The Real Story is Pricing

Even though we are a tad spoiled by Intel (just a year ago we would have given anything to see such a high performing part come out of the maker), the real story here is in the pricing war that these two competitors have found themselves engaged in. Let's first take a look at Intel's pricing, including the new QX6800:

 CPU Clock Speed L2 Cache Price
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 2.93GHz x 2 4MB x 2 $1199
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 2.66GHz x 2 4MB x 2 $999
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93GHz 4MB $999
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.40GHz x 2 4MB x 2 $851
Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz 4MB $530
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz 4MB $316
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz 2MB $224
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz 2MB $183
Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 1.80GHz 2MB $163

As you can see, it hasn't changed much, the price points are the same with the addition of the QX6800 at the $1200 mark (as if Extreme Edition/FX pricing wasn't high enough). But now let's take a look at what AMD has done since we last looked at the desktop CPU market:

 CPU Clock Speed L2 Cache Price
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 3.0GHz 1MBx2 $241
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 2.8GHz 1MBx2 $188
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ 2.6GHz 1MBx2 $178
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.6GHz 512KBx2 $167
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ 2.5GHz 512KBx2 $136
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ 2.3GHz 512KBx2 $121
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ 2.1GHz 512KBx2 $104
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 2.0GHz 512KBx2 $83
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ 1.9GHz 512KBx2 $73

The fastest AMD processor you can buy will only set you back $241 today - and these are actual prices. A quick check on Newegg reveals that the X2 6000+ can actually be had for $239. In our review of the 6000+ we stated the following:

"With the latest round of price cuts AMD is far more competitive than at any other point since the release of Intel's Core 2 processors. Unfortunately for AMD, this means that at best, it can offer performance close to that of Intel's Core 2 processors at similar prices."

With another round of price cuts AMD can potentially change the balance structure even more, at $241 the 6000+ is really a competitor to the Core 2 Duo E6400, which it should have no trouble outperforming. The 5600+ ends up competing with the E6300 and the 5000+ is priced equivalently to the E4300. While Intel will still hold control of the world's fastest desktop processor title, AMD may actually offer better value at lower price points.

Intel surely won't allow its newly found fanbase to go challenged, and thus on April 22nd it will respond with its own set of price cuts resulting in the following table:

 CPU Clock Speed L2 Cache Price
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 2.93GHz x 2 4MB x 2 $1199
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 2.66GHz x 2 4MB x 2 $999
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93GHz 4MB $999
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.40GHz x 2 4MB x 2 $530
Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz 4MB $316
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz 4MB $224
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz 2MB $183
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz 2MB $163
Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 1.80GHz 2MB $113

The April 22nd price cuts aren't terribly aggressive, but they do restore a little balance to the equation . The 6000+ goes back to compete with the E6600 instead of the E6400, which does change things thanks to the E6600's larger L2 cache. The 5600+ now goes head to head with the E6400 instead of the E6300, and the 5000+ will have to contend with the E6300.

Unfortunately, the timing of today's launch requires us to look at the market in two ways: as if you were buying components for a system today, and if you were buying in a couple of weeks after Intel's price cuts take effect. The latter obviously being more important given its imminence.

Index The Test
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Chadder007 - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link

    Considering that if you are getting a whole new PC, then you would most likely be getting a new OS to. To which I would go with 64bit Vista also.
  • SunAngel - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link

    Just think, when MS gets Vista fully patch and tweeked and FSB1333 or 1600 and HT2400 or 3000 for Quad and Octo-cores is mainstream, you'll be able to take a 30 min. MS-DVR recording from Media Center and reduce it in like 2 minutes. 18-30 months from now I expect Intel and AMD to performance quite some magic with their processors. Good times ahead indeed.
  • yacoub - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link

    And we all know how certain benchmarks vary WIDELY between XP and Vista - often due to drivers or programming issues - so to say "oh the numbers should be close enough between the two OSes" would be completely untrue.
  • yacoub - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link


    While Intel will still hold control of the world's fastest desktop processor title, AMD may actually offer better value at lower price points.

    As long as you don't allow overclocking into the equation, then yes. But if you allow for overclocking, even a modestly overclocked E4300 can match or beat an E6400 and thus best the 6000+.

    We rarely hear much about how the AMD chips overclock these days... is it just due to a lack of overclock-oriented boards? Have all the board manufacturers focused on Intel because that is where all the attention is and where they hope to get the most profit for their boards?

    It would be interesting to see a good update on AMD overclocking on AM2. Do the chips even have much headroom? If so, are there overclocker boards available to OC them with? etc
  • yyrkoon - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link

    From my experiences, which by the way is not a lot, I have noticed that generally, desktop classed CPUs from AMD do not OC well. However, that being said, I have an Opteron 1210, paid $150usd for it, and have had it running 310Mhz CPU core(2790Ghz overall, stock is 1.8Ghz . . .), on an ABIT NF-M2 nView motherboard, with inexpencive Cosair XMS2 ProMos memory, using stock cooling. Granted, the system immediatly BSoD'd when trying to run SuperPI, but I have little doubt, that if I had a better cooler (my case is very compact, so it is pretty difficult to find something small, and efficient), that it would have been able to run this speed fine.

