Sticker Shock

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Nehalem Bloomfields will rule the roost when they come out, but they aren’t going to be any bargain.

We spoke about Deneb yesterday, and were less than awed.

Let’s look a bit today at what the other guys have to offer.

Benchmarks have been dribbling in here and there for Nehalem, and what they’re revealing is a more-than-solid improvement over Penryn.

Yesterday, HKEPC.com revealed that the entry price for Nehalems will be $284.

This will be about 10% lower than first thought, but Nehalems still look to be an expensive proposition.

Just How Expensive?

If you’re planning on having a Nehalem Christmas, there’s a few things you ought to know.

First, Nehalem requires a new socket, socket 1366, so you’ll need a new mobo. They won’t be cheap. It’s hard to imagine an X58 chipset mobo costing less than current X38/48 mobos, probably will cost more.

Second, the Bloomfield Nehalems will use three-channel DDR3 RAM. That means at a minimum, three 1GB sticks, and more likely three 2GB sticks. Overclockers will probably want DDR3-1600 or more to hit the 500MHz or better bus speeds they’ll want.

Let’s price this. I’m going to give two prices. The low figure represents what I think is an optimistic price for these items by November. The high figure represents a pessimistic price for these items.

Item

Low Price

High Price

Nehalem 2.66GHz

$295

$375

Socket 1366 motherboard

$250

$400

3GB DDR3-1333 RAM

$180

$220

3GB DDR3-1600 RAM

$240

$300

6GB DDR3-1333 RAM

$225

$280

6GB DDR3-1600 RAM

$450

$600

As you can see, even someone scrimping in a favorable pricing environment will lay out over $700 USD in the US (and in all honesty, I doubt DDR3-1333 is going to cut it at 500MHz+), and the price tag for a 6GB system could be $1300+. A realistic ballpark figure is probably around $1,000USD in the USA.

And that’s before the video card.

The point is not to complain; there’s no point in doing that and in any event, it’s the package, not just the processor, that costs a lot.

The point here is to point out that Bloomfield systems are going to be pricey and pretty much stay pricey well into 2009. Yes, there will probably be some scarcity scalping at the very beginning, but after that dies down, the only place for real cost reduction is in DDR3.

So by, say January, it will pretty much be poop or get off the pot until the cheaper (and allegedly nonoverclockable) Lynnfields and Havendales begin to show up in Q3 2009, because waiting until somewhere inbetween isn’t going to help much.

That may give AMD a chance to get back into the overclocker game if the high-K 45nm due to show up sometime in 2009 are good or even not so good, but a lot cheaper.

Ed


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Discussion
  1. I can't even start to remember how much my first computer cost me, but it was alot. I got the fastest processor on the market at the time, which was a PII 300. I had 128MB of ram and a turtle beach pinnacle pro studio soundcard which alone cost about 700$... The hardisk was the biggest on the market!

    Even the sales guy who put it togeather with me was astounded at what a monster it was....

    I'm lucky in a sence that I don't play games. I can either reuse my old matrox g400, or get a cheap passivly cooled videocard. I can also manage with a case that's alot cheaper, like the Antec 3700BQE which does'nt really cost alot (and comes with a decent powersupply).

    Basicly Ed put togeather a setup where everything was pretty much top of the line apart from the cpu and videocard, so sure it ends up costing alot.
    I paid $3,000 for my firsts and last hi end system in 1996. It was a Pentium 200MHz with 32 Mb of ram abd a 2 gig hard drive. Five years later that system was such a Dionosaur that I gave it away. I spent $2,000 on my next system and got something a little less than hi end and that system, a 1 gig TBird, is astill running well and quite functional. My point? I don't think prices have really gone up. Never spend a fortune on hi end gear. Wait 6 months and get the same gear for considerably less money which you can use to upgrade more frequently uf you so choose. Lastly, todays systems will have more years of decent functionality as they are faster than most of us will need for some time to come.
    personally i dissagree about taking the 800xl over the 6800GT

    even though the 6800GT costs a bit more, they usually overclock like beasts, unlike what the article writer said..
    I think this article made some great points.

