The Pentium, Intel’s old premium brand, is now a little brother to the Core 2 Duo, and a new dual-core Celeron provides parallel processing on an even leaner budget.
These processors are all based on the same 65nm Allendale core used in low-end Core 2 Duo processors, with the same thermal design power of 65W.
However, they’re some way behind the Core 2 Duo in terms of performance. That’s partly down to low clock speeds, but another factor is L2 cache: the Celeron is hobbled with just 512KB, and even the Pentium’s 1MB looks inadequate next to the 6MB caches enjoyed by some Core 2 Duos.
But don’t write off these slower parts. The Celeron and Pentium Dual-Core are perfectly powerful enough for office and internet applications, and partnered with a suitable graphics card the faster Pentiums could even make a decent fist of 3D gaming. Compared with the low-end Core 2 Duos, they’re a tempting value proposition.
Of course, there’s no avoiding the fact that comparable Athlon and Sempron processors come in at similar – sometimes slightly lower – prices.
And AMD’s chips all support hardware virtualisation, while Intel disables it on all but the top-end Pentium.
But given the convenience of the wider availability of Socket 775 motherboards, not to mention the scope for future upgrades, a Pentium or Celeron Dual-Core could still be a smart choice.