New AMD Desktop Processors Trigger Price Drops

The introduction this morning by AMD of new dual-core desktop processors, including the Athlon 64 X2 6000+, and the company’s subsequent lowering of prices of existing processors, may have nearly or completely equalized the price/performance balance between AMD and Intel processors, according to an updated performance model using newly published data balanced against this morning’s average street prices for CPUs.

Last July’s introduction by Intel of Core 2 Duo processors enabled that company to effectively wrest the price/performance crown from AMD, which it had previously held for several years. In the intervening months, AMD has held a slim lead in the value segment – meaning that for about the same $100, you’d be likely to get a slightly better performing AMD-brand processor than an Intel. But Intel’s mid-range Core 2 Duo E6600 proved a better value than comparable AMD products by as much as $200.

Today, that gap may have been erased, as AMD’s introduction of the 6000+ at a suggested retail price of $464 in the original retail box (OEMs will pay less) has been followed up by a slash of $171 in the suggested retail price of the Athlon 64 X2 5200+, down to $232.

In fact, Intel’s very slight lead in price/performance over AMD based on our computer models could dissipate by the end of this week, as artificially high prices for pre-ordered 6000+ models, according to figures supplied by Froogle, will probably plummet to just above suggested retail.

Here’s the current situation: Based on recently updated performance figures from Tom’s Hardware Guide, our computer model suggests that, in an average of five benchmarks from varying categories, an Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor delivers exactly twice the performance of a single-core Pentium 4 520. This remains the best performing processor tested thus far, with Intel’s Core 2 Quad QX6700 performing slightly lower overall.

AMD’s best performing processor tested thus far is its top-of-the-line Athlon FX-74 pair, which uses the company’s new Quad FX architecture. Still, there’s a performance gap, with the FX-74 performing only about 69% better than the P4 520, versus the Quad FX’s 100%.

Recent performance tests show the new 6000+ performing 69% better than the P4 520 – indeed, better overall than the midrange pair of Quad FX processors put together. The 6000+’s processor-in-a-box (PIB) price of $464 helps push the street price of its recently introduced Athlon 64 X2 5600+ down to $325.

When you bring Intel back into the picture, the nearest Intel processor in performance to the 5600+ is the E6600, now priced at $314 on average. That $9 represents the remainder of the price/performance gap between Intel and AMD for now.

Shoppers should take note of the fact that the 6000+ single dual-core CPU is a better performing processor in many categories than AMD’s own Quad FX double dual-core CPUs. That may raise some eyebrows for enthusiasts considering investing in a high-power platform. But for customers who are looking not so much for power but for the proper balance between power and performance, there’s a familiar knock on their door once again.

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