Intel’s Pentium processors are common in entry-level laptops for sale in the market. By adopting a different nomenclature from the Core i3 and Core i5, it can be difficult to identify the differences. Dell, for example, has the Inspiron 14 3000 with Pentium Gold 5405U, which costs $449 on Amazon. See below the difference between the chips and know which one to choose for a new laptop.

What are Pentium Processors?

Pentium is a line of Intel processors dating back to the 1990s. However, of the multicore lines – Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, and the current Core i3 and Core i5 – it was eventually repositioned as an entry-level product family.

Pentium Processor

Today, there are Pentium processors for desktops and laptops. In common, these CPUs are characterized by their lower cost – which explains their adoption in cheaper laptops – and more limited performance.

Performance

In a direct comparison with other Intel products, Pentiums are below Core i3 and above Atom and Celeron. However, the margin of difference between any Pentium and a current Intel processor can vary: a newer Pentium can rival a Core i3 or even Core i5 from previous generations.

The table generated at CPU BenchMark, which aggregates results from real tests performed by ordinary users, illustrates this. In the first columns, we have three Pentium models found in laptops, while in the last two columns we compare data from Core i3 5005U – processor launched in 2015 – and Core i5 7200U, model introduced by Intel in the last quarter of 2016.

Processor Benchmark

If you don’t want to get too deep into the data and specifications, just consider the result in the last row: see that the Pentium Gold 5405U, released by Intel in January 2019, reached 2,305 points against 2,031 of the Core i3 we used in the comparison. Its direct successor, the 2020 Pentium 6405U, outperforms the internal rival even more widely.

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What these results mean is that keeping an eye on the generation of processor you are buying is very important. The latest ones have the performance to withstand the day-to-day life of those who need a functional laptop to surf the Internet, social networks, and enjoy streaming.

On the other hand, the Pentium N3700, quite common in entry-level laptops, can disappoint: at 1,313 points, the processor reaches the same score as the Core i3 2370M – processor that Intel launched in 2012.

Processor Nomenclature and Generation

Deciphering the nomenclature of Intel’s processor models is not an easy task, especially because of the constant changes in the logic employed to name each new model and chip architecture. But in Pentiums, there are at least some general principles you can apply to identify each processor and thus interpret its performance level.

Pentium Gold and Silver

Since 2018, Intel has started separating new Pentiums into two major groups: Silver, for processors with lower cost and more limited performance, and Gold, for versions of Pentiums with higher performance and feature levels. This information, right off the bat, is important: if the processor has Gold or Silver in the name, you already know that the product is relatively new.

The rest of the process involves comparing the numbering of each model: The Pentium N3700, for example, is older than the 5405U simply because the first numbers – three and five, in this case – indicate the CPU generation. The rest of the numbering generally indicates overall performance and feature levels to be compared within the same family. This means that the Pentium N3700 is slightly inferior to the N3710, for example.

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Are Pentium N3700, Pentium N5405U, and 6405U any good?

These three models appear quite frequently in laptops for sale. Of the three, the most basic is the N3700. Launched in March 2015 by Intel, the processor has four cores and speeds of 1.6 to 2.4 GHz – without Hyper-Threading. The unit brings an Intel integrated video card intended for low-cost products.

The Pentium Gold 5405U is much newer. Released by Intel in January 2019, the CPU features two cores but offers Hyper-Threading technology that makes the processor behave as if it were a quad-core. As far as speed is concerned, the chip works at up to 2.3 GHz – with no turbo offering.

Besides, it is also equipped with an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 610 video card, which even appears in some versions of the Core i3. This GPU is entry-level, but offers support for multiple monitors and can even control 4K display at 60 Hz.

Finally, the Pentium Gold 6405U is the latest among laptop models. Launched by Intel in 2020, this CPU is very similar to the 5405U: dual-core, it also offers Hyper-Threading and reaches a speed of 2.4 GHz, without turbo. The integrated graphics card is also a UHD Graphics and, similar to the previous model, offers the possibility of controlling up to three monitors at the same time, as well as outputting 4K at 60 Hz.

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