For the first time in a decade, we have competition in the x86 market. AMD is finally poised for a comeback with a true breakthrough in performance in its Ryzen line of processors, and Intel is reacting.
Benchmarks show the Ryzen processors, a completely new design by Jim Keller, the same engineer who created the Athlon chip more than a decade ago and turned AMD from an also-ran into a real competitor (for at least a little while), outperform Intel's best and cost a lot less. The result is temporary sell-outs of some CPU pre-orders.
And Intel is responding. Reviewers note that the best Ryzen processor outperforms Intel's best and costs just half the price. There is a future Intel processor code-named Cannonlake due later this year that is reportedly 15 percent faster than the prior generation, a big jump after so many negligible increases in speed. But for now, Intel's only response is to cut prices, and cut prices it has.
Digital Trends was the first to note major price cuts at Micro Center and other retailers. Micro Center is an 25-store national chain and online retailer that caters to system builders, among other customers. Some of its prices are for only in-store customers, while others are for web sales.
Amazon is also featuring some price cuts, but they are almost comical. For example, the Core i3-6100 is discounted from $117 to $116.98. NewEgg is also discounting the processors. The 4.0GHz Core i7-6700, a Skylake processor, has been cut down from $369.99 to $309.99.
Ryzen chips go on sale today. They will give the market a badly needed jolt of competition that has been lacking for the better part of a decade. While the overall PC market is down and has been in decline for some time, the gamer/enthusiast/system builder market is the one bright spot, pulling in $30 billion in sales, according to Jon Peddie Research (JPR). Back in 2015, JPR put the gamer market at $24.6 billion.
You don't need a faster processor to run Office 365, but for virtual reality or some of these intense new 4k resolution games, you absolutely do—and gamers always want more power. That said, there are business cases for more power, as well. CAD and designers could always use more power.
It looks like I may finally be upgrading my Haswell system. Thank you, Jim Keller.