We critically discuss and review the general ideas behind single- and multi-site coarse-grained (CG) models as applied to macro- molecular solutions in the dilute and semi-dilute regime. We first con- sider single-site models with zero-density and density-dependent pair potentials. We highlight advantages and limitations of each option in reproducing the thermodynamic behavior and the large-scale structure of the underlying reference model. As a case study we consider solu- tions of linear homopolymers in a solvent of variable quality. Secondly, we extend the discussion to multi-component systems presenting, as a test case, results for mixtures of colloids and polymers. Specifically, we found the CG model with zero-density potentials to be unable to pre- dict fluid-fluid demixing in a reasonable range of densities for mixtures of colloids and polymers of equal size. For larger colloids, the polymer volume fractions at which phase separation occurs are largely overes- timated. CG models with density-dependent potentials are somewhat less accurate than models with zero-density potentials in reproducing the thermodynamics of the system and, although they present a phase separation, they significantly underestimate the polymer volume frac- tions along the binodal. Finally, we discuss a general multi-site strategy, which is thermodynamically consistent and fully transferable with the number of sites, and that allows us to overcome most of the limitations discussed for single-site models.
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