Intel slashes quad-core CPU prices across the board

This morning, an Intel spokesperson confirmed to Betanews that the company has made drastic cuts in its CPU prices for 1,000-unit shipments, effective immediately. They include a 40% slash on its top-of-the-line processor.

While the company's Extreme series quad-core at the top of the line -- which blends four cores with hyperthreading -- will remain at $1,499 in 1,000-unit quantities, Intel's highest-end business-class quad-core desktop processor, the 3.0 GHz Q9650, is getting its price cropped by 40.6% today, from $530 to $316. Standard-power quad-cores (as opposed to Intel's low-power line) from the 2.83 GHz Q9550 to the 2.33 GHz Q8200 are also all being slashed in price by 16 - 20%, with the Q8200 now selling for $163.

Intel's move comes in response to AMD's introduction two weeks ago of its quad-core Phenom II X4 series. Though AMD's new line CORRECTION: has just now introduced its 45 nm line, while Intel has had 45 nm for some time (I should read my own stories more often), the new "Black Edition" Phenom II X4 940 -- which at last takes AMD into the 3.0 GHz frequency range -- sells for $275 in 1,000-unit quantities.

While AMD will still appear to have a 15% price advantage in 3.00 GHz quad-core desktop CPUs even after Intel's price cut, Intel's move today will clearly inflict damage to AMD in the price/performance department. Reviews comparing the new Phenom IIs to the latest Intel 45 nm quad-cores are a mixed bag, with one scoring better than the other in various tests (Intels appear to lead in the video encoding categories typically, AMDs leading in the number-crunching categories), but only by about 5% on average. While the two series may be evenly matched in raw performance, Intel may have the edge once you factor in power consumption.

Most of the comparative reviews essentially concluded the match was a toss-up, but that was before Intel's price cut. "The bottom line is that unless Intel drops its price to win favour on the Q9550 and Q9450/Q9400, like it did with the Q6600 when the original Phenom X4s launched," wrote Bit-Tech.net during CES week, "AMD's CPUs will be good value." That might turn out to be a very prophetic statement indeed.

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