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Fall Processor Pricing – Finding the Best Bang for the Buck
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by Rob Williams on September 5, 2008 in Processors

If pondering an upgrade, the time to purchase a new processor is now. Both AMD and Intel are offering a great collection of models that fit all budgets, and we take a look to find the best options available. Whether it’s a Dual-Core or Quad-Core you’re after, there’s undoubtedly a model that fits nicely into your price range and won’t let you down.

AMD Processor Pricing

On the last page, you might have noticed something. You guessed it. It was long. That’s what happens when Intel is completely dominating the marketplace though, and while AMD has just a handful of chips up for grabs, Intel has at least twice as many. One way to look at it is… if you are on the lookout for an AMD CPU, the choice is made twice as easy. Maybe.

Yes, it’s no secret that AMD has been having a rough few years, ever since Intel unleashed Core to the world. Since then, AMD has been unable to step back up to the plate and hit a home run. That’s not to say their products are not worth paying attention to. It’s just that Intel has been kicking AMD repeatedly, and while down, they’ve been unable to push out a product that really puts Intel in their place. Their ATI division managed to do this to NVIDIA, so (hopefully) it’s only a matter of time before AMD can do the same with their processors.

At this point in time, the main reason someone might choose AMD over Intel would be because… it’s not Intel. AMD’s products are sufficient, but Intel’s are more power-efficient, faster clock-for-clock and also features some improved instruction sets, such as my beloved SSE4. Their lower-end options are worth attention though, because for around the $100 mark, you can get some very nice tri-core action.

So let’s take a look at the main AMD offerings today, shall we?

Quad-Core Model
Clock Speed
L2/L3 Cache
$ / 1,000
Phenom X4 9950 BE
Phenom X4 9850 BE
Phenom X4 9750
Phenom X4 9650
Phenom X4 9550
Phenom X3 8750
Phenom X3 8650
Phenom X3 8450

You might notice the lack of Dual-Cores here, and there’s a reason for that. The goal I had in mind when creating this article was to not go under $100, because in all honesty, any current CPU you get for the >$100 price range is going to be suitable. Plus, recent AMD price drops have made all their tri-core and higher models even more attractive.

Case-in-point: X3 8450. This triple-core processor is currently selling for $102.00 at NewEgg, at the time of writing. It’s the slowest of the multi-core processors AMD has in their lot, but for $102, it’s hard to go wrong. The CPU is also power efficient as far as AMD CPUs go, and given it has three cores, it does open up the multi-tasking potential a bit.

Aside from the X3 8450, the choice gets a bit easier. Just get an X4 9950 Black Edition. Sure, it might be AMD’s most expensive offering right now, but the difference between it and the other Quad-Cores is minimal… four dollars at most, thanks to these new price drops. It makes no sense to go with anything but.

The X4 9950 is the overclocking chip from AMD, but clocked at 2.6GHz, it doesn’t really have to be. At the current $179.99 going price, it’s $10 cheaper than Intel’s Q6600, plus… it might just be a bit faster. It in no way will be as overclockable as the Q6600, but for those who think overclocking is a waste of time, there’s no bother.

So there you have it. It’s kind of bizarre that there are only two real choices here, but that does make things a lot simpler, so who’s to complain? AMD might not be at the top of their game, but both the X3 8450 and X4 9950 Black Edition are great choices if you are an AMD fan. The former is extremely inexpensive, while still offering better multi-tasking capability over a Dual-Core, and the Black Edition CPU matches up great with Intel’s Q6600, but still manages to cost less. It’s good to see such great price-points from AMD, but I think everyone else is with me in that we’re dying to see something threaten Intel.

Final Thoughts

Indeed, it’s a great time to be thinking about a processor purchase, regardless of what side of the fence you are on. Both AMD and Intel have great choices at modest price-ranges, especially AMD, and interestingly enough, there is no real ‘high-end’ processor right now… not at least until Nehalem hits.

This is the first price guide we’ve ever really done, and if you like what you see, or hate what you see, please feel free to post in our related forum thread (no registration required) and let us know what you liked or didn’t like. We’re always up for suggestions as well, so please don’t keep those to yourself!

Page List

1. Introduction
2. Intel Processor Pricing
3. AMD Processor Pricing