AMD Starts Direct CPU Sales With the Ryzen 9 3900X


Credit: AMDCredit: AMDAMD is cutting out the middlemen (kinda). The company used to limit direct-to-consumer sales to limited edition products, but that changed with the Radeon VII's introduction earlier this year, and now it's started to sell the Ryzen 9 3900X on its website as well. Or at least it's getting ready to--right now clicking the giant red "Add to Cart" button results in a message saying "the AMD product you are interested in purchasing is currently out of stock."

Credit: AMDCredit: AMD

There is still the potential for direct sales there, however, especially since AMD offers the option of being notified when the product is restocked.  At that point, AMD will offer direct sales for products in both of its most important product categories. The company hasn't completely shifted to a direct sales model (and we doubt it would), but it seems to have finally grown comfortable with the idea of its products bypassing retailers on their way to end users.

For AMD, the most obvious benefit of switching to direct sales would be higher margins. Retailers expect to make some money on the products they sell, of course, so they only pay manufacturers a fraction of the product's final price. That means the products have to make a profit twice: once for the manufacturer and once for the retailer. Tech enthusiasts aren't really AMD's customers; sellers like Amazon and Newegg and their counterparts are.

Offering direct sales would change that. Enthusiasts would actually be AMD's customers at that point, which might make it easier to get support whenever something goes wrong, but that's just a potential secondary benefit. We suspect that AMD's primary motivation in selling directly to consumers would be the increased profits it could make from each sale now that it wouldn't have to split anything with another company. (To put it simply: cha-ching.)

It would be hard to guess at what direct sales would mean for AMD beyond that. The company probably has complex deals in place with its retail partners that would affect how many products it can offer directly to consumers, how it can price those products, etc. if it wants to remain on those storefronts. Retailers aren't stupid--they know it's easier than ever for other companies to offer direct sales. That's why contracts exist.

One thing we can remark on, though, is AMD making it hard to put a lot of stock in its direct sales efforts just yet. This is an important change to its business model, yet we've heard nothing from the company via official channels. It also put a giant banner at the top of the Ryzen 9 3900X's product page with a red "Add to Cart" button even though--as the "out of stock" message made clear--it isn't currently accepting orders placed via its website. It's unclear if anyone has been able to buy a processor yet.

Not that many potential customers would have seen that banner. We visited the Ryzen 9 3900X's product page in two different browsers (Chrome and Safari) and didn't see the "Add to Cart" button at the top of the page. Turns out that was because two different ad blockers, uBlock Origin, and 1Blocker, had automatically filtered out the banner. That doesn't happen to us on most retailers' websites; it shouldn't have happened on AMD's.

That's probably just a slight bump on the road to AMD expanding direct sales to more of its products. Nvidia already offers graphics cards for sale on its site, so it wasn't a surprise when AMD finally decided to do the same. Expanding its direct sales to CPUs might be an even bigger step, though, because it would make its website a one-stop shop for members of the red team. And surely they'd appreciate AMD doing what Intel doesn't, right?