Intel creates dozens of models of processors for use in a wide variety of computer systems. The processors vary greatly in power, size and age, though they conform to a few basic categories. Pentium and Core are designations for different processor families, and both see use in current products. The processor model names give some indication of the devices' power, but the designations "Pentium" and "Core" by themselves don't tell you much about a specific computer.
Intel debuted the original Pentium processor in 1993, and the device bears little similarity to the ever-more-powerful processors that would follow. The successive Pentium Pro, Pentium 2, Pentium 3 and Pentium 4 processors were among the most popular processors of the 1990s, with competition from AMD devices. Other processors using the Pentium name included the Pentium D, Pentium M and newer Pentium Dual-Core families. The processors have seen use in desktop as well as laptop machines.
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Intel introduced the Core brand in 2006 as a replacement for the Pentium M line of processors, and the initial devices shared much of the same technology with the current Pentium-branded offerings. Followups to the original include the Core Solo, Core Duo, Core 2 Quad, Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processor families. Starting with the Core 2, Core products were available for both laptop and desktop computers.
Though both Pentium and Core devices have seen major changes in available power, Intel generally equips the Core brand with more powerful processors than the equivalent Pentium or Celeron devices, though they often use the same basic processor technology. Newer Core models feature additional unique software such as Intel's Turbo Boost and HyperThreading options for extra configuration. Core processors come pre-installed in many newer Apple computers, while Pentium devices see use only in Windows-based machines.
When you're trying to determine the usefulness of a Pentium processor compared to a Core processor, the technical specifications of the device will prove of more use than the branding. Determine the processor's specific clock speeds, bus speed and memory availability. Also note that many Intel processors are created specifically for either a desktop or a mobile PC, though they may share brand names with other incompatible devices, as is the case with the Core 2 Duo T8100 for notebooks and the Core 2 Duo E8500 for desktop use.