What is the Difference Between Intel Celeron vs i3?

Intel Celeron and Intel Core i3 CPUs are a complete different breed of CPUs. They belong to very different price and performance categories and therefore, it is quite funny to even compare the two. However, often newbies who are not well versed with the different CPU series out there can get confused  between Intel Celeron vs i3.

In very simple terms, the Intel Core i3 series is far more powerful and capable compared to the Intel Celeron series.

In terms of clock speed, core count, architecture, cache memory, iGPU and various other factors, the Intel Core i3 CPUs are much more powerful.

Currently, while even the best Celeron CPUs offer 2 cores and 2 threads, newer gen Intel Core i3s can feature 4 cores and 8 threads.

This in turn also means that the Intel Core i3 CPUs are also more expensive compared to the Celeron CPUs.

The Celeron and the Core i3 CPUs serve a very different market segment. The Celeron is suited for those who have bear minimum computing requirements, whereas, the Core i3 CPUs are considered a stepping stone into the professional grade computing.

In the following text I will talk in detail about the differences between Intel Celeron vs i3 with regards to their specs, performance, value and their purpose.

Differences Between Intel Celeron vs i3

In order to compare the two series, I will be taking the following aspects into consideration:

  1. Specs
  2. Performance
  3. Value
  4. TDP
  5. Purpose

1. Specification Comparison Between Intel Celeron vs i3

Often when comparing two CPUs, the specs particularly the core count and the clock speed are the first things that you look at. These can give you a fairly good idea about where a particular CPU series stands in terms of performance.

Intel Celerons are on the bottom rung in terms of specs and performance in the Intel CPU hierarchy. If we were to have a birds eye look at where the different Intel CPU series fit in the hierarchy, it would look something like this:

  1. Intel Core i9 – Most Powerful – Most Expensive
  2. Intel Core i7
  3. Intel Core i5
  4. Intel Core i3
  5. Intel Pentium
  6. Intel Celeron – Least Powerful – Most Affordable

With that said, taking the current generations of Celeron and i3 CPUs, the former offers 2 cores and 2 threads at max and the latter offers 4 cores and 8 threads.

The following summarizes the scores of the popular latest gen Celeron vs i3 CPUs.

CPU Specs
Type
Remarks
Intel Celeron
N4020
1.1 GHz
2c/2t
Laptop Released in 2019; Still a popular and most widespread laptop based Celeron CPU.
Intel Celeron G5920 3.5 GHz
2c/2t
Desktop Popular; desktop based Celeron CPU.
Intel  Celeron
G6900
3.4 GHz
2c/2t
Desktop Flagship; desktop based Pentium CPU. Recently released. 
Intel Core
i3 10100
3.6 GHz – 4.3 GHz
4c/8t
Desktop Popular; Desktop Core i3 CPU from 10th Gen
Intel Core
i3 1125G4
2.0 GHz – 3.7 GHz
4c/8t
Laptop Flagship and Popular; laptop based Core i3 CPU.
Intel Core
i3 10320
3.8 GHz – 4.6 GHz
4c/8t
Desktop Popular; desktop based Core i3 CPU.
Intel Core
i3 12100
3.3 GHz – 4.3 GHz
4c/8t
Desktop Flagship and Popular; desktop based Core i3 CPU. Recently Released

The table above summarizes the popular as well as the flagship Celeron and i3 CPUs in the market for laptops and desktops.

One key observation here is that on laptops, unfortunately, the popular Celeron CPU is still the N4020 released back in 2019 despite the fact there already are much more powerful Laptop-grade Celeron CPUs, such as the Celeron 6305 out in the market, but they have not made a dent in the market.

As far as the key specs go, the Celeron CPUs maintain 2 cores and 2 threads and the Core i3 CPUs offer upto 4 cores and 8 threads for their popular and best CPUs for laptops and desktops.

Also Read: How Many Cores Does an i3 CPU Have?

2. Performance Comparison Between Celeron vs i3

CPU PassMark
Score
Intel Celeron
N4020
1593
Intel
Celeron G5920
2482
Intel 
Celeron
G6900
3829
Intel Core
i3 10100
8855
Intel Core
i3 1125G4
9971
Intel Core
i3 10320
10130
Intel Core
i3 12100
14187

This is where you can draw a very clear comparison between Celeron and i3 CPUs.

PassMark is a very popular and trusted benchmark for comparing CPUs. You can use this to estimate, to a good extent, the performance level of a certain CPU.

Intel Celeron vs i3 Passmark
Intel Celeron vs Core i3 PassMark Scores

You can see from the graph and the table above that even the best and the latest desktop based Intel Celeron CPU, the G6900 released in 2022, is far weaker than the Intel Core i3 10100 released back in 2020 (3829 vs 8851).

