Back in 2011, AMD debuted their APUs or Accelerated Processing Units. While the first few generations were somewhat impressive, AMD’s aging CPU architecture bogged down subsequent releases of APUs, and for a long time, it seemed like the dream was dead. But what is the best Ryzen APU?
Fortunately for us, AMD didn’t stop there. After releasing the incredible Ryzen series of processors, featuring an entirely new processing architecture, AMD was able to release new APUs utilizing their latest cutting-edge CPU and GPU technologies on a single chip.
So which AMD Ryzen APU is the best? Well, today, we’re going to walk you through each APU, explain its best attributes, and help you pick the best one for your needs.
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Watch our video rundown
Our Top Picks
AMD Ryzen 7 5700G
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
While this is usually the section where we dive deep into how we made our picks, the truth is that AMD isn’t as eager to flood the market with APUs this time around. They’re playing it smart, so there aren’t a bunch of filler options to sift through… as of now, the only APUs worth buying are the Zen APUs on this list.
What matters more than what we chose is how we ranked them and which one is right for you. Keep reading to find the answers to those questions.
From CPUs to PC cases, we like to get hands-on with all the hardware we recommend. Testing the products is a huge part of our overall selection process and it is a way we can be sure that a specific option is the best for the job.
Products must pass our testing which is largely a lot of gaming, with some other boring stuff but most if not every recommendation will have gone through a strict testing process.
With an AMD APU, especially the latest 3rd-gen ones, we need to assess build quality, performance, and finally, value.
This process enables us to provide you with an accurate take on how well an APU performs and, ultimately, if it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
While the Accelerated Processing Unit is a very attractive name, make no mistake: an APU is pretty much just a combination of a CPU and a GPU. Many Intel processors using Integrated graphics, for instance, are essentially the same as APUs. That being said, though, their graphics chips are much less powerful than the ones inside these Ryzen APUs.
Note; you can also use these strictly as CPUs by adding a dedicated GPU to your setup.
A similar concept in a different sect of the industry is “SoCs.” SoC stands for System on Chip, and these tend to combine all components of the system onto a single, well, chip. This is seen most often in gaming consoles (both the PS4 and Xbox One, for instance, are using AMD SoCs), smartphones, and on rare occasions, laptops.
If you are considering purchasing an AMD Ryzen APU, then let us share with you all of the APUs currently available on the market as of today.
- AMD Ryzen 7 5700G – 8 Core / 16 Thread & 4.6 Ghz Max Boost
- AMD Ryzen 5 5600G – 6 Core / 12 Thread & 4.4Ghz Max Boost
- AMD Ryzen 5 3400G – 4 Core / 8 Thread & 4.2 Ghz Max Boost
- AMD Ryzen 3 3200G – 4 Core / 4 Thread & 4.0 Ghz Max Boost
- AMD Ryzen 5 2400G – 4 Core / 8 Thread & 3.9 Ghz Max Boost
- AMD Ryzen 3 2200G – 4 Core / 4 Thread & 3.7 Ghz Max Boost
The older AMD Ryzen 5 APUs come with Vega 11 graphics, whereas the AMD Ryzen 3 APUs come with Vega 8 graphics. The new APUs have been made more efficient, with the Ryzen 7 featuring Vega 8 and the Ryzen 5 with Vega 8. We’ve benchmarked each of these APUs significantly, you can find our results on our Youtube channel right here.
VS Pieces and benchmarking data
Over the years, we have tested many of AMD’s CPUs. after testing we collate the data and we create comparison pieces or reviews with our findings. You can find all of our APU related pieces below:
There are many things to consider on the hunt for the best AMD Ryzen APU. Choosing the best AMD APU for your specific needs is important so that you aren’t left with a product that doesn’t meet your requirements. Let’s go over a few key terms.
Pairing your Ryzen CPU with a suitable set of RAM is more important than you might think. Ryzen CPU core communication speed is directly correlated to RAM speed, essentially meaning the slower the RAM the slower the CPU without getting overly complicated. Intel CPUs aren’t affected in the manner as its CPUs are constructed a little differently.
This is especially true for APUs as the systems RAM is also used as VRAM for the integrated graphics. Whether this is a Vega iGPU or a Radeon RX iGPU, it’s the same case for both.
