AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Review: Why Is This Amazon's Best Selling CPU?by Dr. Ian Cutress on May 18, 2020 9:00 AM EST
Every so often there comes a processor that captures the market. It ends up being that right combination of price, cores, frequency, performance, features and compatibility when added to the right sort of motherboard that makes it fly off the shelves. The main CPU this cycle seems to be the Ryzen 5 3600, offering six high-performance Zen 2 cores and 24 lanes of PCIe 4.0 for only $199. It currently sits at #1 on the Amazon best seller list, so we put one through the paces just to see if the hype was actually real.
At $199, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 has been one the cheapest way to get ahold of AMD’s latest Zen2 microarchitecture. In our reviews of the lead generation Ryzen products, as well as Zen2 on Threadripper, Zen2 in EPYC, and Zen2 in Renoir, this microarchitecture is pushing new performance boundaries clock-for-clock against Intel’s other desktop offerings. In fact, until the latest launch of the Ryzen 3 line of processors, the Ryzen 5 was the cheapest Zen 2 processor on the market.
(On 5/18, Amazon's price was down to $189. Newegg was $172, but sold out).
With six cores and twelve threads, the comparative Intel options vary between something like the Core i7-9600KF with six cores and no hyperthreading, or to the i7-9700KF with eight cores and no hyperthreading. The downside is that both of these processors are more expensive: where the Ryzen 5 3600 is $199, the i5-9600KF is $263 and the i7-9700KF is $385. Frequencies between the three are competitive, however the AMD has a TDP of 65 W, compared to 95 W, and it comes with DDR4-3200 support with 24 lanes of PCIe 4.0, rather than DDR4-2666 and 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0.
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600 vs Overclockable Intel Equivalents|
Ryzen 5 3600
|$199 / $189||Price||$263||$385|
|Zen 2||Architecture||Coffee Lake-R
|6C / 12T||Cores||6C / 6T||8C / 8T|
|3600 MHz||Base Freq||3700 MHz||3600 MHz|
|4200 MHz||Turbo Freq||4600 MHz||4900 MHz|
|65 W||TDP||95 W||95 W|
|2 x DDR4-3200||DDR4||2x DDR4-2666||2x DDR4-2666|
|PCIe 4.0 x24||PCIe||PCIe 3.0 x16||PCIe 3.0 x16|
Just by going with these on-paper specifications, it’s not hard to see why the Ryzen 5 3600 has been so popular. Even at the $199 price point, the i5-9400F is a $182 processor with the same memory/PCIe downsides, as well as being lower in frequency, despite matching the power rating. The Ryzen 5 3600 is also an unlocked processor, for anyone that wants to overclock.
Intel has announced its newest 10th Generation processor line, however the official launch date of the processors has not been officially announced yet. Out of the processor lineup however, the closest match would be the Core i5-10500.
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600 vs Intel 10th Gen
Ryzen 5 3600
|$199 / $189||Price||$192||$213|
|Zen 2||Architecture||Comet Lake
|6 C / 12 T||Cores||6 C / 12 T||6 C / 12 T|
|3600 MHz||Base Freq||3100 MHz||3300 MHz|
|4200 MHz||Turbo Freq||4500 MHz||4800 MHz|
|65 W||TDP||65 W||65 W|
|2x DDR4-3200||DDR4||2x DDR4-2666||2x DDR4-2666|
|PCIe 4.0 x24||PCIe||PCIe 3.0 x16||PCIe 3.0 x16|
This processor matches the six cores and twelve threads, is near in price, doesn’t quite match the base frequency but does exceed in the turbo. It is 65 W, the same as AMD, and on the plus side it does have integrated graphics. But again, it is only DDR4-2666 and only has 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, compared to AMD’s DDR4-3200 and 24 PCIe 4.0 lanes.
Not only this, but our recent trips to brick-and-mortar stores (before the lockdown) looking for Intel mid-range 9th processors have been relatively fruitless. Intel is still facing increased demand for its high-end silicon, and is still focusing on making those parts that command the highest margins, like the Xeons. We also understand that Intel might be staggering the exact release of some of this hardware, focusing on the 10th Gen K processors first, so it might be a while before we see the mid-range CPUs at retail.
The AMD Ryzen 3 3300X and 3100 CPU Review: A Budget Gaming Bonanza
The third angle in the competition for the Ryzen 5 3600 will be with AMD’s own hardware. Having recently launched the Ryzen 3 3300X for only $120, users will have to decide if the extra $80 is worth the two extra cores in the processor. The Ryzen 5 3600 may only be popular because of it being the cheapest Zen 2 processor on the market, and if that is the case then the Ryzen 3 3300X could easily fill that role (or the Ryzen 3 3100, at $99). We tested the Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100 very recently, and that review is well worth a read.
|AMD vs AMD|
Ryzen 5 3600
Ryzen 3 3300X
|$199 / $189||Price||$120|
|Zen 2||Microarchitecture||Zen 2|
|6 C / 12 T||Cores||4 C / 8 T|
|3600 MHz||Base Freq||3800 MHz|
|4200 MHz||Turbo Freq||4300 MHz|
|65 W||TDP||65 W|
|2 x DDR4-3200||DDR4||2 x DDR4-3200|
|PCIe 4.0 x24||PCIe||PCIe 4.0 x24|
This is one area where the Ryzen 5 3600 is in a bit of an awkward position, especially with the recent announcement relating to B550.
