CPU Buying Guide

Budget lines: Celeron, Sempron and Athlon

Intel Celeron

If your computing needs don't stretch very far, or your wallet is under tight constraints, you may want to consider a more budget-friendly CPU. Both AMD and Intel offer budget processor lines and previously mid-to-high-end CPUs are now at affordable levels, too, which means that plenty of power can be bought for minimal cash outlay. Traditional budget CPUs, such as AMD's Sempron and Intel's Celeron aren't the only options for budget-conscious buyers these days. In fact, while Sempron CPUs are still available, Celeron CPUs are getting harder to find.

The Celeron D 300-series is a cut-down CPU that is suitable for only the most basic of tasks. It's not a dual-core CPU, it has a small amount of Level 2 cache (512KB), a slow front side bus (533MHz), but some can run 64-bit applications (depending on the model number). These are based on the same technology as the Pentium 4

The Celeron 400-sereis CPUs are cut-down versions of CPUs based on the Core micro-architecture. They have an 800MHz front side speed, as well as 512KB of Level 2 cache and they can also process 64-bit instructions. They are single-core CPUs. The Celeron 500-series have a larger, 1MB Level 2 cache, are 64-bit, but have a slower front side bus speed (533MHz).

Found at a similar price point to the Celeron CPUs are the Pentium E2000-series CPUs, which are based on the Pentium D. They are 64-bit CPUs, have an 800MHz front side bus and 1MB of Level 2 cache. They are also dual-core CPUs.

For only slightly more money, however, entry-level Core 2 Duo CPUs offer better value for money. Based on the Core 2 micro-architecture, they offer 2MB of Level 2 cache, an 800MHz front side bus, 64-bit operation and, of course, they are dual-core.

All of these Semprons can fit in motherboards that have an LGA775 CPU socket.

AMD's Sempron, on the other hand, is a 64-bit, single-core CPU with a smaller amount of Level 2 cache than its Celeron counterparts (128KB), but it can be bought for up to $100 less.

However, AMD's Athlon 64 X2 CPUs are much better value. They are dual-core CPUs with 512KB of Level 2 cache, they run very cool and they can be purchased from $100. They are, perhaps, the best value CPUs on the market as far as price versus performance is concerned (at the time of writing) and they will plug into any motherboard that has an AM2 CPU socket.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

PC World Staff

PC World
Show Comments


Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >


Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >


HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >


Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?