ProsThe Ryzen 5 3600 offers tremendous value; Zen 2 matches Intel's Skylake; RAM compatibility is much improved
ConsThe 3600X doesn't justify its higher price; X570 motherboards that support the 3000 series are too expensive
We've been reviewing Ryzen CPUs and APUs ever since the release of the 1000-series in 2017, and have typically come away very impressed. You can see our take on the Ryzen 7 1700, the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X, the Athlon 200 series, and most recently the Ryzen 3 3400G and Ryzen 5 3400G. But what we've been most excited was the promise of Zen 2, which AMD has been talking up since day one. Well, it's finally here, and this review of the least expensive members of the Zen 2 family, the Ryzen 5 3600 series, will show that it was worth waiting for!
We tested the Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 5 3600X in two different test systems, which had the following specs:
- Motherboard: Asus ROG X470 Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi)
- RAM: Corsair 4x8GB Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4-3600
- SSD: Samsung 960 Evo 500GB
- Case: SilverStone PS14-E ATX
- Cooler: AMD Wraith Stealth, Wraith Spire, and Corsair Hydro H100i RGB Platinum
- Operating System: Windows 10
- Motherboard: Gigabyte B450 I Gaming
- RAM: G.Skill 2x8GB Sniper X DDR4-3400
- SSD: Samsung 860 Evo 500GB
- Case: SilverStone SG13 Mini-ITX
- Cooler: AMD Wraith Stealth and Wraith Spire
- Operating System: Windows 10
All of our gaming tests were conducted with the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB video card. We did request that AMD send us a sample of the similarly-fast Radeon RX 5700 8GB, but they unfortunately didn't come through. We're hoping that AMD's CPU and GPU team work more closely together in the future in marketing these products, because now that AMD is competitive in both the CPU and GPU markets, they should capitalize on being the only company that can equip an entire PC for gaming purposes!
You'll note that we actually swapped through several coolers during our tests to see how the Wraith Stealth included with the 3600 and the Wraith Spire included with the 3600X compared, and whether liquid cooling could unlock additional performance. We also made an unanticipated jump up to 32GB of DDR4-3600 in our ATX system, which previously had failed to boot when paired with a Ryzen 7 2700X. This is proof positive that the Zen 2 memory controller built into the 3600 series is indeed far superior to what was included in Zen+ CPUs, like the Ryzen 7 2700X we've included in our benchmark results. That CPU couldn't boot the impressive Corsair Dominator Platinum kit at anything higher than DDR4-2933, so that was how we ran it in the benchmarks. Clearly, Zen 2 is far superior in that regard, and gets credit for that in the benchmark results! We stuck with DDR4-3400 in our ITX system, simply because that's the kit AMD previously supplied to us for Ryzen testing.
For comparison purposes, we included five other CPUs in our benchmarks. On the Intel side, we have the quad-core Core i7-6700K, the eight-core Core i9-9900K, both of which use the original Skylake architecture that debuted in 2016. As you'll see, little distinguishes these CPUs other than the core count and higher clock speed of the 9900K. On the AMD side, we have three Zen+ CPUs, the Ryzen 3 3200G, the Ryzen 5 3400G, and the Ryzen 7 2700X. Note that the 3200G is in the mix to show what happens when a CPU doesn't include virtual cores (Intel's Hyperthreading or AMD's Simultanous Multi-Threading). Intel has been very stingy with its HT technology in its current CPU lineup, while AMD bestows every 3000-series CPU other than the 3200G with it. As you'll see, it's a big benefit to performance across the board.
We put together a video review of the Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600X, which summarizes our findings - check it out below!
Want more detail? Then flip to the next page!