Both Intel and AMD are steadily enhancing their product and processor portfolios. Only a few years ago, we could choose between four or five Pentium models. Today, the Celeron is available at clock speeds between 500 and 800 MHz. Intel's Pentium III is shipped at between 600 and 1000 MHz, making a total of 21 processors. Let's not forget the new Pentium 4 (three models) and 15 mobile processors (Pentium III and Celeron). Xeon is also still very lively, and Intel offers 11 different models of this server processor. Altogether, that's a bunch of almost 50 microprocessors, which many people are unable to tell apart.
AMD's price list is also growing in order to face Intel in all segments of the processor market. Back in 1999 when the first Athlon was introduced, there were only a few models. Today, there are nine Athlons left (several models below 850 MHz have already been phased out) with three of them being the new 133 MHz types. In addition, AMD is selling three Duron models and some mobile versions of it.
Thanks to a very aggressive price policy of the Texan chip forge, their processors are extremely competitive. Not only are the best of them faster than Intel processors, but also clearly cheaper. A Duron 800 is priced at approximately $ 75 right now, while the slower Celeron 800 is about double this price!
The same things are going on in the high-end segment, giving Intel a rather hard time. For a Pentium III 933 you have got to spend about $ 280. That's also the price for an Athlon 900 plus 128 MB PC133 SDRAM! AMD's top-model, the Athlon 1200 MHz, can be obtained for this amount of money as well. To get similar performance, you could also purchase a Pentium 4, but then you need to spend a hefty $ 500 and face the high expenses for RDRAM and the motherboard with i850 chipset. Still the Athlon 1200 is able to beat this faster clocked Intel CPU in the majority of benchmarks.
If you want to get an AMD processor today, you can even buy the slowest one (Duron 750). It will be enough for all kind of standard applications and will cost no more than $ 70 - that is just terrific. The Athlon models 800 & 900 MHz offer the best price/performance ratio right now, as they are also priced very attractive ($ 110 and 130). If you can live without a GHz-processor in the 21st century, you should take the 800 or 900 MHz model, as it will save you money, which is better invested in memory.