A model represents a single data object. It could be a row in a database table or an html form with user input fields. Each field of the data object is represented by an attribute of the model. The attribute has a label and can be validated against a set of rules.
Yii implements two kinds of models: Form models and active records. They both extend from the same base class, CModel.
A form model is an instance of CFormModel. Form models are used to store data collected from user input. Such data is often collected, used and then discarded. For example, on a login page, we can use a form model to represent the username and password information that is provided by an end user. For more details, please refer to Working with Forms
Active Record (AR) is a design pattern used to abstract database access in an object-oriented fashion. Each AR object is an instance of CActiveRecord or of a subclass of that class, representing a single row in a database table. The fields in the row are represented as properties of the AR object. Details about AR can be found in Active Record.