Intel has announced (opens in new tab) that it is switching out the massive boxes it uses for the Core i9 10900K (opens in new tab) for more modest packaging (via PC Watch (opens in new tab)). The large plastic and cardboard boxes it currently uses will be replaced on February 28, although it may take a while for the new packaging to filter through, and you can expect to see both types for a while.
The reason for this is simple—it means it can fit more than three times as many chips on to a pallet as it does currently. It's all about shipping, you see, and moving around a lot of mostly empty boxes is not quite as efficient as Intel would have hoped. Currently, it can only get 480 of the oversized boxes on a pallet, while the switch to the normal packaging will allow it to 1,620 units on the same pallet. That's 3.375 times as many.
This can only be seen as good news, and hopefully could mean we see an end to some of the ridiculous packaging used for high-end chips. While I understand the need to make the halo product in its chip line up feel special, it feels like Intel has left reason behind.
It had to pull a similar move with the dodecahedron packaging used with the 9th generation top-end chip, the Core i9 9900K (opens in new tab). Sure it's a wonderful bit of packaging, but it's not a good use of resources, and once you've actually wrestled the CPU out of the box (which wasn't easy), it's essentially reduced to useless trash.
AMD isn't blameless on this front either. The packaging it uses for its Threadripper chips is frankly ridiculous. And even though those are massive chips, no one needs that much plastic and foam sitting around afterwards.
While we're on this subject, the fact that AMD has dropped the coolers from its Ryzen 5000-series (opens in new tab) means that its boxes are mostly empty too. Intel's chips ship in ever so slightly smaller boxes, but there really isn't much in it. At least these are only cardboard affairs, which is widely recycled and doesn't feel quite so wasteful.
There's a lot of dead air being shipped around the world at the moment, and that costs money, money that is ultimately passed down to use consumers. I could definitely take a hit on a box if it means we save a few pennies.