Cooking the perfect steak isn't just about when and how to apply heat. You have to start off with a premium steak if you want to end up with one after it's cooked. But how do you tell great premium steaks from chuck? After all, there are plenty of different cuts of meat that can be referred to as steak, and they're not all created equal. Here's a look at some of the most popular premium steaks and the best ways to choose and cook them.

Ribeye is one of the most popular premium steaks on the market because of its natural tenderness and marbling. When you cook this steak, the marbled fat contributes a rich flavor to the beef. Look for boneless ribeyes at about ten ounces, or bone-in ribeye, called cowboy rib, at about twenty-three ounces. The bone can keep the steak from drying out, but may also make cooking more complex. This might also be called prime rib, scotch filet and delmonico steak, but it's all the same tender meat.

Filet is considered the best from a chef's perspective for its tenderness, but it's also one of the most expensive cuts. It's low fat when trimmed correctly, and is best suited to hot pan cooking. Look for filets that are six to eight ounces. They might also be labeled beef medallions, tenderloin, chateaubriand, filet mignon and tournedos.

Sirloin is one of the cheapest premium steaks, and is long and thin, with fat across the top in a strip. It's full flavor makes it very popular, but the meat may be tough. This means tenderizing and marinating before cooking are good choices. The better the aging and the slower the cooking, the less tough the sirloin will be. Top sirloin is generally more tender than the larger bottom sirloin, as well.

T-Bone steaks, also called club steaks, short loin or porterhouse (when larger and thicker) are steaks that include a T shaped bone with meat on either side. The larger side is quite tender, and is made of meat from the striploin, but the smaller side is tenderloin, and is even more tender. Because of the heat conduction from the bone, you'll find that small T-bones cook faster than boneless steaks. The flavor is rich, and the steak rather expensive, but this premium steak is a popular choice on the barbecue.

Rump steaks are the cheapest out of all the different premium steaks, and are also referred to as round steaks. This lean cut requires tenderizing or marinating to reduce its toughness, but it's excellent as a budget choice for those who still want premium steak. Try one, but cook it carefully to get the fullest flavor without toughness.