Today, AMD is shaking up the consumer CPU market in a big way. With the launch of the Ryzen 5000 series of CPUs, the company is poised to take each meaningful performance crown, from gaming to content creation to prosumer work. We already looked at the Ryzen 9 5900X, but in this article we’re looking at AMD’s more mainstream offering, the Ryzen 5 5600X. Feature 6 cores and 12 threads, is this the affordable gaming CPU you’ve been waiting for?
For our coverage at MMORPG, we’ll be reviewing both the Ryzen 5 5600X and the Ryzen 9 5900X. To better differentiate between this coverage, it will be split into two articles. This article covers the Ryzen 5 5600X. To view our article on the Ryzen 9 5900X, click here. That said, portions of these articles will overlap as we explore the new architecture.
Ryzen 5000 Series – What’s New?
The Ryzen 5000 series represents a major advancement for AMD, reducing latency and substantially increasing performance over last generation’s Zen 2 processors. Spoiler alert: the IPC improvements quoted in AMD’s marketing aren’t bluster. Instead, they’re a result of major design changes in the architecture of the chip.
One of the biggest changes is with how these new CPUs manage their cache. Unlike the Zen 2 architecture, Zen 3 now shares a large pool of L3 cache that is directly accessible by each core. That means, for the Ryzen 9 5600X, all 6 cores can draw on the full 32MB of L3 cache, reducing the latency of each operation. This change alone results increases the IPC of each processor, particularly for tasks like gaming.
Zen 3 carries with it a number of other advancements, all aimed at decreasing latency and increasing the performance per watt of each respective CPU. On the front end, branch prediction has received significant enhancements that make it faster and better able to recover from mispredictions. The Execution Engine is more capable, with wider floating point and integer capability, and larger execution windows. Load/Store is enhanced with higher bandwidth each and more flexibility within operations.
All of this adds up to much better single-core performance and power efficiency. In fact, the uplift on offer comes with the same TDP or improved TDP as last generation. The Ryzen 9 5950X, 5900X, and 5700X are each quoted at 105 watts each. The Ryzen 5 5600X comes in at only 65 watts, which is more than 30% less than the Ryzen 5 3600X.
In our closed-door presentations, AMD was also keen to point out that memory overclocking is also improved. Thanks to the enhancements made to the core, users should be able to use 4000MHz memory without facing the same performance penalty as with Zen 2. During my testing, I was able to overclock my own Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro memory kit, which came stock at 3600MHz to 4000MHz fairly easily and see a performance improvement first-hand.
For gaming, the Ryzen 5000 series aims to be best in class. The improvements to frequency and latency all carry the weight of improved FPS on their shoulders, lending Zen 3 an advantage that previously resided with Team Blue. At the same time, these enhancements also enhance the multi-threaded workloads that catapulted the Ryzen line to acclaim in the first place. It’s an incredibly compelling offering, only dampened by the slightly increased prices.
That said, those extra savings are mitigated by the continuation of the AM4 socket. If you’re already running an AMD 500 series chipset (X570, B550, A520), you’ll be good to go with just a new CPU.
Ryzen 5 5600X
The Ryzen 5 5600X is the most accessible of AMD’s new line-up but that doesn’t mean it’s a slouch when it comes to specs. Coming to market at $299, it offers 6 cores and 12 threads of performance making it a good fit for gamers on a budget who may also want to dabble their toes into streaming or content creation.
Like the 5900X, the cache allotments are the same. The 5600X features the same amounts of cache, including 3MB of L2 cache and 32MB of L3 cache shared between all cores. As discussed in the previous section, the improvements to branch prediction and the direct accessibility of L3 cache allow it to access and share information between cores much faster than last generation, which is a big reason why we see such large IPC improvements.
The clock speeds have also been raised from last generation. With a base frequency of 3.7 GHz and a boost frequency of 4.7 GHz, it’s operating range is wider with a higher potential peak. In practice, Precision Boost 2.0 does a good job of running the processor much closer to its rated boost speed than the Ryzen 5 3600X, which quantifiably increases performance.
