AMD Ryzen 5 3600 review

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Conclusion

Final Words 

As you have been able to read, we found the 3600X to be impressive. What about this non-X model then .. well the reality is this. Sure, you can measure minor differences in performance whether that is synthetic, real-world or in games. However, in your real-world experience that notch of performance you will be lacking compared to the 3600X we doubt you'd ever notice. As such the 3600 is a more compelling product to purchase as it is 50 USD cheaper, for merely 200 MHz less. An added benefit as well is even better (lower) overall power consumption. Pair this proc with for example a compatible series B450/X470 motherboard and you will get some proper gaming performance offered to you. The desktop performance overall is excellent as well, thanks to the gain in IPC that AMD achieved with Ryzen 3000. You get 6 cores and 12-threads based on the all-new ZEN2 micro-architecture, and that means fast turbos and proper IPC. 



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Price and value

Overall this is a very fast setup in desktop mode, and in games, it is fighting the 9600K/9700K and their own 8-core Ryzen 7 2700 series. Given the price of 199 USD, this SKU is golden in the mainstream and value segment. The 3600X might be a mighty good deal at 249 USD. This 'regular' 3600 version at 199 USD will get you a price of 33 USD per core. The only difference being 200 MHz means this is the better value product. However, if you are a high Hz gamer, yes higher threaded CPU frequencies matter. But you got choices man as the money you save you could invest in a faster GPU. In general speaking, with a modern graphics card with this IPC and overall perf I would not worry about it as GPU limitation matters more than CPU limitation. There is one other factor to weigh in though, X570 motherboards start in the 200 USD region. Ergo for the Ryzen 5 series, I would recommend you that B450 motherboard to gain the best bang for the buck. You will spot B450 motherboards at € 65,- and similar prices in USD. So here again you could save some serious cash to spend on a faster GPU. If you need a bit more on that aesthetic level and features, only then I would recommend an X470 motherboard. There will be no performance differences and, since the memory controllers reside on the CPU, the memory frequency and compatibility will be the same as well. Keep that in mind okay?

Gaming performance

Previous Ryzen reviews have taught me that it is extremely hard to convince a big part of the guru3d community and reader base that Ryzen 1000/2000 was plenty fast for gaming, at least mainstream gaming. For the new Zen2 Matisse based processors that will be less difficult. Combined with the respective platform, ZEN2 offers far more oomph compared to the previous two generations Ryzen processors. There are mostly wins for Intel, there will be wins for AMD based on competing and price level matched processors. It's a much closer call to make, and that by itself is a win for AMD all thanks to the increased IPC and clock frequencies. We do feel that the gaming performance charts were a bit out of perspective, so I created another 1920x1080 chart showing all the games we tested against the 600 USD flagship Intel Core i9 9900K. This is the reality with the fastest consumer GPU available on the planet:


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So based on the fastest consumer card on the globe, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, we can calculate and average out roughly a 5% to 10% advantage for the 9900K compared to the 3900X and 3700X overall and really both the 3600 and 3600X aren't that far off? With varying differences per game title, of course. Guys, this is how close things have gotten in the year 2019 with Ryzen 3000. And I did pick Intel's most expensive 8-core proc here and, again, who really owns an RTX 2080 Ti? All slower cards are more GPU limited and thus the performance differences are narrower. Btw for those that wonder, sometimes the 3600X was a tiny fraction faster than a 3700X. That's due to the higher base clock. Games utilizing proper threading will benefit from that where older games benefit from one or two really fast cores and frequency.


DDR4 Memory

Memory compatibility should not and likely will not be an issue as long as you stick to recently released DIMMs. I'll keep repeating this, but there are some really good Ryzen optimized kits out there. With Ryzen Generation 3 you can go higher in DDR4 clock frequency if you want to. We advise that up-to 3600 MHz and CL16 is fine, after that frequency value a 2:1 divider kicks in, and that can have an effect on the Infinity Fabric bandwidth, inter-core CCX bandwidth. We see no reason for faster DDR4 memory anyways, it's expensive and does not bring in added perf, much like what you see on Intel platforms as well.

Energy efficiency

With these processors now fabbed at 7nm you may see some interesting energy efficiency, the 65 Watts for the 3600 is, of course, amazing all by itself. Mind you these are numbers at nominal load. Not your continuous power draw. Overall the 3600 was idling a bit higher than expected, but that is likely due to the motherboard (extra ICs do use extra power and X570 overall needs a bit more). The load values are excellent overall with all core stress for the entire PC measured at only 132 Watts.

The Tweak

The original Ryzen series from 2017 revealed clocks in the 3900~4000 MHz range on all cores. For Ryzen 2000 / Zen+ that was a notch higher. Ryzen 3000 seems to take an all-core clock of 4300~4400 MHz at best. Our Ryzen 7 3700X was able to reach a stable 4400 MHz, but that was on proper liquid cooling and really absolutely the maximum. If you tweak to the maximum, likely 1.425v~1.450v is needed for a stable 4.3 GHz on all cores. The thing is, and I have been thinking about this for a long time, I would not recommend overclocking and tweaking. These processors by themselves can boost 1 or 2 cores to 4500, 4600 and, on the upcoming 16-core part, even 4.7 GHz. So while the rest of the cores will be binned slower, that's where you get your extra game performance. The positives of an all-core 4400 Mhz would not outweigh the positives of the default high Turbo clocks. It is something to think about for sure. At least you can try and see what works best for you. But the binned clock recipe that AMD has applied to the processors at default likely will work out the best in most scenarios, including power consumption. Also, the automated overclocks and PBO functions really didn't yield a lot more performance.

For 3600 specific - you can use and do things simply, increase the all-core frequency in conjunction with the voltage at 1.40V. However, we barely reached 4.2 GHz across 12 threads stable. Recommended is to leave voltage at auto settings and then find you best all core frequency. 



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The conclusion

Yes, the Ryzen 5 3600 is not the best processor you can purchase, but here's the brain twister - is it the best processor your money can get you if you are on a budget.  While I recommend 8-core processors for a mainstream PC Gaming build, we also need to realize that not everybody has the budget for it. If you take my hints with a B450 motherboard starting at 65 bucks, and pair it with this 199 USD. Well, you can do the math there yourself.  Six cores offer a very decent balance for any modern age PC. Combined with the performance the ZEN2 cores poop out it all makes this a proper mainstream processor series. Again, I prefer 8 cores and would recommend that route, but 6 cores are enough for pretty much all normal workloads and gaming. This 199/249 USD product range has all the benefits of ZEN2, that's faster than Intel desktop performance thanks to very good IPC and the proper Turbo bins. Gaming wise these procs will not be a slam dunk in terms of squeezing out every last frame of game performance, but it sure is pretty darn close to intel. I will mention it again, a lot has a lot to do with the fact that some games are better suited and developed on and for Intel platforms as Intel had the monopoly for many years. For everything and anything else, AMD is slowly dragging away Intel from their leading position, offering safer and less vulnerable processors as well. The one downside, overclocking and tweaking really isn't worth it with Ryzen 3000. However over the years, things have changed, people like to run things stock, tweaking and overclocking is getting more and more of a niche, so does that matter then? Well, to you perhaps it does, and as such this proc would not be an option for you. But for the other 98% out that don't care, this stuff is golden.

So is my recommendation going to be .. 3600 or 3600X? Honestly, it has to be Ryzen 5 3600. It's 50 bucks cheaper for a marginal performance difference. As states, high refresh rate games might want that last bit of oomph out of the X model but really if you are on a tight budget and want bang for buck, we doubt there will be a product more interesting this summer. It's an extremely well-rounded processor, offered with fantastic value.

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