Did you know that a PC doesn’t necessarily need to have a CPU?

Indeed, you don’t need a CPU and can instead use an APU though they’re basically the same thing. “APU”, or Accelerated Processing Unit, is something that AMD came up with in 2011 to denote a series of processors that had both CPU and GPU cores on a single die, thus being able to fill both roles.

In this article, we’ll be going over a few of the best APUs for gaming that you can get in 2019, but we’ll also take a look at the advantages and disadvantages that they have compared to your regular CPUs.

Table of ContentsHide

    The 4 Best APUs For Gaming In 2020

    ProductCores/ThreadsGraphicsSocket 
    4 (4)Radeon R7AM4
    2 (4)Vega 3AM4
    4 (4)Vega 8AM4
    4 (8)Vega 11AM4

    AMD A10-9700

    About the APU

    To start off, we have an A-series A10-9700 APU. These are low-power APUs that are usually found in AMD-powered laptops and they are generally some of the cheapest APUs that you can get.

    The A10-9700 is based on the Excavator APU microarchitecture that preceded Zen and it uses dated Radeon R7 graphics, though it is compatible with the AM4 socket.

    Specifications

    ModelAMD A10-9700
    Number of CPU Cores/Threads4/4
    Number of GPU Cores6
    Base Clock3.8 GHz
    Graphics Clock1 GHz
    UnlockedYes
    TDP65W

    Our Thoughts

    Amd Apu

    Overall, the A10-9700 can hardly be called a priority choice, considering that it has a couple of key drawbacks that make it fade compared to the newer and more advanced Zen-based APUs with Vega graphics.

    True, it is a quad-core APU clocked at 3.5 GHz that is unlocked and not particularly power-hungry, though the 28nm architecture and the relatively hefty $80 price tag are a bit of a problem. It can’t compete with the newer Zen-based APUs in regards to performance and there are several CPUs and APUs in this price range that can simply blow it out of the water.

    At the end of the day, while it was a decent APU for its time, the A10-9700 will hardly be anyone’s primary choice in 2019. If you’re pinching pennies, it might be a good buy used or at a hefty discount.

    What We Loved

    • Decent performance

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Dated architecture
    • Poor value

    AMD Athlon 200GE

    About the APU

    If you’re looking for affordable, then you’ll hardly find a better APU than the new Athlon 200GE. Since 1999, AMD has offered solid budget solutions under this brand. The brand endures to this day, and in the era of Ryzen, it is comprised of several reliable and highly affordable APUs.

    Specifications

    ModelAMD Athlon 200GE
    Number of CPU Cores/Threads2/4
    Number of GPU Cores3
    Base Clock3.2 GHz
    Graphics Clock1 GHz
    UnlockedNo
    TDP35W

    Our Thoughts

    Apu For Gaming

    The most standout thing about the Athlon 200GE is the fact that it comes with the latest Vega graphics. Granted, it only has three Vega cores, but even so, it is an excellent entry-level gaming APU, especially considering the price.

    Of course, it’s not going to hold a candle to the more powerful Ryzen APUs or most Intel CPUs when it comes to computing power, but at a mere $50, it still outperforms the similarly-priced Intel Celeron models by a noticeable margin. Furthermore, it even performs better than the above A10, all the while costing roughly half as much.

    All of this makes the 200GE the ultimate entry-level gaming APU, and since it uses the AM4 socket, upgrading to a newer and more powerful APU or CPU further down the line won’t be an issue. If you’re looking for the cheapest APU available for 720p gaming and e-Sports, this Athlon won’t disappoint.

    What We Loved

    • Solid performance at this price point
    • Good value for the money
    • Very low power consumption

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Not unlocked
    • Not the most powerful processor overall

    AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

    About the APU

    Looking for something more serious? Then the Ryzen 3 2200G might catch your attention. With its 8 Vega graphics cores, it is the second most powerful APU currently available, though it might be the very best one when it comes to the value that it offers for your money.

    Specifications

    ModelAMD Ryzen 3 2200G
    Number of CPU Cores/Threads4/4
    Number of GPU Cores8
    Base Clock3.5 GHz
    Graphics Clock1.1 GHz
    UnlockedYes
    TDP65W

    Our Thoughts

    Apu Gaming

    At its core, the Ryzen 3 2200G offers all the things that are great about Ryzen: low price, good value, unlocked multiplier, and it ships with a compact but fairly quiet Wraith Stealth cooler. Plus, there’s the Vega graphics, of course.

