APU vs CPU: What is the difference?

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As soon as you land on the topic of PC building or PC gaming, the chances of getting into some hardcore tech terms are high and you won’t even understand all those things unless you are searching all those things over the internet. Among those terms, APU, GPU and CPU are some of the major things that need to be deal with when talking about the graphics, especially in 2021 APU vs CPU comparison is essential before starting your personal build.

The term APU is kind of new to most people and it’s not that much popular term which each and everyone discusses. But if you are working on a low budget, then you must look into these different terms and it may save a lot more money for you in some certain cases. All these terms matter when talking about computer graphics and you need to have a basic knowledge about both GPU and CPU before you get into APUs.

APU vs CPU

Basically, the GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit and it’s the big brain behind all the graphics that show up on your monitor or any sort of display you use. Most people use the term GPU for graphics cards just because they don’t know the difference between them. The GPU or the graphics processing unit is just a chip like a CPU but the graphics card is an item that has a more complex structure and items like VRAM, Coolers, PCB and a graphics card is a combination of all these items.

The main purpose of a GPU is to render frames that need to be pushed into your monitor after doing a ton of simple calculations in each second. All the other companies besides AMD or Nvidia is buying those chips and make some differences in clock speeds by overclocking and make cooling systems and all. That’s why all the other graphics cards from MSI, ASUS, Gigabyte or other OEMs have different clock speeds and complex structures rather than
the founder’s edition.

Nvidia GPU Chip
Nvidia GPU Chip

With the demand for high-end graphics over laptops, the term EGPU is also there which refers to External Graphics Processing Unit that has a separate enclosure only for a graphics card. These items use a thunderbolt 3 interface which slightly has higher data transfer rates but still, they aren’t that much fast enough to reach the speed of the PCIe interface of modern computers. But it can help you to get out from serious issues that you are facing with weak graphics solutions on your laptop in the first place.

And after that, we have intergraded graphics which is only a GPU that comes inside the CPU or the motherboard but without VRAM or any other items that you might see on a discrete graphics card. These GPUs uses the system RAM by sharing it and they aren’t that much power to give you the ultimate gaming experience.

APU vs CPU
APU vs CPU

The next big topic is the CPU which stands for Central Processing Unit is the main and the most important piece of hardware which is essential for the functionality of a computer. It’s more powerful and also can handle serious and heavy calculations essential to the system. Over the past few years, the CPU has leapt ahead and become a more advanced piece of hardware which it was before. CPU is a combination of billions of transistors and they are divided into some small units which we have known as cores of a CPU.

Each core can only handle one task at a time and that’s why there are different variations with a different number of cores such as 4 cores, 6 core, 8 core, etc. By adding more core they can handle multiple operations at a single time and also they use some special method called threading to switch over the different task so it can perform multitasking without lagging. And the clock speed determines how many instructions can be carried inside to a single core at a time. If you are having a CPU with 3 GHz it means that the 3 billion instructions are being carried into the CPU every single second.

Then finally we have the APU, which stands for Accelerated Processing Unit. It came live in 2011, with the introduction of AMD’s A-series, and it can be known as a single die that holds both CPU and GPU. This will be sound the same as intergraded graphics but there is a technical difference although it serves the same. The major difference is that these APUs are more powerful than normal intergraded graphics. Both PS4 and Xbox One and their 4K variants use AMD APUs and they seem to be doing fine rather than a normal onboard graphics solution.

AMD Ryzen A-Series
AMD Ryzen A-Series

APU or CPU

If you are still bouncing between buying an APU or CPU here’s the thing. You should buy an APU only if you are working on a strict budget. You can try one of the latest ones and enjoy the maximum capability of integrated graphics. But it will take more time or maybe never to reach the limits of discrete graphics cards. If you want to be a hardcore gamer rather than being a budget gamer, you should buy one of these and end enjoy. Before buying anything, make sure you are looking into the reviews and the real world user experiences rather than referring only to the paperwork provided by the manufacturers and sellers.

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