APU Vs CPU Vs GPU - What’s the difference?

APU Vs CPU Vs GPU – What’s the difference?

APU, GPU & CPU are core components of computer systems and are far different from each other, but apparently, all the terms seem alike. Anyone with the least computer knowledge can be confused with all this stuff.

If you are new to computer systems, then you have landed in the right place; here, you can get the detailed knowledge about all interrelated factors of the above-cited computer components as here we will elaborate on each component in various dimensions; you will get to know the specifications, benefits & much more.

A likely question may hit your mind that why you need to be familiar with these acronym terms; the answer is quite obvious, if you intend to build your PC, you would need to have proper knowledge pertaining to each component so that you can choose the most appropriate ones for your system that best matches your requirements.

In this comprehensive piece of the discussion, APU Vs CPU Vs GPU sections will shed enough light on all the essential perspectives you might require to know in order to figure out how can we differentiate between APU, CPU, and GPU readily; however, prior to that here you can find out what is an APU, GPU or CPU actually, in the first place.

What is a CPU?

What is a CPU?

Basically, the CPU, widely referred to as the processor, is considered the most potent and primary component of any computer system. In other words, we can call it the brain of the entire computer system due to its pervasive scope of functioning. 

How does it work?

Taking the CPU’s work into consideration, we can see that it not only processes the given information but also manages the functions and tasks performed by the entire computer system by instructing all other associated computer components on what to do.

Although the CPUs perform all jobs quite efficiently without any delay still, you can utilize the overclocking feature of the CPU to get a very high-performance job done within seconds; however, this overclocking might heat up your processor ultimately.

Given this overclocking, many users even use third-party coolers to control the CPU heat level so that it couldn’t affect the functioning adversely. You can find a CPU either as stand-Alone hardware, or it can be discovered embedded in various computing devices such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc.

A closer analysis of the CPU’s basic structure shows that it is basically a chip located on your computer’s motherboard and consists of millions of transistors that assist it in carrying on all tasks simultaneously in a minimum timeframe. With the advancing technology trends, we can also find many advanced variations in the CPU. 

Generally, we can categorize the CPU or Central Processing Unit into 6 types in a broader aspect, i.e., Single Core CPU, Dual Core CPU, Quad-Core CPU, Hexa Core CPU, Octa-Core CPU, and Deca Core CPU; however, the specifications of CPU developed by various manufacturing companies may vary with standard defined by the manufacturer.

Nowadays, the most frequently used CPU or processors are being supplied either by AMD or Intel companies across the globe.

What is GPU?

What is GPU?

GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit, is another vital component of a computer system; as the name suggests, this processor operates explicitly the graphic related activities, whether it is about video or image files, it is supposed to render all the graphical content encompassing the system’s GUI, video editing, animated content, 3D modeling and much more.

How does it work?

A Graphics Processing Unit is mainly supposed to perform repetitive computations in considerable volume, and it also manipulates the graphics. In terms of structure, a GPU can be perceived as an electronic circuit card or a chip that comes in various sizes and is able to get fitted with computer systems both internally & externally.

It can either be integrated with a motherboard or a CPU internally, and as an external device, it can also be attached to the PCs and laptop devices via the external mini PCIe port, Thunderbolt port, or an Express Card. However, in most cases, you might find it integrated over the motherboard of your computer system.

Many people often consider a GPU the same as a computer graphics card, but it is actually slightly different because a graphics card is basically a hardware device that is responsible for precisely displaying the graphical output to computer screens; contrarily GPU is merely a chip, as stated earlier, and it manages and performs all the processing over the graphics before you see on the screens.

Actually, the GPU can be categorized as dedicated & integrated units; the integrated GPU can be found as a part of a computer motherboard that uses the system’s RAM to execute its operations. Therefore, the integrated GPUs are often not considered much efficient in terms of speed.

Contrarily the dedicated GPU indicates a separate removable chip that comes with its own dedicated RAM to carry on operations, and given this fact, it is pretty efficient in its functioning.

So, if you are hunting for the best solution to your computer’s graphics needs, you can opt for the dedicated GPUs being catered in the market by two main supplying forces NVIDIA & AMD.

In this regard, you can also go for a reliable GPU comparison tool or checker to do an in-depth comparative analysis covering various related aspects, i.e., specs & performance, in order to choose a more appropriate GPU for your system.

GPU Vs CPU

CPU or Central Processing Unit is considered as the core part or brain of any computer system because the entire functioning of a computer system is totally dependent on its CPU. CPU manages all the system operations and processes the tasks quite efficiently in a flash.

When it comes to the distinction between a GPU & CPU, we can define a CPU in a broad term because it a basically a general-purpose processor or device that is equally responsible for all collective computer jobs. At the same time, a GPU is responsible for a specific processing job and is wholly dedicated to computer graphics.