    And how does it fare against the competition? Well… it completely dominates. If you compare it to the slightly pricier Intel i3-8100, the 2200G lags behind a bit when it comes to computing tasks, but it is in a whole other league once we factor in the graphics. Take a look at the video below:

    As you can see, Intel’s integrated graphics are no match for Vega, as the 2200G easily offers twice the performance (and then some) in most games, as compared to the i3-8100. That, combined with the fact that it’s actually cheaper than Intel’s budget offering, makes it the best value APU for gaming in our book.

    What We Loved

    • Excellent graphics performance
    • Cheaper than the competition
    • Great value

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Not quite as fast at computing tasks
    • Small stock cooler won’t do for overclocking

    AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

    About the APU

    And finally, if the Ryzen 3 2200G is not good enough for you and you want the best APU currently available, there’s always the Ryzen 5 2400G. It improves upon the aforementioned model in a number of respects, but it is a bit pricier, too.

    Specifications

    ModelAMD Ryzen 5 2400G
    Number of CPU Cores/Threads4/8
    Number of GPU Cores11
    Base Clock3.6 GHz
    Graphics Clock1.2 GHz
    UnlockedYes
    TDP65W

    Our Thoughts

    Amd Apu For Gaming

    The key improvements that this Ryzen 5 model offers compared to the Ryzen 3 2200G is the fact that it comes with multithreading, upping the thread count to 8, and that it has three more Vega graphics cores, all of which contributes to the overall performance offered by this APU.

    On the graphics front, you’ve seen what 8 Vega cores can do, so you have some impression of what 11 can achieve. Needless to say, this is the most powerful gaming APU to date that can offer better performance than even some dedicated low-end graphics cards. It still can’t go toe to toe with an RX 560 or a GTX 1050, but it is still viable even for 1080p gaming.

    Furthermore, with a total of 8 threads, it fares better in regards to multitasking than the previous Ryzen 3 model, though it still can’t keep up with Intel when it comes to single-threaded tasks. As before, Intel offers more processing power, but the graphics are the key factor behind this APU’s appeal.

    At the end of the day, the Ryzen 5 2400G is a bit more dubious value-wise. It is a definite step up in terms of graphics and multitasking, but whether that improvement is worth spending some $50 extra on an APU is a subjective matter.

    What We Loved

    • Most powerful APU to date
    • Best integrated graphics available

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Limited single-threaded performance
    • Somewhat dubious value

    APU vs CPU – Which Should You Get?

    Best Gaming Apu

    So, we’ve already mentioned what an APU is: short for “accelerated processing unit”, it is a term coined by AMD and it denotes a processor that has both CPU and GPU cores on a single die. AMD is the only company manufacturing APUs, and while Intel’s Core-series CPUs do come with integrated graphics, the kind of performance they offer can hardly compete with the new Vega APUs.

    But as the saying goes, a jack of all trades is a master of none, and that’s kind of the problem with APUs. They are generally not as fast as the CPUs that you can get in the same price range when it comes to computing tasks, nor can most of them come close to the performance that even some of the cheapest dedicated GPUs can manage.

    But needless to say, APUs offer unprecedented value. Why spend $200 on an entry-level CPU and GPU when you can have an APU that can get the job done at half the price? On the other hand, if you want triple-digit FPS or use CPU-intensive software, you will probably want to look to something more powerful.

    Which APU Should You Get? – Our Picks

    Ultimately, which of the APUs listed here would we recommend for whom?

    The Ultimate Budget Gaming APU – AMD Athlon 200GE

    Best Amd Apu

    The lowly Athlon won’t turn any heads or smoke any benchmarks, but as far as the entry-level of entry-level is concerned, the 200GE is king. It is ridiculously cheap and offers sufficient power for the price. Plus, since it uses the standardized AM4 socket which is unlikely to go out of fashion anytime soon, upgrading in the future won’t be a hassle either.

    The Best Value Gaming APU – AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

    Apu Amd

    There is little to be said about this Ryzen model that we haven’t already mentioned. It packs good processing power and the 8 Vega cores offer the kind of graphics performance that Intel’s integrated graphics can’t touch and it even gives some dedicated GPUs a run for their money. All in all, we’d say this should be the priority pick for most gamers who are on a tight budget.

    The Best Gaming APU Overall – AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

    Amd Apu For Gaming

    As already stated, the Ryzen 5 2400G is the best APU available right now. With four cores and eight threads combined with a total of 11 Vega graphics cores, this is what a proper “jack of all trades” APU looks like. Of course, the issue with this one is that it is a bit pricier than the 2200G which already offers pretty much all the performance that you’d need in an entry-level gaming PC.

    You Might Also Be Interested In These