AMD still hasn’t made the big APU dream a reality

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AMD's Ryzen 8700G APU socketed into a motherboard.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I could hardly incorporate my excitement erstwhile AMD announced its Ryzen 8000G APUs. It was a return to form, offering nan latest successful AMD’s CPU and GPU architectures successful a azygous package for a debased price. More than that, location was dream that these would beryllium nan first APUs to let for immoderate superior PC gaming without nan request to walk loads of rate connected 1 of nan best graphics cards.

But aft testing them and looking astatine nan different options, I’m not convinced this is nan champion starting constituent for aspiring PC gamers.

The graphics prowess you’ll find successful 1 of these chips is leaps and bounds up of nan emblematic integrated graphics you’d find among nan best CPUs, moreover successful a chart-topping spot for illustration Intel’s Core i9-14900K. Unfortunately, these APUs struggle to meet nan demands of modern games, and nan trade-off is seldom justified erstwhile you tin build a overmuch much powerful gaming PC for nan aforesaid price.

CPU power

Let’s look astatine these arsenic CPUs first, though. I tested 2 chips: nan six-core Ryzen 5 8600G and nan eight-core Ryzen 7 8700G. Think of these different versions of AMD’s Ryzen 5 7600 and Ryzen 7 7700. The specs are somewhat different, pinch immoderate shifting of timepiece velocity and cache counts to relationship for nan integrated graphics, but you’re getting nan aforesaid number of Zen 4 CPU cores.

You tin spot successful Cinebench R23 that these chips are similar. The Ryzen 5 8600G is somewhat down nan Ryzen 5 7600 successful some azygous and multicore performance, but that’s expected, considering immoderate of nan creation caters to nan integrated graphics.

Performance for AMD Ryzen 8000G CPUs successful Y-Cruncher.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Basically, each of nan benchmarks I ran came up pinch akin results. In Y-Cruncher, calculating 500 cardinal digits of Pi, nan 8600G and 8700G are somewhat down nan guidelines CPUs. This trial shows that nan single-core velocity isn’t excessively bad, though. You tin spot some chips beating Intel’s Core i5-13600K successful nan single-core test.

The communicative doesn’t alteration overmuch pinch Blender, 7-Zip, aliases Handbrake. As we typically spot pinch APUs, nan earthy CPU capacity is somewhat down that of a comparable spot owed to nan creation pinch integrated graphics. There are immoderate applications wherever nan equilibrium is overmuch much even, specified arsenic Photoshop, wherever nan integrated graphics tin do wonders without a discrete GPU.

These aren’t bad conscionable arsenic CPUs, moreover if they aren’t rather arsenic bully arsenic what you’d get pinch a spot that holds weaker integrated graphics. The large problem for these APUs isn’t nan processors that costs astir nan aforesaid price. It’s those older chips for illustration nan Core i5-12600K aliases Ryzen 5 5600X that are readily disposable for very debased prices. With 1 of those chips, you tin get somewhat worse CPU capacity and allocate a full batch of fund toward a discrete graphics card.

Staggering integrated graphics

Performance for AMD Ryzen 8000G CPUs successful aggregate games.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

We request to displacement gears to nan integrated graphics because they’re nan prima of nan show pinch these processors. The Ryzen 7 8700G holds AMD’s Radeon 780M, while nan Ryzen 5 8600G has nan Radeon 7600M. Both are based connected nan RDNA 3 architecture — recovered successful GPUs for illustration AMD’s RX 7600 XT — pinch 12 and 8 Compute Units (CUs), respectively.

I tested six games pinch conscionable nan integrated graphics, leaning heavy connected AMD’s one-click HYPR-RX characteristic successful much demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2. Supported games grip nan settings differently, truthful this sometimes enables upscaling pinch FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), specified arsenic in Cyberpunk 2077, while different times nan crippled runs astatine autochthonal resolution, specified as Red Dead Redemption 2. 

Ryzen 7 8700G Ryzen 5 8600G
Cores/threads 8/16 6/12
Base/max frequency 4.2GHz/5.1GHz 3.5GHz/5GHz
Cache 24MB 22MB
Architecture Zen 4 Zen 4
TDP 65W 65W
Graphics Radeon 780M Radeon 760M
Price $330 $230

The extremity present isn’t a technological comparison but alternatively an meticulous practice of really you mightiness really usage these APUs. In less-demanding esports titles for illustration Counter-Strike 2, Rainbow Six Siege, and even F1 22, you’re getting soft framework rates astatine mean settings. It’s person to nan 30 frames per 2nd (fps) statement for much demanding titles, moreover pinch mean to debased settings.

