One of the major goals of our today’s roundup was to show that even the cheapest processors may be a good choice for a desktop platform. I believe this goal has been accomplished successfully: our tests showed that computers built around low-cost integrated platforms proved quite capable of coping with the majority of tasks typical of home and office computer systems. Moreover, I would like to specifically point out that platforms like that offer not only attractive price-to-performance combination, but also boast a number of other useful features: low power consumption, compact size, low noise, etc.
In this respect home users should consider it especially pleasing that contemporary graphics processors have been successfully adapted for “heavy” computational tasks. As you can clearly see, a lot of algorithms dealing with HD video playback and transcoding may be taken over by the GPU and integrated chipsets in particular. As a result, systems built around value processors can be used in a much broader range of tasks. In other words, if you are not a dedicated gamer and do not need a high-performance system for some specific tasks, such as media content creation and processing, then CPUs priced around $50 may become a pretty good option for your needs.
Therefore, public interest in Intel Celeron, AMD Sempron and junior AMD Athlon II X2 and Intel Pentium solutions keeps growing. And today these processors are considered not only by those who buy large quantities of office computers or have very limited budget. But which particular CPU models could we recommend to these economical users?
First, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that although single-core processors are still available in the today’s market, they have become almost completely out of date. Dual-core value CPUs cost only a few dollars more, but boast significantly higher performance in most applications. Second, our tests showed that newer low-end CPUs are always better than the previous generation mainstream ones that sued to be hits back in the days. Therefore, we believe that Intel Celeron E3300 and AMD Athlon II X2 215 would be the best options for an inexpensive computer system. But it is important to remember that these particular models have limited amount of cache memory, which may have a serious effect on performance in games and office applications. Therefore, if your system will be used for resource-consuming tasks like that, then you would be better off checking out a little more expensive AMD Athlon II X2 240 and Intel Pentium E5200.
As for the manufacturer choice, I wouldn’t dare give any definite recommendation at this point, because the chipset and mainboard preferences matter a lot in this case. Platforms on AMD components have higher graphics performance and are more eagerly supported by multimedia software developers. Solutions built with Intel CPUs and chipsets have a completely different advantage: they are considerably more energy-efficient.