This is because the integrated graphics portion of the Chip is built directly into the CPU, instead of being on a spacious GPU PCB where VRAM can be built with ease. Because of the spacial limitations being built into a CPU package presents, the iGPU has to get creative and use the already available system RAM as Video RAM.
The sweet spot for AM4 Ryzen CPUs is 3600MHz, this speed of RAM gives you the best returns, any speed beyond this and you’ll receive diminishing returns and as a result, less value for money. If you’re planning on building a PC centred around an APU, it’s a good idea to invest in a higher RAM capacity for reasons we mentioned earlier, to make sure the iGPU RAM requirements do not interfere with the rest of the systems requirements.
Clock speed is the measurement of how many times per second a CPU can complete what’s called an instruction Cycle, this cycle consists of three main actions. These actions are: fetch, decode and execute. And it’s these three actions that make up the fundamentals of CPU operation as we know it.
This isn’t just for desktop processors, this is the same on the mobile platform and OEM too, although clocked lower for efficiencies sake because of the power constraints being a mobile platform brings.
Generally, when discussing and comparing CPUs in the same architecture, CPUs with the same or greater number of cores and a higher clock speed will perform better. – this is also a single core performance metric, as cores with higher clock speeds will perform better in single-core workloads.
The more CPU cores your CPU has then the better at multitasking it will be. However, it all depends on whether the application or software you are using is coded for multiple cores. Some older programs are not and will generally perform no better when given access to more cores. For the software that does support multi-core utilisation, more cores are better.
Core count is a metric for multi-core performance, As CPUs with a higher number of cores will obviously perform better in multicore workloads, due to the abundance of available CPU cores.
If you’re interested in seeing how these APUs stack up, then check out our CPU hierarchy.
Threads tell a similar story to cores, more threads make for a CPU that’s better at multitasking natively. However, cores and threads are not created equal.
All of the APUs on the list support SMT (Simultaneous Multithreading). This is AMD’s version of Intel’s Hyperthreading. This is a technology that allows one CPU core to process and execute two instructions at once. This means that the operating system is able to see and utilize your CPU as if it had double the number of physical cores. The collection of cores and threads are labelled ‘logical processors’ by operating systems.
These threads are known as V-cores and are virtual, so-named because they do not physically exist or occupy space on the CPU die. These virtual cores have to share resources with the physical cores and threads suffer slower processing speeds as a result.
Again SMT relies on software integration and compatibility but it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. Most modern software has multithreading integration and support.
If you want to know more about SMT you can read our in-depth feature on SMT.
Graphics refers to the included “GPU.” In this case, the hierarchy starts with Vega 8 on the budget APU and ends with Vega 11 at the highest end, for now. If you’re interested in seeing how these compare, then check out the comparable graphics cards below and our GPU hierarchy.
The Best AMD Ryzen APU
AMD Ryzen 7 5700G
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
AMD Ryzen 7 5700G
3.8GHz - 4.6GHz
Whopping 8 cores and 16 threads
Increased efficiency & performance
The Ryzen 7 5700G is AMD’s current flagship APU and is widely considered to be the world’s most powerful thanks to the integrated graphics the chip comes paired with. Unlike the previous gen, this features a higher amount of cores, increased speeds, and a more efficient design.
The AMD Ryzen 7 5700G comes equipped with 8 cores and 16 threads, respectively. It features impressive clock speeds of 3.8GHz base and 4.6GHz boost, alongside a total of 16MB L3 cache and 4MB L2 cache. TDP will be equivalent to its predecessor at 65W and it brings VEGA 8 integrated graphics, with 8 CUs and 512 stream processors (all running at 2.0GHz).
While the 5700G is the most expensive APU from AMD to date, it is also by far the most powerful. With the current GPU climate, the 5700G can provide you with solid processing power and integrated graphics. While the integrated graphics may not be good enough for everyone, basic 1080p performance is there. Furthermore, when you finally get your hands on a dedicated GPU, you can easily slot it in with this APU for a quality overall gaming PC.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
3.9GHz - 4.4GHz
6 cores and 12 threads
Built in graphics suitable for basic gaming
Not the greatest value
The more affordable Ryzen 5 5600G is aimed more towards the budget-focused builders out there. With comparable gaming performance to the older 3400G, we have a processor here that now brings more cores and more threads into the mix, along with a more efficient design.
