Weekly CPU & Memory Price Guide: March 2003 1st Editionby Kristopher Kubicki on March 23, 2003 3:43 PM EST
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After a short spring break we are back reporting guide information! The last couple weeks have been particularly interesting for AMD chips with the advent of the new KT400A chipset, as well as the announcements for 400MHz FSB chipset solutions from VIA, NVIDIA and SIS. Remember, even though there were rumors about AMD bringing the Barton chipset up to 400MHz, there has been very little official word. It looks like 400MHz FSB is still several months away, but considering 333MHz FSB XP chips debuted not too long ago, we are a little disappointed in such blatant planned obsolescence.
In other news, are are a little miffed about what is going on with the MP processor arena as well. The official AMD roadmap puts the 333MHz Barton MP and the Opteron processor out at the same time. However, since there are no dual 333MHz AMD motherboard available, we question how accurate this delivery time really is. Some people speculate the AMD 760MPX will eventually be replaced by the rumored nForceFX chipset, but information about this board has been very limited. Hopefully, some more light can be shed on this situation in the upcoming weeks.
The Opteron processor's seem equally confusing. Microsoft announced only yesterday that they will be announcing their 64-Bit Operating system for Itanium processors on April 24. However, there has been no set date of release for Windows Server 2003 for the Opteron. Unless you plan on running Linux, Opteron's will only run in 32-bit mode. Again, it looks like we will have to wait a few more weeks to find out just exactly what is going on.
Onto more price oriented news, we saw another general decline in AMD processor prices this week, with Palomino chips increasing in price. Since the Thoroughbred B chips are undercutting the prices of these older Palominos, we plan on listing only Barton and Thoroughbred B chips next week. We were a little surprised to see how aggressive the Barton chips were priced after their debut. In fact, the 2800+ Barton is now priced cheaper than the 2800+ Thoroughbred B 266MHz FSB version. We are watching the Barton 2500+ chip closely since this will soon become a very attractive overclocking chip since it runs on the 333MHz FSB, and because it has that coveted 512kb cache. Unfortunately, if we see 400MHz FSB Barton's poke their head around in May, the 333MHz offerings will most likely drop into the sub-120USD range that the 266MHz Thoroughbred B's now reside.
For our recommended buy, we continue to suggest the XP 2100+ for value minded buyers. At 87USD, it quantities performs as well as the P4 2.0GHz for half the price. For the high end users, the Barton 2500+ seems to be the way to go. The P4 2.4GHz chip has a slight edge in performance, but you will save money on memory and a motherboard for a complete system build if you go with the AMD processor. Somehow, resellers are able to continue cutting prices on Duron chips, so if you planned on putting together an HTPC or some other similar application, you still have a good processor available to use.