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Why APUs Are a Great Budget Gaming Option

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The graphics card is one of the most important parts of any gaming PC rig. A good graphics card can make all the difference in how well your games run and how good they look. But graphics cards can be expensive—especially if you want one that can really max out the settings on the latest triple-A titles. So, what’s a budget-conscious gamer to do? There's a few different ways to save money on a gaming PC, and one of the answers is an APU.

What is an APU?

An APU, or accelerated processing unit, is a type of central processing unit (CPU) that incorporates a graphics processing unit (GPU). In other words, it’s a CPU and a graphics card in one. And because it combines those two components into one chip, it’s usually more affordable than buying a separate CPU and GPU.

APUs are nothing new—they’ve been around for years. But they haven’t been commonly used for gaming PCs because they generally don’t offer the same level of performance as a dedicated CPU and GPU. However, that’s changing with the release of AMD’s new line of Ryzen APUs. These APUs offer gaming performance that rivals some entry-level discrete graphics cards—and they do it at a fraction of the price. AMD’s latest 5000 G-Series APUs are based on the company’s Zen 3 CPU architecture and Radeon Vega graphics architecture, which offer incredible performance in games and other tasks like video editing and 3D rendering.

Why is an APU a great budget gaming option?

If you're in the market to buy a gaming PC, the prices can be daunting - especially when compared to consoles. A bulk of the cost of a gaming PC is the CPU & GPU. On average, the processor and graphics card take up over 70% of a PC Build's budget.

An APU can deliver performance on par with entry-level graphics cards with giant cost savings. For example, one of NZXT's prebuilt PC offerings, The Foundation PC, is the most budget-friendly prebuilt gaming desktop that NZXT offers. At a price of $799, the Foundation PC can enable solid gaming performance, by utilizing the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G APU. Which is perfect to play popular Esports titles such as League of Legends, Rocket League, Fortnite, and Valorant.

Why shouldn't you get an APU?

The main downside of using an APU for gaming is that they are not as powerful as a computers with a higer-end CPU and GPU. This will hinder your performance in playing more graphically intensive games like Cyberpunk: 2077 and Elden Ring. However, you can easily upgrade your gaming PC by adding a discreet GPU like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or AMD Radeon 6700xt.