Ryzen 5 3600 vs 5600x: Full Comparison With Specs, Price and Performance

AMD‘s Ryzen 5000 desktop processors ushered in a new era of incredible single-threaded performance thanks to the efficiency of the new Zen 3 architecture. The 6-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 5600x sits near the top of the Ryzen 5000 lineup in both performance and popularity for gamers and power users. But is it truly worth the upgrade from 2020‘s top-selling processor, the Ryzen 5 3600?

This in-depth comparison will pit the Ryzen 5 3600 head-to-head against the 5600x to see which processor comes out on top for gaming, productivity and overall value.

Ryzen 5 3600 vs 5600x: Key Specs

SpecRyzen 5 3600Ryzen 5 5600x
Release DateJuly 2019Nov 2020
Process Node7nm Zen 27nm Zen 3
Base Clock3.6 GHz3.7 GHz
Boost Clock4.2 GHz4.6 GHz
Total Cache35MB35MB
PCIe VersionPCIe 4.0PCIe 4.0
Default TDPWraith StealthWraith Stealth
Launch Price$199$299

Both CPUs share the same 6-core, 12-thread layout built on TSMC‘s 7nm FinFET manufacturing process. But while the Ryzen 3600 is based on AMD‘s Zen 2 architecture (Matisse core), the 5600x uses the enhanced Zen 3 design (Vermeer core) with major IPC gains.

The 5600x edges out the 3600 slightly in base clock (3.7 GHz vs 3.6 GHz) and sees a sizable 400MHz advantage in max boost clock. With precision boost algorithms fully optimized for Zen 3, most workloads will run much closer to the 5600x‘s 4.6 GHz ceiling.

The Ryzen 5000 series utilizes the new Zen 3 core architecture while Ryzen 3000 uses the previous Zen 2 design.

Other specs like cache layout and PCIe version support remain identical. But as we‘ll see when benchmarking real-world performance, the architectural improvements with Zen 3 give the 5600x a significant per-core performance benefit.

With 50% higher launch pricing though, the Ryzen 5600x also carries a much steeper MSRP. Let‘s take a look at current street pricing and then dive into some benchmarks.

Pricing: Ryzen 3600 Much More Affordable Today

At release in mid-2020, the Ryzen 5 5600x rang up at $299 — a full $100 above the Ryzen 3600‘s original $199 MSRP the year before.

However, Zen 2 prices have dropped dramatically over the past two years leaving the 3600 an incredible value buy. Meanwhile, Zen 3 pricing remains quite inflated due to shortages and high demand.

Here‘s a look at current pricing as of November 2022:

CPUCurrent Price
Ryzen 5 3600$140
Ryzen 5 5600x$200

With nearly $60 separating the two processors at retail, there‘s a compelling case to be made for opting to save money upfront with the prior-gen part — especially if primarily gaming. But just how much single-threaded and multi-threaded performance are you leaving on the table?

Performance Benchmarks: 5600x Up to 26% Faster

Thanks to a 19% increase in instructions per cycle (IPC) plus those faster boost clocks, the Ryzen 5600x enjoys a comfortable lead over the 3600 in both single and multi-core workloads.

Let‘s start by examining performance in CPU-demanding games where the graphics card is not a bottleneck.

Gaming Benchmarks

At 1080p max settings, the 5600x sees up to a 26% performance advantage in gaming [Source: TechSpot]

As you can see, the 5600x‘s architectural enhancements translate into much higher average frame rates across a range of AAA game titles. Performance deltas range from 9% faster on Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla up to a 26% bump with Horizon Zero Dawn.

But how about productivity tasks outside of gaming?

Application Benchmarks

In multi-threaded workloads like video editing, compression and code compiling, the 5600x extends its lead [Source: Anandtech]

Impressively, the IPC and efficiency gains with Zen 3 also ramp up performance in multi-threaded rendering, encoding and compression tools. The 5600x is between 13% (Blender) to upwards of 28% quicker (7-zip compression) when fully utilizing all of its cores and threads.

Let‘s summarize the performance differences:

  • Gaming FPS (1080p): Up to 26% faster
  • Application Performance (MT): Up to 28% faster

So yes, while the Ryzen 3600 still outpaces Intel‘s competing Core i5-10400, there are very real, measurable performance gains moving to AMD‘s shiny new Zen 3 architecture. The question becomes whether or not you feel those improvements justify the increased cost.

Verdict: 5600x Justifies Cost for Enthusiasts

When all is said and done, the Ryzen 5 5600x is hands-down the faster, higher-performance processor of the two. The 19% IPC lift — coupled with excellent single-threaded boost behavior — gives it a comfortable lead on the prior-gen 3600 in both gaming and professional workloads.

However, with a $140 street price as of late 2022, the Ryzen 5 3600 now costs over $60 less while still playing AAA titles smoothly and delivering great productivity performance.

So who should buy which? Here are my recommendations:

  • Ryzen 5 3600 — Best value for gamers on a budget or lightly-threaded workloads
  • Ryzen 5 5600x — Worth spending more for enthusiast gamers and power users

If you‘re trying to maximize frames per dollar in esports titles like Valorant or Fortnite, I think the 3600 remains a terrific option and one of AMD‘s best value processors ever.

However, for enthusiasts gaming at 1440p or 4K who want the very best experience in single-player titles like Cyberpunk or Elder Scrolls VI once it releases, the extra $60 for the 5600x is money well spent. You‘ll benefit more from the boosted clocks and IPC improvements over the years as games continue leveraging faster hardware.

The 5600x also makes sense if your workloads can take advantage of improved single-threaded speed in applications like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, code compiling etc. But for general web browsing, office work and lighter computing, you‘ll likely never notice the difference that warrants the added cost.

At the end of the day, AMD has two exceptionally strong 6-core processors to choose from. While the 5600x is certainly faster, don‘t underestimate just how capable the 3600 remains two years after its launch — especially at today‘s ultra competitive pricing. Both are excellent options that come down to budget and needs.

I hope this full spec and performance breakdown better informs your decision between the Ryzen 5 3600 and 5600x. Let me know which processor you ended up going with in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is the Ryzen 5 5600x compatible with B450/X470 motherboards?

A: Yes! With a simple BIOS update, you can pair a 5000 series Ryzen CPU like the 5600x with previous-gen 400/500-series motherboards.

Q: Do you need a third-party CPU cooler with the 5600x?

A: No — unlike higher core-count Ryzen models, the 65w 5600x runs very cool and does not need more advanced cooling. The included Wraith Stealth is sufficient unless heavily overclocking.

Q: I mostly play esports titles like CS:GO and Valorant – 3600 or 5600x?

A: The Ryzen 3600 will provide extremely high FPS above what‘s necessary already in lighter esports games. Save your money for the graphics card / high refresh rate gaming monitor instead.

Q: Is the 5600x overkill for casual gaming and general use?

For users who just browse the web, watch media content and play games casually, a lower-cost 6-core like the Ryzen 5 5600 (non-x) or Intel i5-12400F are likely better options that still deliver excellent performance for common tasks.

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