Intel Dual Core/High-End CPUs

While AMD has just finished launching their new platform, we're still waiting for retail availability of the Intel Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors. All of the preview testing that we have conducted is extremely promising, and while there may be a few benchmarks that AMD can continue to win, we're quite certain that Intel will hold the overall performance crown in the near future. The one major question that remains unanswered -- and we're not too optimistic here -- is what the retail availability of Core 2 Duo parts will be at launch. Intel's prices on Core 2 Duo parts are pretty competitive, but if supply can't keep up with demand we expect to see some price gouging in the short-term. It may be that your best bet for getting a Core 2 Duo configuration near launch will be by purchasing a computer from a system vendor: Dell, HP, Falcon Northwest, VoodooPC, etc. That's all in the future, however, so let's look at the current processor offerings.

Intel seems well aware of the fact that everyone is waiting for their new processor line to launch. In the meantime, how do you get people to buy your current products? By making the prices more attractive, naturally. You can see that Intel made some major price cuts on most of their Pentium D offerings about two months ago, and while they continue to draw more power and run hotter than the Athlon X2 processors, their prices are far more compelling.

Roughly matching the X2 3800+ in terms of performance (though it remains slower in games), the Pentium D 930 is now selling for $176 [RTPE: BX80553930] -- you could almost purchase two of these for the price of the cheapest Athlon X2 chip. If you're more interested in spending the same amount of money, you can add an extra 400 MHz and pick up the Pentium D 950 for $328 [RTPE: BX80553950]. Either of those options is more than reasonable, but perhaps the most interesting Intel processor right now remains the Pentium D 805 [RTPE: BX80551PE2666FN], going for $112. The slower FSB speeds hamper performance, but it also means that you can usually get reasonable overclocking out of almost any motherboard. 3.5 GHz appears to be a relatively common result using the included heatsink, and even without overclocking it's hard to beat the price/performance offered by this chip.

At the other end of the price/performance spectrum, you can find Intel's Pentium Extreme Edition offerings. Dual cores along with hyper threading give you the ability to run up to four threads simultaneously, though whether or not people will realistically be able to make use of such a configuration is debatable. If you're looking to spend over $1000 on a processor, we definitely recommend AMD's Athlon FX processors over the current Intel Pentium XE chips. A better recommendation would be to wait for the launch of the Core 2 Extreme, as it will carry a similar price while offering more performance and lower power consumption.

AMD Dual Core/High-End CPUs AMD Single Core/Midrange CPUs


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  • GTVic - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    The 930 is the same except for double the cache. Why is it so much cheaper???? Reply
  • Robberbaron12 - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    Intel are dumping the 65nm netburst processors as fast as possible, so thats why they are so cheap. The 90nm smithfields are now out of production all together except for the 805 (so I hear). I assume the 65nm netburst must be being shunted to the side to make room for all those Woodcrests and Conroes on the same production lines. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    I think Intel is probably about ready to halt all NetBurst production, and they have a ton of inventory to clear I would guess. Anyway, *all* of the Pentium D prices are quite nice. $140 for the 820 isn't bad either, as it will then get the faster FSB relative to the 805 for only $30 more. The 9xx series is good as well, but they all seem to OC into the 3.9-4.1 GHz range, so you might as well grab the cheapest one (930). Reply
  • eetnoyer - Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - link

    I doubt that Intel is "about ready" to stop producing netburst chips, considering that current predictions are for ~30% of shipments being C/M/W exiting the year. Unless, of course, they want to lose a bunch more market share. I'm more inclined to believe that they are flooding the market with cheap netburst chips in an attempt to hold unit share at any cost. Their gross margins for Q2 are going to be horrendous.

    By the way, would it be so hard to include clock speeds in these articles? The model numbers in many cases are almost meaningless to alot of people anymore, and will only get worse going forward. I'm pretty sure that the average reader here is more than capable of understanding the IPC differences.
  • bamacre - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    I don't agree that the Pentium 805 is the most interesting Intel cpu, even with it's low price. The 940, which runs cooler and uses less power, is simply awesome at roughly $75 cheaper than the X2 3800+, and running very close to it's speeds in gaming, and beating it in almost everything else. Easily, IMO, the best bang for your buck dual core cpu.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    I don't know... overclocked 920 at 4.0 GHz doesn't match an overclocked X2 3800+ at 2.6 GHz, so at least to me AMD X2 still comes out ahead in gaming performance. However, price is definitely in favor of Intel right now. I guess "most interesting" is all a matter of personal preference - for some people, FX-62 and Core 2 Extreme are probably the "most interesting". :) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    I think single core will stick around, but all the 1024KB chips are going away. The question is whether Sempron chips are going to be different cores, or just Orleans with some of the L2 disabled. I wouldn't be surprised if AMD goes the disabled cache route. Reply
  • gerf - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    754 outlive 939? I remember some build reviews where 939 was only to be used because of "future upgrade choices." Ouch.

    What I wonder, is if my Averatec 6235's mobile A64 (754) can be swapped with a new Turion.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    Your best bet is to ask Averatec; there's a reasonable chance you will need a new BIOS version, but other than that it should be capable of supporting the Turion. Turion is also built using and 90 nm process where is the socket 754 Athlon 64 Mobile chips are 130 nm, so even at the same clock speed Turion should run cooler. Reply
  • gerf - Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - link

    Well, Averatec doesn't apparantly do bios updates. I'd have to check the chipset type, and find something more oem Reply

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