The 3rd generation of AMD’s Ryzen CPUs brings the incremental improvements to clock speeds that you’d expect of a fresh processor architecture. In addition, it offers significant ancillary benefits-much larger caches and PCI Express 4.0 support-that will appeal to upgraders and system builders who seek a amount of future-proofing. Among the sweet dots of the new lineup may be the Ryzen 5 3600X ($250). Like the majority of AMD chips, it lacks integrated graphics, nonetheless it makes up for this with regards to multithreading and easy overclocking, two features that a few of its Intel opponents lack. It’s an outstanding choice for a mainstream or entry-level gaming PC.
Sizing Up Specs
There are two third-generation Ryzen 5 chips predicated on AMD’s latest Zen 2 microarchitecture, the Ryzen 5 3600X and Ryzen 5 3600. Both have six cores with multithreading support, this means each processing core are designed for two instruction threads at the same time for a complete of 12 threads. The Ryzen 5 3600X tested this is a 95-watt chip with a 3.8GHz base and 4.4GHz boost clock. The $199 Ryzen 5 3600, meanwhile, is a 65-watt part that will come in at 3.6GHz base and 4.2GHz boost. (A third Ryzen 5 CPU, the Ryzen 5 3400G, is technically the main third generation but costs less and uses the older Zen+ microarchitecture.)
Weighed against their predecessors’ specs, these improvements are slight. The second-generation Ryzen 5 2600X can be a six-core, 12-thread, 95-watt chip. The primary dissimilarities are its base and boost clock speeds of 3.6GHz and 4.2GHz respectively. As well as the small clock speed uptick, however, the 3rd generation has a major cache improvement: The Ryzen 5 3600X posesses considerable 35MB Level 3 cache, a capacity it shares with the Ryzen 5 3600. That’s a lot more than double the 16MB of the preceding Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 5 2600.
Both of the third-gen Ryzen 5 chips feature 24 CPU-based PCI Express 4.0 lanes and 16 chipset lanes. For the present time, the third-generation Ryzen CPUs will be the only kinds to feature PCIe Gen 4. This permits considerably faster data throughput for solid-state drives, and may also increase the performance of future graphics cards. If you are thinking about installing a PCIe Gen 4 SSD in your brand-new Ryzen 5 3600X build, you’ll desire a motherboard that supports PCIe Gen 4 aswell. If not, you can decide on practically any AM4 motherboard, because the Ryzen 5 3600X is backwards-compatible (while some boards may desire a BIOS update before you install the chip).
How Intel Compares
Intel’s latest tenth-generation chips aren’t obtainable in mainstream desktop form yet, therefore the company’s chief opponents to the Ryzen 5 3600X are CPUs from the ninth-generation “Coffee Lake” Core i5 family. Included in these are the Core i5-9600K, a six-core chip that at $263 costs roughly exactly like the Ryzen 5 3600X. Its clock speeds are similar, at 3.7GHz base and 4.6GHz boost, and it gets the same 95-watt rated power consumption. It is also overclockable, just like the AMD part.
The Core i5-9600K, however, lacks support for both PCIe Gen 4 and Hyper-Threading (Intel’s marketing term for multithreading). This may substantially impact performance when running software such as for example modern multimedia article marketing programs that can take benefit of as much cores and threads as a processor provides. The Core i5-9600K also offers a much smaller 9MB L3 cache. The cache size is very important to applications that require fast usage of a system’s memory, a category which includes many graphics-intensive PC games.
If you’re creating a PC from scratch, the Core i5-9600K’s insufficient an included CPU cooling solution also counts against it. AMD offers a very capable Wraith Spire cooling fan in the box with the Ryzen 5 3600X, that will likely provide all of the cooling you should run the chip at its stock clock speeds. The actual fact that the Core i5-9600K includes no stock cooler or heatsink means you need to budget extra to get a third-party one, unless you have an unused one lying around.
Other Included Extras
To assist you fine-tune the performance of the Ryzen 5 3600X, AMD supplies the Ryzen Master software utility, which works with with all Ryzen CPUs. It accomplishes many tasks, including adjusting clock speeds and memory profiles, without having to boot in to the BIOS. Its closest equivalent is Intel’s XMP app, although latter is mainly designed for overclockers and I don’t think it is as robust as Ryzen Master.
AMD also currently includes three free months of Xbox Game Pass for PC with the Ryzen 5 3600X. Both Ryzen 5 3600X and Core i5-9600K include three-year warranties.
Excellent Everyday Performance
To guage the Ryzen 5 3600X’s performance, I compared its results on our benchmark tests with many of its Ryzen alternatives, in addition to a few older Intel competitors. Included in these are the Ryzen 5 3600 and the preceding Ryzen 5 2600X.
