One of the most confusing aspects of shopping for a new computer is picking one out of the sheer amount of options available, particularly when it comes to the processor powering your potential PC purchase.
This is especially true when it comes to more affordable PCs. Two of the most popular CPU options for low-cost desktops are Intel’s Celeron and Pentium Silver processors.
Which one is the better option? We’ll tackle that question in detail in today’s post.
Intel’s Celeron and Pentium Silver CPUs have a lot of things in common. They are both included in the Jasper Lake product line, which is Intel’s branding for its affordable and capable processors.
Jasper Lake processors are going to offer enough computing power for the large majority of users without breaking the bank and tend to be “Goldilocks” chips for the average consumer: they offer the right balance of processing power, energy consumption, and heat output.
Both the Celeron and Pentium Silver families are going to be able to handle most home and office workloads. They can easily handle word processing, emails, web browsing, and simple to complex spreadsheets. They even have enough power to handle some simple photo editing and casual gaming.
In short, Celeron and Pentium Silver CPUs are great options for computers built to handle everyday tasks, and they come at an affordable price.
Let’s take a closer look at a common option in each family. We’ll compare the Intel Celeron N5095 and the Intel Pentium Silver N6000.
The Celeron N5095 and Pentium Silver N6000 have a lot in common. Both are quad-core CPUs that lack Hyperthreading.
Both have 1.5 MB of L2 cache and 4 MB of L3 cache. Both are manufactured on the 10 nm Tremont architecture. Both support up to 16 GB of DDR4 or LPDDR4x RAM at 2933 MHz in dual-channel. Both are capable of outputting true 4K (4096×2160) video at 60 Hz. The list goes on.
In sum, the Celeron N5095 and Pentium Silver N6000 have many of the same features that most consumers care about. Either option is enough to power through common workloads and can even handle heavier tasks like streaming media.
However, there are two key differences between the Celeron N5095 and the Pentium Silver N6000. Let’s take a look at those now.
The first major difference between the two Jasper Lake CPUs is one of the defining characteristics of any processor: clock speed. The Pentium Silver N6000 has a base clock speed of 1.1 GHz with a boost clock up to 3.3 GHz. The Celeron N5095 has a 2 GHz base clock and can boost up to 2.9 GHz.
While it appears at first glance that the N6000 is the faster of the two chips, there is a caveat: the denoted boost clocks of each CPU can only be reached on a single core. Since multi-core workloads don’t benefit as much from high single-core boosts, there is some nuance here.
It should also be noted that the N6000 has a significantly lower base clock speed than the N5095 (1.1 GHz vs. 2 GHz). This means that should thermal limits be reached and the CPU is forced to pull back, the N6000 has much further to fall in terms of throttling.
What we should expect to see is the N6000 pull ahead in short, single-threaded tests but struggle to keep up in longer runs or multi-core dependent workloads. To give a bit of a spoiler, this is exactly what the benchmarks bear out.
The other key difference between the two silicon options is their TDP, or thermal design profiles. TDP essentially details how much power a CPU can draw and is a relative indicator of heat output and power consumption. Generally speaking, higher TDP can mean higher performance at the cost of higher thermal output.
The N6000 is designed as a low-power processor. As a result, it has a fairly low TDP of 6 Watts. This means we should expect the N6000 to hit thermal limits at just 6 Watts, which isn’t much headroom. At this point, it’s likely the CPU will pull back to stay within its TDP.
The N5095, on the other hand, has a TDP over twice as high as the N6000. At 15 Watts, it has a fair amount of leeway for power consumption and heat output. As such, it should better handle extended workloads and more demanding work that require more power. In other words, it should be able to perform better for longer.
The main drawback for the N5095 is that it needs an adequate cooling system to truly hit its stride. Passively cooled machines will have a hard time taking full advantage of the N5095.
So, let’s look back at our original question: Which CPU is better? One of the best ways we can compare the performance of two processors is by running benchmarks and comparing their performance in these tests.
Looking at benchmarks from Notebookcheck.net, the Pentium Silver N6000 and Celeron N5095 are neck-and-neck in most tests. There are some key points to be pulled from our analysis, though.
For one, it seems that the N6000 is roughly 10% faster in single-core benchmarks like Cinebench R23 and Geekbench 5.0. However, the Celeron N5095 is noticeably faster in multi-core benchmarks, routinely performing 10-25% better than the N6000.
As we mentioned above, this is likely due to the N5095’s higher TDP, which allows all of its cores to hit higher clocks for longer periods, and higher base clock.
On average, the N5095 outperforms the N6000 by 10%.
So, which CPU is better? If overall performance is our metric, the Intel Celeron N5095 is the better option. It offers superior multi-core and (surprisingly) graphics performance.
However, we have one final note. This overall better performance comes at the cost of higher heat output and higher energy consumption. If power draw is a concern for you, this is something to seriously consider. Maybe a small form factor PCs with low power consumption would be a good choice.
If you’re looking for a solid computer with the Intel Celeron N5095 that won’t break the bank, check out the GEEKOM MiniAir 11. This can fit almost anywhere at an affordable price.