Core i7 - An Introduction
Before I dive into presenting a few excellent but small laptops powered by the Intel Core i7, let me first bring you up to speed on the details of this processor.
There are actually two different generations of Core i7 available. In marketing they're often known simply by the names "first" and "second" generation. The first generation Core i7 processors, based off the Nehalem microarchitecture, has a three digit identification number such as 720QM. The second generation, based off the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, has a four digit identification such as 2630QM.
Although some first-gen parts are still on the market, there's no reason to buy them unless it's made available along with a very significant price discount. The second generation is quicker, has better integrated graphics, and uses less power.
In addition to this division, Core i7 processors are also divided among dual-core and quad-core parts. The dual-core parts have the Core i7 name but only receive the alphabetic identifier of M. However, the quad-core parts received the identifier QM. While most Core i7s are quads, not all of them are, particularly those found in smaller laptops.
Now, with that technical mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let's dive in and find a few excellent Core i7 laptops with displays under 15 inches. Finding such laptops with dual-core Core i7 processors isn't difficult, so in this guide we're going to focus on quad-core models.