Intel Celeron vs. Pentium CPU Processor: Test

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Which CPU Processor Is Better: Intel Celeron vs. Pentium

In this article we are taking a detailed look at selected Intel processors. It’s not the already tested top models based on Skylake or Broadwell-E that deserve attention, but the respective bestsellers with Skylake in the price range from 35 to 190 Dollars, which have not been considered in the public eye so far.

Each Processor is a bestseller in its respective price segment

In the Core i5 category, this is the Core i5-6500 model as a medium quad-core solution without hyper-threading, the Core i3-6100 as the cheapest dual-core with four threads is below that. The Pentium G4400 for an even lower price is the first model with only two cores and without hyper-threading, the entry model Celeron G3900 is the cheapest processor based on Skylake.

This test as basis for Bristol Ridge

This test also forms the basis for comparison with the APUs based on AMD Bristol Ridge for end customers that are expected soon and that are currently only available to OEMs for use in complete PCs.

Core i5-6500, Core i3-6100, Pentium G4400 and Celeron G3900

Kaby Lake for the desktop is no longer available since end of 2019, although the presentation for notebooks was already in August 2019. The entire “Holiday Season”, as the important sales period before Christmas in the USA is called, must therefore continue to be shouldered by the Skylake architecture.

Entry and mid-range CPUs with Skylake in test

ModelCores /
Threads
CPU-rate/
max. turbo
L3-CacheGraphicsmax.
Graphics rate
PowerPrice
Core i5-65004 / 43,2 / 3,6 GHz6 MBHD 5301.050 MHz65 W$200
Core i3-61002 / 43,7 / – GHz3 MBHD 5301.050 MHz51 W$115
Pentium G44002 / 23,3 / – GHz3 MBHD 5101.000 MHz54 W$60
Celeron G39002 / 22,8 / – GHz2 MBHD 510950 MHz51 W$40

Every model has its strengths and weaknesses

Although all four test candidates are based on the Skylake architecture, there are differences based on the price segment. None of the models offers the complete feature set, which is only available on the Core i7 desktop. The Core i5, for example, lacks hyper-threading, but is the only one that offers TSX and vPro support. The Core i3 doesn’t use it also, but can tease out a bit more performance from the only two instead of four cores with the help of Hyper-Threading. It also doesn’t offer a turbo with a higher clock rate.

No AVX 2.0 for Pentium and Celeron

Starting with the Pentium, the limitations become bigger: Hyper-Threading and the instructions after AVX 2.0 are dropped. In addition, the graphics solution is halved in terms of execution units, HD 530 becomes HD 510, and the Celeron also lowers the clock rate significantly and shrinks the L3 cache to two thirds – so the affordable entry from 34 Dollars is realized. Intel’s in-house database ARK offers the exact differences between the four models.

CPU Processor intel i5

It’s interesting to look at the bottom of the CPUs: The Pentium looks like the Core i5, whereas Celeron and Core i3 are identical. This suggests that there is a partially defective quad-core die hidden in the Pentium, which can still be sold in stores.

Intel Pentium vs. Celeron Benchmarks

Depending on the game and requirements, even the integrated Intel graphics can be used for Full HD with high details. But at the latest in the reduction of details and the renunciation of quality-enhancing means, it will also be possible to play with the Intel graphics solution apart from AAA titles without problems from the year 2016. AMD’s integrated solution is usually still ahead of Intel, though.

Note: In comparison to last year’s Core i5-6500 test, the Core i5-6500 gains in some benchmarks in the new edition. The reason for this was a slightly faulty pre-version of a BIOS, whereby the turbo doesn’t always respond as expected. The previous results are therefore invalid.

Visual comparison of Pentium vs. Celeron

Overall Result: Celeron vs. Pentium

At the end of the overall ranking, the Celeron G3900 makes a big leap over one of its Haswell generation predecessors. This is due to two major innovations: In addition to AES support, the current generation Celeron for the first time addresses the maximum possible memory clock, which means that DDR4-2133 is now able to compete with old DDR3-1333 – an increase of over 50 percent in bandwidth.

Celeron and Pentium benefit from AES

AES support also has a massive impact in some benchmarks, including TrueCrypt. The Pentium G4400, which previously had to manage without these instructions, also benefits there. If the rating is re-rated via the “Edit” button without TrueCrypt and POV-ray, the lead of both CPUs shrinks considerably compared to their predecessors.

The Core i3-6100 also makes a big leap compared to one of its Haswell predecessors, which is due to the new Skylake architecture in combination with 200 additional MHz and DDR4-2133. Overall, the 115 Dollar processor is today as fast as a 200 Dollar Core i5-2500K processor from 2011.

The Core i5-6500 delivers a solid performance, it settles in the upper midfield. Four cores often help, but the somewhat low clock rate sometimes slows the model down slightly. Among other reasons, the Core i5-6400 with a once again significantly lower clock rate shouldn’t be taken into account when buying, less than 3 GHz isn’t up-to-date nowadays.

