It’s pretty much possible that at least one of the affordable laptops on sale during the upcoming holiday season will include the Intel Celeron B820 processor. This entry CPU can be found it the least powerful Intel-based full-size notebooks, but also the lowest priced.
The processor runs at 1.7GHz and has two cores. It’s from the last year’s “Sandy Bridge” 32-nanometer family and includes 2MB of L3 cache, as well as Intel HD integrated graphics. The power consumption is 35 Watts.
If you compare it to the widely adopted Pentium B950, you’ll find that their specifications are similar. The main difference is in clock speeds – 1.7GHz vs 2.1GHz. Maximum frequency of the integrated Intel HD graphics is 1.05GHz on the Celeron and slightly higher 1.1GHz on the Pentium. The B820 is better than the B950 in one aspect. It supports VT-x virtualization technology which is missing on the B950. However, some important performance-related technologies, such as HyperThreading for use of multiple computing threads per core and TurboBoost for dynamic overclocking are missing on both chips.
I’ve tested the Celeron B820 and its integrated graphics found in an Acer Aspire E1 15.6-inch notebook with 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive. This and similar laptops are priced at about $300.
At that price point, the main competition to the Celeron are AMD’s latest E-Series parts. In PassMark processor benchmark we see that the B820 is a far better choice than both the E1-1200 and E2-1800. Performance of the reviewed CPU is lower than of the AMD A6-4400 and Pentium B950, but these are a different (higher) class products and used in slightly more expensive laptops.
Windows Experience Index is 4.4 because of the low graphics score, but processor score itself is a decent one of 5.5 points.
Here are PC Mark Vantage and 3D Mark Vantage benchmark results, as well as CPU-Z and GPU-Z info:
Regarding gaming, it’s worth noting that the processor obviously isn’t designed with gamers in mind. The integrated Intel HD graphics is known for its sluggish performance in games and the same thing we concluded after playing Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare and Mass Effect 3, with frame rates of up to 20fps in both games at 1280×720 resolution, low settings, and AA turned off.
There’s nothing to worry about when it comes to full HD video playback. A 1080p video in Windows Media Player consumed only about 14 percent of the CPU capacity during playback.
Temperature of the chip is 40 on idle and up to 55 in CPU intensive Prime 95 test, so the Acer Aspire E1 with the Celeron runs pretty much cool for a notebook equipped with a standard voltage processor.
The Intel Celeron B820 doesn’t impress much with its speed, but if you are looking for a $300 dollar laptop, the fastest one on the market will probably have that CPU. AMD’s main competitors in the ultra-cheap arena greatly lag behind, but If you have a few tens of bucks more to spend, you can go with one of the B-series Pentiums for somewhat better performance. However, in routine day-to-day tasks such as web surf, email, or office apps, you will hardly notice any difference between the Celeron and Pentium, but the latter can be handy if you frequently do some more demanding tasks, such as image editing or file conversion.