APU Vs. CPU Which Performs Better? [iGPU worth your Money?]

Written By Steven Arends

An APU can do every task a CPU can perform, but an APU has the advantage of additional graphics support. Not long ago, AMD was the only manufacturer that provided powerful APUs with Vega graphics.apu-vs-cpu-which-performs-better

But Intel played their role by improving their integrated graphics, titled iris Xe, which is significantly better than intel UHD.  Since Intel & AMD have integrated iGPU in their processors, this diversity is urging the acceptance ratio between APU & GPU.

The differences and advantages between APU & CPU are analyzed in this article to cherish you with the proper knowledge.

What is a CPU?

Computer processors are widely known as CPUs. The full form of CPU is Central Processing Unit, which is the core part of a Computer. Every other component(GPU, RAM, Storage devices) is directed and utilized by the CPU.

But what makes a CPU different from an APU is the in-built graphics functionalities. The CPU may or may not have a graphics unit to serve the Display output and emphasized GPU computation. Or even if a CPU has graphics, it’s basic, often offered by Intel as UHD graphics.upgrading-your-cpu

A processor without any graphics is the ideal example of a CPU, which are Intel’s X-series & F-series, and AMD’s X-series processors.

What is APU?

The APU refers to the Accelerated Processing Unit instead of the ‘Central Processing Unit’ which refers to the CPU, which doesn’t clarify the whole picture. The basic elaboration is also unable to indicate the actual difference between CPU & APS, that is graphics support.

CPUs have multiple cores with ALU & memory controller, which is the basic diagram of a CPU. On the other hand, APU has all those things with an extra graphics unit stashed. These integrated graphics are different than the dedicated/external ones.

AMD has a graphics unit named Vega graphics and Intel recently came up with iris Xe graphics built inside the processor, which we consider as APU.

What are the differences between APU & CPU?

Despite the fact, we know that every processor works the same way, APU operates an identical process with the additional graphics unit built in.

It’s a matter of significance that Intel also improved their integrated graphics simultaneously with AMD, which wouldn’t have been possible if AMD didn’t take the step first.

Here are some aspects derived, where APU differs from CPU with reasonable terminologies:


The architectural variation is the primary view where APU is different from the CPU.

Although distinct Processor manufacturers like Intel & AMD are already following separate patterns, build-process and architecture are uncommon within the same manufacturer, while developing APU & CPU.

Intel designed their chipset die with multiple cores, blending them with ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) and memory channels & controllers, which is fundamental. The CPU arch is called x86.

AMD followed the fundamentals but was inspired by the SoC chipset’s VLSI design and integrated with infinity fabric. Such design provided the advantage to include Vega graphics in their CPUs, which brought an integrated GPU revolution.

But these days, where both CPU giants are competing, providing special line-up segment processors with powerful iGPU is beneficial for consumers. And those integrated GPU-based CPUs hold an extended controller, which can use some RAM storage as dedicated graphics of Processors.

However, both companies offer a similar type of architecture with different chipset designs that work pretty much the same. But AMD is the pioneer of iGPU, which gives them the right to entitle their iGPU-based processors as APU.


High performance is a common desire noticed among most PC users. This is the hooking factor that motivates the users to buy different segment processors.

APU is developed keeping such things in consideration. In a world with high-res videos, images, games, and 3D experiences, GPU is a crucial element.

CPU may be capable of handling more powerful tasks than video processing, but video graphics acceleration became a concerning matter. As video performance is the main difference between an APU & a CPU.apu-and-cpu

So, APU dominates the video performance needed by the community by storm.

Consumer Market

Your senior person in the house may own a CPU. Reconsider if they really demand a high-end rig that can run 4K games or render 4K video editing.

Although they don’t require such a powerful PC, chances are they need to enjoy Blu-ray videos and 4K resolution movies.

APU can handle those circumstances without having a dedicated GPU installed. Lots of other users have such a limited need for graphics, and this is a massive amount of user base which needs APU.

Is APU better for budget gaming?

The demand of certain consumer markets varies over needs. Not everyone plays Triple-A-type games on their PC. Some people just require reliable and decently powerful graphics to get specific work done.

Watching a Blu-ray, 4K video, or editing an FHD video requires good graphics support, which Intel UHD graphics can’t handle.

Plus, editing multiple-layer images and even some basic FPS games like CS-Go can be laggy on such weak graphics. Those are the most suitable places an APU fits in perfectly.

Although modern games like Cyberpunk 2022, Shadow of Tomb Raider, and some multiplayer games like Valorant, and Apex Legends are considerably playable on latest RDNA-based Vega graphics, it’s limited to 1080p scale and lower FPS.

