AMD's new Phenom quad-core CPU has little to recommend it over competing chips from Intel. The Phenom is marginally less-expensive, but not enough to make up for its subpar performance. Unless AMD drops prices more aggressively, it looks like Intel will maintain its grasp on the CPU market for the foreseeable future.
Intel's new second-generation dual-core chip draws less power, leaving the door open for system builders to use it in new desktop designs. The performance picture still needs clearing up, but our preliminary results show some improvement over Intel's lackluster first-generation dual-core Pentiums.
AMD's new high-end dual-core CPU offers plenty of bang for the buck, outpacing Intel's Pentium 965 Extreme Edition, which costs $200 more. Sounds like a good deal, but wait to see what Intel's next-gen Core 2 Duo chips have to offer when they debut later this year.
We recommend the AMD A8-3850 to mainstream desktop PC users in search of capable gaming power and multithreaded application performance.
If you thought dual cores were over the top, get ready. Intel presents the Core 2 Extreme QX6700, a single CPU with four distinct processing cores. At $999, the first quad-core CPU will remain an enthusiast part for a while, but as a glimpse of the future, it's clear that clock speed is out and core counts are in.
Thanks to an expensive new motherboard requirement, Intel's new Core i7 desktop processors will remain enthusiast and professional-level parts until more affordable complementary hardware comes out later next year. Speed never comes cheap, however, and if you're willing to spend for it now, you'll find yourself in possession of the fastest CPU on the market.