CPU price/performance update: AMD undercuts Intel on the low end


Chicago (IL) - In the past few weeks, quite dramatic price reductions in the retails space had time to calm down: Intel's Core 2 Duo is shipping in volume and AMD adjusted its prices to react to the new market environment. Time for an update of our price/performance chart series, just before the launch of Intel's quad-core chip and AMD's 4x4 platform.

Back in July of this year, we took an in-depth look at the difference in price vs. performance for Intel and AMD processors and since them have continued to watch the development of prices closely. With the recently announced Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700, which will expand Intel's high-end selection in very limited availability in November and December of this year, we review market developments and the potential impact of the quad-core CPU once again.

This time, we took an aggregate of six different benchmarks to determine the average performance of a handful of Intel and AMD processors. The benchmarks we chose were: PCMark05 for general performance, CloneDVD for applications performance, Lame MP3 for audio encoding, Windows Media Encoder 9 for video encoding, Quake IV for graphics and gaming performance, and AVG AntiVirus for maintenance.

Taking an average of the performances for each processor at each benchmark, we compared the results of several of the newer processors compared to those of a baseline model. In this case, we chose the Pentium 4 520. The relative performance index is based on how each individual processor performs compared to the Pentium 4 520.

Compared to previous charts, Intel's mainstream line of dual-core processors - the Pentium D 900 series - remains in very stable pricing areas. The 900 series covers the range from about $160 to $350, the first-generation 800 series from about $100 to $570. All Intel gaming processors hover around $1000, with the latest version, the Core 2 Extreme being the least expensive of the lineup, which indicates increasing availability of the chip.

Following the initial price reductions, AMD had to give up the higher-end of the mainstream market, but is gaining back ground. Based on today's prices, the X2 series ranges from about $150 to $500 in retail. The FX-series sa w a continued price drop and now is priced at $700 and below in U.S. etail.