APU vs CPU vs GPU

CPU vs APU vs GPU

While building a PC, you will definitely encounter terms like APU, GPU, and CPU.

For those looking for a short answer, a CPU is the brain of a computer that enables it to interact with all other pc hardware whereas a GPU is responsible for handling Graphics rendering. An APU, being a CPU-GPU hybrid combo, can do both of these functions. It is power and cost efficient, but not as powerful as a standalone CPU or GPU.

But this is just tip of the iceberg. Keep reading if you want to have detailed information about each of these components.

CPU

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brain of the computer. You must have heard about its functions in your childhood.

So what does it do?

Primarily, it fetches the information as input from RAM. It then processes that information and generates an output based on that input.

It performs all the important functions that you can think of, inside a computer. If you are working on excel calculations, the CPU is the brain behind it. If you are writing code for a new application, the CPU will be the one handling it. Even if you are doing basic operations like shutting and opening your windows or programs, the CPU is the reason for it happening.

CPUs are further classified baed on the cores and threads they come with, and their clock speed. Generally, speaking a CPU with higher core/thread count and higher clock speed will perform better as these features allow a CPU to process more tasks at one time – and faster too.

GPU

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), also known as the graphics card, is the thing a gamer would desperately want these days.

As the name suggests, it is in charge of the graphics. The games are all about the graphics. If you are playing a game that is either buffering or has a bad resolution, it could lead to a terrible gaming experience. You would want the visuals to be at least attractive to keep your mind in focus.

The GPUs work on a similar note to the CPU, as both of them process data. But while the CPUs are designated to work for generic tasks, the GPUs are assigned tasks for a specific purpose – computer graphics.

Not only that, both of them have different approaches to process data. While CPUs consist of single/multiple cores to perform tasks in a sequential manner, the GPUs have thousands of small processors for parallel processing.

The GPU comes in two forms, it can either be dedicated or integrated. The dedicated graphics card has its own RAM and is connected to the motherboard via the PCI Express (PCle slot). On the other hand, integrated GPUs are part of the system and uses system RAM to carry out the graphics tasks.

Needless to say, dedicated GPUs are miles ahead of their integrated counterparts in terms of performance. Even the most recent iGPUs like Intel UHD 750 can’t give you the performance of an entry-level dedicated graphics card.

Although most people associate them with only gaming, GPUs can be equally helpful in tasks like content creation, video encoding, 3D processing, and Artificial Intelligence.

APU

Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) is the term coined by AMD way back in 2011. These chips are the combination of the CPU and the GPU as they have CPU and GPU cores on the same chip. Some recent examples of these APUs are Ryzen 3 3200G and Ryzen 5 3400G.

These kind of chips are not only cheaper to produce, but are much more efficient due to reduces physical distance between the CPU and GPU part.

One big difference they have with CPUs is the integrated graphics part. The vega graphics unit found in Ryzen 3200G/3400G is significantly powerful than any traditional iGPU unit, including the latest Intel UHD 750.

They give you enough graphical power for casual gaming (at 720p for example), but still can’t be compared to dedicated graphics cards, even midrange models.

It means they’re not suitable for 1080p gaming or beyond.

Comparison

APU CPU GPU
Processes:
APU processes both processes, arithmetic and graphics. CPU processes arithmetic operations. GPU processes graphical operations.
Price:
Highly-affordable Expensive Expensive
Power and efficiency:
Not as powerful as a separate CPU and GPU Relatively less powerful and efficient than GPU Most efficient and Powerful

Conclusion

If you are on a budget and you want good performance stretched out of it, we would suggest using the APU. It can work for casual 720p gaming. But if you can spend more on your budget to build your PC, the recommendation would be to go for the CPUs and GPUs separately.

Written By Aamir Irshad

Written By Aamir Irshad

Aamir is the founder and chief editor of PCBuilderz.com. For the last decade and a half, he’s been building PCs for himself and his friends. From those Core 2 processors to the latest Ryzen 5000 models, he has seen it all.

His aim for this website was to help people make the right decisions for their PC component upgrades.

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