Naming conventions used for processors is one of the most frustrating things to interpret. It is unclear whether this is done intentionally to confuse the customers or whether the decision makers are just too lousy at naming their stuff.
Unfortunately for us, the names on surface mean nothing and they tell us nothing about the speed of the processors or their performance quality.
The most confusing of them all is to figure out the difference between Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium processors.
Essentially, all three are entry level processors. They are budget friendly and are featured in affordable low end systems. The question is, why does Intel need three different lines of processors for budget range?
Nobody truly knows that since Intel can pick up or drop a series on a whim.
Take Intel Core 2 processors. They were phased out and replaced by the Core “i” series. In all honesty, this was a good move since Core 2 had some of the worst naming ever i.e Core 2 Duo. Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Quad Extreme etc.
Anyhow, let us look at the three budget Intel Processors Series and see if we can deduce their differences.
Differences Between Intel Atom Vs Celeron Vs Pentium Processors
1. Intel Atom
If we were to rank the three processors, Intel Atom would be on the bottom.
Intel Atom processors were developed with the intention of providing ultra low voltage solutions for integrated systems like smartphones and other such devices.
When it comes to laptops. They were initially used on the now defunct netbooks. Netbooks were the precursors to the significantly more powerful ultrabooks of today in terms of form factor. Back in the day, netbooks were the slimmest and the smallest laptops that you could easily carry around.
Unfortunately, as far as the smartphone and embedded systems are concerned, the Intel Atom processor have almost been phased out. Intel failed at putting a dent in the mobile devices market let alone capture it. Their competitors, like the Qualcomm, reign supreme in the market.
The latest Intel Atom processors followed a similar naming standard as the Intel Core “i” series. They used the “x” prefix instead. They are as follows:
The future of Atom processors is unclear. However, there is a strong possibility that they will be seen on Hybrid solutions like convertible laptops. Perhaps they will be phased out entirely.
2. Intel Celeron
Intel Celerons are the true entry level processors for budget laptops as we know them. They have a lower TDP compared to Pentium and Core series processors and also cost the lowest. Lower TDP entails lower heat emission and also a longer battery life.
These processors are great for trivial tasks like word processing, researching etc. Since they consume less power, they are also fairly efficient on the battery life.
In order to understand Celeron processors better, you need to understand the prefixes.
Celeron processors either have N, J, or G prefix. Generally, the difference lies in their TDP and clock speed. The lower the Thermal Design Power (TDP), the slower would be the clock speed since clock speed requires power.
Here is a simple run down with the latest processors in the series:
Note that all of the facts and figures below have been extracted from http://cpu.userbenchmark.com.
Intel Celeron N
Example: N4000. This is a MOBILE-based Dual Core processor. It has a TDP of 6W and a base block speed of 1.1 GHz. This is an entry level processor that is very power efficient but extremely weak in performance.
When comparing to the processors in the entry level market, this is usually used as the minimum standard or the zero point.
Example: Intel Celeron N4100: This is a much more powerful MOBILE-based Celeron processor that offers 4 cores with 1.1 GHz base speed and 6 W TDP.
Whenever possible, you should actively look out for this processor for your budget laptop.
The N4100 is 41% more powerful than the Dual Core Intel Celeron N4000 mentioned above.
Intel Celeron J
Example: Intel Celeron J4005. This is a DESKTOP-based processor with a base clock speed of 2 GHz and TDP of 10 W. If you are building a low level desktop PC, you can look into this processor.
Intel Celeron G
Example: Intel Celeron G4900. This is a DESKTOP-based high performance (relatively) Celeron processor that is 55% more powerful than the Celeron J4005. It is suitable for somewhat heavy duty tasks and even for gaming. This is a dual core processor with 3.1 GHz base frequency and 54W TDP.
Compared to N4000 (The basic Celeron processor for laptops), it is 63% more powerful.
Intel Atom Vs Celeron Summary
The difference between Intel Atom and Intel Celeron is simple. The former is built for low powered ultra budget systems that are extremely mobile like tablets, whereas, Celeron is built for entry level laptops and desktops.
3. Intel Pentium
There was a time when there was a clear distinction between Intel Pentium Processors and Intel Celeron processors in terms of Performance. These days, that difference is getting blurred.
Also to confuse you further. Intel Pentium has 5 different designations i.e prefix/suffixes. N, G, J, Y and U. If that wasn’t enough, there are the Pentium GOLD and then the Pentium SILVER processors that you can study more about (but don’t worry about the colors much, they don’t mean much unless you want to study the architectures.)
Let us look at these a bit in depth.
Intel Pentium Silver N:
Example: Intel Pentium N5000. This is a MOBILE-based processor that lies in between Intel Core i3 and Intel Celeron in terms of performance.
Compared to Intel Celeron N: This is 56% more powerful than Intel Celeron N4000 and 11% more powerful than Intel Celeron N4100.
As far as the entry level processors go for laptops, this is the best that you can get for laptops. Of course, laptops featuring Intel Pentium N5000 are more expensive than the ones featuring Intel Celeron N4100.
Intel Pentium Gold G:
Example: Intel Pentium G5600. This is a high end dual core DESKTOP-based dual core processor with a TDP of 54 W and 3.9 GHz per core.
As it stands, this is one of the most powerful Intel Pentium processors that you can get and you will certainly not regret it. This can even work for a budget gaming PC.
Compared to Intel Celeron G: This is 53% more powerful
Intel Pentium Silver J:
Example: Intel Pentium J5005. This is a processor for low powered entry level DESKTOPS that consume less power. If you are building a simple system for simple tasks like word processing or researching on the internet, then this quad core processor should suffice.
Compared to Intel Celeron J: This is 64% more powerful.
Intel Pentium Gold Y:
Example: Intel Pentium 4415Y. This processor is a MOBILE – Based processor. It is not just the weakest Pentium processor but also one of the weakest Intel processors overall. In fact, it is even weaker than the Intel Celeron N4000.
The Intel Celeron N4000 is 4% more powerful than this Pentium processor. I am sure you are confused. How can a Pentium processor be slower than a Celeron processor? Well, unfortunately we can’t do anything about it. Intel has the monopoly on how it wants to name its processors.
This processor is basically built for tablets and power efficient hybrid and small laptops. The most famous one being the Microsoft Surface Go. Basically, this processor seems to pick where the Intel Atom processors failed.
Intel Pentium Gold U:
Example: Intel Pentium 4415U. This is yet another low powered low performance processor for MOBILE-based devices and is basically being featured in low end Ultrabooks.
In comparison to Intel Celeron N processors, this is exactly the same as Intel Celeron N4100 in terms of performance. This also means that it is 41% more powerful than the Intel Celeron N4000 processor. Don’t ask me why Intel choose to have two different processors that perform the same.
Intel Pentium Silver vs Gold
If you aren’t confused much already, it is worth looking into the difference between Pentium Gold and Pentium Silver processors.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.