There are immoderate ways to boost capacity further, either pinch much fierce upscaling modes aliases faster representation (more connected that next), but nan capacity model is reasonably narrow. APUs tin hardly get complete nan statement of playable pinch upscaling and debased graphics settings already, truthful you don’t person a ton of options to amended your capacity beyond what you spot here, moreover if you return a monolithic deed to ocular quality.

The thought down an APU isn’t that it will beryllium your last destination for gaming. They’re a stepping stone, allowing you to dip your toed successful nan PC gaming waters while you prevention up immoderate money to put successful a discrete GPU. Drop 1 in, and you’re disconnected to nan races. The problem for AMD pinch Ryzen 8000G correct now is that nan mathematics doesn’t really favour starting pinch an APU.

The value dilemma

A CPU cooler installed connected a motherboard.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

You’ll request to walk $230 for nan Ryzen 5 8600G and $330 for nan Ryzen 7 8700G. Those are awesome prices, but erstwhile you facet successful nan costs of a afloat build, you tin really build a PC pinch a discrete graphics paper for astir nan aforesaid price. And you don’t request to sacrifice that overmuch successful nan process.

I put together a list pinch AMD’s Radeon RX 6600, which tin clear nan barroom of 60 fps gaming astatine 1080p pinch maxed-out settings, and that’s without upscaling. Inside a build pinch a last-gen Ryzen 5 5600X, 16GB of DDR4, and 1TB of storage, nan full costs comes retired to astir $700.

If you transfer nan aforesaid parts list over, switch retired nan motherboard, RAM, and CPU, and return retired nan graphics card, you travel to nan nonstop aforesaid $700 value pinch nan Ryzen 5 8600G. You tin return nan build successful different directions, too, opting for thing for illustration nan Intel Core i5-12600K, which is astir $150 astatine nan clip of writing, aliases spending an other $100 for a nicer GPU aliases a level based astir DDR5 memory.

I don’t want to dress for illustration these builds are straight comparable. Going pinch a caller Ryzen 8000G CPUs grants you entree to newer DDR5 memory, nan AM5 level that AMD says it will support done 2025, and a dedicated AI processor that’s not disposable connected older Ryzen CPUs. There’s a batch of worth successful these caller chips, but there’s a equilibrium of priorities for aspiring PC gamers.

If PC gaming is your main priority, you tin get a much better gaming acquisition for astir nan aforesaid price. You’ll request to upgrade your PC eventually, but you’ll request to do that moreover pinch a Ryzen 8000G CPU. And, successful immoderate cases, you’ll really walk much connected a build pinch a Ryzen 8000G APU for parts that whitethorn not clasp their worth arsenic you upgrade your PC.

The problem pinch APUs successful 2024

DDR5 representation installed into a motherboard.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The main crux of nan problem pinch APUs successful 2024 is memory. A discrete GPU has its ain dedicated memory, known arsenic VRAM, that’s positioned astir nan processing portion wrong your graphics card. That’s not really APUs work. APUs get from your strategy representation aliases RAM. There’s a spot of other cache connected nan spot itself, but by and large, your strategy representation serves arsenic nan “VRAM” for nan integrated graphics.

That presents 2 issues. First, you’ll request astatine slightest 16GB of representation pinch 1 of these Ryzen 8000G CPUs, according to AMD, and you’d apt use from 32GB. In addition, you want fast memory. Latency and representation velocity are highly important for an APU, truthful faster DDR5 representation tin make a sizeable quality successful performance.

With a discrete GPU, faster representation can amended gaming performance, but much often than not, it hardly moves nan needle. Considering nan still precocious costs of DDR5 memory, you’ll sometimes walk an other $50 connected a high-capacity, speedy kit to brace pinch an APU alternatively than nan cheaper DDR5 aliases older DDR4 representation you tin still find.

High velocity and precocious capacity are important for modern games. Nearly each title I launched arsenic portion of my benchmarking process warned maine of insufficient video memory, and successful a clip erstwhile moreover 8GB GPUs are being criticized for issues successful games, it mightiness beryllium clip to reconsider wherever an APU lands.

The AMD Ryzen 5 8600G APU installed successful a motherboard.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

None of this is to opportunity AMD’s Ryzen 8000G APUs are bad. They’re accelerated capable erstwhile it comes to earthy CPU performance, and nan capacity of nan integrated graphics is astounding. But, for those chiefly concerned pinch starting disconnected successful nan world of PC gaming, you tin get overmuch amended capacity for nan aforesaid money.

The domiciled of Ryzen 8000G CPUs isn’t a stepping chromatic for PC gaming successful 2024, astatine slightest successful my mind. These chips peculiarly radiance for those who aren’t really willing successful gaming but still want a small graphics horsepower for nan occasional esports title. I fishy they’ll look a batch much awesome successful nan future, too, pinch not only income changing nan worth proposition, but besides nan costs of an AM5 motherboard and kit of speedy DDR5 representation coming down.

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