Price Guides February 2004: CPU and Motherboardsby Kristopher Kubicki on February 3, 2004 12:49 AM EST
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Looking at 4 product lines and 4 sockets is getting a little stressful, but it looks like Socket A is hitting a brick wall rapidly. We were extremely doubtful of AMD's ability to phase the architecture so quickly, as we have brought up various times in previous price guides. However, it looks like we may have been a little too pessimistic.
We mentioned on the previous page that it really would be advised against to buy an AMD CPU this week. The official AMD price cuts will come on the 15th, but vendors usually jump the gun by a week or so. Although we don't know exactly how much we will see in price drops, we can probably safely assume the A64 3000+ will duck under $200 to get competitive with the Pentium 4 2.8C. The rest of the line should move as well. Again, Socket 754 is not a very forward looking socket upgrade - if you get a Socket 754 CPU now, chances are it will be the last Socket 754 CPU you buy.
Athlon XP processors are drying up quickly. Several of our vendors have totally stopped listing XP chips. This is very similar to the dryup we noticed with Athlon MP during the introduction of Opteron. Nine months after Opteron's debut, we still have a few stragglers holding onto their Athlon MP caches, but for the most part no new chip shipments are showing up. Perhaps XP chips will drop a little with next week's changes - but we wouldn't put too much faith in the slower, more expensive line.
Several other interesting things are coming together. Primarily, Opteron 248/848 has been very slow to market. You may recall that Opteron 248 was first announced at COMDEX 2003. Here we are two months later, and retail wise the 248 and 848 is virtually non-existent. We have seen a few chips here and there for review samples, but it appears that both AMD and Intel embrace the paper launch with open arms.
This week we will not actually be making an AMD processor recommendation. With upcoming price cuts, it would be very foolish to recommend a CPU so close to what will probably be a drastic price variation. However, if you must get a CPU today, remember our rule from the previous page. Northwood/Prescott are putting out slightly better content creation and overclocking, but Athlon 64 Socket 754/940 processors are the better gaming CPUs.