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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [09.24.08]
Manufactured by: AMD, Intel


Almost The Final Word

So there you have it, a pair of $50 CPUs that perform like $200-300 CPUs. Almost. While we did see performance increase in line with clock speed, you can't exactly 'transform' a budget CPU into a high end one. There is a bit more that goes into higher-end processors than just clock speed. Not much mind you, but it is.

First of all, the Celeron falls well short of its high end Core 2 Duo cousins in terms of cache amount. The highest Conroe-based Core 2 Duo we will likely ever see is the E6850; that CPU runs at 3 GHz - 300 MHz slower than our overclocked Celeron. However, it carries eight times as much cache as the Celeron, and that can drastically improve performance in some instances - especially gaming.

The X2 doesn't really suffer from this as much - a Brisbane is a Brisbane, whether it's running a 2.2 GHz or 3.1 GHz. The only big difference is that it takes a lot more voltage to get to that speed when starting with a $50 4200+. There are other Athlon 64 X2's that have up to 2MB of cache, but then you would have to sort through all the model numbers, revisions, steppings, and that in itself would require its own 8 page article.

As far as the AMD vs. Intel $50 Dual Core War is concerned, there is a clear winner: The Celeron E1200. AMD wins one battle though, and it is a major one for many people - it is definitely the superior gaming chip.

While the Celeron makes the X2 look like a modern-day Chuck Liddell, there is another contender worthy of consideration. I wanted to keep this article a "Battle At $50", so we were limited to using the Celeron on the Intel side. However, if you were to increase your CPU budget by the price of a quarter-tank of gas, you would be looking at getting a Pentium Dual Core.

Don't be fooled by the name! Like the Celeron Dual Core, it is based on the Conroe core. Unlike the Celeron however, the PDC carries a nice amount of L2 cache - 1MB instead of 512KB. That should make a significant difference, for just around $20-30 more. These processors should reach the same level as our Celeron - 3.2-3.4 GHz isn't out of the question with air-cooling.

As fun as this $50 Dual Core War has been, the real winner is the one we didn't even include - The Pentium Dual Core.

Keep in mind though, that as much as you can 'cheap out' on a CPU, you should definitely not do the same with your choice of motherboard and memory! You will be running those components way out of spec, and will need something that can stand the extra stress over time. Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed to keep an eye on the latest reviews of such components, and check out the front page for more!