    $220 on ram. Sure it's not that bad (it has been a lot worse in the past) but I wonder how long it will hold it's value. With DDR2/3 coming will the memory be usable in the next system? I remember paying 200.00 for 512M of Rambus three years ago. The sting wouldn't be that bad if I could ever use the stuff again.

    250~350 for a video card? To me that isn't cheap. Granted I might do ok with a 6600 or a x700 but I would like to buy with an eye towards the future. The X800XL is what I would consider buying right now. The author does make a good point about a 6800GT - it is a good deal faster than a X800XL but cost about 50~60 more.

    Which brings me to my next thought. If one is trying to squeze out every dollar not going SLI makes sense. However, if your even considering it later doesn't it make sense to spend the extra 60~80 bucks to know that you will be able to later. Call me lazy but once I have a system up and running the last thing I want to do is strip it all down just so I can add a SLI capable motherboard and a video card. I know that this would add a lot to the cost. But spending the extra 200 dollars now might make sense if you could add a 6800GT for 200~250 later. You might just be able to get another 6 to 12 months out of the system.

    Wfarid - good to see you. How is Rutgers?
    Why exactly is he complaining.

    $200 CPU hey thats not bad unless you compare it to Socket A when it was on its last legs.

    $130 mobo yeah except that Mobo is one of the best Mobos you can get ever as far as overclocking options go.

    $150 Utt Ram hey you can buy a board that will give you 4.0v dimm why not use it? it beats TCCD at 300mhz 1:1 while running 240mhz on a divider.

    $250 GPU an x800pro overclocks better than an XL and beats it after being overclocked so why not?

    OS why upgrade to 64bit edition just now I still don't see any advantage over Win2k by WinXP unless I wen't SLI.

    HDs I really like my current ones but If I was to upgrade I would go SATA with NCQ or SATA with 16meg cache both of those seem like a better option than a Raptor.

    I'm not sure sure why its so horrible to spend $750 bucks on an upgrade as it will last me a while.
    I found the article interesting as well, and the cost of building an entirely new system without reusing components is staggering. My next rig I would prefer to get a new case, bigger PSU (sparkle 350 won't cut it for a venice and 6800), PCIE, SATA optical and HDDs, possibly DDR2.

    Factor in that my XP-M handles what I need it to quite nicely and buying a new rig easily gets pushed to next year.

    Ed's list:

    CPU - $200. I can live with that for the same reasons he stated. I want my stock speed to at least torch my XP-M.

    Mainboard - $130. Ok, I don't need/can't afford SLI anyway, or the associated PSU and mobo, so an NF4 Ultra would do fine.

    Vid - $300. I hate that part of new-rig spec-ing. I'd go with the 6800GT, but once I add in a custom quiet thermal solution the price gets bumped to $360. OUCH! What happened to the GF3 Ti200 or GF4 Ti4200 class cards which cost $200 for near-topline speeds?

    RAM - $190 for Mushkin 1GB L2V3. I'd want at least 1GB for my next machine. 2GB still costs too much ($340 for low latency 3200).

    OS - Win2k suits me just fine. :D

    So my core stuff comes to about $820, without factoring in hi-perf cooling, PSU, optical, or case. Or any other goodies like LCD displays. I'd use my existing hard drive too.

    Building a new machine that's top line isn't cheap. Just something to live with.

    Gone are the days of grabbing a $130 Tbird 1400, a $90 mobo and a $120 GPU and having a bleeding edge system. Or the good K6-2 days.
    deez, I agree with you that the mobo, OS, cooling, HD, case, sound, KB-mouse is unchanged. But I have to agree with Ed that there is a bit of sticker shock from the rest.