The most unfortunate comparison, however, is with laptops. As mentioned earlier, the most popular Celeron CPU for laptop is still the N4020 released back in 2019. The newer Celeron CPUs laptops haven’t picked up steam. 

The N4020 compared to the flagship and the popular Intel Core i3 1125G4 (1593 vs 9971) truly shows that the i3s are light years ahead in terms of performance compared to Celeron.

Also, it is worth noting here that clock speed and the core/thread count aren’t a good yardstick for measuring the performance of a CPU.

Take for instance, the Intel Core i3 12100 (4c/8t, 4.3 GHz) vs Intel Core i3 10320 (4c/8t, 4.6 GHz). The former is more powerful despite the fact that it has a lower clock speed compared to the latter (14187 vs 10130).

Read in Detail: How is Processor Speed Measured?

3. Performance / Dollar Value of Celeron and i3

CPU PassMark
Score
Cost Performance/
Dollar Value
Intel Celeron
N4020
1593
Intel Celeron
G5920
2482 $52 47
Intel Celeron
G6900
3829 $52 73
Intel Core
i3 10100
8855 $122 72
Intel Core
i3 1125G4
9971 $284 35
Intel Core
i3 10320
10130 $162 62
Intel Core
i3 12100
14187 $129 109

A few key observation can be made from the table above.

The Core i3s seem to have a much better value compared to the Celeron CPUs. Comparing CPU released in the same time period i.e Intel Core i3 10100 with Celeron G5920 (72 vs 47) and Intel Core i3 12100 vs Celeron G6900 (109 vs 73), you can see that the Core i3s are exceptional in their value.

Also take note that the laptop grade CPUs are almost always more expensive and have a lower performance / dollar value compared to desktop CPUs.

Take for instance the Intel Core i3 1125G4. It is a powerful laptop grade Core i3  CPU but has an abysmal performance/dollar value (35) compared to its desktop counterparts.

4. TDP and Wattage Difference Between Celeron and i3

CPU TDP (W) Platform
Intel Celeron
N4020
6 Laptop
Intel
Celeron G5920
58 Desktop
Intel 
Celeron
G6900
46 Desktop
Intel Core
i3 10100
65 Desktop
Intel Core
i3 1125G4
28 Laptop
Intel Core
i3 10320
65 Desktop
Intel Core
i3 12100
60 Desktop

If you compare Celeron and i3 CPUs in both the desktop and laptop segment, you will find that the Celeron has a far lower TDP.

Take for instance Intel Celeron N4020 vs Intel Core i3 1125G4 both are power efficiency based CPUs for laptops yet the Celeron has a much lower TDP (6W vs 28W),

The desktop grade Celeron CPUs are also lower in TDP rating compared to their Core i3 counterparts.

A lower TDP not only means that the CPU would consume lower power, it also affects the cooling design of the PC. This is of particular concern on laptops where heat management and battery conservation are both of paramount importance.

Lower TDP on laptops means that the chassis can be thinner, it can have a fanless cooling design and can also result in longer battery span.

Also Read: Laptop CPU vs Desktop CPU

5. Purpose of Celeron and i3 CPUs

The two CPU series by Intel serve a very different purpose and market segment.

Celeron for Budget Users

The Intel Celeron is designed to cater to the ultra-budget segment. If you have very basic computing needs such as word processing, email writing, web conferences etc, then a Celeron should suffice.

Intel Celeron CPUs are often found on Chromebooks as well due to the nature of Chromebooks being very simple machines for simple tasks.

Intel Core i3 for Productivity

Intel Core i3 are the stepping stone into the realm of performance computing.

Whether you are a gamer on a budget, a beginner or even an intermediate designer or an editor, you may find than an i3 has great potential.

It should also be noted that the Intel Core i3 of today (10th and 12th Gen) are more capable than the i7s released 5 years ago particularly if you take the fact that i3s today have a far better single core performance.

Take for instance the Intel Core i3-12100 released in 2022. According to PassMark and Cinbench Benchmarks, this has a better performance than the Intel Core i7 8700 released in 2017 and also a comparable performance to Core i7-9700 released in 2019 . 

Also Read

Final Words

Again, it is quite a one sided battle when you draw a comparison between Intel Celeron vs i3. The latter is far more superior.

However, since they both serve a different purpose, you have to gauge your needs as well as your budget in order to choose the right CPU series for yourself.

If your computing needs are very limited then a Celeron should suffice. If your computing needs are more advanced then an i3 should be the way to go.

Also Read:

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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