Criteria for Selecting a Desktop Processor

Desktop processor heavyweights, Intel and AMD are fighting battles across the laptop, desktop, and server markets.  The desktop and server market is really where Intel and AMD can show their stuff because here energy is not an issue and the speeds are not limited by cooling or space. In this article, we will look at desktop offerings from Intel and AMD.  The server processors will be covered in another article.

The Intel Pentium III processor goes from 400 megahertz to 1 gigahertz. It performs similar to the Pentium 4 but is cheaper (although not as cheap as the high-end Athlon’s).

The Athlon is meant to compete on all fronts. It goes from 550 megahertz to 1.4 gigahertz (and climbing). It usually performs at about the same speed as an Intel processor 400 megahertz ahead (for example, a 1.4 GHz Athlon will beat out a 1.8 GHz Pentium 4).

Desktop processors from Intel and AMD are also relatively cheap, with the 1.4 GHz processor going for $175. The last processor is the Pentium 4. This is aimed at the higher level consumer, but when sold with a desktop is not much more expensive. Overall, I’d say go for the Athlon because it’s cheaper, faster, and doesn’t use Rambus RAM (the P4 only uses Rambus RAM, the Athlon can use SDRAM or DDR RAM) unless you’re a gamer, then I’d say go for an Intel Pentium 4 based system at 1.5 GHz.

Primary use

The first question you need to ask yourself is what is the primary use of this machine?
For the gamers, the Intel Celeron is the best processor. This is due to the lack of level 2 cache. Video and video ram are most important to the gamer.

If you are using strictly using business applications, then the AMD Athlon is an excellent choice. The more ram, the better with these machines and Win NT is an excellent OS for business applications.

If you are doing some games and business applications a decent amount of graphics and an excellent server processor, then I like the Pentium III processor. The more RAM, the better and also the more video RAM, the better here too. This processor like the drafting programs and other processor intensive programs.

Although all of the above processors will work in each other place they each function better in different roles.


The second major consideration is the price.  The Intel Celeron processor is the least expensive of the Intel line of processors. A Celeron can be obtained for about $100 plus depending upon the speed.

The AMD Athlon is a well-priced Processor. The AMD processor family starts at under $100 and then goes up from there depending on the speed to upwards of over $600.

The Intel Pentium III is a bit pricier processor starting around $250 to over $800 depending upon processor speed.

Price although an important consideration is not that last consideration that I use for a final decision.


The third thing you should consider when shopping for a processor is reliability. The Intel Celeron is a very reliable processor. I have had never had to return a Celeron processor, but I do now that they do occasionally die.

The AMD processors are not as reliable as the Intel processors. For every one Intel processor, I have had three AMD processor die, and I support 10 Intel processors for every 1 AMD processor. This is still a very low failure rate. The failure rate is still under 1 percent.

The Intel Pentium III processor is a very reliable processor with a failure rate that is second to none.

About The Author

Eric Vanderburg

Eric Vanderburg is an author, thought leader, and consultant. He serves as the Vice President of Cybersecurity at TCDI and Vice Chairman of the board at TechMin. He is best known for his insight on cybersecurity, privacy, data protection, and storage. Eric is a continual learner who has earned over 40 technology and security certifications. He has a strong desire to share technology insights with the community. Eric is the author of several books and he frequently writes articles for magazines, journals, and other publications.

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