    For starters, since the A64 came out AMD has been charging a lot more for their midrange cpu. It used to be that the sweet spot for overclockable cpu's was $60-130. Now it is closer to $200. Current RAM prices aren't nearly as bad as they have been in the past, but they aren't as good either. The killer, though, is the vid card. The agp-pcie switch necessitates a video upgrade and prices are sky-high. 3 years ago overclocking the $150 card was realistic, but these days any card under $350 has been intentionally crippled beyond what overclocking can fix (pipelines disabled, or memory bus cut).

    The point Ed was trying to make was that we are finally coming to a time when he can recommend an upgrade. However, the current prices are much higher than previous times he has given the green light. They aren't that far out of whack compared to other times (when an upgrade was not recommended), but given how long most of us have been waiting for this upgrade window, they are up there.
    Ok am I missing something here because all these prices seem the same as prices have been for years for equivalent hardware.

    Medium range CPU = $200 (I paid at least this much for Athlon classic, P3 etc..)

    Good Motherboard = $130 (good boards have always cost $100+)

    1Gb high end RAM = $220 ($110 per 512 stick...SDRAM used to cost this much)

    Video Card =$250/350 (ok still no surprises yet for the cards mentioned but what about overclocking a $150-200 card like most ppl here do)

    XP Pro 64 bit = $150 (if you previously bought XP pro you can upgrade to 64bit free otherwise same price)

    CPU cooling = $40 aircooled (standard)

    Hard drive = $115 (drives are faster + more space for same price as before)

    Case + high end Power Supply = $150 (still no surprises)

    Sound = $170 (a bit steep for just soundcard + speakers but if you include headphones $170 is about right)

    KB+mouse = $50 (or more still nothing new)
    yea i'm spending thousands (around 3-4k, for a college kid thats a lot of $$) on my next system and it will be outdated in 6 months. Seriously, the computer bug is worst than being addicted to crack.
    I agree that the price is way too high now. This really hurts kids like me(15-18) without real jobs. We can't build a really high end system. But I guess thats what ocing is for. Still its makes me kinda angy.
    I'm in the catagory of people that are really interested in this article. I'm planning a major upgrade to both my machine and my wife's machine. It will probably happen in Aug. or Sept. Here's how I have it figured:

    CPU:

    Since I'm shooting for a few months down the road, hopefully one of these chips emerges as the overclocker's choice. By that time there should be some serious headroom in the 3200 and/or 3000 (venice). Hopefully prices will drop too. Lets say 2*$150.

    Memory:

    This is probably a good place to save some bucks. A gig of 3200 can be a cheap as $100 but that stuff probably has zero headroom. On the other hand 4000 is more than twice as expensive. Somewhere out there is some 3200 that isn't being sold as premium chips, yet still has some headroom. Also, memory prices are notoriously volatile. I'll cross my fingers and hope I can get 4*512 of 3200 with some headroom for $300. (Looking for suggestions here.)

    Video:

    Ed is right that this is nearly the dealbreaker. Fortunately I only have to get one card and my wife will inherit my Radeon 8500. The x800xl is currently the frontrunner and I don't expect that to change in the next few months (anybody know when the next generation of vidcards is supposed to show up?) But, I am hoping the XL drops to about $250.

    Mobo:

    So I need a pcie board for me and an agp board for the W. Lets say $250.

    That puts me at $1100 plus tax. I'd feel a lot better if I could get it under 1k, but I'm not sure how realistic that is.
    I do feel like its getting more and more expensive to do high end these days.

    Consider what a very high end system might be 2-3 years ago:

    xp1700 dlt3c- $50 (oced just as well as the highest end procs of the day)

    Prometia Mach I- $500 (oc the 1700 to 2.8-3ghz)

    Radeon 9700pro- $300- that was as good as it got- no sli.

    80gb hard drive $125

    1gb pc3200- $200

    nf7-s= $80

    - This system would have owned any stock components out there at the time. Now, being faster than any stock components out there will run you over 1k for vid cards alone!