Most often, you might find a GPU either integrated into the CPU or can be connected to a laptop or to a PC externally also. A GPU is mainly responsible for processing and manipulating the images, videos, or any other sort of graphical content on your computer system.

In short, the significant difference between CPU and GPU is that GPU is a dedicated processor for computer graphics, and a Central Processing Unit supervises & controls the entire functioning of a GPU. 

One other major difference can be spotted in terms of tasks’ parallelism; although a CPU can handle & process numerous tasks quite efficiently in a minimum timeframe but not all the tasks can run parallel in a time. Contrarily, a GPU offers such concurrency of tasks in order to improve the image processing processes. So, if the parallel workload isn’t your primary requirement, then for sure, you can opt for a CPU that is more appropriate for serial workloads.

What is APU?

What is APU?

Doubtlessly, the CPU and GPU are considered the common terms, but most of you won’t be aware of what is an APU in computer systems or APU meaning in literal terms? 

The APU processor or Accelerated Processing Unit can be defined as the microprocessors that portray the properties of both earlier explained CPU & GPU because along with being able to perform graphics processing, it also carries on the CPU processes.

How does it work?

Actually, an APU is officially referred to as AMD APU because it was initially released & presented by AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). Apparently, the APU seems like a GPU in terms of its application, but obviously, there is some sort of technical difference that distinguishes these from each other.

As we have stated, it is the combination of GPU & CPU, but that doesn’t mean it can fully perform the same operations as you might have heard, a jack of all trades is actually the master of none, but it can meet your basic graphics needs of course.

The Intel processors or CPUs have always ruled the technology world because of their affordability & efficiency factor, but with the elapsing of time, many new technologies have emerged from the surface. The APU computer performance is still good; even if we do a comparative analysis with Intel HD Graphics, we can find out it is much better in performance from various perspectives.

Therefore, if you have a non-gaming PC or laptop, then for sure you can choose an APU instead of a dedicated GPU because a cost analysis shows that it would cost you a small amount to get an APU instead of GPU. 

The AMD has designed several Accelerated Processing Units till now, i.e., Desktop APUs, Mobile APUs, Server APUs, Ultra-mobile APUs, embedded APUs, & custom APUs; in each category, you can further see a sub-list of APU series.

In this regard, AMD Ryzen 5 3400G is often considered the most optimum choice that was released in 2017; even the entire Ryzen series launched by AMD is good to go given the post & performance perspective.

APU Vs CPU

The differences between APU & CPU are pretty obvious. CPU is a primary and the most significant part of a computer system; as we have stated earlier, in fact, you might have been fully familiar with the CPU and all its related aspects by going through this entire discussion. APU is actually a hybrid model of both GPU & CPU, but for now, we will only consider its CPU-related properties here in this APU Vs CPU debate.

A CPU or general computer processor is the best choice for any PC to carry out any kind of task or complex computation; if you have a gaming PC, you might require a GPU too with your CPU for graphics processing tasks. 

An APU can also be considered as a CPU, but with integrated graphics, as it is already a combination of CPU & GPU on the same die; so for this, you won’t need to have a separate GPU to fulfill your requirements pertaining to computer graphics.

Note that a CPU might consume more power relatively because APU consists of a small figure of transistors that doesn’t need much power to function correctly; the APU only performs light jobs, so it doesn’t get heated up much, and subsequently, it won’t consume the extra power that might be required in a CPU for cooling fans.

Even if we consider the cost factor, APU is again the suitable option to meet the CPU & GPU needs on a less budget; given the affordability factor, we can see that APU is less expensive than a CPU and can easily fit in your budget.

However, to carry out high-end processing and graphical or gaming activities, you may need to go for a CPU that is capable of performing all such complex tasks quite efficiently.

Conclusion

The computer CPU isn’t new to any of us, even though you may have already heard about the GPU & APU terms also. However, you might not be fully familiar with the last two terms as much as with the CPU. If you intend to choose the right PC for you, then you might require to get enough know-how about all its components.

In this regard, we have comprehensively elaborated on the few major computer components in this entire discussion; the APU Vs CPU Vs GPU gives a clear demonstration of how CPU, APU & GPU are different from each other in terms of structure, functioning & usage purpose.

A CPU or processor is actually the primary & significant unit of a computer system that manages all its working quite efficiently, while a GPU is also a processor, but it is dedicated to carrying on all the graphical tasks; the combination of CPU & GPU causes the formation of APU having properties of both predefined processors.

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Islah Ejaz is the senior content writer of Techlectual.com and a consumer tech expert. He’s been writing about the tech industry since 2012.

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