Want to buy a CPU?
Be prepared to get in line
The market for desktop processors is back to front and inside out these days, with AMD's latest processor drowning out noise from the opposition and retailing at a fraction of the price, while so-called budget processors cost barely a tenner less than their full-bodied equivalents. This morning we spoke to a few retailers who told us there was a "stock situation" for both of the major players at the moment too. Just what is going on? The average retailer stocks AMD Durons from about 800MHz to 1GHz, AMD Athlons from 1GHz to 1.4GHz, and a few claim to have stock of the new AMD Athlon XP at speeds of 1.33GHz to 1.53GHz. These same retailers also claim to have stock of Intel's Celeron processors at speeds of 800MHz to 1.1GHz, Intel's Pentium III (which has been all but phased out now) in diminishing stocks of 933MHz to 1.2GHz, and Intel's Pentium 4 at speeds of 1.5GHz to 2GHz. In reality, we hear that very few have stock of the AMD Athlon at 1.4GHz, and that demand for anything below 1.4GHz is negligible, including the Duron line with its new 'Morgan' core. This in turn has led to a price spike as retailers struggle to snap up whatever they can get their hands on. The new Athlon XP is available, but in extremely small quantities. One retailer we spoke to said that they were lucky to get ten of each grade, another jokingly said that they could take our money, but they had little or no chance of getting us an Athlon XP this week. You might want to bear that in mind if you plan on buying one. Originally, they told us, the shortage in 1.4GHz Athlons was thought to be a strategic move by AMD to help encourage sales of the new Athlon XP, but that theory has now been quashed given the small numbers of those available. On the Intel front, demand for Celerons is apparently reasonably healthy. With the Pentium III now in very short supply (and costing a little bit extra as a result), 1GHz Celerons are proving fairly popular. The Pentium III itself is in a bit of a quagmire. Few will buy it because it costs so much compared to Athlon, and the speed grades people are after (1.13 and 1.2GHz), are almost completely unavailable. Interestingly though Pentium 4 sales are up, particularly for the lower speed grades (you can now pick up a 1.5GHz P4 for £138), although as reported on the major newswires last week, 1.7GHz and above are in short supply. As we enthused in our review of the Athlon XP yesterday, AMD's new breed of chips are the cream of the present crop, so if you are considering a Christmas upgrade those would be the ones to wait for. But even if you've found a source, be prepared to wait a while. Related Feature - AMD Athlon XP review