Intel Core i7 vs. Intel Xeon in mobile workstations

Two of the biggest names in PC workstation processors are Intel® Core® i7 and Intel Xeon®. Both are highly powerful CPUs that are valued for their high core counts, impressive processing speed and other features. So which chip should you choose?

The vast majority of PC workstations sold today feature one of these advanced Intel CPUs. Let’s look at why these particular processors are so popular, and how their differences can help you decide whether to put an Intel Core i7 or Intel Xeon processor in your new workstation.

Core i7 and Xeon processors: What’s the difference?

Intel calls Core i7 processors its "performance" line of CPUs. With more available cores, higher frequencies, and larger cache allotments than the more value-oriented Core i5 series, Core i7 chips are fast and responsive enough to support today's most demanding applications. They lack Xeon's support for error-correcting memory (see below), but for advanced users, Core i7 CPUs can be overclocked to temporarily work at higher-than-rated speeds, while Xeon models cannot.

The company’s Xeon CPUs offer similar frequencies and cache sizes as the Core i7 series and higher maximum core counts. However, one big difference is Xeon’s support for Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory, a server-grade feature that makes Xeon chips especially valuable in workstations performing demanding, mission-critical calculations. ECC memory helps find and fix 99.999% of soft memory errors before they cause problems, which can greatly reduce data corruption and work-destroying system crashes.

Benefits of Xeon and Core i7 workstations

The next obvious question is cost. From a strictly dollars and cents perspective, Core i7 CPUs typically cost less per core than Xeon processors with similar speeds. But take a deeper look and you'll find that each chip has clear benefits for different user types:

  • Intel Xeon workstations

    Intel Xeon workstations are valued by users who run advanced CAD applications, work with sensitive financial data, or operate in environments where system crashes can have a big impact on the business's bottom line. These users can’t tolerate sudden shutdowns and so-called "silent" data corruption errors, making the reliability and peace of mind of Xeon's ECC memory support worth the additional incremental cost.

  • Intel Core i7 workstations

    Intel Core i7 workstations are ideal for those who need Xeon-like speed and responsiveness to run the same or similar compute-intensive applications, but who may have tighter budgets. For all but the most sensitive workloads, image rendering or analysis, a Core i7 workstation is a strong option.

Ready to make your choice? Check out our popular Lenovo mobile workstations to find the advanced Intel Core i7 or Intel Xeon processor that's right for you.

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