In addition to its rated speeds, the R9 5900X brings with it an expanded amount of PCIe lanes. Each new processor in this line now supports 24 PCIe Gen 4 lanes to support multiple NVMe drives and high-end graphics cards.
AMD Test System: Gigabyte X570 AORUS Master Motherboard, Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB DDR4-3600 (64GB), Corsair H115i RGB Platinum AIO, Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB, Corsair HX-1000i Power Supply
Intel Test System #1: ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate Motherboard, Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB DDR4-3600 (64GB), NZXT Kraken X72, Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB, Corsair HX-1050 Power Supply.
Intel Test System #2: ASUS Z490 Maximus XII Extreme, Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB DDR4-3600 (64GB), NZXT Kraken X72, Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB, Corsair HX-1050 1050 Power Supply
The test systems used for this performance test were built to be largely symmetrical. I conducted my testing in sequence, bringing components from one machine to the next, formatting the SSD in between the AMD and Intel tests.
The only major change coming from prior tests was the upgrade to Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB DDR4-3600 (64GB) kit. Leading up to this launch, Corsair reached out to ask if our test bench could use the upgrade and in capacity and timings, the proposed kit was a better fit. DDR4-3600 MHz is the suggested baseline speed for performance testing, though once tests were done I was fairly easily able to manually overclock this kit to 4000 MHz, something I was unable to reliably do on our previous memory kit across machines. On a purely subjective level, the Vengeance Pro RGB kit is the best looking RGB kit I’ve seen and definitely enhances the look of any mainboard I’ve tested it in.
Otherwise, our test benches are largely the same as our prior CPU tests.
Similar to my review of the Ryzen 9 5900X, the generation improvement here is extremely impressive. The gap between the 5600X and its closest competitor, the i5-10600K is slightly closer, but the it’s hard to feel anything other than elated with how well this CPU delivers for the price point. Looking at prior generations, the performance trades blows with the Ryzen 7 3700X despite having two fewer cores.
At the same time, gaming performance is about on par with Intel’s i5-10600K. It still retains a slight lead in pure gaming, but the differences are officially minor enough that they’re largely inconsequential. With all the talk of performance leadership in the gaming space, I would have liked to have seen more of a lead, but the gains over last gen, real-world impact of such minor differences, and the utility in applications does a lot to temper that. Maybe next time we’ll see that definable lead we’ve been waiting for?
That said, it’s hard to argue that this is anything other than a stellar buy, even if gaming is all you do. The price is right, but the wider performance carries an opportunity benefit should you decide to dabble in other tasks in the future.
I’ll put it as simply as I can. After testing both CPUs AMD sent MMORPG, I don’t see any reason to choose Intel right now. AMD offers virtually indiscernible gaming performance, big gains in applications and content creation, on a newer, more power-efficient platform. With this launch, the heir apparent has been crowned, the market has changed hands, and AMD is officially the industry leader.
Thermals and Overclocking
Like the R9 5900X, the 5600X is an unlocked CPU, which means you’re free to overclock to your heart’s content and eek out every last bit of performance. While this CPU does ship with a Wraith Stealth cooler, if you plan to overclock I would recommend upgrading to a larger air cooler or an all-in-one. I conducted my testing using the Corsair H115i RGB Platinum all-in-one liquid cooler which features a 280mm radiator, in balanced mode.
The thermal performance of the CPU was decent, coming in at 32C while idle in a room with an ambient temp of 21C. To assess load temperatures, I ran Prime95 (Small FFTs) for 20 minutes to give the liquid in my cooler a chance to warm up and stabilize. The maximum temperature in this setting was 66C.
Overclocking headroom proved to be good. After adjusting voltages and stability testing, I was able to achieve a stable overclock of 4.7GHz with a voltage of 1.38v.
The Ryzen 5 5600X is an outstanding processor. It’s priced effectively to make it the most compelling mainstream gaming processor on the market today. With 6 cores and 12 threads, it does have more of a glass ceiling over its longevity compared to AMD’s more expensive processors, but if you spend most of your time gaming and streaming to Twitch, its count will be more than enough.
Simply put: this is the current-gen processor to buy if you’re on a budget or don’t want to do more than dabble in content creation. AMD nailed it.
The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.