CPU Evaluation (January, 2001)
Date: January, 2001
I have some questions about processors. I think that Pentium class
processors are best... I'm thinking Pentium3 is the best, followed by Pentium
2, and Pentium. However, where does the Athalon (I don't think I spelled
that right...) and Celeron come in? Is the Athalon better than Pentium3? Is
the Celeron better than Pentium 2 but worse than Pentium 3? ::confused::
Also, If I were to buy a Computer with a...for example, 700MgHertz Celeron
processor, would CD-ROMs that have requirements such as "Pentium" work with
Yes, my family is looking for a new computer... and I'm trying to explain
stuff to my mom... and yet I don't completely understand it myself. I would
appreciate any explanations you can offer! :)
The processor is where all the calculations in the computer take place, so
it is a really important part in determining how fast your computer will
There are some other factors to consider, and the next most important factor
is the amount of memory or RAM that you have.
Also, you have to consider what you will be doing with your computer. If
you mainly want to use a modem to surf the internet, the modem is going to
be so slow, it won't matter if you have a fast processor and lots of memory.
If you want to do a lot of papers and applications, you will need more
memory, but the processor won't have to be the fastest. If you want to play
all the latest games, you will want both a fast processor, lots of memory,
and a really good 3D graphics card.
That said, here is how the processors compare:
Intel processors are Pentium class processors, these include the:
2. Pentium Pro
3. Pentium II
5. Pentium III
6. Pentium 4
In addition, each processor is available in a variety of speeds, usually
given as Mhz. So you will see something like Pentium III 733Mhz processor
listed. The Pentium III is the type of processor, and the 733mhz is the
particular speed that processor will work at.
I have listed these processors in order from slowest to fastest, with the
exception of the Pentium III and Pentium 4, I'll explain that in a bit. To
continue, if you were to compare a Celeron 600mhz processor to a Pentium III
600 mhz processor, the Pentium III would be slightly faster. In addition,
the later processors run at higher speeds, making them even faster. For
example, the Celeron processor isn't even available in speeds greater than
766Mhz, while the Pentium III goes up to 1.13Ghz (1130Mhz).
Intel has been making the processors that the PC's use since 1984, and they
are the standard processors used in most computers, and generally each new
processor they make is faster than the previous ones.
Finally, a little needs to be said about the Pentium 4. It is Intel's
newest processor, and has only been available for a few weeks. It is faster
than the Pentium III because it runs at 1.40Ghz and 1.50Ghz, which is faster
than the Pentium III. However, if a Pentium III could be made that ran at
1.40Ghz or 1.5Ghz, it would actually run current software faster than the
Pentium 4. New software, however, that is designed for the Pentium 4, will
run faster than current software. So it is a processor that will be best in
a couple of years when new software has been released for it.
Hopefully that sorts out the Intel processors for you. Basically, the
Celeron is slightly slower than the Pentium III.
Now, the Athlon processor is made by a rival company, AMD. They have
basically reverse engineered the Intel processors and tried to make a
processor that operates just like Intel's processors, and then sell them
cheaper than Intel does.
This makes it a little more difficult to compare them to the Pentium
processors. Some things the AMD Athlon actually does faster than a Pentium
III, some things it does a little slower, and some things it can't do at
all, while other things the Intel can't do, the Athlon does do.
The main differences in the things the processors are capable of have to
deal with advanced graphics and math routines. In general software detects
if the features it wants are present, and if they are not, uses a slower
alternative, so software will work in either case, it just may run slower.
Since Intel is the standard, more software will be written to use Intel's
advanced features rather than AMD's, but if some software absolutely
required Intel's features and couldn't work around those features, it
wouldn't work on an Athlon. I haven't heard about that kind of software or
problem in several years, so that all seems to be sorted out.
For most people, this isn't a problem, and unless you are sure it will be a
problem, I wouldn't worry about it too much.
The AMD Athlon, in general compares to the Intel chips quite well. AMD
Athlon chips are designed to compete with the Pentium III chips is price and
performance. You could pretty much just say that if you are looking at a
certain speed Pentium III to look at the price of the same speed Athlon
AMD also makes a Duron processor that is designed to compete with the Intel
Celeron processor, so you could roughly equate the Celeron and Duron
Also, a final word about the Pentium III and Celeron processors. The
Pentium III chips are the processors that Intel has targeted to business and
professionals who need the most computing power, while the Celeron
processors are designed to be less powerful, but cheap enough for people to
buy for their homes.
My advice to those buying a computer is to:
1. First decide how much you can afford.
2. Find the best value for that amount of money.
3. Buy the computer with cash.
4. Don't look at any computer ads for at least a year.
The reasons for this are simple:
1. You can always spend more and get a better computer, and you can always
spend less and get a slower computer, so it is best to decide how much you
want to spend, and then get the best deal for that amount of money.
2. Spending a little extra to get a computer that will last a little while
longer doesn't really work. A computer will last as long as you are willing
to put up with it and no longer. I have computers that are working fine and
will still run most (but not all) of the software written today that are
seven years old. I also have computers I purchased two years ago that won't
run all the newest software.
3. Because computers are getting cheaper every day, you should never buy a
computer on credit. If in six months you need to get rid of the payment,
there will be no way for you to do it. The computer will not be worth the
amount you owe, so you will have a hard time selling it to get rid of the
debt, and the only options you may have may really hurt.
4. Computers will be so much faster in and cheaper in six months that your
computer will be obsolete in the sense that it won't be the best, it might
not run all the latest games or do some other nifty thing. This doesn't
mean you have made a bad decision, it is price we pay for the rapidly
advancing state of technology. So don't worry about the latest and greatest
or anything else, just use your computer for what it can do.
Hope this helps,
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