Intel Alder Lake ES CPU Samples On Ebay Should Come With A Buyer Beware Warning

Intel Alder Lake ES CPU
Prior to the retail launch of Alder Lake, early engineering and qualification samples (ES and QS) had traded hands in China by way of sale posts in various forums and other outlets. Now they are starting to appear on eBay, but if you are considering buying one be advised that they may not work with your motherboard.

That's just one of the issues that makes buying ES and QS chips generally a bad idea. Technically these are early processors provided on loan to OEMs and other entities and are not supposed to be sold, even though they sometimes are (as is happening now). They belong to Intel and do not come with a warranty or support.

"Engineering sample processors are pre-production units and are not eligible for warranty. These units are the property of Intel. Intel has no program for warranty support of engineering samples other than through the program in which the product was provided to the original customer. Please see your place of purchase for warranty support explanation," Intel explains in no uncertain terms.

Ignoring the moral issue, ES chips can be missing features and/or have specifications different from the finalized silicon that gets produced for retail. That's not necessarily a problem, though it can be. According to Videocardz, earlier revision ES Alder Lake chips (ES1 and ES2) probably won't work in your retail Z690 motherboard, as they lack the proper BIOS support.

That means if you buy an earlier sample, there's a good chance you won't even get it to boot, never mind whatever features might be different from finalized silicon. Apparently later revision ES3 and QS samples will have a better shot, but that's not guaranteed either.

It appears there are at least six different ES and QS chips being put up for sale. According to a detailed rundown by Zhuanlan, they include the following models and identifier codes (where applicable)...
  • Intel Core i5-12600 ES: QYGE
  • Intel Core i5-12600 QS: Unknown
  • Intel Core i5-12500 ES: Unknown
  • Intel Core i5-12500 QS: Unknown
  • Intel Core i5-12400 ES: QXDY
  • Intel Core i5-12400 QS: QYHW
Note that Intel has not yet announced or released the Core i5-12400. Be that as it may, there is a sample floating on eBay that is purportedly spec'd differently than a later sample with a big difference in the boost clock and a completely different version of integrated graphics. And the same non-booting/compatibility risk applies.

Our advice? Stick to retail, even if it means waiting a little while longer (which it obviously does if the Core i5-12400 is on your radar).