AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series CPUs have arrived, easily eclipsing Intel’s competing chips and bringing a new level of performance to the desktop PC with the flagship Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X. With the complete disruption of Intel’s high-end chips already well in hand, AMD’s $300 Ryzen 5 5600X delivers a similarly stunning blow to Intel’s mid-range lineup and slots in as the mainstream chip for gaming – It even beats Intel’s $488 halo Core i9-10900K in 1080p gaming.
The Ryzen 5 5600X takes the mid-range by storm with six cores and twelve threads powered by the Zen 3 architecture fabbed on the 7nm process. That potent combination equates to a ~19% improvement in instruction per cycle (IPC) throughput, making the 5600X an easy choice for our list of Best CPUs. Other fine-grained improvements, like a vastly optimized boosting algorithm, improved memory overclocking, and reworked cache topology erases the last traces of Intel’s performance advantages while delivering a new level of power efficiency. In fact, as we’ll detail below, the Ryzen 5 5600X is the most power-efficient desktop PC chip we’ve ever tested.
But with the changing of the guard on the performance front, AMD has also changed its pricing as it assumes the position of being the uncontested premium brand. The company has raised pricing by $50 on all of its new chips, and for enthusiasts, that has a disproportionate impact on the Ryzen 5 5600X: Much to the dismay of AMD fans, the entry-level pricing for a new Zen 3 processor is an uncomfortably-high $300. However, despite the poor reception to AMD’s increased pricing, the Ryzen 5 5600X delivers more than enough performance to justify its price tag.
Much of Ryzen’s early success stemmed from industry-leading core counts and plenty of freebies for enthusiasts, like bundled coolers and unrestricted overclockability paired with broad compatibility. AMD still offers many of the same advantages, like unrestrained overclockability on all SKUs and most motherboards (the A-series is the lone exception), but has discarded bundled coolers for its Ryzen 9 and 7 processors. Luckily for entry-level buyers, the 65W Ryzen 5 5600X is the only Ryzen model that comes with a bundled cooler, and it’s adequate for most users.
|Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 Series Processors||RCP (MSRP)||Cores/Threads||Base/Boost Freq.||TDP||L3 Cache|
|Ryzen 9 5950X||$799||16 / 32||3.4 / 4.9 GHz||105W||64MB (2×32)|
|Ryzen 9 5900X||$549||12 / 24||3.7 / 4.8 GHz||105W||64MB (2×32)|
|Ryzen 7 5800X||$449||8 / 16||3.8 / 4.7 GHz||105W||32MB (1×32)|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||$299||6 / 12||3.7 / 4.6 GHz||65W||32MB (1×32)|
AMD also left a noticeable gap in its product stack – you’ll have to take a steep $150 step up the pricing ladder to get above the entry-level six-core twelve-thread Ryzen 5 5600X. AMD’s premium pricing could be a disadvantage against Intel if a price war forms, but AMD’s suggested selling prices rarely manifest at retail, and continuing shortages have found the chips selling far over recommended pricing. That makes it hard to predict how pricing will shake out over the next months.
According to our tests, the Ryzen 5600X delivers, though, beating Intel in nearly all metrics that matter, including performance, power consumption, and thermals, and largely removes Intel’s performance lead after overclocking. In fact, this $300 chip even beats Intel’s pricey flagship Core i9-10900K in most single-threaded workloads, and that’s after we overclock Intel’s silicon. And yes, the 5600X’s advantage over the 10900K includes 1080p gaming. You can take a broader look at how the full Zen 3 family stacks up against Comet Lake in our CPU Benchmark Hierarchy.
Meanwhile, Intel is left without a response until the first quarter of 2021 when its Rocket Lake chips blast off, bringing a new back-ported Cypress Cove architecture that grants a “double-digit” IPC increase paired with Intel’s never-ending 14nm process. In the meantime, we can expect further deep price cuts from Intel in response, particularly as Zen 3 availability becomes more plentiful.
For now, the Ryzen 5 5600X cements AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series as the uncontested performance leader in every price band it competes in. Let’s take a closer look.
Ryzen 5 5600X Specifications and Pricing
The Ryzen 5000 series processors come as four models that span from six cores and twelve threads up to 16 cores and 32 threads. AMD increased its Precision Boost clock rates across the board, with a peak of 4.9 GHz for the Ryzen 9 5950X.
Our Ryzen 9 5950X sample peaked at 5 GHz at stock settings, albeit sporadically, and reached 5.125 GHz after overclocking. We didn’t have as much luck with our Ryzen 5 5600X sample as we did with the 5950X, but the 5600X frequently beat it’s advertised 4.6 GHz boost clock with a 4.65 GHz boost on a single core.