    From what I have read, the 3600+ can hit 3Ghz using water cooling, but I have no hands on experience personally. Personally, I am very happy with my Opteron, it runs every game I play just fine, the only real problem I have with my current system, is that my current video card is already showing age, and it is only 6 months old (7600GT) :/
  • JarredWalton - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link

    I think the best AMD chips will OC to around 3GHz, give or take. The problem is, an E4300 will overclock to around 3.6GHz pretty easily (get a better CPU cooler is all you need). At that point, the E4300 is so much faster than anything AMD currently has on the desktop that I think it's a bit silly to consider AMD for serious overclocking - unless you already have an AM2 board? At stock speeds, however, AMD does quite well on pricing, especially post price-cuts.
  • D4LDarksideD4L - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    No think your wrong here. The best AMD cpu doesn't max out at 3.0Ghz it clock way faster than that with very extreme cooling. Guys at AMD inc. had overclock an AMD qual core to a insanely 6.5Ghz. and its very stable. To achieve this speed they use LiquNitrogen and LiquHelium to bring down the temperature to below 200 degree F. To my understanding That the world record breaker.">
  • yyrkoon - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link

    I do not dissagree with you 100% Jarred, you points are completely valid. However, the system in question would cost more than a comparrible AMD system, and in my case, I am very specific in what I want for features, and brand, so, it would cost me a lot more. Also this performance difference you speak of looks great on paper, and graph, but in realy world application, I bet, you, me, or anyone else, would be hard pressed to notice the difference. Perhaps if all you do is encode/decode sure, but general usage, and game playing, the noticable difference just would not be there.

    Now, if you have the cash, I would reccomend to anyone who plays games, to go with Intel C2D, but know that you will pay for the speed difference, and the chances are good, unless you spend a lot, you would never know the difference. As I said before, build me a C2D system for ~$500, with an LCD monitor, and then we can talk. Granted, this AMD ~$500 system, would not play FEAR, Oblivion, or any other graphically intensive game well, but my system does using an eVGA 76000GT KO (can be had easily for ~$130usd, making the over all cost higher, but still very viable, even on a budget).
  • TA152H - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link

    I agree with you, mainly. My main system, if I have one that can be called that, is a Katmai running at 600 MHz. Why? Because it's completely fanless and it uses very little power and I don't need anything better for what it does. I have a seperate development machine, of course, and other machines I use for more demanding stuff, but 90% of the time, unless I'm testing, this computer is more than adequate for what I want.

    Overclocking is important only within the tiny context of the person who is going to buy a processor to do it. Intel and AMD don't care that much about it, unless it makes their chips less reliable and then they are against it since it hurts their reputation. It's done by such a small percentage of people, it's not going to greatly impact their sales. I almost got tarred and feathered back about 10 years ago when I recommended that our company buy the Celeron 300As and overclock them to 450 MHz, rather than using Pentium IIs, which were slower and way more expensive. I never made that mistake again.

    Back in the bad old days, you actually had to have a bit of a clue to overclock; you'd have to unsolder the crystal and replace it. A lot of people did this with the original PC/AT 139, so IBM changed it so you couldn't for the 239 (by putting a timing loop in the ROM). So, I guess it was somewhat more common then. But then again, the computer user back then was much more sophisticated since they were not mainstream devices like they are now.

    AMD is in deep trouble, as evidenced by their recent announcement of extremely poor sales. I just do not understand their timing with respect to ATI, because it gave Intel a golden opportunity. Intel knows AMD is cash strapped, and they can't fight a price war. AMD doesn't know this though, and they are playing chicken driving a VW Bug against a Hummer. Sooner or later, AMD must lose, and they are idiotic for thinking Intel does not know this. ATI made it impossible for AMD to follow the course they are now, but they are. Good luck to them. Cost cutting isn't the answer, Intel will just extend their manufacturing lead.

    One thing I don't get is the announced price cuts by Intel not being called aggressive. Call me crazy, but when you chop 1/3 of the price off of already attractive products, that's very substantial.

    A lot of this points to Barcelona (what a stupid name) being really good. Intel is trying to kill AMD before it comes out, and AMD seems to believe they have to keep market share at any cost. Obviously, AMD's path is unsustainable and they would eventually go out of business on it if nothing changed. If Barcelona is really good, they could suffer a few quarters of it while waiting for Barcelona, which would presumably sell quite well if it is as good as they say. The problem is, they are losing market share even with their low prices.

    One positive about all this is how much smarter consumers have become. It used to be Intel could sell whatever they had even if it sucked. But, when Intel had a bad product most recently, they lost share. Now they have a better product, they have gained it. It hasn't always been this way.
  • yyrkoon - Monday, April 9, 2007 - link

    Well, I do not know which way it is going to go, but it is either very, very good for AMD, or very, very bad. Just for the 'monopoly' Intel would gain, in AMD going out of business, and the 'you have this product, and you have to like it' effect we would get from Intel, I think it would be very, very bad for everyone, if AMD went out of business.

    I have been computing for a long, long time, (since 82-83 ), and have been used to AMD being the underdog, so I do not really see this as the nail in their coffin just yet. Only time will tell, and AMD knows how to fight a price war, from the bottom up( or middle up, if you ever really considered Cyrix a compeditor ).

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now