Can Intel Celeron, Pentium laptops still perform at par today?

We ask the experts!

A viral Facebook post has been making the rounds lately, calling for non-use or purchase of Intel Celeron and Pentium laptops due to being “sluggish”. Is it really the case? Welcome to WalasTech’s Myth Busters, where we try to further challenge or justify viral posts and long-standing tech myths with the help of our industry partners and experts alike.

The Myth

The viral post in question comes from a local computer repair shop called EXE Tech Solutions, which called for its fans to not purchase any laptops with Celeron and Pentium laptops with up to 4GB RAM configurations — even if they are brand new. “Intel Celeron & Pentium are the least powerful processors around,” their post says.

“Ano ba ang mangyayari kapag mahina ang processor ng isang computer unit? Wala lang naman. Wala lang naman s’yang magagawa sa multi-tasking. They tend to perform poorly along with other hardware parts. Hindi n’ya kakayaning maghandle ng maraming processes, at hindi din s’ya pasok sa mga minimum requirements ng maraming mga Applications na maaari mong kailanganin.” the post said.

The Truth

While it may be true that Celerons and Pentiums are at the bottom ranks of powerful processors, they do not warrant as high as a non-purchase as they can still perform light to moderate functions. We spoke to Nikko James Reducto, Consumer Trade Product Marketer for ASUS Philippines, to shed some light on this.

“Intel Celerons are mobile-based processors with a focus on mobility and power-efficiency rather than performance. These are found on entry-level laptops, and while performance isn’t exactly their strong suit, these processors can be used for basic office and schoolwork, such as Office applications and the occasional video conferencing (whether for study or work). Laptops in this category often come with 2GB RAM, but that should more than suffice if you aren’t doing any heavy multitasking.

Pentiums, on the other hand, while still focusing on mobility, have a significant performance increase compared to the Celerons, and sits between them and the Core i3. Laptops with these processors are a little bit more expensive but usually offer more flexibility as they often have more RAM (usually 4GB) and you can even spot some models with an SSD boot drive alongside the HDD. As such they are often powerful enough to run non-intensive work applications with relative ease.”

The root for the dislike on lower-tier processors somewhat arrived a few years ago, when Intel launched Atom SoCs specifically for netbooks and Celerons had the reputation of being, you know, really slow. Celeron and Pentium processors have also improved their performance since that time, and some benchmarks are noting that a Pentium Gold chip of this generation is already equivalent to a performance of a 7th-generation Core i3, which isn’t really that bad.

Intel Philippines’ GP Padit also adds to earlier statements with notes on key performance with these chips nowadays. “Celeron and Pentium chips now support ddr4 memory for faster multi tasking, and web performance is not far compared to Core i-series CPUs. Besides, new laptops nowadays are now issued with 4GB of RAM,” he added.

The Bottomline

The thing is, laptops with Celeron or Pentium cores are still OK to use. Your actions, though, can be limited by the measly RAM configuration or other factors, but that doesn’t stop you from actually doing work with it. We can still recommend to buy it, provided you only need it for mobility and for light to moderate tasks like simple web browsing and office work.

Now, here are some tips. The first thing you should do when you want to improve your Celeron or Pentium’s laptop performance? Aside from doing a full reset to refresh the internals, we recommend a drive replacement to an SSD.

“While the processors are usually the ones blamed for slow performance, one should also look at the other components that can contribute to slowdowns – particularly, the HDD. Entry- (and even mid-) level laptops usually come with a 5400RPM HDD, and this can definitely limit the performance of any laptop. If you are looking to improve the performance of your entry-level laptop, you should definitely consider upgrading to at least an SSD. It’s been well documented over the years that SSDs significantly improve the responsiveness of the OS and loading time of applications due to high random read/write speeds compared to an HDD,” says Nikko.

The operating system used should also be taken into account. Windows 10 requires a heavier requirement (at least 1GB for a 32-bit version and at least 2GB for a 64-bit system), and some services do take up some space. If you have the expertise of replacing your laptop’s OS, you may want to try installing Linux-based distros such as Lubuntu or ZorinOS Lite. That is, if you actually have the technical know-how, otherwise you may want to ask your friendly tech expert to do that for you.

If you need to use a laptop for gaming or more multitasking power, that’s where we advise you to consider leveling up to pricier laptops instead.

And that wraps this up. Do you have any further questions? Let us know down the comments section!

Carl writes for WalasTech when he's not working full-time. Give him tips and/or leads at [email protected].