I recently asked on the Systems - New Build forums about a new budget gaming build. I was directed to a nice build, but one thing surprised me. I saw no CPU, and no Video Card. After further research, I learned that the Accelerated Processing Unit listed served both purposes.
So I've got a couple questions here about an APU.
1. Will I be losing quality of my Video Card or CPU by settling on an APU, and are they good for gaming?
2. How can I tell if the motherboard is compatible with the APU?
3. If these make video cards slightly obsolete, why aren't there more people using them?
4. Who made these/when were they released?
Thanks for any help you can provide - I've been stuck with a slightly old computer for a long time now and I'm unclear on new technology such as this.
APU is a term AMD gave their CPU that also has a graphics core inside the CPU chip. Llano is AMD's 1st APU and it came out last year. Llano APU are socket FM1 so you need a socket FM1 motherboard. The integrated graphics core can be Crossfired with up to a Radeon HD 6670 for combined better performance. Inserting a more powerful Radeon HD card or inserting a nVidia card will automatically disable Llano's integrated graphics core.
Intel's version of the APU is the Sandy Bridge series of Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs and they are also released last year. This is the 2nd generation of Core i3/i5/i7 CPU and they have either the Intel HD 2000 or Intel HD 3000 graphics core integrated into the CPU chip. Intel simply calls them CPUs. Sandy Bridge CPUs are socket 1155 so that's the socket the motherboard must have as well. The 1st generation of Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs were socket 1156 and it uses a different motherboard; socket 1156. Inserting any AMD or nVidia graphics card will disable the Intel HD 2000/3000 graphics core.
Integrated graphics are still relatively weak compared to discrete graphic cards. The Intel HD 3000 is basically equal to the Radeon HD 5450 in terms of performance. I think the most powerful graphics core is called the Radeon HD 6620G and is found in the Llano A8 series. On it's own, the HD 6620G is probably almost equal to a Radeon HD 5570. The performance of those integrated core are very weak when compared to your average $125 - $150 video card.
(1) No / so-so. Very good for an IGP - less than average for a dedicated full size graphics card.
(2) A8-3870K APU needs FM1 socket motherboard = ASUS F1A75-M LE FM1 AMD A75 MB = Compatible
(3) Best available APU still lags far, far behind gaming capability the best CPUs and best graphics card.
(4) already answered
In terms of overall performance, AMD's Llano APUs have a stronger graphics core than Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs as mentioned above. However, Sandy Bridge's CPU processing power is overwhelming more powerful than Llano's CPU processing power. As a result Sandy Bridge CPUs are priced higher than Llano APUs.
If you want to build a cheap gaming system, then Llano is the way to go especially if you are not going to buy a video card. However, if you are going to add a video card, then things can become more confusing because a dual core Intel i3-2100 can perform just as well or a little better than a quad core Phenom II that is priced higher than the i3-2100; which is the slowest 2nd generation Core i3 CPU model.
Phenom II is your traditional CPU which has no graphics core integrated into the chip. It's CPU processing power is also a little better than Llano's. To add even more information into your selection process, Llano's successor is Trinity which is coming out this year (April / May ???), but it will be socket FM2, not FM1. Therefore, going with Llano now means there is no upgrade path to a newer APU generation.