I’ve also included AMD CPUs one rung above and below the Ryzen 5 3600X. The Ryzen 5 3400G is a $149 chip which has fewer cores and a lesser TDP, as the Ryzen 7 3700X can be an eight-core, 16-thread chip that’s our Editors’ Choice winner for best mainstream CPU. It certainly is beneficial to see what sort of performance you may expect by slightly upping your CPU budget, because the processor is normally the main component in a PC build.
Because PCMag hasn’t yet tested the Core i5-9600K, I’ve instead included performance numbers from the older Core i5-8400 and Core i7-8700K.
Our Cinebench test is among the finest predictors of performance on resource-intensive tasks such as for example rendering a 3D image. The Ryzen 5 3600X did admirably here, besting all comers aside from the Ryzen 7 3700X on the all-cores Cinebench test. When running on simply a single core, the Ryzen 5 3600X was a tad slower than both Ryzen 7 3700X and the Core i7-8700K.
Single-core performance is important if you are counting on older software that isn’t optimized for today’s many-core CPUs, and it’s really an area where Ryzen chips have historically lagged weighed against their Intel competitors. Our music encoding test, which uses the already-obsolete Apple iTunes software, offers a closer study of performance on single-core tasks. Upon this test, the Core i7-8700K demonstrates a clear advantage.
At the contrary end of the spectrum, our video encoding test offers a glimpse at expected performance when using Handbrake, today’s open-source application made to scale with an increase of CPU cores and threads. The email address details are predictable but the dissimilarities are a lot more pronounced, with the Ryzen 5 3600X far outpacing the less costly Ryzen 5 3400G.
Nearly every PC user should compress or unzip files at some time, a CPU-intensive task that people simulate with this 7-Zip benchmark. Here, the results closely mirrored those of the Cinebench all-cores test, with the Ryzen 5 3600X faster than all however the Ryzen 7 3700X and the Core i7-8700K.
Gaming Performance Occasionally Suffers
While a PC’s GPU is the main factor in deciding its performance on demanding AAA games, the CPU may also play a role. This is also true if you are trying to eke out every last frame per second (fps) while playing at full HD (1080p) resolution. On the in-game benchmarks of popular titles like Far Cry 5 and Hitman: Absolution, the Ryzen 5 3600X substantially underperforms in comparison to more expensive CPUs just like the Intel Core i9-9900K and Ryzen 9 3900X.
Alternatively, some games aren’t as tied to CPU performance, such as for example Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Upon this title, almost all of the high-end and mainstream CPUs we’ve tested achieved frame rates around the 400fps mark at 1080p. And if you are thinking about playing at 4K resolution, the graphics card is by far the more limiting factor. On Far Cry 5, all of the processors managed approximately 70fps at 4K resolution.
Finally, the Ryzen 5 3600X is no replacement for a high-end CPU of the sort you’d be prepared to install in a significant gaming rig or multimedia editing workstation. That’s clear from the results of our POV-Ray and Blender tests, designed to use popular content creation software to simulate workflows typical of game and visual effects studios.
There are a few slight variations, however the Ryzen 5 3600X and other chips performed roughly equally, especially on the Blender test. If you are creating a powerful PC to execute these tasks, you will want to invest in an even more capable processor, for instance a Ryzen Threadripper or Intel Core i9.
With Great Specs Come Great Capabilities
The Ryzen 5 3600X’s multithreading support and newly increased cache size make it achieve excellent mainstream performance. Generally, the Ryzen 7 3700X slightly exceeds that performance, which explains why it retains our Editors’ Choice for best mainstream CPU. Unless you want to pay the $80 premium for the Ryzen 7 3700X, however, the Ryzen 5 3600X is an outstanding option.
The only PC builders who should probably shun the Ryzen 5 3600X are gamers or content creators whose workflows demand voracious computing resources. If you actually want to eke out the most effective frame rate, it’s worth purchasing a stronger Ryzen 9 or Core i9. Alternatively, if you’re a everyday gamer bored with a discrete GPU, you will want a CPU with an able built-in graphics processor just like the Ryzen 5 3400G.
Finally, whatever your reason for investing in a new CPU, it’s hard to argue with the Ryzen 5 3600X’s backwards motherboard compatibility and support for the cutting-edge PCIe 4.0 standard. The Intel competition currently lacks this last feature, and coupled with multithreading support, it firmly tips the scales in the Ryzen 5 3600X’s favor, at least in the eyes of the future-proofing enthusiast.