Intel drops second quad-core CPU into the mainstream
Hardware Features

Intel drops second quad-core CPU into the mainstream

Santa Clara (CA) – Intel’s processor price sheet is one sign of the state of the competition with AMD. Even though we don’t know what processors go for behind closed doors, Intel’s official price sheet has been very static in recent months and even today’s price drop indicates that there has not been much reason for Intel to counter AMD’s Phenom CPUs so far.  However, AMDs aggressive pricing may begin showing some impact now: Intel has dropped the price on its volume quad-core CPU and built up its defense by bringing a higher-end quad-core into the mainstream.

AMD may be in deep trouble, but there is no sign yet that, at least in the consumer space, the company is dropping its aggressive CPU pricing to maintain or regain lost market share from Intel. Most recently the company brought new cheap Phenom quad-cores to the market as well as triple-core, which are priced around in the $150 top $250 segment and are squarely aimed at Intel’s mainstream quad-core and higher-end dual-core processors.

There is very little information about what triple-core processors are going for these days, but, judging by retail PC prices, AMD isn’t in for the profit with these CPUs: Best Buy currently offers a triple-core (a quad-core CPU with one disabled core) Phenom 8400 system for just $550 (3 GB RAM, 320 GB HDD, integrated graphics), which compares to $750 for a Phenom quad-core system (4 GB RAM, 640 GB HDD; discrete, shared graphics). Obviously, AMD CPUs suddenly look much more attractive.

Since there was really only one Intel quad-core CPU able to compete in the sub-$1000 PC market (Core 2 Quad Q6600), there is the obvious question whether dual-cores will run into a marketing issue against AMD’s cheap triple-cores. Perhaps Intel saw that potential problem as well and reacted with a few price cuts over the weekend. The tray price of the Q6600, which has been the universal quad-core in Intel’s line-up for more than a year, was dropped 16% from $266 to $224. The new price is right between AMD’s fastest quad-cores, the 9850 BE ($235) and the 9750 ($215). The Q6600 retail price was $268 at the time of this writing, according to Pricegrabber.com   

More important than the Q6600 drop, however, maybe the price drop of the Q6700, which had a tray price of $530 until Friday last week: Intel reduced the tray price by almost 50% to $266, which allows system builders to bring the 65 nm 2.66 GHz CPU into the sub-$1000 segment (and the Q6600 into the sub-$800 market). The retail segment is following quickly, as the Q6700 was selling for an average of $322 as of this morning – which is down from an average of $586 three days ago. According to Pricegrabber.com, the Q6700 is currently selling for as low as $290 in retail.  

Other price reduction include the 65 nm, 3.0 GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 (-31% to $183), which now matches the price of the 45 nm E8400 (3.0 GHz) as well as the Pentium E2200 (-12% to $74), the E2180 (-14% to $64), the Celeron 560 ( -20% to $107), the Celeron 550 (-20% to $86),  the Celeron 440 (-17% to $44) and the Celeron 430 (-23% to $34).