There is no doubt that assembling computers can be an expensive hobby.
I used to build my own PC using sites like PC part selector (opens in a new tab) it can actually save you some money compared to buying the best gaming PC you can afford off the shelf, especially since the price of some components like top graphics cards has seen amazing margins in recent years.
And I, for instance, have been banging the drums on cheaper PC components in almost every review I do, so you’d think Amazon was entering the PC component market with its Amazon Basics CPU Cooler (opens in a new tab) would be cause for celebration. After all, it’s definitely cheap, hitting under $30, which is great for a budget-minded build.
Still, I can’t think of any other company I’d want less in the PC component market than Amazon, and this foray into PC building doesn’t bode well for PC builders at all.
Yes, it’s cheap, but it’s still a fake
How Tom’s gear (opens in a new tab) notes that this Amazon Basic CPU cooling fan looks almost identical Cooler Master Hyper H410R RGB CPU Cooler (opens in a new tab)which is sold for almost three times the price of the Amazon Basics CPU cooler.
Both have comically similar specs, almost as if Amazon just copied Cooler Master’s CPU cooler design, hit a 20% slower RGB fan, and ruthlessly undercut the company that did all the work to design the CPU cooler.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to shed a tear for the profits of a component company that makes a ton of money selling computer parts. But whatever we can say about Cooler Master, at least it has a vested interest in the market it operates in, whereas Amazon wants to make a quick buck and has no interest in the market other than the money it can extract from it.
Like it or not, Cooler Master did the work to design this fan Amazon just ripped off, and Cooler Master probably invested money to make sure it does what it’s supposed to do. Amazon didn’t do anything like that, I can almost guarantee you.
What Amazon did was see from its own internal sales data that a product was selling well on its site, and using that internal data, it went ahead and created a counterfeit of it, and now sells it along with the product it copied in significantly reduced price. This is not the first such action by Amazon (opens in a new tab)and it won’t be the last either.
If this trend continues and Amazon moves aggressively into PC components as it has done with homeware and elsewhere, PC builders will just be worse off in the long run.
Why counterfeits are bad in the long run
The problem with fakes is that the people who create them don’t really know what they’re doing. They didn’t develop an original idea or product, they just copy what someone else has successfully developed after many years and investments.
However, the more people buy counterfeits, the more it hurts the bottom line of the original manufacturers. Again, I’m not here to cry over Cooler Master’s lost revenue, but I do care that Cooler Master continues to produce a quality product, and like it or not, it costs money. Amazon money will never invest in the development of a high-quality CPU cooler.
If everyone buys Amazon’s counterfeit Cooler Master has less incentive to build a better one because Amazon will just copy it and everyone will buy this one. So what’s going on?
Over time, the quality of all CPU coolers will decrease as there is less incentive to invest in proper engineering, and we get inferior products because everyone now has to scrape the bottom of the revenue keg because Amazon sells counterfeits.
Yeah, this build just now it costs less to build, but as a result, future builds will have a hard ceiling on quality.
Component manufacturers need to get serious about budget products
Ultimately, Amazon does what it does because there is a market for inexpensive PC components. The best CPU cooler can be quite expensive without even going into AIO, so it makes sense for Amazon to try to cash in on this gap in the market.
The ultimate solution is for component manufacturers to fill these gaps with high-quality, affordable offerings. Component prices have gone up and up every year, putting budget PC builders in a really bad place. It’s inevitable that someone will come along to fill that gap, and it really sucks that it’s Amazon, but it’s totally predictable.
Unless component manufacturers want to be completely ripped off by Amazon by undercutting it with counterfeits, they must offer customers an alternative that Amazon cannot undercut. Let’s hope they listen to this wake-up call for the industry.