Other AMD dual-cores follow price downswing

Posted by Mark Raby

Columbus (OH) - Last week, we saw prices of a handful of AMD dual-core processors falling to near-$100 levels. This time around, a couple major price decreases led other X2 processors heading down the same path.

Last week, the 3800+, 4200+, and 4600+ all saw fairly significant price drops on online stores. This week saw no major changes to these products, but the processors surrounding them in the performance scale began catching up.

The 3800+ and 4600+ both dropped in their average price again this week, though the 4200+, the one closest to bashing the $100 barrier, climbed up $15 (14%) week-to-week to reach $120.

The 4400+, which is still priced significantly higher than the 4200+ and 4600+, fell $60 from $294 to $234. The 4400+ has always been the oddball in AMD's X2 line. Over the past 26 weeks, we've never recorded a price below $200. Given the obvious push down in price this year, the 4400+ is certainly the one to watch to see if it will follow the apparent trend of the processors around it.

The 4800+ is an interesting product as well. Reaching the top end of the mainstream performance level, this week marked the lowest price we've seen for it. It fell $29 to $200 this week, and though it's still not exactly a mainstream price, the fact that it has more performance potential than all of Intel's Pentium D products indicates that AMD's retail pricing is continuing to put pressure on levels just above the low-end.

On that note, the 5600+ model fell once again this week. This also marked a new record low in our charts. The tray price, which wholesale PC makers pay, is still $326. Average e-tail prices managed to beat that last week, and it fell even more this week, down $14 to $310. Interestingly enough, the comparable E6400 set a new record maximum price this week. The bar was not set very high, though, as this processor has been one of the most stably priced of the ones we've been watching. There's only a $42 difference between the lowest and highest average prices in our records.

The bottom line with AMD this week is that it continues to have very attractive prices with the 3800+, 4200+, and 4600+. This week didn't really give us any clues on where these prices might be headed, so it remains a topic to keep watching.

Moving on to Intel, the most noteworthy price change regards that of the QX6700, Intel's top-end processor. Last week, we were talking about its ongoing price increases and said there seems to be a strange cyclical price history where it jumps up and then shoots back down. The cycle continued this week, as the price went from near a new record high to a new record low. The $984 price is the lowest we've seen since it debuted on November 10. Once again, it puts the retail price below the tray price of around $1000.

Hardcore enthusiasts looking for the best raw horsepower should definitely consider the QX6700 right now, because if history repeats itself, the price may be headed back upwards before too long.

One thing that is certain is that high-end customers should avoid the processors right below the QX6700. Average e-tail pricing of the EX6800 shot up $76, the highest week-to-week price increase we've seen for it and only $8 shy of the highest price we've recorded over the past 25 weeks. The E6700 also saw the biggest price jump in our records, and did set a new record high price.

On the low end, the two that stick out this week are the D930 and the D820. Both set new record low prices this week, bringing them further into the mainstream arena and offering an even better opportunity for those looking to get into low-end PC building or otherwise would be interested in a basic-level CPU.

As usual, the middle level of performance remains stuck in gray area with not much change.

 

Pricing analysis

By charting the processor performance and price levels, we get a cleaner look at who is winning the price race in each performance segment. We pointed out last week each of AMD's low-end processors undercut every Intel point around it. The same holds true this week, and we also get a clearer picture about higher performance levels.

Due to a price increase for AMD's 5000+, Intel this week is leading the retail price war in the beginning of the high-end market, from about 1.7 on our performance index scale, almost to the last point.

However, it is worth pointing out that AMD's FX-74 package once again has dropped below the price of Intel's comparable EX6800. We've seen these two go back and forth for several weeks. It's interesting to see this sort of price battle unfold at a high-end level, even though Intel's QX6700 offers more performance for less money.

When we looked at the data with Intel separated into Pentium and Core 2 last week, we mentioned the idea of clustering prices between sets of data. In other words, some of AMD's low-end processor prices were higher than comparable Pentium products, and its high-end 5600+ and 6000+ visibly undercut the surrounding Core 2 processors.

That seemed to reverse itself this week, and we are back to more of a sandwich, where AMD's low-end products rest comfortably better priced that Intel, but have no distinguishable value advantage on the high-end.

We'll continue to track what happens with AMD's low-end dual-core products to see if they continue to fall in price, and we're also watching the 5600+ and 6000+ to see if they can begin to mount considerable pressure on Intel's Core 2 line.

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