AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review 178

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X will retail for $299.
  • Beats 8-core 3800XT in both compute and gaming
  • Huge IPC gains
  • Gaming performance improved by over 15%
  • Impressive application performance
  • Compatible with existing AM4 motherboards
  • Multiplier unlocked
  • Power efficiency improved
  • Support for PCI-Express Gen 4
  • Cooler included
  • 7 nanometer production process
  • Price increase over previous generation
  • Overclocking barely worth it
  • No integrated graphics
The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is arguably the most exciting processor launched today. Granted, it comes in at a steep price of $300, but just look at what you're getting. Many years ago, naysayers had talked about AMD just grabbing the low-hanging fruit, and that these gains would soon be history as Zen would be a one-hit pony with the departure of its lead designer. Boy, were they wrong.

We have a total of three Zen 3 reviews for you today: Ryzen 9 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, Ryzen 5 5600X. Our fourth review, of the Ryzen 9 5950X, is half-finished and will be posted soon.

The Ryzen 5 5600X is a 6-core/12-thread processor. With Intel having maxed out its core/thread counts with the 10th Gen "Comet Lake," skeptics would have guessed AMD would dial up core-counts by offering eight cores for the Ryzen 5 series. AMD had other plans. The "Zen 3" architecture is a work of art as much as it is an engineering feat. The company managed to squeeze a massive IPC gain out of the same 7 nm process node without fundamentally changing core counts and simply improving the inner workings on the CPU cores. They also improved the multi-core topology by essentially doing away with the arbitrary 4-cores per CCX limitation.

In their presentations and launch event, AMD has been marketing the Ryzen 5 5600X as the best CPU for "strictly-gaming" builds, but our results show it to be a lot more—six "Zen 3" cores beat eight "Zen 2" cores at productivity, with the 5600X beating the recently launched 3800XT, the top 8-core part from the previous generation. The 5600X is consistently ahead of the entire Ryzen 3000 series—including the 3900X—posting 720p performance higher than the Core i7-10700K. 720p game tests highlight CPU-level bottlenecks and are a good measure of IPC, which is relevant to gamers. With 1080p gaming, the 5600X is about 4.5% faster than the 3900X and about as fast as an i9-9900K. The i5-10600K is about 0.9% ahead. As we go higher up the resolution ladder, the performance bottleneck shifts toward the GPU. The 5600X is 2% slower than the i9-10900K and 2.5% faster than the 3600X. 4K remains a toss-up, with the 5600X performing within 1.2% of the i9-10900K. Needless to say, Intel's gaming performance lead is basically irrelevant now, as AMD has caught up, and the odd-percent here isn't worth worrying about and within random variation.

General compute is where the real story of the 5600X takes place. Despite two fewer cores than the Ryzen 7 3800X, the 5600X ends up consistently faster in CPU tests, except in rendering tests that scale across cores, but also real-world tests that benefit from fewer but faster cores. In fact, in web-rendering tests, the 5600X ends up beating all Intel chips, including the i9-10900K. In certain tests that scale well with multi-core and also benefit from high IPC, such as physics simulation, the 5600X springs a surprise as it beats the 3800XT and is only slightly behind the i9-9900K. The 5600X is also a potent office warrior, beating every Intel processor in our bench, including the i9-10900K. A recurring trend with many of our CPU tests that don't need too many cores shows that the 5800X is often the only chip that ends up faster than the 5600X, possibly because the dual CCD layout of the 5900X inhibits some performance.

Even with my current results, the Intel gaming advantage is effectively gone, a percent here or there really isn't worth worrying about, especially when you consider the application performance and platform improvements. While Intel wants you to buy a new motherboard every time a new processor generation is released, AMD has given us a solid upgrade path with AM4. If you own an AMD AM4 motherboard with 400 or 500-series chipset, upgrading to Zen 3 is really just "BIOS update, remove heatsink, plop in new CPU, install heatsink, done". As mentioned before, AMD made sure not to increase power requirements, so your cooler, power supply, and everything else will continue to be work just fine.

We tested overclocking on the 5600X and achieved an all-core overclock of 4.60 GHz. This means that unless you are running highly threaded applications all day that fully load all cores on your processor, you'll be better off without overclocking. It also helps keep power draw and temperatures low. It's still nice to see an unlocked multiplier on Ryzen processors. Intel charges you extra for this.

AMD not only engineered a new, faster architecture, they also improved power efficiency without a node shrink. The Zen 3 processors are produced on the same 7 nm process at TSMC, just like their Zen 2 brothers; the IO die is even 100% identical. AMD has still achieved significant power savings. We measured about 15 W lower power draw in multi-threaded workloads with higher performance. Power is an absolute mind-bender. Load power consumption is roughly the same as the previous-generation 3600X, but with the added 16% performance. Kudos, AMD!

We have mentioned the lack of an integrated GPU in all Ryzen reviews and received a lot of criticism for just mentioning that fact. It's still true, and not a big deal at all, but Intel offers an iGPU that is sufficient for basic tasks and minimal gaming. Yes, I know that AMD has their APU line of products, but given the modular design of the Ryzen processors, I wonder how expensive it could be to design a very basic GPU die connected via Infinity Fabric to strengthen the Ryzen position in non-gaming market segments, where every dollar counts.

AMD is asking $300 for their Ryzen 5 5600X, which matches the current price of the 3800X and i7-10700 non-K. Last-generation's Ryzen 9 3600X launched for $240, so AMD has increased prices by 25%, which is not surprising of any company once they a leading product. Also, I suspect supply of Zen 3 will be constrained in the first months, so a higher price will only improve AMD's margins, which is required to support their current stock price. Taking a closer look at performance per dollar, I get the feeling AMD decided to price Zen 3 based on the performance gained, not the product name or typical positioning. It's nice to see a heatsink included with the package, as a large portion of the user base will use the processor at stock settings, which makes the included Wraith Stealth a perfectly capable choice.

In conclusion, the Ryzen 5 5600X is a pocket-rocket and will impress you in ways you can't imagine. It punches way above its weight in most tests and is the only processor you'll need if you're building a next-gen build with a fairly expensive RTX 30-series or RX 6000 series graphics card. The $300 price tag is a little high, but consider the trade off—you get much higher single-thread performance than any previous-gen Ryzen, and the productivity performance beats last generation's eight-core processors. Boy, what a turn around.
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