By comparison, the Ryzen 5 5600G features 6 cores and 12 threads – clocked at 3.9GHz base and 4.4GHz boost. Like the 5700G, the 5600G will also feature 16MB of L3 cache – but only 3MB of L2 cache. The APU will showcase a 65W TDP and will comes equipped with AMD’s VEGA 7 iGPU. This will be clocked at 1.9GHz and feature 448 stream processors.
Vega 7 may seem like a step backwards at first glance, however, the efficiency increases has compensated for this reduction in cores, meaning the graphical performance doesn’t suffer!
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
3.7GHz - 4.2GHz
Extremely well priced, powerful APU with onboard VEGA 11 graphics
Compatible with 300/400 series AM4 motherboards
Get 30fps on most AAA games titles (with optimized graphics)
Bios update needed if you want to use older motherboards
The 3400G is AMD’s older-gen flagship APU and is widely considered to be one of the world’s most powerful thanks to the integrated graphics the chip comes paired with. Unlike the 3200G, the 3400G comes with 4cores and 8threads, 6MB of cache, and the impressive VEGA 11 graphics engine.
It clocks at 3.7GHz with a boost clock speed of 4.2GHz which is a vast improvement over its predecessor. According to AMD, the Ryzen 5 3400G comes with high-quality metal TIM and is supported by AMD’s precision boost overdrive. This is a feature that auto overclocks the chip whenever it feels fit to do so.
The iGPU operates at 1,400MHz base clock making it 150MHz faster than the 2400G. Like the 3200G, this chip comes with AMD’s Wraith Spire CPU cooler.
If all that didn’t impress you, then the price tag is sure to change that. It retails at under $150 which is fantastic value for money. Especially when you consider the 2400G debuted at $170.
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
3.6GHz - 3.9GHz
Quad core CPU with 8 threads
Built in graphics suitable for basic gaming
Built in graphics - Vega 11
Can play games without GPU but less effective
Until recently, the 2400G from AMD was thought of as the best APU money could buy. Thanks to their impressive new 3rd Gen processors, that is no longer the case. That being said, its embedded graphics performance still trounces any Intel integrated graphics solution by a rather severe amount, making it possible to play many modern games at 720p medium/high or 1080p low/medium settings.
The main downside of this chip is that, at least from a pure value perspective, it doesn’t totally live up to what the 2200G offers. The graphics performance doesn’t increase all that much, despite the seemingly-large jump in numbers. Just think of this as an option for those who want to complete their build with a high-end GPU down the line, rather than a mid-range one.
All being said, the 2400G still offers a great all-round product which would be perfect for any newcomer to PC building.
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
3.6GHz - 4.0GHz
Extremely affordable CPU with powerful onboard VEGA 8 graphics
Backwards compatible with 300/400 series motherboards
Can achieve 30FPS on AAA games titles
Needs to be paired with powerful 3200+ RAM to be efficient
At the beating heart of this excellent, well-balanced, APU comes the VEGA 8 graphics engine. It has the ability to perform under the pressure of many AAA games titles thanks to its newly boosted clock speed. Like its predecessor, the Ryzen 3 3200G carries on the quad-core trend. Unfortunately, AMD has again decided to hold back on the multithreading technology for this one.
That being said, it does come with a few surprises like higher operating clock speeds and more available cache. The 3200g comes equipped with Vega 8 graphics clocked at 1,250MHz. That’ll be 150MHz faster than the last-gen 2200G.
Like all Ryzen chips, the 3200G comes with its own CPU cooler. In this case, it’s the Wraith Stealth. I was happily surprised with the performance power and instant cooling it gave the chip.
One area that has not been improved upon is the TDP, which still lies at 65W. That isn’t a huge deal though if truth be told, and the price tag only sweetens the deal further.
Is AMD APU Good for Gaming?
As you can see from our awesome list of APUs, there are plenty of AMD accelerated processing units that aren’t just good for gaming, but pretty darn great for gaming. The integrated GPUs are considerably more beefy than anything Intel has ever put out with their CPUs. Having said that, you should have realistic expectations of their capabilities.
The truth is an APU is never going to outperform a dedicated CPU working alongside a discrete GPU. Two separate units will almost always be able to shoulder more and complete tasks more efficiently, but unless you’re working on building an all-singing, all-dancing gaming superstation, that’s no reason to discount them.
