If you are following our reviews, you know that as we are approaching the holiday sales season, we decided a massive comparative testing of all currently available processor might come in very handy. The first article talking about the obtained results was posted a few days ago and discussed sub-$100 CPUs, i.e. the processors from the Value market segment. And as our tests showed, despite the existing stereotypes, inexpensive processors can perform at a very decent level and in most cases can become a good basis for a contemporary platform. A system with an inexpensive CPU inside can undoubtedly deliver sufficient performance for the majority of popular home and office applications and can even become a good entry-level gaming system.
However, if you are going to use your computer for more resource-hungry tasks, like audio and video processing, scientific calculations or image rendering in CAD systems, the computational capacity of a Value CPU may be insufficient. Gaming fans who are following the gaming market carefully and care for high-quality 3D experience, should also consider buying a more expensive processor. Our second article is aimed at these particular users and it is going to talk about mainstream processors, which price starts at $100.
As for the maximum price in the mainstream segment, it is usually very easy to set. Both leading CPU makers believe that the mainstream segment currently ends at $200 and we agree with them. It is a known fact that as the processor price increases, their price-to-performance ratio becomes considerably smaller. For example, value processors offer about 1.5 times higher return on investment than mainstream CPUs priced between $100 and $200. As soon as you pass the $200 bar the price-to-performance ration drops dramatically, so while the prices on the tags increase rapidly, the performance improvement you get as a result of additional financial investment turns out not as noticeable as it was before. This is exactly why the $100-$200 price range is considered mainstream – the CPUs in this price range are selling at quite acceptable price, which is totally justified by their performance.
And don’t think that we cut off the mainstream price segment at a very low maximum. This is the reality: price wars between AMD and Intel that have been going on for a few years now result in lower CPU costs. And the only winner in this war is definitely the consumer: not only quad-core, but also six-core processors working at rather high clock speeds in contemporary platforms are currently available within the affordable $200 price range. Therefore, CPUs priced between $100 and $200 are currently one of the most popular choices when it comes to building a universal home PC. And AMD as well as Intel offer so many different processor models within this segment, that we will be discussing as many as nineteen CPUs within our today’s article.