The last single core CPU...

 


 

I decided to build a system using the last, and fastest, single core desktop CPU ever made: the Intel Celeron G470 from 2013.

This Celeron was a bargain basement CPU back in 2013 and thus got no real attention or love, but it represents the end of a nearly 50 year era in "micro" or "personal" computing, an era that began back in the mid 70's with home computer kits that featured a single CPU, or core in today's speak, running the entire system.

Unlike the earlier AMD Sempron 145, the Celerson G470 does have hyper threading, so it appears as two logical CPU's to your operating system, but make no mistake, there is just a single core on there sitting behind a thread scheduler.

AMD introduced the first multi-core CPU on the desktop in 2005 (although multi core CPU's have been around for decades as concepts and in specialty applications) and frankly I'm surprised there was sufficient commercial incentive to introduce a new single core model as late as 8 years later...

These CPU's can be picked up on eBay for under $10 including shipping all day long and while I did have many other parts just lying around from old projects like a case, cooler, hard drive and RAM I would have to buy a few components to finish the build, including a new $35 GPU to put into one of my servers in order to recover a GTX 750Ti which was going to waste.

If you had none of the parts the costs to finish this $10 CPU build exactly as I have it would look something like this:

PartConditionPrice
Intel Celeron G470Used$10
Asus P8H67-V MotherboardUsed$50
Kingston Hyper-X DDR-3 1866MHz (2x 8GB Sticks)Used$60
EVGA GeForce GTX750TiNew$70
CoolerNew$12
Case - No PSUNOS$25
SolidG 400W non-modular PSUNew$16
256GB SATA SSDNew$27
Seagate Barracude 1TB HDDRefurb$30
TOTAL
$300

In more realistic terms it would be possible to save a $30 by going with 8GB or RAM as 16GB is serious overkill, and dropping down to a used 650Ti graphics card would save another $20. But this type of project works best if you have most of the parts lying around already as it's hard to justify the expense vs the performance. You could replace the CPU with a quad core i7 for another $30 and that would make for a much better, more usable computer, but that's not the point of this project, I want to have the last single core CPU. All-in I'd say the project cost me about $140 which is about what my tricked out Raspberry Pi 4 cost me.

In terms of an operating system Windows 8.1 would be the most era appropriate, however I decided to go with Zorin Linux Lite, a stripped down version of Ubuntu with fewer graphical bells and whistles that is designed for older hardware. By running an up to date OS I can run up to date apps so it will be interesting to see how well a single core CPU can hold up today, possibly better than you might imagine given that, in my opinion at least, a Raspberry Pi 4 is a viable desktop computer if you only have very basic computing in mind and have a little patience...

So how does it perform?

Boot up time: 47 seconds

Given we have an SSD in here that may not seem impressive but when you break it down you get a better idea of what's going on:

12 seconds to fully POST

20 seconds to boot to login prompt

15 seconds to desktop with all disk activity stopped


Loading times for applications are not bad, LibreOffice Writer, GIMP 2.1 and Chromium all take approx 5 seconds from cold.

Speaking of Chromium, I tested YouTube video playback and 1080p30 videos are flawless, but 1080p60 stutters, if you want 60fps you need to drop to 720p.

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