The Ryzen 5 3600 is a popular mid-range processor, meaning that it should be paired with a good mid-range motherboard. For the longest time, that was the B450 motherboard line, with an expectation of a possible upgrade to Ryzen 4000 later this year or next year. Unfortuantely AMD has stated that it will be locking the possible CPUs on B450 to Ryzen 3000 and below, meaning that the highest processor that a B450 owner can use is the Ryzen 9 3950X.
As is perhaps understandable, B450 owners with mid-range CPUs looking for an upgrade path are not too happy. With the announcement of B550 offering an upgrade path, there will be a lot of potential mid-range customers now waiting for the B550 motherboards to come to market.
The AMD X570 Motherboard Overview: Over 35+ Motherboards Analyzed
For those that have some money burning a hole in the pocket, X570 is always an option, with the cheapest boards available being around $150. We have performed a large round-up of all the X570 boards in the market, with specific one-off reviews for some of the more impressive models. I suspect however that potential Ryzen 5 3600 customers might be waiting for a good $120 B550 board, should one come to market.
At the request of a number of our readers, we sourced the Ryzen 5 3600 to put it through its paces in our updated test suite. Based on the responses on social media, it looks like potential Ryzen 5 3600 customers are into gaming and/or workflow on reasonably priced systems, so we’ll tackle both areas.
In our review, there are two key comparisons to look out for:
- Ryzen 5 3600 vs Ryzen 3 3300X
- Ryzen 5 3600 vs Core i5-8400 / 9400
Unfortunately we don’t have an i5-9400F for comparison, however the i5-8400 is basically the same chip by 100 MHz, with the same memory support and microarchitecture design. To make the graphs easier to understand, we've listed the results as 8400/9400. If we get a 9400 or 9400F in for testing, we will update the graphs as necessary.
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jabber - Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - linkI just wish he's cut that damn awful hair, put it in a ponytail or use some conditioner on it at least. The constant hair tucking....aarrghghhhhhhhhhh
burnte - Monday, May 18, 2020 - linkI have a 3600X, not the 3600, and I can throw everything at it in 1440p. Once the perf patches came out for Fallen Order and the drivers for my RTX 2070, Fallen Order runs like butter. Shadow of the Tomb Raider never dipped below 90fps, and most of the time tops out my monitor's 144hz refresh rate, all running at 1440p.
evilspoons - Monday, May 18, 2020 - linkI mean, you've got 1080p and 4K results already and as the resolution goes up the CPU is less important than the GPU. 1920x1080 vs 2560x1440 vs 3840x2160, the results are basically just going to be split down the middle.
PeterCollier - Monday, May 18, 2020 - linkIt's interesting that in Australia, the Ryzen 7, instead of the 5, is the most popular. You would think that the VAT incentives the less expensive parts. Is electricity unusually cheap down under? Or is the 7 the best selling part because winter is coming to the southern hemisphere, and users needed upgrades from Preshott?
Spunjji - Monday, May 18, 2020 - linkCould be that once you've saved up the silly amount of money needed for an upgrade there, stretching a little further to the 3700X just seems to make sense?
PixyMisa - Monday, May 18, 2020 - linkYeah, the exchange rate is brutal right now so it makes sense to try to make your system last an extra year. I have two Ryzen 1700 systems and I'm hoping to hold onto them until DDR5 arrives.
tmr3 - Monday, May 18, 2020 - linkGenerally speaking, Amazon isn't really *the* go-to place for PC hardware shopping in Australia. We tend to rely more on established PC-centric retailers like PCCaseGear, Scorptec, Mwave, Centre Com, PLE and a few others depending on where in Australia you live. It's worth considering that Amazon has only been available as an AU website for around 2.5 years now, and depending on where you look, stock for certain products is often spottily available, way overpriced through third-party sellers only, or clearly international stock being sold as a "local" listing.
On one of those retailer sites (Scorptec in this case) that has the option to list products by popularity, of the AM4 processors, the Ryzen 5 3600 takes top spot, followed by the Ryzen 5 1600 AF, the Ryzen 7 3700X, and then the Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 5 2600. For their Intel processor listings, the Core i7-9700K is followed by two "value bundles" featuring the Core i5-9400 and Core i3-8100, then it's the Core i7-9700F and the Core i9-9900K. Unfortunately, they don't offer a combined view so we can't compare overall popularity.
Gigaplex - Monday, May 18, 2020 - linkAustralian winter isn't that cold. I think the Amazon ranking is skewed because we generally shop elsewhere.
boozed - Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - linkHeard of the Core i9?
ingwe - Monday, May 18, 2020 - linkWow these are good results for AMD. Looks like this might have to be my next build.