New Intel iris Xe graphics aren’t as capable of gaming as Vega GPUs. But the good thing is Iris Xe graphics are better than previous UHD graphics, as it gives really nice support for high-res media consumption and basic video and image editing.

Therefore, if you are a part-time Gamer and have no intention of pushing gaming quality limits but to play decently, APUs are the best fitting choice for you.

On a side note, read our article to know if you can replace an integrated graphics.

Is APU Similar to Integrated Graphics?

Laptops come with integrated graphics units to provide a user with moderate support for the high-resolution workload. APU is pretty much the same with different types of technology, which is not a separate chip built on a motherboard but integrated into the CPU.

When AMD first introduced the A series APUs, those were not as capable as it’s now. Ryzen processors became more powerful, integrating Vega graphics. Furthermore, it turned out to be as powerful as entry-level dedicated GPUs.

Hence, the battery life of a laptop is arguably the most concerning aspect, power efficiency acquired a new level with APUs. Because the need for a separate energy consumption unit like a dedicated integrated GPU is minimized in APU.

If you’re wondering whether all CPUs have integrated graphics or not, go through the embedded article.

Which One is Better? APU or CPU+GPU Combo?

Intel CPUs arrive with multiple cores, some of the cores are efficient cores to handle the normal workload, and others titled high-performance cores are responsible when a heavy workload is required.apu-or-cpu-gpu

Unlike Intel, AMD’s cores are all high-performance, and APUs perform pick constantly to support graphics-intensive works. But APU can’t handle as much graphical content as GPU can.

It’s quite simple that a dedicated GPU has a separate VRM section, cooling system, VRAM, and so on to support higher GPU-intensive tasks.

So, it’s proven that a dedicated graphics card with a decent processor can perform way better than an APU.

Choose wisely what is the limit of your workload and elect which one to buy.

Is APU Replacing GPU?

As I declared earlier, no APU can push the GPU performance as physical GPU cards are highly-capable. GPU-intensive works will always require a Graphics card rather than APU.

Although APUs like Ryzen 7 5700G can perform really well in certain circumstances according to the price it offers, tasks like – 3D modeling, 4K video rendering, and AAA-type games with 4K resolution won’t be satisfactory.

People with finite gaming needs, FHD video editing, and moderate GPU-heavy work will be satisfied by such APUs. But there is no way an APU can beat or replace GPUs.

APU Equivalent GPU list

Even though APU graphics aren’t similar to mainstream Graphics cards, some entry-level and semi-entry-level cards perform likewise.

Near-performing graphics cards are compared with different APUs are shown below:

APU listIntegrated Vega GPUSimilar Graphics Card
R3 3200GVega 8 (1250MHz)GT 710 (954 MHz)
R5 3400GVega 11 (1400MHz)GT 1030 (1468MHz)
R5 5600GRadeon™ Graphics (1900 MHz)GTX 1050ti (1290MHz)
R7 4700GRadeon™ Graphics (2100MHz)RX 550 (1100 MHz)
R7 5700GRadeon™ Graphics (2000MHz)RX 560 (1275 MHz)

 Above, in the table—some APUs are compared to their equivalent Graphics Card.

NOTE: Here in this table, Equivalent doesn’t mean the same performance. Some APUs performe better in some cases, and worse in other areas.


How Much RAM do I Need for an APU?

APU needs 2 Gigs of RAM to create VRAM that works like a dedicated graphics Card.

Can I Play GTA V on APU?

Fortunately, GTA V is smoothly playable on most APUs. But If you desire to play in higher resolution and More FPS, Graphics Card is a must.

Which is the Best APU processor?

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G is the most powerful APU yet in the market, Which has 7 nm Radeon RX Vega graphics with eight Cores.

Does Intel have any APU?

Intel also has a product lineup similar to AMD’s APU, which is named Tiger lake. Core™-i7-11370H is a good example.

Final Thought

There is no significant clash among the APU, CPU, and GPU. But confusion often appears when an end user tends to choose the right one. Such confusion is debunked through this article as you read.

Choose or suggest according to the requirement of the user to save bucks from waste. Overkill won’t just cost you one time while you purchase, it will also waste electricity and space in your PC that you didn’t actually need.

Comment for more information if you crave knowledge thrust. Explore more of our articles if you feel it’s being helpful.

About The Author
Steven Arends is a computer science graduate and tech enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a vast collection of computer hardware and loves exploring the latest advancements. As a contributing author to 10Scopes, Steven shares his expertise to make the world of technology more accessible and easier to understand for all readers.

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