Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 invades AMD territory on price/performance chart

Santa Clara (CA) - The latest round of seasonal CPU charts updates from Tom's Hardware Guide reveals what we expected, now that we've had a chance to test Intel's Core 2 Duo E6400 dual-core CPU: At $247 average selling price, according to today's figures from PriceGrabber, it could be the most powerful CPU you can buy today for the fewest least until figures from the E6300 are tallied.

The Summer CPU charts enabled us to make seasonal adjustments to our performance indices, along with replacing performance estimates with across-the-board real-world figures for Unreal Tournament IV and older processors. The new figures give the E6400 a performance index score of 2.74, meaning that in the five categories of tests we've accounted for - applications, gaming, synthetic processing, audio encoding, and video encoding - the THG test system with the E6400 CPU delivered an average of 274% the performance of an old single-core Pentium 4 2 GHz CPU, which currently sells for about $77 on average. 

Click the miniature below to see the complete price/performance chart for today.

The E6400 is the lowest-priced CPU that THG has tested whose price falls below our projected AMD price/performance curve. Given the assessed performance of all known AMD dual-core desktop processors, a hypothetical AMD processor whose performance index score was also 2.74, would sell for $537.17. And as our new-format chart shows, the nearest real-world competitor to the E6400 is AMD's Athlon 64 X2 5000+, whose index score is 2.72 but which sells for $360.

AMD's hold on the value side of the price/performance map appears more fragile by the day. News that AMD's "4x4" platform may end up appearing in the fourth quarter may have contributed to a rebound in AMD CPU prices, after an unexpected one-day fall last Friday. Nearly all AMD prices rose, except for the 5000+ which remained steady, according to PriceGrabber. The Athlon 64 X2 4400+ price rose a shocking $42 to $277 over the weekend (up 17.9%), and the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ price gained 9% to $157. This as Intel CPU prices continued a steady decline, with the Core 2 Duo E6700 down to an all-time low of $601 (down 3.5% over Friday), and the Core 2 Duo E6300 price down 6.4% over Friday to $204.

With the latest figures from Tom's Hardware Guide, we're now able to make price/performance estimates for three more Intel processors, one of which raises the Intel curve, and the other which drops it back down: The Pentium Extreme Edition 955 joins the EE 840 and the EE 965 at the artificial premium area, as one of the three dual-core/hyperthreading CPUs still in dealers' inventory that continue to be sold at older price points. Dealers can't afford to discount these models even to get them off the shelves, even with better performing Intel processors selling for less than one-fifth the amount.

But helping compensate for the EE 955 is the addition of the Core 2 Duo E6400, which we mentioned, and the popular Pentium D 805. Selling for just $103 on average according to PriceGrabber, the D 805 is the lowest-priced dual-core processor currently available - though with an index score of 1.87, it's not nearly the performance bargain as the E6400.