The Problem at 245

The problem with the $245 price point that AMD’s flagship sells at is one of positioning. It is dangerously close to the $284 price of a Core i7 920, which is generally a faster chip.

CPU Price
Intel Core i7 920 $280
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 $320
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition $245
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 $220
Intel Core i5 750 (Unreleased) $199

The Core 2 Quad Q9650 simply doesn't make any sense, it's a wonder that Intel still sells it. The Q9550 can be had for around $220 and is generally slower than the 965 Black Edition. The i5 750 is the wildcard; if it does debut next month at $199 and is as competitive as we're expecting, it could force AMD to compress its upper end pricing.

Until Lynnfield arrives, the only things AMD has to worry about are the Core 2 Quad at the low end and the i7 at the high end. The more expensive Core 2 Quads don't really seem to matter, the Phenom II dispatches with them fairly easily. To fight off the i7, instead of lowering profit margins, AMD is going to be offering a number of bundles to help reduce total ownership cost.

While AMD wasn’t specific as to what bundles will be available, starting today Newegg, Tiger Direct, ZipZoomFly, NCIX and MWAVE will all be offering bundles on the Phenom II X4 965 and certain motherboards. AMD is estimating the bundles to knock off around $40 from the total combined price. There will also be Corsair memory and AMD GPU bundles, but AMD was even more vague on what we should expect there.

A quick look at Newegg shows that currently you can save about $30 if you’re buying a Phenom II X4 945 and a Gigabyte 790FX motherboard. Unfortunately it looks like the bundles don’t kick in if you’re buying any of the cheaper motherboards. It remains to be seen what sort of 965 bundles will be available.

Pressure from above with the i7 920 is relieved by lower prices, but next month pressure from below with the i5 750 is sure to make things difficult. AMD sweetens the pot by making its flagship part a multiplier unlocked Black Edition. Like the 955 before it, our 965 easily hit 3.8GHz without so much as an added millivolt. We just increased the clock multiplier and off we went.

The Test

Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
MSI DKA790GX Platinum (AMD 790GX)
Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H (AMD 790GX)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (AMD 790FX)
Chipset: Intel X48
Intel X58
AMD 790GX
AMD 790FX
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1010 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: G.Skill DDR2-800 2 x 2GB (4-4-4-12)
G.Skill DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB (5-5-5-15)
Qimonda DDR3-1066 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
NVIDIA ForceWare 178.24 (Vista32)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (for SYSMark)
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Index SYSMark 2007 Performance
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  • TheHolyLancer - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    uncore? isnt this HTT?

    Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    "The problem with the $245 price point that AMD’s flagship sells at is one of positioning. It is dangerously close to the $284 price of a Core i7 920, which is generally a faster chip."

    Sorry, but shouldn't you also include motherboard price into calculation?
    Reply
  • C'DaleRider - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Well, really depends upon where you buy your parts from, doesn't it?

    Given that I have a MicroCenter and Fry's handy, the price for Intel's Core i7 cpu is $200. Combine that with an inexpensive X58 motherboard, like the MSI X58M, that has gotten quite good reviews for what it is, retails for $170.

    That gives a $370 price for mb and cpu to move to i7....cost of DDR3 memory is a wash due to both platforms requiring it.

    Of course, for those that depend upon Newegg's pricing for cpus, I feel for you....getting ripped off and all. Horrible how the 'Egg gouges on cpu prices these days.
    Reply
  • mohindar - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    How you can fit this processor onto socket LGA775, as mentioned in the final page... Reply
  • mohindar - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Sorry, wrong comment. Reply
  • Ben90 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    the SYS Mark 2007 Chart has the i7 920 @ 2.8 ghz... dont know if its on purpose or a typo Reply
  • MODEL3 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Well if it's true that Core i5 750 is going to launch at 6th of September at 196$,
    then the only option for AMD is to drop the price around what you suggested! (199$)
    Traditionally AMD official pricing translates around 5% lower (in actual street price) than Intel equivalent price
    (although in the recent years Intel had various questionable tactics like direct rebates to Retailers & to System Builders without a specific sales target - in the Europe region)

    I just hope that AMD is clever to understand, that in no way has to release a higher clocked model (975 3,6GHz, & 985 3,8GHz)
    before Intel release in Q1 2010 & in Q3 2010 the higher clocked models of i5 7XX (i5 760 2,8GHz & i5 770 2,93GHz) (if this is indeed the Intel future roadmap at 196$)

    Already some sites, that are with Intel side can easily fix the testing method, in order the Core i5 750 to appear more powerful than even a future 975 3,6GHz!

    The performance difference between Phenom II architecture & Nehalem architecture can have wide variation depending on the testing method!

    So if Intel wants, it can influence some sites to use specific methods to declare a Core i5 750 better than even a future 975 3,6GHz!

    What good will do to AMD to release a 975 at a 245$ in Q4 2009?

    Of cource AMD can price it at at 219$ (20$ difference with 965) but the whole situation is becoming depressing (they are fighting for +20$ for only a quarter until Q1 2010)

    Well, i guess they must make everything, in order to survive!
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    "AMD ought to get rid of the Xn suffix and just use simple model numbers at this point."

    I understand what you're saying, but I think it's the most straightforward processor naming scheme in a long time. You get the architecture, cores, relative speed, and locked/unlocked instantly. Unless AMD is going to stop selling 2 and 3 core chips and never offer more than 4 cores in the consumer space, I say keep the "Xn".

    Intel could really learn from AMD here; from your writeup on ix branding, I fully expect to be needing a decoder ring to figure out what a particular i3/i5/i7 really is.
    Reply
  • Drazick - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    It seems Intel advantage is more about optimization than much better processor, is this assumption true?

    Why isn't AMD put efforts into that?

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Drazick - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    It should be easy to create some test scenarios and measure time.

    Many High End users use those kind of software.
    Reply

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