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Intel Pentium D 805 is a bargain basement processor

So shouldn't this dual core chip be flying off the shelves?
Sun Apr 09 2006, 08:32
A BROWSE OF Newegg revealed that the on-line vendor had Intel's cheapest Pentium D 805 dual core processor (2.66GHz), which is the 90nm Smithfield part, available for a measly $133. The same vendor had the AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ counterpart for $295.

That $162 price difference is remarkable. AMD used to be renowned as the maker of good performing bottom dollar chips. So the bottom dollar honour now belongs to Intel in the dual core processor space.

It's also interesting to note that the AMD one thousand unit tray price for its entry-level dual core part is $301. That closeness to the Newegg price was a rarity in the Athlon XP days.

The low cost Pentium D 805 became available via the channel in February. Many will know that Intel's 90nm dual core implementation was a performance dog. It was blown out of the water by the AMD competition. So why is this chip so cheap?

Intel would have us believe that: "The purpose of the 805 is to drive dual-core technology into mainstream-value pricing, which it will do," says Intel's Todd Garrigues, North America channel marketing manager for boxed products. "Even with a 533 MHz FSB, the 805 is still a very strong performer and will enable broad channel efforts to drive dual-core volumes across various verticals. Overall, I think it will be incredibly exciting for our market."

It may have been the case that Intel had to do something drastic to increase its dual core sales volume. Poor performance may have lead to overstock which necessitated the 805 release and the literal giveaway price. Perhaps Intel is trying to claw back some of the 80% market share that AMD now holds in US retail. Whatever the reason, the price that Newegg was asking was remarkable - other on-line retailers were charging low prices as well.

The 2.8GHz Pentium D 820 device, which Newegg priced at $211, was 59% more than its slower 805 brother. That indicates what good value the 805 dual core device really is. When Intel is asking $127 (thousand piece tray price) for its fastest Celeron D 355 offering (3.33GHz) that really puts the 805 dual core price into perspective.

Where are the Pentium D 805 reviews?
Did Intel feel that performance was really so bad that it didn't want to ship out systems to reviewers? If so, Intel shot itself in the foot Cheney style. With the right promotion Intel should have been milking this dual core cow for all it was worth - not dollars but unit shipments.

For a part so cheap there should have been many reviews praising the value of this chip when compared to similarly priced processors. The only review I found until Anandtech posted one was on HKEPC.

Anandtech seems to be one of the few review sites that has belatedly taken a close look at the 805 device and answered many of the questions that should already have been addressed. It has a follow up planned that will look at overclocking.

The energy factor
According to Anandtech, a Pentium D 805 dual core processor system uses a lot more power than its Athlon 64 X2 3800+ counterpart - 34% at idle and 29% under load. So that $162 price saving would get whittled away over time. But that shouldn't discourage those who are looking to get onboard the dual core train at the cheapest possible cost.

Many enthusiasts still turn their nose up at Intel
Discerning enthusiasts have flooded to the AMD64 platform since the September 2003 launch of the Athlon 64 processor. AMD had a strong enthusiast following in the Athlon XP days, where they bought AMD processor based platforms for its price/performance value - especially when those systems were overclocked.

AMD's continued strength in the enthusiast space was apparent at on-line retailers. Newegg's top ten seller page had an AMD64 based Athlon 64 3200+ processor placed at number eight - no Intel chips were listed.

Tiger Direct's CPU page revealed that half of the top ten sellers were Athlon 64 processors - the rest being Intel. All five of the Athlon 64 chips were dual core devices. Intel only had one, the Pentium D 830, which surprisingly was the number one seller.

So Intel still has work to do to gain across the board mind share in the dual core processor space. Maybe its upcoming Conroe processor will do exactly that.

Did the chip giant miss the boat again?
We reported earlier that AMD would put up prices of its Athlon 64 X2 dual core processors by between two and five US dollars. So did Intel's low cost dual core chip introduction make absolutely no impact on AMD's dual core hold on the market? Is AMD's dual core position just too strong?

With all the marketing money at Intel's disposal the chip giant should have promoted its cheapest dual core processor to maximize its sales potential. But that didn't appear to have happened.

Putting things into perspective
Buying Intel's lowest cost dual core chip instead of an AMD one does save $162. But that saving delivers serious sub-par performance. Bear in mind also that this device is hobbled by a slower 533MHz FSB - its dual core cousins all ship with the faster 800MHz version. This chip is also a fiery furnace - if you're in colder climes that shouldn't be a problem. But for those just looking to get onboard the dual core train at the cheapest possible cost there isn't an alternative.

What else can I say? If I was in the market for a cheap dual core rig I would be opening my wallet for an Intel based system. How many of our regular readers would have expected that from me?

Drop me a line if you think you know why value consumers and enthusiasts aren't buying this chip in droves. µ

See Also
Pentium D 805 rebates - you read it here first
Pentium D 805 tested in HK
AMD readies some price rises
AMD FX60 trounced by Intel Conroe

Anandtech review


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