The Contenders

Since this is a budget roundup, price is a very important factor in decision making. To get an idea of how current pricing is shaping up, here are the prices of these processors at the time of publishing, sorted from the most expensive to the least (pulled from our DealTime engine).

 Processor  Price
Intel Pentium 4 1.8A $120
AMD Athlon XP 2600+ (2083MHz) $88
AMD Athlon XP (Barton) 2500+ (1833MHz) $86
Intel Celeron 2.6GHz $85
AMD Athlon XP 2400+ (2000MHz) $68
Intel Celeron 2.4GHz $68
Intel Celeron 2.2GHz $67
Intel Celeron 2.0GHz $65
AMD Athlon XP 2200+ (1800MHz) $63
AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1466MHz) $56
AMD Duron 1.6GHz $41

The prices fall where we would expect. Intel processors are priced near AMD CPUs with similar model numbers. That makes a price–to-performance comparison fairly simple, as the only factor we really need to consider is performance.

The Athlon XP processor has been in the spotlight for quite some time. Over the years, what used to be high end processors are given new life as budget products. The technology behind the Athlon XP and Pentium 4 1.8A are very well documented, so we'll spend some time speaking about the other players in this review.

Intel Celeron

The main difference between a Pentium 4 processor and a Celeron is cache (high speed memory on the processor core) size. The Celeron takes a cut in L2 cache from 512KB down to 128KB. The L1 cache in the Celeron remains unchanged from that of its big brother. Cutting down the L2 cache's size will increase cache misses (number of times when the information that the processor needs is not located in the cache), which will slow down the processor while it has to wait for its data.

The Celeron processors are also limited to a 400MHz system bus, which, in turn, limits RAM speeds on the system to 133MHz (DDR266) when used on 865 or 875 based motherboards. Aside from these, the only other difference between Celeron and Pentium 4 is that none of the Celerons offer HyperThreading.

Celeron processors are available in many speed grades between 1.7GHz and 2.8GHz. For this comparison, the fastest Celeron under our $100 price point runs at 2.6GHz.

AMD Duron

Like the Celeron, the Duron is basically a stripped down version of a mainstream processor. In this case, we drop to a 64KB L2 cache. The L1 cache on the Duron remains at 128KB, giving the AMD budget line a larger overall cache than the Celeron. The Duron also operates on a 133MHz FSB, and there isn't a limit on RAM speed as there is with the Celeron line when used on any Socket-A platform.

The Duron processor is currently only available in three speed grades: 1.4GHz, 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz. For this review, we tested with the 1.6GHz model.

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  • arejerjejjerjre - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    The celeron test i mentioned earlier was done with far worse system than i posses now so something is defienetly wrong with anandtechs benchmarking method or how they are reported!!

    They seem to have "lost" some points in making the articles!
  • arejerjejjerjre - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    Most of amd processors have been flukes i dont think they can make anything else!! Like the thouroughbred!! There was a significant amount of processors wich suddenly just died!

    When you clone enough you get these kind of flukes :) LOL FOR AMD!!!!!!1
  • arejerjejjerjre - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    Amds cpu really suck they dont work correctly and the life span is quite sort if you have a amd cpu dont be surprised if someday your computer wont start! ITS JUST AMD QUALITY!!!!!
  • arejerjejjerjre - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    cheater site doesnt even work correctly!
  • arejerjejjerjre - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    How the hell is that even possible to get 150 fps in quake 3 and with 640x480 ??????
    Anandtech sure knows how to cheat in benchmarks!!

    I got sometime ago a Celeron 2ghz and TI4200 and I scored 170 fps with 1024 resolution!!!!!!!(Every other option to the best grahics mode!)
    so how is it possible that they could get such bad results??!!!(AND they even had a RADEON 9800!!!) CHEATERS!!! Trying to mock Intel!!

    Now my system is Abit IC7-G,P4 2.4C (800fsb),TI4800(Gainward as was my TI4200),Kingston hyperx 3000(370mhz@400mhz),maxtor sata 120gt in INTEL RAID(It is the fastest no doubt about it!)
    and of course the greatest device of all time 56k modem!! :)

    now with that machine I score about 305 fps(it varys in range of 300-310) in quake 3 with 1024x768 and other options to best graphics!
  • DrFreeze - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    Great Article!

    I would LOVE to see you add in another lesser known cheap CPU alternative though. It is the $20 Slot-T CPU Upgrade Adapter with a $37 Intel Celeron 1.4GHz 100MHz 256K CPU OEM. It is only running 1.4GHz but yet it is built on the PIII core so it is not hurt as much as the PIV is by branch mispredicts. It might be surprising at how well it performs, and then again, it is only using SDRAM so it might not be. =)

    Dr. Ffreeze

    $20 Slot-T CPU Upgrade Adapter

    $37 Intel Celeron 1.4GHz 100MHz 256K CPU
  • BlackShrike - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    We can at least conclude one thing. Anyone who bought the AMD 2500+ got an awesome CPU, whether you overcloacked it or not, it has the performance of a INTEL 2.4 B, but the price of sub $90. And you know, with the extra money you saved, you can get a radeon 9700 Pro or 9800 Pro instead of a radeon 9600 pro or gefroce 5700 Ultra. For once I think I can say this definitively, THE IMPLICATIONS ARE CLEAR AMD ROCKS THE MID TO CHEAP MARKET ANYWAY YOU LOOK AT IT.

    Thank you, I just had to say that.
  • DerekWilson - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    to update what I just mentioned, that prescott number would have been a little higher if we had had the 1.02 patch for halo at that point (it removed needless memory usage checks in the timedemo mode).
  • skiboysteve - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link

    35 just got dick slaped

    go derek

    die 35
  • DerekWilson - Friday, December 5, 2003 - link


    We wanted to test the upper limit of performance on these processors, so we eliminated as many other bottlenecks in the system as possible.

    This is very useful, because it will let you know that you will absolutely not (with current high end technology) be able to acheive more than 34 fps with a celeron 2.6 under Halo at 10x7. When you start adding more bottlenecks to the system (like slower and less RAM and a budget video card) you will end up with an even lower frame rate.

    If you take a look at our article with the 256MB 9800 Pro (benched on Prescott 2.8GHz) you will see that we only hit 43.8 fps (slower than with the barton 2500+), and with the Athlon64 FX51 we were able to get 60.5 fps out of a 9800XT card. The barton hit 51.5 fps with the 9800Pro256.

    What that says to me is that if you buy a barton 2500+, you are very close to elminiating the processor as a bottleneck in Halo compared to the current fastest gaming system on the market.

    That's not bad for less than $100 if you ask me.

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