Best answer: The AMD Ryzen 5 2500U is an excellent laptop APU with strong integrated Vega graphics. You can use it to play some older and lighter games fairly easily, even on Ultrabooks like the excellent Huawei MateBook D, or for more serious gaming in a laptop with a separate graphics card like the Acer Nitro 5.
Where you find the Ryzen 5 2500U
The Ryzen 5 2500U from AMD is found in laptops exclusively, and shouldn't be confused with the desktop Ryzen 5 2400G APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) that also comes with integrated Vega graphics. The Ryzen 5 2500U is found in laptops from a variety of manufacturers, including Acer, Huawei, Lenovo, and HP. Being an APU, it differs from AMD's desktop Ryzen CPUs which don't have an integrated GPU of any kind.
Generally speaking the Ryzen 5 2500U is found in a lot of more affordable hardware, such as the Huawei MateBook D 14 and the Acer Nitro 5. However, it's also made an appearance in the more expensive HP Envy x360 in both 13- and 15-inch forms.
The Ryzen 5 2500U comes in both 15W and 25W TDP variations.
You'll also get two slight variations depending on the laptop you buy. The Ryzen 5 2500U is found with either a 15W or 25W TDP (Thermal Design Power), with the lower power variant usually seen in laptops smaller than 15-inches. For example, the 13-inch HP Envy x360 will have a 15W 2500U, while the 15-inch version of the same laptop will have the 25W chip.
This difference aside, what you get is a four-core processor with eight threads, along with a Radeon Vega 8 GPU with 1GB of dedicated video memory. The CPU part is strong, but still a little behind Intel's 8th Gen i5, but the GPU is where things get much more interesting.
The GPU is also why it's not only possible to game on a Ryzen 5 2500U, but it can also be enjoyable.
The GPU is incredible
If AMD's laptop processors are still a little behind Intel, the integrated GPU is kicking the blue team all over the playground. There's a reason that hell froze over and Intel partnered with AMD to provide graphics on some of its processors, such as those found in the Hades Canyon NUC. AMD just has the edge here.
AMD's Vega 8 iGPU is kicking Intel all over the playground.
The Vega 8 GPU that comes on the Ryzen 5 2500U has an impressive spec list. Besides having 1GB of VRAM, it has a clock speed of 1100MHz and a total of eight graphics cores. To be clear, you're not going to be hacking out some high Metro Exodus on one of these, but its performance is still very impressive — certainly much more impressive than anything Intel has to offer.
You don't just have to take our word for it, either. There are some great comparisons out there that chart how the Vega 8 performs compared to Intel's UHD 620, such as from Hardware Unboxed, which did a side-by-side while playing Fortnite. At most times the Vega 8 has a fairly significant frame rate advantage. It's not just frame rates either, the Vega 8 is capable of producing good looking graphics at the same time.
Playing games on the 2500U
So what about actually playing games on a Ryzen 5 2500U, then? If you're getting a gaming laptop such as the Acer Nitro 5, then you'll be using the dedicated RX 560 for gaming and getting a significant boost. But on Ultrabooks like the Huawei MateBook D or the HP Envy x360, laptops not made for gaming, how good is the 2500U?
With a few tweaks, you can enjoy Borderlands 2 at 50-60 FPS
Mostly we're going to be talking about older games, and the much less graphically intensive, such as Cuphead, but there are some really great games out there you can have a good time with on the 2500U. Borderlands 2, for example, with a few tweaks and dropping the resolution to 720p can be played comfortably between 50-60 frames per second (FPS) with a mix of medium and low settings while still looking good.
More recent titles like Microsoft's Sea of Thieves are more challenging, but are still playable at a steady 30 FPS if you're happy to drop the resolution and the settings right down. It doesn't look particularly pretty, but it's playable, and the same can be said of Rise of the Tomb Raider, which can be tweaked to reach 30FPS using DX12.
Graphics settings will have to be sacrificed in any title, but even massive games like GTA V are playable at good frame rates on a Ryzen 5 2500U. There are also ways you can boost the performance a little, such as manually altering the TDP of the 2500U (entirely at your own risk, of course), and getting the latest Adrenalin drivers directly from AMD.
We managed to get a 59 FPS average from the Tomb Raider benchmark on high settings at 720p, likewise getting a similar result on Bioshock Infinite on the same settings. These are older but still quite intensive titles that play perfectly well on the Vega 8 integrated graphics.
And yes, you can play Fortnite, too.
Two terrific laptops
The Ryzen 5 2500U isn't AMD's latest generation laptop APU anymore, but it's still out there in a number of really good laptops. If you're looking specifically to game, then you'll still want to go for something like the Acer Nitro 5 which pairs the 2500U with a dedicated RX 560 GPU for much stronger performance, particularly in current titles.
Perhaps where the 2500U is at its best is in something like the Huawei MateBook D. This is an affordable, all-metal, slim and light 14-inch notebook that's capable of hammering out your work for the day and then jumping into some games. The integrated graphics performance is exceptional compared to the competition, which also makes it a solid choice for content creators on a budget.
Design and performance far above its price tag
The MateBook D stuffs an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U with Vega 8 graphics inside a sleek metal chassis, adds a nice display and keyboard, solid battery life and an amazing price tag.
Seriously cheap 1080p gaming
Casual PC gamers who want to take entertainment on the go should check out the budget Acer Nitro 5. It can deliver smooth 1080p performance, it's cheap, and there are plenty of configurations to choose from with hardware from Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA.
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