AMD’s new Ryzen 5 5600X is an excellent processor, but how does it compare against the 3600 from last generation, and is it worth upgrading? I’ve compared games and applications to help you decide.
CPU spec differences
Both processors have the same amount of cores, threads, cache and TDP. The main difference is of course that the 5600X uses the newer Zen 3 architecture, and this allows it to reach higher base and boost clock speeds, however this puts it at $100 more expensive than the 3600.
You could argue that the 3600X would have made for a better comparison, but based on my 3600 vs 3600X comparison, they’re basically the same and it generally wasn’t worth paying more for the X.
Unfortunately there’s no 5600 non X at the time of launch, but if I had to guess, this will probably come later, so for now I think comparing the 3600 against the 5600X is the way to go.
Both processors were tested in the same system. I’ve tested with 32gb of DDR4-3200 memory running in dual channel at CL14 and with MSI’s GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio graphics card to minimize bottlenecks. Although both processors come with a wraith stealth cooler in the box, I’ve tested using my Fractal S36 AIO with Noctua NT-H2 thermal paste so I can compare my data with other chips.
I’ve tested both CPUs at stock, and with the following all core overclocks applied, so I was able to push the 5600X 500MHz higher than the 3600, but that said my 3600 does seem to have lost the silicon lottery as many others seem capable of 4.3 to 4.4GHz. With that in mind we’ll first check out the differences in various applications, as well as power draw and thermals, followed by gaming tests afterwards, then finish up by comparing some performance per dollar metrics.
Starting out with Cinebench R20 we can see the 5600X was scoring 24% higher in single core at stock, a huge improvement in just one generation. Likewise, the 5600X was also 20% faster in multicore, again an amazing improvement in just over a year. When overclocked, the 3600 does worse in single core as the all core overclock prevents single core boost going further, while the 5600X’s overclock helped more. I’ve also tested the older Cinebench R15 as a lot of people still use it so you can compare my results, the margins weren’t too different to R20 so let’s move on. I’ve tested Blender with the BMW and Classroom benchmarks. This test makes use of all cores, however the improvements weren’t as big as in Cinebench, with the 5600X completing the classroom test 16% faster than the 3600 at stock, but then 18% faster once both are overclocked as the 5600X is able to overclock better. The V-Ray benchmark is another core heavy rendering workload, at stock the 5600X was 22% faster than the 3600, then when both are overclocked the 5600X is now 26% faster, again due to the superior overclocking headroom. The Corona benchmark also uses the processor to render out a scene, and the differences were very close to what we just saw in the V-Ray test. The 3600’s overclock only improved the render time by one second, while the 5600X’s overclock reduced total completion time by 4 seconds, not a big change, but again it helps outline the better overclocks Zen3 is capable of. Handbrake was used to convert one of my 4K laptop review videos to 1080p. There was less of a difference here when compared to the other multicore workloads tested, with the 5600X completing the export task just 9% faster at stock, then 13% faster with both overclocked. Adobe Premiere was used to export one of my laptop review videos at 4K. I’ve tested with both VBR 1 pass, which should make better use of hardware acceleration compared to 2 pass. There wasn’t much difference between the two tests though, at stock the 5600X was 14% faster than the 3600 in the 1 pass export, and 15% faster in the 2 pass export, rising up to 20% faster when both processors are overclocked. I’ve also tested Adobe Premiere but with the Puget Systems benchmark tool, as this tests for more things like live playback rather than just raw export times. The 5600X was scoring 9% faster over the 3600 at stock, one of the lowest results out of the applications tested. Adobe Photoshop was also tested with the Puget Systems benchmark tool. This test tends to favour single core performance, and as we’ve seen Zen 3 is certainly delivering in that regard, but even still it’s quite impressive that the 5600X is reaching a 30% higher score. I’ve used 7-Zip to test compression and decompression speeds, and Ryzen chips typically do quite well here, especially compared to Intel processors. Zen 3 was still able to offer nice improvements though, with the 5600X scoring 22% faster for decompression, and 26% faster in compression. VeraCrypt was used to test AES encryption and decryption speeds, and the 5600X was just 10% faster than the 3600 in these tests, so a smaller boost, but still a reasonable win. Microsoft Excel was tested using the Hardware Unboxed large number crunch test, and the 5600X was completing the task 65% faster at stock, then a massive 85% faster with both overclocked, the biggest difference out of everything I’ve tested, so if you need a spreadsheet machine Zen 3 could be the way to go. Geekbench was seeing excellent single core improvements, the 5600X was 27% faster than the 3600 both at stock and when overclocked. The 5600X still had decent improvements in multicore, the margins just weren’t as impressive as the single core gains, just 14% faster at stock.
Here’s how the 5600X compares against the older 3600 from last generation with both processors running at stock in all of the applications just tested. The 5600X is faster in all instances. The single core improvements are particularly impressive, it’s no wonder the 5600X is also beating the Intel competition now. Once both chips are overclocked, the margins actually increase as the 5600X pulls further ahead of the 3600, and this is because it’s simply able to overclock better. This will of course come down to the silicon lottery, and again it seems that my 3600 isn’t a great overclocker.
