Intel quad-core processor pricing makes unexpected drop

Posted by Mark Raby

Chicago (IL) - With the big Thanksgiving weekend in full swing, we are taking one more snapshot of processor etail pricing before the holiday shopping season officially enters the feverish final month. The chart kept some flexibility this week with the most significant changes happening on the very high end: The average price of Intel's QX6700 CPU dropped $99 from last week.

Unlike what might be expected this time of year, the aggregate prices of all processors we looked at went up from last week, led almost exclusively by AMD. After monstrous price falls from last week, some of the prices sprung back up a bit this time around. Not completely off the hook, though, a handful of Intel's processors also went substantially back up in price today, but just as many set new record low prices for our 7+ week log of data.

First, looking at Intel, the spectacular entry is the QX6700, which is down to - when considered traditional high-end processor pricing - a very reasonable average of $1071. For the first time, is the quad-core is actually priced below the Extreme Edition 965, even though the EE model offers substantially less performance. The $1071 price for the QX6700 marks a $99, or 8% fall from last week. Right now, the average price is just $72 over its tray price with the lowest observed price being $1015, or just $16 above the tray price. Given the performance potential of the chip as well as its limited availability and the fact that it will remain Intels flag ship product for at least another nine months, the high-end rarely has looked as attractive as these days.

Otherwise, Intel pricing was not making history his week. It would be hard to out-do last week, when we recorded our lowest prices ever for the price/performance charts for seven different Intel processors. This week, in addition to the QX6700, the Pentium D 940 and D 805 set new lows, though each dropped by just $3 from last week. We have seen Pentium D 805 D processors, which can be overclocked to exceed the performance of a $1072 Pentium EE 965, for as low as $71.

There were a couple jumps back up from processors that fell in price last week. The D 840 gave us the biggest price increase this week, having jumped 8%, or $37, from $464 to $501. The 840 has been one of the most volatile in terms of price over the past couple months, with its price standard deviation at a more extreme level than almost all other Intel processors we've been looking at.

The E6700 also went up this week, by $22 from $508 to $530, a jump of 4%, giving it our highest price on record for these charts.

On the AMD side, things were a bit more interesting. The FX-60, which has been trying to settle back down to a price better fit with the rest of the AMD products, jumped back up this week, by $24, from $594 to $618, or 4%. That's eclipsed by the FX-62, though, which went up 6% to cause a $40 increase from $678 to $718, and even more so, the 4800+, which shot up 15% from last week's price of $338 to $389, a $51 jump.

On a long-term scale, though, the 4600+ is the most noteworthy. Prices on that model have been steadily increasing for the past four weeks. On October 27, it was actually down to $245. Since then, it's jumped by a full 25% ($61) to where it is now, at $306. Also, the 4600+, with its 5%, $14 increase, set a new high record for our weekly charts. There was no big news on price drops for AMD, which saw a pretty big set of sweeping price falls last week. Everything's just rebounding a bit now, combined with the tension of the pending holiday shopping frenzy.


Analysis: Four cores below the trend curve

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The trend lines are even more interesting to look at this week. AMD's price rebound actually helped out its price/performance correlation, with its coefficient value climbing back to 0.892, the highest it's been since October 20, stretching it out more horizontally and giving it back the overall advantage on the lower end by a little more than the past few weeks.

Intel, on the other hand, continues to fall when it comes to price/performance correlation. Though price changes have been very minimal in the past several weeks, there's been an overall trend in lack of correlation, no matter which way it's viewed. This week, when we include overclocked processors, the correlation coefficient is 0.583.

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When overclocked processors are taken out, Intel's correlation is 0.639, which is again near the lowest it's been over the past eight weeks. Prices are still adjusting to the newly released QX6700, which clearly is still trying to find its own reasonable price level.

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Most evidently seen on this graph is the fact that it's Intel's lower-end processors that are really beginning to sway. The Pentium D processors, when looked at separately from everything else, show a price/performance correlation of 0.786, a significant fall from the high 0.8 range that was seen just a couple weeks ago. As can be seen in the data chart on the previous page, there was a lot of discord in prices on these models this week. Some of the Pentium Ds saw price jumps, while others fell in price. It caused them to jumble around the trend line a little bit. The high-end products, on the other hand, had a relatively constant correlation from what we've seen previously, at 0.919.

And again, it is a rather unusual sight that the fastest processor on record, the QX6700 in fact checks in below the price/performance curve, which would indicate that it is a rather good deal right now.