Table of Contents
- Looking at the CPU and GPU to Understand the APU
- What is an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU)
- Advantages of APUs
- Disadvantages of APUs
- Why Would You Consider an APU?
An APU, or Accelerated Processing Unit, is a type of processor that has been used in the computers for many years although they are not as widely known. They are most commonly found in PC laptops and desktop computers as an alternative to using a more expensive CPU-based system. APUs can be more budget friendly than CPUs because they do not have all of the same features and capabilities; however, they can still provide adequate performance for everyday computing needs.
Looking at the CPU and GPU to Understand the APU
Before we get into what APUs are all about, we need a refresher on what makes up a traditional CPU and GPU based system. Knowing what the CPU and GPU does helps you understand how an APU works along with its systems like integrated graphics and its hybrid chip architecture.
What is a CPU
A CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the brain of a computer. It’s what does all of the calculations and instructions that you give it in order to make your computer run software programs like Word or Firefox. Examples of CPUs are the Intel chips which have been industry leading for a long time and AMD’s Ryzen series processors which have improved greatly generation to generation to enter the high end space.
What is a GPU
A GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is the muscle of a computer. It’s what does all of the heavy lifting in order to make your games and other visually intensive software run smoothly on the screen. Your gaming performance, video editing, graphic design work, and other tasks can have different experiences depending on the GPU you have.
What is an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU)
APUs are like taking that CPU and GPU combo and putting it together into one package. Designed with computing tasks in mind such as browsing the internet or watching video content online, their abilities balance both performance-heavy computations and also graphics-intensive operations equally well.
A Great Value, But There’s a Catch
These chips offer two key benefits: their affordability, as APUs have become less expensive over time and come with on-board graphics cores (which means no need for an expensive graphics card!).
That being said, there are some disadvantages to APUs when it comes down to playing games or running more intensive applications like CAD software. They’re also less powerful than a standalone CPU and GPU as the computing and graphics processing power need to be shared.
Advantages of APUs
APUs are attractive to consumers because, as we previously mentioned, they can handle both the CPUs and GPUs tasks. This means that APUs provide a cost-effective option for those who want performance but don’t need intense graphics capabilities or high resolution displays in their machines.
Great for Traveling!
In addition to their lower cost APUs use less power than CPUs alone which allows users a longer battery life between charges in laptops and less power draw in general than a CPU + GPU combo. This is great if you travel a lot and don’t have consistent access to power, or just want to be able to comfortably use your laptop away without being plugged in all the time.
Versatility and Portability
APUs are also great because they’re really versatile. They’re found in desktop computers, laptops, tablets (think iPad), gaming consoles (both Xbox One and Playstation) and even cars!
The APU’s ability to be used across a variety of devices is one of the reasons for their popularity especially since it allows manufacturers flexibility when designing new computers or devices that don’t require intense graphics capabilities.
Disadvantages of APUs
Although there are many benefits, APUs are simply just not as powerful as traditional CPU counterparts. they have a lower TDP (Thermal Design Power) than CPUs and they don’t offer the same amount of compute performance, either. This means that when buying an APU you are usually sacrificing performance.
Jack of All Trades, Master of None
Their graphics processing capabilities will also be severely limited in the same sense and will not be able to even approach the results that dedicated graphics cards can produce. The shared performance on one chip can really put a strain with even lower end games so unless you’re looking to play only games like League of Legends or Rocket League, an APU might not necessarily be the choice for you.
In addition to gaming, if you’re looking to use your laptop or computer for any professional graphics tasks like video editing or content creation then this is another case where dedicated components might be a better pick. More recent APUs from the likes of AMD and Intel have stepped up their game and offer great performance, but your mileage may vary depending on the type of work you’re looking to do.
Why Would You Consider an APU?
An APU can be an excellent option for people who are looking to do some general day to day tasks, light work, or casual gaming, but don’t want the high price tag of a laptop or computer with dedicated graphics cards. These chips on laptops and computers usually offer much lower power consumption than their desktop counterparts which means that you’ll have more battery life when you’re away from your outlet. This also makes it easy to take your PC or Laptop anywhere without having to lug around a bulky computer tower under one arm!
Value for Performance
APUs are also really great because depending on the types of tasks you’re performing, they can be worth their weight in gold. The downside though is that APUs will not always perform as well as PCs with dedicated CPUs and GPUs. Integrated graphics and the computing processing being shared across the CPU cores can be problematic in higher workloads.
But if you want budget conscious performance without sacrificing too much in terms of what you’ll use most often then an APU is a great choice. APU-based laptops and desktops are a great way to get affordable performance from your device until either your needs change or you have the opportunity to upgrade your system. Learn more about laptops, operating systems and the best laptops for your money with Guru Verdict.