Tuesday, January 13

AMD's Dragon Gaming PC, myth or no myth?

No one likes competition more than I do. I do not believe that Intel would have produced the excellent processors they have over the past five years, if AMD were not competing with them.

AMD's Phenom processor was thumped soundly by Intel's Core 2 series and it's been a while since any PC experts, whether real experts or just experts in their own opinion, have been able to recommend a gaming PC built around anything other than Intel.

The new Core i7 processor benchmarks even better than the Core 2, and computer systems built around the Core i7 are remarkably inexpensive. Check this Dell deal at Costco or this Gateway build at Best Buy. (Disclaimer: These links work at the time of this blog post. I can't promise you they will work tomorrow, or at any other time in the future. In case they stop working, just close your eyes and imagine LOADED computer systems based on the Core i7 for less than $1500!)

However, just when you think it's over, AMD drops the news about their new Phenom II X4 processors. The very early benchmarks (big grain of salt there, please) show this new chip competing very well with the Core i7. Of more interest to me is the news that AMD has their Dragon gaming PC platform, a combo of parts including the Phenom II, motherboards with their 790X chipsets, and ATI 4800 series video cards.

According to this post on Tom's Hardware, AMD claims that a computer with a Phenom II X4 processor, an ATI 4870 1GB video card, a 790GX motherboard, and 4GB of DD2-1066 memory can be found for $900. That, friends, is one hell of a deal.

So I spent all morning looking for it. I searched Google, I checked all the web sites for the usual suspects building gaming PCs (e.g. iBuypower, CyberpowerPC, and so forth), and I found one company offering a computer system identified as an AMD Dragon gaming PC. The Dell XPS 625. Yes, that's right. Dell.

Only when I tried to come anywhere NEAR the specs AMD touted to Tom's Hardware on the Dell site, the price ZOOMED to nearly $2000. And that is most definitely NOT a hell of a deal. In fact, Dell themselves kick that deal's butt with XPS computers using the Core i7.

So what gives here? AMD makes a new processor that, at least early on, seems to move them back into real competition with Intel. Furthermore, they make this new processor the centerpiece for a gaming PC platform that has the geek in me quivering when they describe how a $900 system would be configured.

But is that just wishful thinking on AMD's part? WHO IS BUILDING THIS $900 COMPUTER? AMD's own web site has no information on it, in fact their web site doesn't even show the Phenom II X4 processor in ANY of their Where to Buy links.

I'm challenging AMD and AMD fanboys right now, show me this computer system. The one Tom's Hardware says AMD touted to them. I want to know it exists, because I want to know that competition is alive again, and because I'm in the market for a new gaming PC myself. Show me this PC, and I will make it the subject of an Into Gaming feature (and update this blog post).

Personally, I think AMD's price reflects a few missing parts. Like, say, a hard drive, case, and power supply? Yeah...

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