Price Guides February 2004: CPU and Motherboardsby Kristopher Kubicki on February 3, 2004 12:49 AM EST
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Welcome back to another installment of our Price Guides. We have interesting follow up news from our AMD and Intel roadmap previews. As always, do not forget to check our RealTime Price Guides for daily deltas and product listings updated by the minute!
We have had some interesting progress over the last couple weeks, particularly with roadmaps and product announcements. Hopefully, everyone got a chance to read Anand and Derek's Prescott developments from yesterday. Intel's February 2nd NDA covered more than the introduction of: 3.4GHz Northwood, 4 Prescott CPUs, the 3.4GHz Gallatin P4EE. There were also some interesting price revelations under the NDA that coincided with the processor releases.
First of all let's started off with Intel's pricing strategy. Anand briefly touched on the subject that Prescott and Northwood CPUs of the same speeds would cost the same price to the consumer. Derek's Benchmarks clearly show the Northwood cored CPUs put the newer Prescotts to short work (at least at present speeds). However, the dirty little secret with Prescott is its unusual non-linear overclocking. For those of you who rely upon our guides, the message should be obvious; buy Northwood until we start getting up to the speeds that Prescott can perform better such as 3.6GHz and higher. Of course, if you read our Intel Roadmap analysis, you would know that we won't see speeds like that on mPGA478, only the new Socket 775 interface.
So, if there are two points to note in this weeks price guide, we already explained one; Prescott on Socket 478 is pointless. Even the overclocking aspects of the processor aren't going to be worth it for now. Socket 775 is not too far away, and when the new interface begins to show up, we would not be surprised if Prescott packs more of a punch (and maybe even a little less heat dissipation). The second major point we wanted to bring up is that it looks like Prescott shipments are slightly lower than expected, and even delayed a few weeks. Nearly all the vendors don't expect to see initial Prescott shipments until the 15th, and mass quantities until the 1st of March. The 3.4GHz P4EE won't show up in initial quantities until March 1st, and 3.4GHz Prescott doesn't look like it will even show up in the next 60 days. However, various fanboys need not interpret this as "Intel is dying." When was the last time we saw a solid launch and release date from either AMD or Intel in the past 2 years? Paper launching is the easiest way to pull vendors and analyst under NDA without them leaking information to each other.
OK, we have ranted enough on about marketing strategies; let us take a look at some pricings.
Obviously, this was a huge week for the existing Northwood processors. Even though the official "price drop" for Intel was today, Vendors usually jump the gun by 5 to 7 days to stay competitive. Practically all the Northwoods are suddenly extremely attractive (um, again). The biggest drop on the P4 3.2C places it around $280. Some of Derek's previous benchmarks anticipate this performance somewhere between the A64 3200+ and 3400+. It's no surprise that the 3.2GHz Northwood and the A64 3200+ are priced identically. If you encode DVDs rather than play games, the 3.2C is the chip to pick.
Similarly, the CPU choice is a toss up on the midrange CPUs as well. Both Socket 478 and Socket 754 are dying sockets. Buying a 2.8GHz Northwood or an A64 3000+ Newcastle both lead to dead end upgrade paths. The 2.8C is priced better today, but AMD has a price cut scheduled to show up near Valentine's Day. If vendors are at all predictable (and they are), we will see some dramatic cuts in the AMD CPU prices around the middle of next week.
In conclusion, if you had to buy a new CPU, today:
· Go with the 3.2C for content creation on an expanded budget
· The 2.8C is the chip for the moderate budget
However, with AMD's price cut so close, let's look at what's going on in Sunnyvale...