APU VS CPU And GPU (What Are The Main Differences Between Them)

With the shortage of graphics cards becoming more mainstream, people have been wondering what an APU is. How do they work and what are the main differences between APU, CPU and GPU? Who would win the APU VS CPU and GPU battle? Keep reading to find out exactly that and much more!

Differences Between CPU, APU And GPU

The CPU is the central brain of the system and provides commands to the remaining components. 

The GPU handles the PC’s computing and rendering. Finally, the APU is a hybrid between the CPU and GPU that can do both of their tasks despite not being as powerful as either standalone.

As you can see, the main difference between all three components is that they are in charge of different processes, though the APU does overlap with the previous two in a different way.

What Is An APU Computer?

To put it simply, APUs are a type of CPU that integrates both an accelerated processing unit (APU) with a graphic processing unit (GPU). APU computers employ a general-purpose processor instead of a special processor for graphics, photos or voice recording. 

APUs are traditionally found as a system on chip, also known as SoC.

The name AMD stands for Advanced Micro Devices. It’s the second-largest company in the world that creates microprocessors and other computer hardware. They’re mostly known for their desktop processors, but they also make laptop CPUs as well as graphics card chipsets. 

What Is The Difference Between APU And CPU?

APUs stand for accelerated processing units while CPUs stand for central processing units.

The primary function of the CPU is to enable your computer to interact with each of its other apps and programs. The CPU reads a program’s instructions and sends the output than you receive when using the PC.

On the other hand, the main function of the APU is basically a processor with in-built graphics.

PC’s that employ APUs have it built in the motherboard instead of the CPU and their graphics processing unit can be found inside their processor. Instead of employing a dedicated graphics card as other systems do, the APUs are capable of fulfilling their functions and eliminate the PC’s need for a standalone graphics card.

However, APUs can even be found in other systems that do not have a separate graphics card built in them, such as gaming consoles. Examples include the 8th Gen Xbox One and the PS4.

Is AMD Ryzen APU Or CPU?

APUs are exclusively made by AMD. They are known as Ryzen APUs on the market and have become famous because of their combination of powerful CPU performance combined with integrated graphics power. 

Team Red has vastly improved their APU lineup, and with the inclusion of the Radeon RX Vega graphics, AMD has made their APUs stand out from the competition.

This means that AMD Ryzen is exclusively APU.

Will APU Replace GPU?

We hardly believe APUs will replace graphic cards. 2021 brought massive shortages in most PC components due to the global silicon shortage, including graphic cards.

In fact, graphic cards got the short end of the stick regarding production. GPU’s are currently nowhere to be found and PC users have been placed on waiting lists for months and on without any foreseeable solutions. 

Can an APU replace a GPU for those who would rather use an APU computer than purchase a graphics card, though?

The main issue with APUs is that they are relatively underpowered when we compare them to a full-powered graphics card.

As strong as they are, though, APUs in 2021 can’t provide the power that a top of the line or even a midrange GPU can provide. That doesn’t mean that APUs have no use. Depending on your PC and gaming needs, an APU could be a makeshift component until graphics cards are back on stock.

If you tend to play triple A titles with max specs, an APU won’t do at all. It will definitely still be better than not having a graphics card in the first place, but the experience will still be lackluster. If you’re playing eSports titles, an APU might suffice for the time being.

Now, if you use your computer for work and don’t know the first thing about graphics cards, an APU might be just the thing you need to make things easier, if a little underpowered.

On the other hand, we have to take price differences into account, given the fact that APUs are much more affordable than GPUs.

You can purchase an AMD Ryzen 7 5700G, the most expensive APU, for $329.00 on Amazon. However, an RTX 3080 will cost you $699. Of course, not all graphics cards are so expensive and some can even cost less than $200, but the best ones used for gaming tend to be on the expensive side.

People still need computers to get their work done, though. No matter if they are casual users or gamers, without a graphic card supply for their demand, they have to look for alternatives.

Are APUs Good For Gaming?

Yes, APUs are good for gaming and you can definitely purchase one if you’re looking to game on a budget. Below we analyze the benefits of using an APU for gaming.

Is Ryzen 7 An APU?

Yes, Ryzen 7 is not only an APU, but also the most modern version of them.

The original APU’s were Team Red’s Zen 3 line-up of Ryzen 5000 processors. They eventually evolved by releasing the Ryzen 5000 series of APU’s, that were originally only available through OEMs that you could only find in prebuilt systems. After popular demand, AMD announced that the Ryzen 5000G series of APUs would become available to the general public.

Even when GPUs where in stock, they are infamous for being the most difficult part of a computer to get right. 

One of the best APUs in the market is the Ryzen 7 5700G, known as the best risen 7 APU.

Its graphics include Radeon RX Vega 8, 8 cores, 16 threads and a graphics core clock speed of 2000 MHZ.

This is a top-of-the-line APU known for being the fastest APU manufactured by AMD. 

Those who perform CPU intensive tasks like Auto CAD, simulations and video editing will find the 5700G to be the best alternative until graphics cards are available on the market again.

While it is of course the most expensive APU on the market, it’s still known for integrating a GPU and allowing for games on even triple A titles at lower settings, which is what makes this APU such an esteemed alternative.

Unlike weaker APUs, this one can compete with mid range CPU with integrated GPU for gaming.

Is APU Good For Gaming?

An APU on its own will outperform a CPU for gaming, but this is only in hypothetical cases. Most gamers will pair their CPUs with a dedicated graphics card, which obviously will outperform APUs. A standard CPU paired with a mid level graphics card, it’ll always overpower an APU when playing games.

However, as we explained earlier, APUs can be good if you’re gaming on a budget. While not as strong as a CPU with a powerful GPU integrated with it, an APU as strong as Ryzen 7 will let you play most games smoothly, even the really taxing ones at middle settings.

Can I Use A Graphics Card With An APU?

You might be wondering if it’s possible to use both an APU and a GPU together, and the short answer is no. 

The only way to use both together properly is if you used the 520 as a PhysX card, which means it will only work in games that use PhysX.

There’s also very little logical reason to use a graphics card with an APU, since the APU already has integrated graphics to use on its own.

Does Intel Have APU?

APU is a term only used for AMD CPUs, so other computer parts companies don’t produce APUs. 

As a matter of fact, most of Intel’s chips have an integrated GPU, meaning they’d have no need to integrate an APU if they already have a graphics card.

Since we know graphics cards tend to outperform APUs easily, Intel wouldn’t employ APUs even if they produced their own brand of them.

Let’s remember that more than anything, APU is a marketing term employed by AMD when they were trying to create a combination CPU and GPU on a single chip. 

That’s the reason why APUs were originally codenamed as AMD’s project “Fusion”. While it didn’t work perfectly, we still got APUs as a result.

GPU apu difference between

Final Words About APU Vs CPU And GPU 

APU Graphics Card

While an APU will not become the replacement for your dedicated GPU in the near future, it’s currently easier to find a workable APU than it is to find a graphics card.

Perhaps when graphics cards get back on stock, it’ll be less convenient to use APUs. For the time being, APUs are the next best thing to nothing in the world of gaming.