMD) wikipedia is woefully incomplete/inconsistent... Reply
  • chrcoluk - Sunday, June 20, 2010 - link

    I did wonder why my p55 board was not cheaper than my old board, the p55 has a LOT less circuitry on it than my 775 ich7 board and actually cost only a little cheaper.

    as a comparison in uk prices I paid £130 for my asus p5wdh deluxe board which was a flagship board when I brought it, dual gigabit etc. This a7p55d-e I just brought cost me £120 (160usd so way more than your predicted prices) and it isnt even the pro model never mind premium, single gigabit nic. Although it doesnt need to be since the p55 eg. has more sata ports than the ich7 did. So basically even tho intel have dropped one of the main chips on the board, the motherboard makers aka asus and gigabyte still have to pay very similiar costs anyway as lower gen boards, the savings isnt over old tech its over the inflated x58. If I brought the premium version of the p7p55d-e it would have set me back a whopping £200. (over 300usd).

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