Is Duron A Success Or A Failure?
Ugh! What a shocking question! Well, from my old-fashioned (what can I say, I am the oldie in the PC-technology reviewers scene on the web) perspective of price vs. performance, Duron is anything but a failure. AMD's low-cost processor has in fact the best price/performance ratio that has ever been seen in the computer business. Still it doesn't sell as well as AMD wishes. Why is that?
Things That Count For A Low-Cost PC
In the very low-cost PC sector the actual processor performance is not half as important as the marketing power behind it. Let's be honest. The average low-cost system is a strange box in terms of technology. The system maker puts a pretty well performing processor in it, because it is the most important topic in terms of selling-power. This processor is sometimes teamed up with a pathetic slow graphics card that usually represents the graphics technology from one or two years ago or the graphics are even integrated into the chipset, making them even slower. Then there is a reasonably sized but reasonably slow hard drive, little memory and other cheap, but well sounding devices, like a (AC97) modem or (AC97) sound. The whole system is using a low-cost chipset with integrated everything-but-a-coffee-machine, which happens to diminish the processor power even further. What you have in the end is a box that has the processor-label on it for marketing purposes, but its performance is light years away from what a system with this kind of processor could really offer.
How Much Performance Is Really Required?
Funny enough the above described low-cost system is still well-capable to run the majority of tasks thrown at it, simply because today's processors come with an abundance of processing power that even survives the toughest castration-measures of low-cost box providers. The problem however is that systems that are way over one or two years old are just as capable to run those mainstream applications, because the software hasn't improved or changed enough to force an upgrade.
Even the performance-fanatic crowd of 'serious' 3D-gamers is missing more and more reasons for new systems, because the 3D-gaming performance of a system is hardly limited by anything else than the 3D-card these days. Once you play a 3D-game at a high screen resolution of above 1024x768, a dirt-cheap Duron performs almost as well as an expensive Pentium 4 at 1.5 GHz.