AMD increased the boost clock speeds, but it also reduced base frequencies compared to the previous-gen processors. AMD says that if you top the chip with an adequate cooler, it will rarely (if ever) drop to the base frequency. We recorded many cases of a 4.55 GHz all-core boost with the Ryzen 5 5600X, which certainly wasn’t possible with the previous-gen chips. We’ll cover that more in-depth below.
|Zen 3 Ryzen 5000 Series Processors||RCP (MSRP)||Cores/Threads||Base/Boost Freq.||TDP||L3 Cache|
|Ryzen 9 5950X||$799||16 / 32||3.4 / 4.9||105W||64MB (2×32)|
|Core i9-10980XE||$815 (retail)||18 / 36||3.0 / 4.8||165W||24.75MB|
|Ryzen 9 3950X||$749||16 / 32||3.5 / 4.7||105W||64MB (4×16)|
|Ryzen 9 5900X||$549||12 / 24||3.7 / 4.8||105W||64MB (2×32)|
|Core i9-10900K / F||$488 – $472||10 / 20||3.7 / 5.3||125W||20MB|
|Ryzen 9 3900XT||$499||12 / 24||3.9 / 4.7||105W||64MB (4×16)|
|Ryzen 7 5800X||$449||8 / 16||3.8 / 4.7||105W||32MB (2×16)|
|Core i9-10850K||$453||10 / 20||3.6 / 5.2||95W||20MB|
|Core i7-10700K / F||$374 – $349||8 / 16||3.8 / 5.1||125W||16MB|
|Ryzen 7 3800XT||$399||8 / 16||3.9 / 4.7||105W||32MB (2×16)|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||$299||6 / 12||3.7 / 4.6||65W||32MB (1×32)|
|Core i5-10600K / F||$262 – $237||6 / 12||4.1 / 4.8||125W||12MB|
|Ryzen 5 3600XT||$249||6 / 12||3.8 / 4.5||95W||32MB (1×32)|
The 6-core 12-thread $299 Ryzen 5 5600X’s base clocks come in at 100 MHz less than the previous-gen 3600XT, while boosts are 100 MHz higher at 4.6 GHz. AMD’s 6C/12T Ryzen 5 3600XT had a 95W TDP, but AMD dialed that back to 65W with the 5600X, showing that Zen 3’s improved IPC affords lots of advantages. Despite the reduced TDP rating, the 5600X delivers explosive performance gains.
The Ryzen 5 5600X’s $300 price tag establishes a new price band for a mainstream processor, so Intel doesn’t have chips with nearly-identical pricing; the Core i5-10600K is the nearest Intel comparable. This chip carries a $262 price tag for the full-featured model, while the graphics-less 10600KF weighs in at $237.
Intel’s Core i7-10700K also isn’t nearly as fast as the 5600X in gaming and lightly-threaded work, and overclocking doesn’t change the story in any meaningful way. It does have two additional cores that might make it a compelling value alternative for content creation-focused tasks, but its $375 price tag makes that an iffy proposition. You’re better off stepping up another Ryzen tier.
But AMD does have a glaring hole in its product stack: You’ll have to shell out an extra $150 to step up from the $300 6C/12T Ryzen 5 5600X to the $450 8C/16T Ryzen 7 5800X, which is a steep jump. Based upon product naming alone, it appears there is a missing Ryzen 7 5700X in the stack, but it remains to be seen if AMD will actually bring such a product to market.
As before, AMD only guarantees its boost frequencies on a single core, and all-core boosts will vary based on the cooling solution, power delivery, and motherboard BIOS. The Ryzen 5 5600X is the only Ryzen 5000 chip that comes with a bundled cooler, and we found that the Wraith Spire delivers enough thermal headroom for most workloads, but you’ll get a boost from better cooling in heavily-threaded workloads. You also shouldn’t expect any meaningful overclocking headroom with the Wraith Spire cooler. More on that below.
The Ryzen chips continue to expose 20 lanes of PCIe 4.0 to the user and stick with DDR4-3200 memory as the base spec. However, if the silicon lottery shines upon you, we found that the chips offer much better memory overclocking due to improved fabric overclocking capabilities.
These chips drop into existing AM4 motherboards with 500-series chipsets, like X570, B550, and A520 models. AMD says it will also add support for 400-series motherboards starting in Q1, 2021, but that comes with a few restrictions. Regardless, some motherboard vendors have jumped ahead and are already offering support on 400-series motherboards, so that initiative is well underway. Just remember that you’ll lose support for the PCIe 4.0 interface on those older motherboards.
We’ve covered AMD’s Zen 3 microarchitecture more in-depth in our Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X review. The highlight reel is that AMD has unified its L3 cache into one 32MB contiguous cluster, which vastly reduces memory latency, thus boosting performance in latency-sensitive workloads, like gaming.
AMD leverages its existing Ryzen SoC for the 5000 series chips. Zen 3 uses the same 12nm I/O Die (IOD) paired with either one or two 8-core chiplets (CCD) in an MCM (Multi-Chip Module) configuration. For the Ryzen 5 5600X, the chip comes with one CCD with six cores enabled, while CPUs with 12 or 16 cores come with two chiplets.
The IOD still contains the same memory controllers, PCIe, and other interfaces that connect the SoC to the outside world. Just like with the Matisse chips, the IOD measures ~125mm^2 and has 2.09 billion transistors.
The chiplets have been redesigned, however, and now measure ~80.7mm^2 and have 4.15 billion transistors. That’s slightly larger than Zen 2’s CCDs with ~74mm^2 of silicon and 3.9 billion transistors. For more details of the magic behind the 19% increase in IPC, head here.