Value and performance are often oxymorons when it comes to PC building. Opting for the cheaper option will often leave you with something that is lacking in some respect.
Enter AMD with the new Ryzen 5 3600. This latest mid-range 7nm CPU, while only costing $279 CAD, manages to be one of the best modern CPUs for a new gaming build.
Specs-wise, the Ryzen 5 3600 is an impressive offering in an overall impressive 3rd generation Ryzen lineup. Even though it sits firmly in the middle of the Zen 2 range, this hexacore processor carries with it all the bells and whistles you would want from a modern CPU. The 7nm chip compared to previous generations offers higher clock speeds, better efficiency, increased memory compatibility, and an overall more impressive chip all around.
As with much of the Zen 2 Ryzen lineup, the 3600 comes in two variants, the standard chip maxing out at 4.2 GHz, and the 3600X that will net you an extra 200MHz, which tops out at 4.4GHz. Beyond that, the chips are basically identical. Should you opt for the 3600X, you will also be rewarded by a Wraith Spire cooler as opposed to the Wraith Stealth.
Specs-wise, the Ryzen 5 3600 is no slouch, packing six cores and 12 threads, 32MB L3 cache and 512KB L2 cache per core. The base frequency of the 3600 sits at 3.6GHz, with a boost up to 4.2GHz. Running at 65W TDP, the Ryzen 3600 is powerful, yet not a power-hungry CPU ready for gaming rigs, and even HTPCs and other low power uses.
For all testing, CGMagazine used an X570 based Gigabyte Aorus board, with 16GB (8X2) GSkill Ram (3200MHz) and a Western Digital Black SSD. We used an AMD RX 570 as the GPU, although we will be focusing on pure CPU based benchmarks for this review. We compared the CPU to other chips in the Ryzen range, along with offerings from Intel that could work at a similar budget.
The first subject for testing is video encoding since everyone is now a content creator, it is important to have a PC that can crunch video when needed. Jumping into Handbreak we test with a 1080P MKV file using the HQ 1080p preset. Our results line up very closely with what we saw in the 3900X, with the increase of cores and threads, there is an incremental decrease in time to encode. Also, these results show the increase in performance compared to the previous generation Ryzen 5 2600X, making this new offering, a no brainer when comparing apples to apples.
Next, we tackle the Cinebench R20 benchmark, pushing the rendering power to the test. With the new R20, the benchmark manages to test more of what new CPUs have to offer, it also requires about 8x the computational power of R15, so it’s a good way to put these new CPUs to the test. In our single thread testing, the Ryzen 3600 managed an average score of 480 and a multicore score of 3578. Compare that to even the Ryzen 2600X’s results at 430 and 2881, and you can see the new Zen 2 architecture trouncing the previous generation of CPUs.
Jumping over to gaming, we ran the same suite of games we used for the 3900X, Civilization VI, Total War: Three Kingdoms, and Assassins Creed Odyssey. Once again, with many of these games being GPU dependant, the minor changes between chips are negligible at best. While yes, the Ryzen 3900X achieved better scores overall, the numbers could be more noticeable from a newer GPU and the 3600, all things considered.
That is all depending on if you plan on doing streaming or not, the extra threads and clock speeds do make a major difference for multitasking and video encoding. For people who are streaming to Twitch, making VOD’s, or gaming and streaming using one PC, the power of the Ryzen 9 3900X is hard to deny. But for everyone else, the Ryzen 5 3600 is more than enough, especially with the increase in performance from Zen 2.
At this point, it is hard to argue that the Ryzen 3600 sits as our recommended chip for most new PC builders. At the price, the performance is hard to beat. Yes, there are cheaper options (the Ryzen 2600 for one), but due to the increase of performance with this new generation of chips, I find it hard to recommend the older options, especially at almost the same price point.
The Ryzen 5 3600 is the new go-to gaming chip. It offers fantastic value and performance, with all the benefits of a modern 7nm CPU. Intel has been playing catch up for a while now, but with this latest range from AMD, the gauntlet is thrown, and it will be up to Intel to pick it up and offer gamers something that comes even close to this chip. If you are building a new CPU, the Ryzen 3600 is hands down the best chip for the job in 2019.