No, AMD’s new Vega-powered APUs don’t make sense for PC builders

AMD Ryzen 5 2400G & Ryzen 3 2200G Review fingers motherboard
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
AMD rolled out its latest Ryzen APU chips this morning, and these things aren’t your typical processor. They come with integrated Vega graphics, meaning that these bite-sized 2400G and 2200G are more capable at running games than a typical CPU. But let’s get real: That’s not saying much. Sure they’re quick enough to run Overwatch and Battlefield 1 on Low settings with some serious caveats, but as a PC component they don’t fill any particular niche — and that’s a problem.

Let’s step back from their impressive (for a CPU) game performance for a second and really examine these things. AMD’s line has always been that APUs are for budget gaming rigs, and there might be a case for manufacturers to use them in pared-down builds in the $400 to $500 range, sure. Manufacturers can defray costs in a number of ways unavailable to an individual PC builder. As stand-alone components for a prospective custom builds, these chips don’t make much sense.

Let’s run the numbers real quick. For an inexpensive motherboard socketed for AMD chips, you’re looking at $100. Let’s say another $100 for 8GB of RAM. For gaming you’re going to want at least 256GB of storage space, and you can find a good M.2 drive for $100 at that size. Moving on to power supply, let’s err on the side of caution and go with 500 Watts, in case you want to expand your build in the future, that’s $50 right there. We’re at $350, so let’s just say another $50 for a cheap case and round it up to $400.

That’s not bad so far! We’re looking at a decent little gaming rig, now we just need to choose a CPU. If we go with an AMD Ryzen APU like the 2400G, we’re adding another $170 to the overall price and we’re at a cool $570. This imaginary computer we’ve just built can run Overwatch at low settings at 1080p. With the render scale set at one hundred percent and hit about 30 FPS on average. That’s not bad — not bad at all. The problem is we can do a lot better for just a little more.

Let’s rewind. We’re back at $400 for the basics, we still need a processor and a GPU. To give AMD the benefit of the doubt here, let’s go with a Ryzen 3 1200. That’s $100. Grab an Nvidia GTX 1050 for $150, bringing our total to $650. So, to recap, this imaginary gaming rig is $90 more than the APU-based one we built. The comparison in games performance between these imaginary builds isn’t even close.

In 3DMark’s Fire Strike benchmark, the Ryzen 5 2400G achieved a score of 2,021. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 triples that number, hitting 6,344. So, for an extra $90, you can just about triple your gaming performance. In Battlefield 1, the GTX 1050 doubled the Ryzen 5 2400G’s average framerate at both Medium and Ultra presets. Clearly the more expensive build is better in the long run too. It’s going to see you through a couple years before you really see that GTX 1050 start to show its age — and when it does you’ll be equipped to just swap it out.

On their own, the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G are impressive steps toward a future where an APU could one day replace a low-to-mid-range graphics card. Unfortunately for AMD, that future isn’t quite here yet.

Computing

It took Dell years to fix 1 problem on its best laptop. Here’s how it did it

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.
Computing

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

With a reported launch in 2019, AMD is focusing on the mid-range market with its next-generation Navi GPU. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.
Gaming

Get extra life with our tips and tricks for 'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a much more difficult game than you'd believe based on its adorable art style and 2D perspective. Here's how you can master the game's toughest challenges.
Movies & TV

Here's everything we know about 'John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum'

John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, the third installment of the wildly successful action series that stars Keanu Reeves as a deadly assassin forced out of retirement, hits theaters in May 2019. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.
Computing

‘Flexgate’ is the latest controversy plaguing some MacBook Pro owners

iFixit recently uncovered a new "Flexgate" issue with MacBook Pros after some consumers reported a "stage light" effect, where the backlighting on the device would fail and cause the bottom of the display to become slightly distorted.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.
Computing

Ditch the backdrop from your photos with these handy tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Here's how, whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence.
Computing

Think someone's leeching off your Wi-Fi connection? Here's how to find out

It's important to find out immediately if anyone is stealing your bandwidth. Here's how to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi using a few simple tools, along with some suggestions on improving security.
Computing

Open RAR files with the greatest of ease using these awesome applications

Few things are more bothersome than not being able to open a file when you need it most. Check out our quick guide about how to open RAR files in Windows and MacOS. We will walk you through the process, step by step.
Web

Google Chrome’s latest decision could prevent most ad-blockers from functioning

Google Chrome's newest change is cited as a step forward for speed and security, but could profoundly alter how the majority of ad-blocking extensions operate. The move potentially gives Google more control over which ads can be blocked.
Computing

Samsung permits peek at an eye-popping, 15-inch 4K OLED laptop display

Samsung is now preparing for the new OLED laptop trend and is providing a look at an eye-popping 15.6-inch 4K OLED panel that is expected to power larger premium laptops in the new year.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.