AMD Ryzen 5 3600X review

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Final Words 

Holeeeh money, you know .. when you put things in perspective money/perf wise then I am pretty impressed with the 3600X. If you are building a high-end DIY PC, and are in need of a proper performing gaming processor at a fair budget, well here is where the 3600 and 3600X come into play. The 3600 will cost you 199 USD while the X model is 50 bucks more (the only thing different is 200 MHz extra on both base and boost). Pair that with a compatible series B450/X470 motherboard and you will get some serious gaming-fire power coming at you. See, the benefit is that you get 6 cores and 12-threads based on the all-new ZEN2 micro-architecture, and that means fast turbos and super high IPC. Overall this is a very fast setup in desktop mode, and in games, it is fighting the 9600K/9700K/8700K and their own 8-core Ryzen 7 2700 series. Given its price man that is not a bad proposition as even with the fastest graphics cards, you'd be totally fine.

AMD is where they deserve and need to be, and that's very close to the desktop performance level of team blue. Of course, there will be wins and losses on both sides, but overall AMD has got the better platform infrastructure to offer, the more secure processor and now performance to go with it. It was merely the first quarter of 2017 when AMD Released Zen with the Ryzen 7 1800X. In just over two years they are now as competitive as Intel is, with a more advanced platform at PCIe Gen 4.0 as well. Ryzen evolved and matured, it all adds up from latency, better memory support, faster base clocks, higher Turbo bins, the accumulation of it all is what has become Ryzen 3000. 


Price and value

Yes, I already mentioned that in the first paragraphs didn't I. Well, The 3600X might be a mighty good deal at 249 USD. We will still test the regular 3600 version though, and at 199 USD that processor might actually be the better value product. Sure it is 200 MHz lower on the Turbo, but with this IPC and overall perf I would not worry about it. There is another 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 buck. If you do not plan to go for a PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD and need a bit more on an aesthetic level and features, I would recommend an X470 motherboard as it the better value path to follow. 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.  

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:


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 the 3600X isn't that far off? Sometimes it is even faster thanks to that 3800 Mhz base-clock and 4400 MHz turbo. 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 95 Watts for the 3600X is, of course, amazing all by itself. Mind you these are numbers at nominal load. Not your continuous power draw. Overall the 3600X was idling a bit higher than expected, but that is likely due to the motherboard (extra ICs do use extra power). The load values are excellent overall with all core stress for the entire PC measured at only 155 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 3600X specific - you can use and do things simply, increase the all-core frequency in conjunction with the voltage at 1.40V. We reached 4.3GHz across 12 threads stable.



The conclusion

I do like the Ryzen 5 3600X, I really like it. And sitting next to me staring angrily is the regular 3600 at 199 USD, that I might like even more. Six cores offer a good proper balance for any modern age PC which perhaps makes this a proper mainstream processor series. While I prefer 8 cores and would recommend that route, 6 cores is fine 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 proc (and all Ryzen 3000 procs) reach an all-core tweak in the 4.2~4.3 range. Give it a go, and see if you like it. However, we think that Ryzen 3000 processors are not designed for overclocking. The danger for the 3600X as tested today is going to be the Non-X model Ryzen 5 3600, it's 50 bucks cheaper and will offer better bang for buck at close performance levels. Keep that one in mind, and yes we'll publish a review on that one soon as well. In the end, though, Ryzen 5 3600X is going to be a massively interesting processer in the mainstream domain of the PC DIY and pre-built market. It is a very respectable chip. Let's hope there will be good volume available at close to MSRP prices. Remember as Guru3D top tip, with a B450 motherboard the perf, bang and bucks ratios will offer you a magnificent combo.

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