Intel Celeron N4020: A Budget-Friendly, Energy-Efficient Processor for Laptops and Mini-PCs


The Intel Celeron N4020 is a budget-friendly, energy-efficient processor that is designed for use in laptops and mini-PCs. It was launched in Q4 2019 as part of the Gemini Lake Refresh product family. The N4020 features dual-core processor cores that run at speeds of 1.1 GHz to 2.8 GHz, which is a moderate 200 MHz upgrade over the preceding N4000 chip. Other key specs include a DDR4/LPDDR4 memory controller (up to 2,400 MHz and up to 8 GB, with some reports claiming that as much as 32 GB will work just fine) and an integrated UHD Graphics 600 graphics adapter.

The Celeron N4020 is manufactured by Intel on a 14 nm process, similar to other Apollo Lake family products like the popular N3350. However, the newer Celerons have slightly improved processor cores with double the L2 cache and a smaller chip area. The Goldmont Plus microarchitecture is familiar to us from Gemini Lake processors like the N4000, and it features a moderately large 4 MB L2 cache, which allows for a marginal increase in performance-per-MHz figures compared to Goldmont. However, it is important to note that Gemini Lake Refresh processors are a clear step-down from the Core i3/i5/i7/i9 series processors in terms of both performance and features.

The N4020 has six PCI-Express 2.0 lanes at its disposal, which is not a lot. While very few N4020-based SBCs, nettops, and laptops feature an NVMe M.2 slot, you can use an NVMe SSD as a boot drive with this processor (read/write rates will be limited to 2 GB/s though). Furthermore, partial Wi-Fi 5 support is built into the CPU. The Celeron also supports up to eight USB 3.0 ports and two SATA III storage devices. It is important to note that this is not a user-replaceable CPU and it is soldered straight on to the motherboard for good (FCBGA1090 socket interface).

In terms of performance, the Celeron N4020 is not a very impressive CPU. In terms of multi-thread performance, the average Celeron N4020 barely manages to outgun the i5-4210Y, a processor of nearly the same energy efficiency that was launched so many years ago (in 2013, to be exact). Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c and Intel Celeron N4500 are close by as well. All in all, per-thread and per-MHz performance of Gemini Lake Refresh processors are nothing to write home about, rendering them usable for basic tasks only such as word processing and web browsing with just two or three tabs open. It is worth noting that Intel Celeron N4120, a quad-core processor with a similar name, has little trouble leaving the dual-core N4020 behind in most workloads.

The UHD Graphics 600 is based on Intel's Generation 9 architecture, much like HD Graphics 520 or UHD Graphics 615 or so many other widespread Intel iGPUs. Just like HD Graphics 500, the UHD Graphics 600 supports DX 12 and has 12 EUs clocked at up to 650 MHz. However, it is important to note that the Iris Plus G7 iGPU that certain 10th Gen Ice Lake processors have packs 64 EUs, for reference. As a low-end solution, UHD Graphics 600 will let you play some seriously old titles, but that's about it.

Perhaps more importantly, this graphics solution will let you run up to 3 monitors with resolutions as high as 4096x2160@60.

Furthermore, it will have no trouble HW-decoding AVC, HEVC and VP9 videos. The newer AV1 codec will be decoded via software, with the limited CPU horsepower imposing a hard limit on the video resolution that can be played back without stuttering. 1080p60 YouTube videos are out of reach while 720p25 videos run fine, to give you an example.

In terms of power consumption, the low 6 W TDP (also known as the Power Limit 1) makes it easy to ditch the fan. While the Celeron can indeed be cooled passively with almost no issues, its performance sustainability will be anything but decent unless the long-term Power Limit is set to a value higher than the default 6 W and a fan is available to aid in heat dissipation.

Overall, the Intel Celeron N4020 is a budget-friendly, energy-efficient processor that is designed for use in laptops and mini-PCs. It is not a very powerful CPU, and it is not suitable for demanding tasks such as gaming or video editing. However, it is perfect for basic tasks such as word processing and web browsing, and it is an excellent choice for those on a tight budget. The integrated UHD Graphics 600 graphics adapter is also a nice addition, and it is capable of running up to 3 monitors with resolutions as high as 4096x2160@60. If you're looking for a budget-friendly, energy-efficient processor for your laptop or mini-PC, the Intel Celeron N4020 is definitely worth considering.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the Intel Celeron N4020. Have you used it before? How did it perform for you? Let us know in the comments section below. Don't forget to use the hashtag #CeleronN4020 when sharing your thoughts on social media.

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