AMD created APUs back in 2011. Although it wasn’t the first company to create CPUs with integrated graphics, it was the first to create them powerful enough to game at an acceptable FPS and resolution. It’s safe to say that AMD kicked off the gaming-focused APU market as we know it today.
APUs fill an important gap in the component market. The combination of CPU and GPU has been a budget builder’s go-to for a little over a decade now. But why and what exactly is an APU?
What Does APU stand for?
APU is an acronym for accelerated processing unit. Formally known as fusion, it’s a name given to AMD CPUs with integrated GPU components. However, AMD APUs aren’t the only CPUs on the market with integrated graphics. Intel has its own line of IGP or integrated graphics processors.
The name APU is strictly reserved for AMD processors. You wouldn’t technically be incorrect for calling an Intel chip an APU as they achieve similar goals but Intel has its own name for products.
What is an APU?
As we mentioned earlier, an APU is an accelerated processing unit, a name given to an AMD CPU with integrated graphics components incorporated onto the same die.
An APU is essentially a CPU and a GPU rolled into one neat little chip. This combination works well for budget-oriented PC builders, but performance suffers when packing two PC components into one package.
Think of this, if you take half of your house and turn it into a garage, your house is now only half as good at being a house but it’s now also half a garage. It serves two purposes instead of one but now it’s only half as good at its original function. This is essentially the issue behind APUs.
To APU or not to APU?
There are benefits and drawbacks to opting for a shiny new APU instead of braving the current GPU market.
An APU is a budget-friendly, easy solution to two issues, those being CPU and GPU acquisition. APUs are as easy to install as regular CPUs and require no special motherboards or accompanying components. With the absence of a GPU, it’s also one less component to worry about maintaining and cleaning.
APUs will never perform as well as even a mediocre GPU and CPU combination. This is not to say APUs aren’t good and incredible feats of engineering in themselves, however, they just don’t stack up to separate CPU and GPU combinations. Think back to the house metaphor – both CPU and GPU performance sufferers significantly when attempting to make one component serve two functions.
APUs are amazing, packing CPU and GPU functions into one package is an incredible feat of engineering and one that should be recognized. Although APUs weren’t the first CPU to include integrated graphics, they are certainly the best performing to date.
AMD APUs are good options for those gamers on a tight budget but suffer from performance challenges that accompany adopting one component to perform as two.