AMD has quietly reduced prices for a handful of its desktop Phenom II and Athlon II processors this week in an attempt to defend its market share against competition from Intel. The discounts apply mostly to the higher-clocked options in each processor class. For example, those looking to build an affordable quad-core system can now get their hands on the 3.0GHz Athlon II X4 640 for just $100 -- an 18% drop from the previous price of $122.

The Phenom II X4 955 and 965 Black Edition processors are also getting $20 price cuts to $145 and $165, respectively. The latter of these already ranked among the top choices in our recent $100 - $200 CPU round-up, but the new price could certainly help it compete against Intel's well-regarded Core i5 750. Meanwhile, the 3.2GHz Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition has dropped from $105 to $93, the Athlon II X3 445 now costs $76, and a pair of Athlon II X2s also received minor cuts.

AMD's six-core Phenom II X6 CPUs remain unchanged, however. Overall, there isn't much to get excited about, but it's always good to see AMD keeping the pressure on Intel with aggressive pricing on their budget and mainstream parts.