What Is The Best APU For Gaming? – 2019 Top Reviews

best apu for gaming

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.

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.

Today, we’re going to walk you through the best ones.

Top Performance Pick
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

Most Powerful AMD APU

First up is the Ryzen 5 2400G, which is pretty much just a full-fledged Ryzen 5 CPU with a graphics chip stronger than the GT 1030 slapped on for good measure.

The Ryzen 5 2400G is unmistakably the best performing APU on the market at the moment, but pure performance alone doesn’t tell the entire story.

Top Value Pick
AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

Best Value AMD APU

The Ryzen 3 2200G is a Ryzen 3 CPU with embedded Radeon Vega graphics comparable to the GT 1030, which can retail for as much as this chip by itself. The processor is basically a freebie!

The 2200G is the top value pick, making it king in the $300-$400 range for PC builders on a budget.

Best Cheap Pick
AMD Athlon 200GE

AMD Athlon 200GE

Good Cheap AMD APU

The 200GE may not seem like much, but it pretty much offers half of the 2200G’s performance at half the price. Not bad for those on the tightest budgets looking to step into PC gaming.

The Athlon 200GE is the best cheap pick and the lowest-end of current APUs. However, it can still be worth buying-- we’ll discuss why in more detail later in the article.

What is an APU?

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… though their graphics chips are much, much, 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 are “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.

How We Choose

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.

What about the mobile Ryzen APUs?

If you’ve been tracking tech news lately, you might know that AMD has recently announced Ryzen APUs for gaming laptops. At the time of writing, these haven’t been released yet, but in all probability, they are unlikely to surpass the desktop Ryzen APUs.

Even if they could, they can’t be individually purchased and thus are out of the scope of this article… but if you’d like to hear more about them when they release, let us know in the comments below! We don’t usually cover laptops very often, but if there was an appetite we’d look into it.

Terms to Know

Clock Speed - The rough speed of the CPU, at least per-task, measured in GHz. As noted above, all of these APUs are based on the Zen architecture, which is great thanks to its strong single-core performance; this is particularly useful for gaming.

Cores - The more cores, the better the CPU will perform with multitasking and applications that utilize multiple cores. Games more heavily utilize a single core while a lot of content creation places emphasis on multiple cores. If you’re interested in seeing how these APUs stack up, then check out our CPU hierarchy.

Threads - Threads can be thought of as additional, virtual cores. That being said, physically there is only one core, however it acts as 2 cores when handling tasks and processes. Well, that’s the very simple version anyway.

Graphics - Graphics refers to the included “GPU”. In this case, the hierarchy starts with Vega 3 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.

What Is The Best APU For Gaming?

ProductDetails
Performance PickAMD Ryzen 5 2400G

AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

  • clock speed: 3.6 GHz (3.9 boost)
  • cores: 4 Zen cores, 8 threads
  • graphics: RX Vega 11
Check Current Price
Value PickAMD Ryzen 3 2200G

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

  • clock speed: 3.5 GHz (3.7 boost)
  • cores: 4 Zen cores, 4 threads
  • graphics: Radeon Vega 8
Check Current Price
Cheap PickAMD Athlon 200GE

AMD Athlon 200GE

  • clock speed: 3.2 GHz
  • cores: 2 Zen cores, 4 threads
  • graphics: Radeon Vega 3
Check Current Price

Finding The Best APU For Gaming

#1

AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

There’s no question: the Ryzen 5 2400G is the best APU for gaming, at least in terms of pure performance. Its embedded graphics performance 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.

While the Vega onboard graphics are impressive here, the real star of the show are the Zen processing cores. In terms of pure CPU performance, the 2400G is on par with the last-gen Ryzen 1500X, which makes it a very strong CPU in its own right. This also means that it won’t bottleneck you if you choose to upgrade your graphics card later down the line for gaming at higher resolutions or VR.

The main downside of this chip is that, at least from a pure value perspective… it doesn’t totally scale with the 2200G. 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. This is why it was one of our top gaming CPUs.

#2

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

The Ryzen 3 2200G is the best value pick on this list and the one we recommend for most people. In fact, it’s the center of our Best Gaming PC For $300! This also earned it the title of best budget gaming CPU.

The CPU inside the 2200G is roughly equivalent with that of the Ryzen 3 1300X. This means it should be good in all but the most CPU-intensive games, and that it shouldn’t bottleneck your GPU until you exit the midrange of graphics cards. For most people, this will be more than adequate as a starter chip for a low-end PC to be pushed into a midrange PC later on!

The Vega 8 GPU itself is roughly equivalent with the GT 1030 in terms of gaming performance and can trade blows with it more often if you give it some fast RAM and perform some overclocking. What makes this APU a particularly good value is that it offers GT 1030 performance, then pretty much throws in a great budget CPU for free.

If you do go for this option, you may want to throw in a GPU upgrade in a few years. If you’re fine with budget gaming, though, this should take you a long way.

#3

AMD Athlon 200GE

You’ll notice that we speak a lot about upgrading when discussing these processors, and that’s because of one simple fact: none of the GPU cores inside these APUs can replace a fully-fledged mid-range graphics card. The technology has progressed significantly, and these products are still definitely worth buying, but if you’re serious about playing modern games, you will need to throw in a proper GPU eventually.

The Athlon 200GE is essentially the 2200G cut in half, made for those on the tightest of budgets. On its own merits, it doesn’t do much: modern game performance generally won’t hit 60 FPS, and when it does, you’ll need to turn down the resolution to 720p to make that happen.

However, the 200GE is still on the AM4 socket, which is pretty much its saving grace. This is the perfect chip for the budget gamer who wants a PC but doesn’t want to wait until they can afford to drop $400 or $500 at once on it. The Athlon 200GE is a low-end APU suitable for light gaming and emulation, but also a stepping stone to the greater possibilities of PC gaming as a whole, once you have some more cash.

Which is best for you?

Now, it’s time to help you make a choice.

  1. Ryzen 5 2400G - If you want to upgrade your GPU at a later date, but still start your build strong without one.
  2. Ryzen 3 2200G - If you want a great value for a low price- consider our $300 Gaming PC, which currently has this inside!
  3. Athlon 200GE - If you don’t have the money for our $300 Gaming PC yet but you want to have the room to upgrade to superior Ryzen processors later.

Personally, we’d recommend the Ryzen 3 2200G. Value-wise, it’s the best on this list, and is an ideal jumping-on point for the AM4 platform as a whole, especially if you don’t intend on slapping in an RTX 2080 at a later date.

Comment below and let us know: which of these APUs seem most enticing to you, and why? We’d love to hear your opinions!

4 Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    I have to ask where you left your brains when you made this where are the ryzen’s those processors are extremely outdated I would touch them with a ten foot barge pole

  2. Pascal says:

    Andrew is right. Why even mention 2018 in the title when this is sooo outdated? Jesus.

  3. Jasper says:

    Great article!
    I am interested in gaming laptops combined with the latest AMD APU’s. I’ve heard that sometime around april, they’ll release the mobile H-series.
    If you would cover that topic whenever there is new about it, I’d love it!

  4. Xavier says:

    No mention about how all these Ryzen- and Athlon-G processors … only work with Windows 10?
    So people with games that don’t run on 10 have effectively lost their games, unless GOG picks them up …

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