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Watch out for those PC price drops!

Updated on July 13, 2008
Look ahead and save yourself some big bucks!
Look ahead and save yourself some big bucks!

One of the cornerstones of personal computer technology is that you are 100% guaranteed that by the time you take home and boot up your brand new state of the art computer, a new model has come out with twice the performance at half the price. To beat this nefarious cycle, you can:

a) Keep waiting for the final price drop... which will likely be forever.

b) Keep trading in your PC with every new announcement... which is often every couple of months.

c) Ignore the new, faster, cheaper models and stick with your old trusty PC long after its expiry date.

d) Educate yourself as to the component manufacturers roadmaps and their expected price drop timings and buy smart!

Of course, "d" is the correct answer. Just a little bit of research is going to pay huge dividends when you're shopping for PC components. This is not information that is kept secret by an underground brotherhood of computer nerds. You can access any of this information with just a little bit of judicious Googling.

One of the most expensive components to fit into your PC is the CPU and it is the part that usually sees the most extreme and frequent price drops as newer and faster processors arrive in the retail channel. For example, Intel will soon release new quad-core and dual-core processors and drop pricing right across its entire CPU line. This includes the 3.0 GHz Core 2 Quad Q9650 whose QX version is now well over $1050 and will hit the streets with a price as low as $550. The current Core 2 Quad Q9550 will get a huge street price cut from its current $580 to about $340.

Changes are set for Intel's dual-core lineup as well. A new Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33 GHz processor will carry a street price of approximately $290, while the E8500 and E8400 dual-core CPUs will drop from $280 and $190 all the way down to $190 and $170 respectively. The E8500 is clearly the sweet spot here, as the Q9550 is for the quad core brethren.

The price lists need to be carefully perused to get the best bang for the buck. Unless you are one of those "I want the best at any price" sort of profligate spendthrifts, you will find that the second from the top of the line will give you far greater performance for your dollar.

Let's take a look at the E8600 vs. the E8500. They are essentially identical, except that the former runs at 3.33 GHz and the latter at 3.16 GHz. Their price difference on the new price list of $280 vs. $190 places the E8600 at $84 per GHz and the E8500 at $60 per GHz! And the overall speed difference between the chips is only 5.3%!

I was just about to blow a bundle on a Q9550 for a new system when the news hit that I could soon end up saving about $240. I wisely backed off and am now waiting patiently for the pricelist to become official. In the meanwhile, the best price on the 8800 GT video card I want dropped from $149 to $109, so there is another $40 in my pocket. Proof positive that just a little bit of patience and research can yield big rewards!


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