Applications: Windows

Widows CPU Pentium Celeron

In applications all CPUs show the known behavior: Software that benefits from multiple threads is located in appropriately equipped models. But there are also cases where single-core performance is required. With only two cores at 2.8 GHz, the Celeron doesn’t stand a chance in either scenario, though. The Pentium profits from its 500 MHz more, but only with the Core i3 and four threads at a high clock rate can a real leap be seen.

Applications: Linux

Under Linux the outliers are not so extreme, but the average of the Windows benchmarks or the overall rating is also hit in these tests. Overall, however, the new models are not as far ahead of their predecessors.

Gaming: Pentium vs. Celeron

Testing Gaming in Full HD

Paired with a strong graphics card, you can still play with many small processors. But the performance wasted under the Core i3 is so great that the combination doesn’t make sense anymore. In return, the Core i5-6500 with four cores is often sufficiently strong. Total War: Attila is an exception among the tested games, in which the smaller four-core processor is already noticeably behind the models with a significantly higher TDP, eight threads or more than four physical cores.

Testing Gaming in 720p

In lower resolution with more focus on the CPU than the graphics card, slightly larger differences become apparent. They aren’t alarming, though, but differences in Call of Duty, Total War: Attila remains on the edge of unplayability on the small models.

Multitasking Tests: Intel Pentium vs. Celeron

In the first scenario of the multitasking tests, the game The Witcher 3 runs while the packer program WinRAR packs files on the side. In the second test WinRAR does its job beside Cinebench R15. In the end the results were compared.

Small CPUs with two threads and a low clock rate are clearly at a disadvantage in multitasking. When packing and Witcher 3 simultaneously, the game on Celeron and Pentium jerks considerably, sometimes it even stops for fractions of seconds. Gaming fun only comes up with a Core i3.

There are no less interesting results in the combined multi-core test with Cinebench R15 and WinRAR. The CPUs with two cores/threads are also clearly on the losing side here, the performance in Cinebench with parallel use of WinRAR collapses massively, the progress bar almost comes to a standstill in the meantime. WinRAR, on the other hand, hardly needs more time to pack, everything only takes a few seconds longer there. An exception is the Celeron: Here WinRAR becomes a torture, too.

Best Bang for the Buck: Pentium vs. Celeron

In the price-performance ratio, the rating of Windows and the games in full HD resolution is consulted. The prices should be available at the time of determination, with the proviso that it is not an unknown shop.

AMD’s processors have always been named as the price-performance winners, and this is still true today in many areas. But Intel’s entry-level models are struggling hard in this regard, because the basic performance delivered by a Celeron or Pentium is very high compared to the extra cost for additional performance. And this basic performance already starts at less than 35 Dollar including the graphics unit, which is only rudimentary, but does not cause any problems for simple office operation under Windows and Linux.

It gets interesting in the Core i3 class, because AMD’s FX-6300 as well as the newer Athlon X4 880K can still hold their own there – with the respective bonus of the freely selectable multiplier.

Conclusion: Celeron vs. Pentium

“You get what you pay for”, a bargain generally valid for all users, is not found among the tested processors. If you know what you need, you can still save a lot of money compared to the grip of the certainly faster and therefore much more expensive CPU.

Better Pentium than Celeron

Despite the leap in performance compared to the predecessor with Haswell, users should reconsider the Celeron G3900. For not even 15 Dollars extra, the Pentium G4400 offers 500 megahertz more and that makes a difference. For new and demanding games, the two CPUs with only two cores and without Hyper-Threading are however just as unsuitable as for applications using AVX 2.0 – but this does not affect the normal use case under Windows or Linux.

The Core i3 can run AVX 2.0

The Core i3 costs at least twice as much as the Pentium. Its four threads and AVX 2.0 help in some applications to place themselves well ahead of the Pentium, paired with the high clock speed this often provides very high CPU performance. For multi-tasking with demanding applications under Windows or software with AVX 2.0 support, this CPU is therefore once again the better choice, but gamers should still keep their distance.

The Core i5-6500 as an entry point for gamers

The Core i5-6500 has almost reached 190 Dollars after the constant price slide. The second slowest processor costs 20 Dollars more than the slowest model with four cores, the Core i5-6400, but always clocks 200 to 300 MHz higher. The choice between these two models is therefore easy and those who play will find a very powerful CPU in the Core i5-6500.

From 225 Dollars, the Core i5-6600K offers another 300 MHz and the option of up to 4.5 GHz and more (with the appropriate cooling solution), as this model has a freely definable multiplier. The last CPU generations since Sandy Bridge have shown that the K-models prove to be extremely durable and even with only slight overclocking, the purchase of a new processor can quickly be delayed for one, two or even three years.


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