The new Ryzen 5000 series CPUs have finally been released and if you were lucky enough to get your hands on one already, then you probably aren’t interested in the benchmarking results. That being said, many are eagerly awaiting benchmarks to see what kind of generational differences and gains can benefit their newly planned gaming PCs.
In this article, we are pitting the Ryzen 5 5600X vs 3600X. Now, it is worth saying that the obvious winner regardless of price is the brand-new Zen 3 5600X but it is worth comparing to see how far we have come and for a bit of insight for those of you out there planning your new system.
Generally, the “X” version of the Ryzen 5 3600 wasn’t considered as the value king, that title went to the non-X 3600. With the Ryzen 3000 series, it appeared as though AMD’s boost mechanism kind of made their 3600X a bit pointless. It is speculation at this point whether the same will be said for the 5600, if and when that is released, but in any case, the 5600X will offer a stellar performance boost over the 3600X.
Let’s take a brief look over the differences, if any, in specifications, pricing within AMD’s CPU stack, and what performance you can expect from the 5600X vs the 3600X.
“Zen” is AMDs term used to designate the different generations of their CPU architecture since 2017, with “Zen” being the first, superseded by “Zen+” in 2018, “Zen 2 “ in 2019, and “Zen 3” in November 2020.
Zen 2, and now Zen 3 is based on a 7nm process node. Generally speaking, the smaller the process node, the more transistors can fit onto the silicone, meaning greater processing power. While the process node may be the same, AMD has managed to refine this and many of the performance increases in the new Zen 3 CPUs can be attributed to the changes in the cache layout.
Thanks to improvements in manufacturing, AMD has been able to give eight CPU cores access to one large 32MB L3 cache, instead of splitting it into two lots of 16MB, with four CPU cores each. This is a notable improvement for gamers, as most games rely on the memory subsystems within the CPU (physical objects and laws within a game that are required to maintain a “world”). With these improvements, any one of the cores can directly access any part of the stored data in the single large memory pool, rather than the data having to cross the “Infinity Fabric” between the cache segments and the cores having to communicate with each other to access these segments, resulting in less latency for games with the Ryzen 5 5600X.
Both the Ryzen 5 5600X and 3600X are gaming-focused CPUs, with some workstation performance lurking in the background. With this in mind, we are going to take a quick look into the gaming performance you can expect from a 5600X in comparison to the 3600X first.
The first thing we immediately notice is the Ryzen 5600X essentially becoming the ultimate value processor (until the inevitable release of the 5600, non-X that is). We see the 5600X not only outperform the 3600X but every SKU in the previous Ryzen 3000 series when it comes to gaming.
Naturally, we see the more significant improvements for CPU favorable games like CSGO but the performance increase does occur across the board. This is largely down to the improved single-core performance featured on the 5600X and other SKUs. While the base clock is actually slightly lower than the 3600X, the boost is obviously higher and clock speed is only part of the performance story. The improvements in architecture mean the number of Instructions Per Clock (IPC) is greater, so the overall number of instructions the CPU is capable of is higher.
In CS:GO we see anything between a 20-30% increase in average FPS, that’s a huge leap forward and firmly puts upgrading to the 5600X into the competitive player’s mind.
With Shadow Of The Tomb Raider at 1080p in the highest preset, we see a similar story with around a 20% increase in average FPS for the 5600X when compared to the older 3600X. This performance increase is huge when looking at any of the older Ryzen 3000 series or 10th-gen Intel processors.
When it came to Microsoft Flight Simulator, a CPU-heavy game, the 5600X showed around a 15% uplift when compared to the 3600X. These gains were impressive but less so than the higher end of the SKUs.
While the 5600X may be considered the best price to performance gaming CPU, it also holds some workstation value too for those that are on a strict budget or only do the occasional bit of CPU heavy tasks.
The 5600X outperforms the 3600X across the board comfortably, although not by a lot, which is fine considering this is marketed as a gaming CPU.
If AMD’s launch was anything to go off, we can expect further performance increase when pairing your 5600X with a new Radeon RX 6000 series GPU. Of course, until these graphics cards are available we have no significant data to go off.
Smart Access Memory takes advantage of the RX 6000 series Infinity Cache, allowing the CPU to access the graphics card’s memory buffer directly. Smart Access Memory essentially means more efficient use of the combined memory between the CPU and GPU, reducing buffering and latency.
This all sounds great in theory and as soon as we get our hands on these GPUs we will be testing extensively.
So, Ryzen 5 5600X vs 3600X, there is little competition here. Sure the 3600X, for the moment, offers you something extremely powerful for around $100 less but the new Ryzen 5000 series is due to drop in price early next year, leaving the older generation obsolete, much like Intel’s 10th-gen.
The question of which you should buy is reserved for those that are building a new PC, have 1st-gen Ryzen, or any Intel chip. It doesn’t seem worthwhile to upgrade your 3600X unless you are flush with cash, as the performance is superb but not quite as worthy as those with older hardware.
The 3600X was one of the best price to performance processors we have seen but the 5600X is one of the best gaming processors we have ever seen. With that in mind, I’d say it is more than worth that extra $50 here or there, giving you the platform to build an incredible gaming PC.