AMD CPU prices drop nearly 50% over past half year

Posted by Mark Raby

Columbus (OH) - As we continue to look back over the past 28 weeks of data, we have collected of processor prices, this week we delve into specific products that have seen the biggest changes in just six months.

Something we noticed right away is that there are completely different trends in the way AMD and Intel prices have shifted.  While Intel provides us with sporadic peaks and drops, AMD has mostly seen constant price reductions over the previous 28 weeks.

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This chart comprises all the processors that have been around since our first processor price/performance article on October 6. The column on the very right shows how much the processor costs today compared to what it was six months ago.

The Pentium D 940, for example, today costs 30% less than it did in October.  What's interesting on the Intel side is that, for the most part, prices are near the range they were a couple dozen weeks ago.  Everything from the Pentium D 960 to the Core 2 Extreme EX6800 are within 10% of their October 6 price.  Also, the Pentium D 805 happened to come in today with the exact same average e-tail price we recorded on October 6.

The one that has had the most dynamic drop over this time period is the Pentium D 820, which is now going for 64% of what we saw six months ago. The D 840 also went down in price significantly from where it was half a year ago, now selling for about 69% of the October 6 price.  The 840 is also has the most consistent price falls of the Intel processors we've been monitoring (over the past 27 weeks, there have been 17 week-to-week price decreases, 9 price increases, and one week with no change).

On the AMD side, there are much more drastic changes.  In fact, every X2 processor we've been keeping an eye on is now priced at least 40% less than what we saw six months ago.  The 4800+ is the most significant, going for a mere 39% of its October 6 price.

The question for users who are planning to upgrade their systems, is how much lower these prices can go. What we know is that AMD is sacrificing margins for shipments and that increasing pressure from Intel will result in lower prices on the AMD side. At this time, it is fair to assume that AMD processors will not get significantly more expensive until the new Kuma dual-core and Agena quad-core will provide some breathing room. As serious as the current situation may be for AMD at this time, consumers can take advantage of this very rare scenario to pick up a very capable processor for very little money.

However, some AMD processor may be hovering around a price floor - like the 4600+.  It fell down to $124 on March 23, and ever since price changes have been less than $6 from week to week.  We've also seen a similar trend for the 4200+.  Still, this is quite different than, say, the E6700 on Intel's side, which has actually gone up in price by $49 from what we recorded in October.  In fact, the EX6800 and the D960 both have record low prices that date back all the way to October 20.  In 26 weeks, they've never dropped below the price they had that day.

So while there may have been some great deals on Intel processors at one time during the past several months, it's hardly been a reliable trend the way many of AMD's processors have.

The bottom line that consumers should take away from this is that, looking at the past six months, AMD offers great deals in the mainstream level, which includes processors like the 3800+ through the 4400+, as well as the newly discounted 5600+ and 6000+, which can be seen in the charts on the next couple pages.  Intel, on the other hand, requires more constant monitoring of its prices for price-conscious consumers.  There have been points in the past several months where, for example, the E6400 could be purchased for as low as $200.  So, Intel can sometimes offer a better deal than AMD, but its flip flopping in the retail price arena means it's not always a reliable choice.

As mentioned before, these are just static price snapshots that compare two specific time points.  To get a better idea on the price histories, we've provided individual price graphs for every processor on our list.

Next page: Intel processor charts

Next page: AMD processor charts