APUs are the perfect option for a gamer on a budget or perhaps a novice PC gamer who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of hardware just yet.
Can You Run an APU with a Graphics Card?
You can indeed run your APU with a discrete graphics card. That’s a big part of the APU appeal, you can simply upgrade as soon as it makes sense for your gaming habits and bank account.
Now, if you’re wondering if you’ll have to turn off your integrated GPU in order to run your discrete card, it depends on which AMD card you settle on. Some Radeon units -especially older ones – do require you to cut the power to the integrated APU GPU.
Others are primed with AMD’s proprietary Dual Graphics technology, which basically allows you to have both the integrated and discrete GPU running simultaneously. They don’t get in each other’s way; they don’t cause any strange on-screen artifacts; they work harmoniously towards a graphical performance greater than the sum of its parts.
You should be wary; however, that, depending on the power of the discrete graphics card, the graphics potential may be a little OP for the CPU, amounting to what could be a pretty tight bottleneck. To avoid this, when shopping around for a discrete GPU, it’s important to consider the combined graphical performance not just in terms of raw power, but within the context of your CPU’s abilities.
Will APU Replace GPU?
An APU can replace a GPU, yes! If yours is a little long in the silicone tooth these days, you can simply remove it from your setup and let the APU flex is graphical prowess. As for whether APUs will eventually render the discrete GPU obsolete, we highly doubt it.
At the moment, there’s simply nothing that can match the raw gaming power of a dedicated CPU and GPU working together. As APU technology progresses, they will, of course, become far more powerful and efficient, but individual hardware will also evolve at the same if not a faster rate.
There are some aspects of computing that the APU may become the standard for such as indie gaming, emulation, or standard usage, but beyond that, they’re just not powerful enough to take on the demanding nature of enthusiast gaming.
Do I Need AMD APU Driver?
Don’t waste your time digging around for APU-specific drivers; they don’t exist, which isn’t to say you won’t need any, you absolutely will. What you’ll actually need are the drivers for your motherboard’s chipset and the integrated GPU in your APU.
These drivers couldn’t be easier to find. Simply follow this link, https://www.amd.com/en/support, use the dropdown menu to select your hardware, and voilà! You’ll be gaming up a storm APU-style in no time at all!
- Navigate to your PC’s ‘Control Center’.
- Go to ‘3D Settings’.
- Find the ‘Manage 3D Settings’ option.
- Click on the ‘Program Settings’ tab and pick out the correct program (the one you want your graphics card to work on).
- Click on ‘Preferred Graphics Processor’.
- Select ‘High-Performance AMD Processor’ from the dropdown menu (that’s your shiny new graphics card).
- Test your system to ensure everything is working as it should.
- Click ‘Graphics’.
- Click ‘3D’.
- Move the slider to the ‘Performance’ setting.
How Do I Switch From APU to GPU?
If you’ve been running an APU for a while, but you’ve decided to upgrade your build and incorporate a discrete graphics card, making the switch is a breeze. First, you’ll need to get your system to acknowledge your discrete GPU by uninstalling the current graphics card driver, then reinstating the latest version. Next, just follow these simple steps.
If this process doesn’t seem to be working, you could try navigating to your graphics ‘Power’ menu and selecting the highest output. If that still doesn’t let you use your new GPU, try this…
How Much RAM Does APU Use?
Unlike dedicated graphics processors, the integrated GPUs in accelerated processor units don’t have their own memory bank, and so rely on your system memory. This means they use slightly more RAM than your standard independent hardware setup.
Exactly how much RAM an integrated GPU uses depends on the model, but for Intel, it’s often something to the tune of 64 – 128MB. It’s a pretty negligible amount, but that’s a big reason why they’re not so great for gaming.
Your typical AMD IGPU should use around 2GB of RAM, still not really all that much, but if you’re running a very basic 2 x 4GB RAM system, you can expect a minute dip in general system efficiency. Don’t let that put you off a quality APU, though. 2GB on beautiful graphics is RAM well spent!
So, there you have it, the best AMD Ryzen APUs all listed in order of performance. Each of these APUs offers incredible value and performance for the budget-minded gamer.
Personally, we’d recommend the Ryzen 5 3400G. Value-wise, it’s one of the best price/performance processors and is an ideal jumping-on point for the AM4 platform as a whole.
Which of these APUs seem most enticing to you, and why? We’d love to hear your opinions!