Christmas is either REALLY early, or kinda late. Rumored over at the AnandTech Forums is that Intel is about to make some price cuts among some other changes to the lineup. These have been suspected and rumored about for a while now.
A special thanks goes out to AMD whose new Phenom II CPUs are competitive with Intel’s Core 2 Quad lineup both in terms of cost and performance. [Don’t worry, I am not going to mention that the first Phenom was a complete bust, and this update is really a year overdue, and that Intel’s new i7 (which is actually a few months old now) crushes it in performance (but not cost)] The consumer, right now, has a choice of an Quad from Intel for about $300 or a similarly performing one from AMD for $250. Since Intel is done with the 775 socket, and AMD “supposedly” will use the same AM2 socket for another generation or two the AMD option is quite appealing indeed.
In response it looks like Intel is bringing down the cost in the midrange performance market. They still own the high-end market with the i7, and we’ll see how the rumored i5 pans out over the summer.
So according to the picture linked, the i7 costs are staying the same.
In the Core 2 Quad arena, the Q9300 and Q6600 (*tear*) are going away. The Q8200 and Q8300 are replacing the Q6600 as the “budget” Quad core. They should offer similar performance with less heat generated and power used, although they will not overclock as well and if you have a program that benefits from the Q6600’s larger cache that will suffer a bit as well. These will be great in HTPC applications where you want a little more muscle but can’t deal with the excess heat. The slightly more expensive Q8200s is a lower-powered version of the Q8200, but you pay a $50 premium for that power savings.
Now here is my Christmas… I was hoping the Q9550 might drop down to about $250, and if it did I would snatch it up and that would be the last upgrade for this computer on this platform. And it should keep me going over the next year or so. Well, if this chart is correct, the price of $268 is within spitting distance, and I’m really sure a place like MicroCenter or Frys will offer it right around $250. BUT… look at the Q9650. It was $560, way out of range, but after this price cut, it will come down to $320 and, again, I’m sure MicroCenter or Frys will offer it for about $300. So I can choose (after easy overclocking, with all else equal) 3.4Ghz with the Q9550 or 3.6Ghz with the Q9650. Decisions, decisions…
The Core 2 Duo e8000 series prices are staying the same. Not a surprise, I expected as much when the i7 launched. Intel doesn’t have a new dual-core coming up, so these are currently the best performing dual-cores on the planet and there’s no reason to cut their prices. The interesting prices though are with the e7000 series dual-cores. Prices are about the same in the low-$100s, but they’re dropping the very low e7200 and e7300. The e7400 drops to the e7200 price of $117 and they are introducing an e7500. All of the e7000 series will overclock similarly to the e8000 series, only losing out in programs where the e8000’s larger cache comes into play. The really low end e5000 and e2000 series don’t interest me other than they are sub-$100 chips and a good placeholder until you can upgrade to a better chip.
So it looks like this right now if you’re going to build a new system:
- Budget/Cheap = AMD
- Midrange/Bang-for-buck = Either Intel or AMD
- High-end/Performance = Intel