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I've never been clear on what one is sacrificing by getting a cheaper Celeron instead of Pentium Intel CPU. I assume you can't simply compare processing speed.

My understanding is summed up in this quote: *The Celeron processors are based on the same core as more expensive Pentium-branded processors, but usually lack in some features such as L2 cache size and bus speed. * from: http://www.cpu-world.com/info/Intel/Celeron-vs-Pentium.html

So basically, the Celeron and Prentium differ based on: -CPU Clock speed -L2 Cache Size -Bus speed

  1. Is this accurate?
  2. How would you factor in L2 Cache size and bus speed to make an accurate comparison?

EDIT: This will be for an internal file server and printer server primarily. A little bit of light duty cd duplication (running a Primeral Bravo 2 CD Duplicator).

More info: TomsHardware reports that L2 Cache makes a big difference but in his graphs, it seems to make only a small (5% or less) difference (b/t 1 MB and 4 MB L2 Cache)

Integrated L2 cache resulted in considerably improved performance across virtually all applications. The performance impact even is significant enough to say that L2 cache is the most important performance factor on an x86 microprocessor. Disabling the L2 cache will reduce system performance more than disabling a second CPU core of a dual-core processor. from:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cache-size-matter,1709.html

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Are you talking about the old Celeron line or the new "dual core" Celeron releases? –  pcapademic Jun 15 '09 at 5:41
    
Dual Celeron. I'm trying to get an idea of how to compare two Intel CPU's that differ only by one being Duo Core Celeron and the other being just plain "Duo Core", which I assume that means it's Pentium Duo Core. –  Clay Nichols Jun 18 '09 at 1:11

3 Answers 3

There is a description at HowStuffWorks,

The smaller L2 cache size and slower bus speeds can mean serious performance differences depending on what you want to do with your computer. If all you do is check e-mail and browse the Web, the Celeron is fine, and the price difference can save you a lot of money. If you want the fastest machine you can buy, then you need to go with the Pentium 4 to get the highest clock speeds and the fastest system bus.

This implies, if you want processing power the cache, clock speed and bus performance will be important. But for a basic internet machine, Celeron would be a good choice.

More in depth reading at this TomsHardware 2002 article which discusses the Celeron based on P4 architecture.

The low-cost processor now enjoys all the advantages that had previously been reserved for the P4. This includes the same large selection of chipsets and motherboards, and all the technological features - including the fast clock speeds that have proven to boost sales considerably. And the fact that more chips are being produced will also reduce the prices of all the surrounding components.

This article compares the two processors (in 2002) and presents some benchmark results.

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I saw that but it seemed old enough that I wasn't sure how relevent it was today. But I'll take a closer look at it again. –  Clay Nichols Jun 15 '09 at 5:06
    
@Clay, you were comparing with Pentium. Check out the Wikipedia reference for Celeron editions (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celeron) and look for specific comparisons. I think, the basics will remain same. Celeron models will be reduced cost options for low intensity systems. –  nik Jun 15 '09 at 5:19

The big question is...

What exactly do you plan on doing with the processor? In some cases, a Celeron might be all you need... in other cases, the L2 cache is going to offer you better performance.

The Celeron processor was designed to be a low-cost alternative to the Pentium processor. The Celeron is essentially a downgraded Pentium. The smaller L2 cache (depending on what you're doing) typically means slower processing speeds.

Generally speaking, the Pentium 4 is more powerful than the Celeron. Many applications will work just great with a Celeron processor.

Just remember, typically you get what you pay for. Celeron processors are pretty decent quality but are not as good as the Pentium.

That being said, I've seen lots of production servers deployed with Celeron processors.

Once again, depending on what you plan on doing... its a bit of a difficult question to answer. Frankly it depends what you are going to do with pc. For example, if it's for gaming, high quality graphics, or cpu intensive work, then you want the bigger cache (ie. the Pentium). For emailing, surfing the internet or writing an occasional letter, the average user would not see a difference.

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This will be for an internal file server and printer server primarily. A little bit of light duty cd duplication (running a Primeral Bravo 2 CD Duplicator). –  Clay Nichols Jun 15 '09 at 5:04
    
Clay. If that's all you're doing then you should be perfectly fine with a Celeron. –  KPWINC Jun 15 '09 at 5:33

If you compare benchmarks from any site, then the effective desktop difference is gaming performance. The L2 cache is why.

Even the first Core 2 Duos, the 2MB vs 4MB difference affected frame rates. Of course, this assumes you are CPU bound and not GPU bound.

For day to day stuff, it makes little difference.

Note that servers (Xeons, Opterons etc) used to be well ahead of desktops in L2 and L3 cache sizes because of the different loads expected.

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