Intel regularly tweaks its price list with nary a word to the masses, but the Tech Report caught chipzilla red-handed this time. The site reports that Intel has lowered prices on four desktop and two mobile processors. Looking at the latest price sheet (PDF), Intel cut 15% off its 3.2GHz i3-550, putting it at $117. That's identical to the 3.06GHz i3-540 and only $4 more than the 2.93GHz i3-530 -- the company's cheapest i3 desktop offering.

Processor Clock Cores/Threads Sept. Price Oct. Price
Core i3-550 3.20GHz 2/4 $138 $117
Pentium E6700 3.20GHz 2/2 $86 $75
Pentium E5700 3.00GHz 2/2 $75 $64
Pentium E3400 2.60GHz 2/2 $53 $42
Core i7-640LM 2.13GHz 2/4 $332 $311
Core i7-660UM 1.33GHz 2/4 $317 $289

Meanwhile, the Pentium E6700, E5700 and Celeron E3400 desktop chips are 13%, 15% and 21% cheaper, and the i7-640LM/i7-660UM mobile CPUs cost 6% and 9% less. It's unclear what prompted the drop, but it isn't reflected in consumer retail pricing yet, with the i3-550 still running $149.99 on Newegg. However, as Tech Report notes, if that changes, the i3-550 could nab sales away from the Athlon II x4 640 and other budget AMD chips.