Processor Binning is a term vendors use for categorizing components, including CPUs, GPUs or RAMs by quality and performance. While components are designed to achieve a certain performance level, sometimes the final product fails to meet those standards, due to the complexities associated with manufacturing PC components. After manufacturing, vendors conduct testing and bin the component based on its performance results.
Here’s a simplified example. Intel has standards for performance, power management and thermal output for its Core i5 CPUs. If a CPU fails to meet those standards, Intel will bin it as an i3 processor instead. However, since Core i5 processors have four cores and i3 processors have two, Intel will disable two (likely defective) cores on the processor in order to sell it as a two-core processor. Thus, it’s possible your PC’s i3 processor was meant to be an i5 but failed to meet performance standards, so Intel disabled two of its cores to turn it into an i3.
And vendors may bin-out high-performance components by disabling some of their capabilities and marketing them as lower performance to meet their own supply/demand needs. For instance, if a high-end CPU isn’t selling so hot right now, supply would be high. A vendor could disable compute units in some of these high-end CPUs so that they’ll fit into the more highly demanded mainstream market and have a better chance of selling.
Let’s say, So you go to the store to buy a new fridge freezer. However the one you want is a bit expensive but they have the one on display for sale for 100 bucks off. However it has a few scratches and a dent. Likely it works just as well though.
A binned CPU is similar. It failed it factory tests but worked ok at a lower speed and/or voltage. So they mark it down and say its only a dual core and not a quad core. Sometimes you may be able to coax it back into being a full quad core by fiddling with the voltage etc.
These processes can also happen with GPUs or RAM with vendors disabling compute units and binning a product into a lower performance category.