Power draw, thermals, clock speeds
When we look at the total system power draw from the wall with the blender test running, the 5600X system is using less power than the 3600 at stock. This is quite impressive when we remember that the 5600X was also completing the blender test 15% faster than the 3600.
Once both are overclocked though, the 5600X’s power draw shoots up. My 3600 actually uses less power when overclocked compared to stock as the board seemed to give it more voltage than needed. Higher power draw typically results in more heat, and for the most part the temperatures align with the power draw graph. The 5600X was running cooler than the 3600 at stock, but yeah again once we overclock the 5600X it’s now hotter. These are the clockspeeds being reached during these same tests, so at stock the 5600X was around 400MHz higher in an all core workload, and then once overclocked the 5600X was now 200MHz higher compared to stock, while the 3600 just had a 100MHz gain.
Let’s get into the gaming results next, I’ve tested 9 games at 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolutions.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the games benchmark tool. The improvement seen at 1080p was the best out of all titles I’ve tested, with the 5600X reaching a 37% higher average frame rate, either way though, still a crazy boost just one generation later. There’s still a 21% boost at 1440p, then there’s no change at 4K.
Microsoft Flight Simulator was tested in the Sydney landing challenge. The 5600X had a nice leap forward at 1080p, reaching 27% higher average frame rates, and even the 1% lows were above the average FPS from the 3600. It was a similar deal at 1440p too, but then by the time we get up to 4K the results are basically the same. Zen3 isn’t a silver bullet though, it’s no match for Ubisoft’s, er, optimizations. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the games built in benchmark tool, and there was a far smaller gap between the two here. At 1080p the 5600X was 4% higher in average FPS, just a slight lead at all resolutions. Death Stranding was tested by running through the same part of the game on both systems. The 5600X offered huge gains at 1080p, reaching an average FPS 35% higher than the 3600. The 5600X was still able to hit 17% higher frame rates at 1440p, then again like the others, basically the same at 4K. Battlefield V was tested in campaign mode, and things were much closer together here, though to be fair to the 5600X, it is being limited by the 200 FPS frame cap of the game, so its 3% lead probably would have been higher given the 5600X is 5% better at 1440p. I had to put CS:GO to the test as AMD were claiming some big gains with Zen 3, and I was seeing this too. At 1080p, the 5600X was 37% faster than the 3600 in average frame rate, 19% faster at 1440p, and then at 4K still 13% higher, the largest difference seen at this resolution, granted I don’t know how many people are playing this one at 4K anyway. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested with the games benchmark. Once more like most of the other titles, the 5600X had a nice boost over the 3600 at 1080p, achieving 25% higher average FPS. It was still 16% faster at 1440p, then basically no change at 4K. Rainbow Six Siege was tested using the games benchmark with Vulkan. I’m almost getting sick of saying it, but nice improvements with the 5600X at 1080p which was 24% higher in average FPS, then much lower at higher resolutions, though there were still nice gains to be had in the 1% lows. Far Cry New Dawn was also tested with the games benchmark and saw similar results, the 5600X was 25% faster in average FPS at 1080p, though the averages still saw nice gains even at higher resolutions as this test in particular seems more processor dependent than GPU.
Over all 9 games tested, the 5600X was 24% faster than the 3600 in average FPS, though this may be held back a little by the 200 FPS frame cap of battlefield V, which is why it’s below assassin’s creed odyssey. In any case, the 5600X was definitely able to offer some excellent gains. Stepping up to 1440p, the 5600X was still 15% faster than the 3600 on average. These gains are far bigger than I was expecting going into this testing considering the 3600 only launched in July 2019. At 4K the 5600X is now just 3% faster than the 3600 on average, however it’s being held up by the CS:GO outlier. With that removed, the 5600X is 2% faster on average, so basically no difference as the GPU takes on most of the work.
Cost per frame value
4K doesn’t really make sense to test in a CPU comparison, I just did it to illustrate that if you plan on gaming at higher resolutions then it might not be worth spending more on the 5600X, and this is why the cost per frame differences are the biggest at 4K. Even at 1080p the 3600 is technically still offering better value, it’s still a capable gaming chip and it’s $100 cheaper.
I still think the 5600X is worth considering due to the huge gains on offer, it’s worth considering that these price differences are for the CPU only, the percentage differences become less in the context of say a new $1000 system for instance. I could see myself upgrading from a 3600 if I wanted a boost as the improvements from just one generation can be quite large depending on the workload, but if you’re on a tighter budget the 3600 is definitely still capable.
Hopefully a 5600 non x arrives in future at a lower price point, if the difference between the 3600 and 3600x taught us anything it’s that the x doesn’t really seem to matter, but it’s yet to be seen if that also applies to zen3 as AMD have only launched X variants so far.
I’m thinking about comparing the 5600X against the 3700X in a future comparison, let me know if it’s something you’d be interested in seeing.