Ryzen 5 3600 vs 5600x – We recently compared the 5-year-old Ryzen 5 1600 to the new Ryzen 5 5600 on an old B350 motherboard to see how much of an upgrade the Zen 3 processor is, and spoiler alert: it’s a massive upgrade that’s well worth it for anyone who got on the AM4 platform early. With the 5600 now down to $175, it’s a no-brainer.
But what if you already have a Ryzen 5 3600? After seeing the above results, many people asked us this question, so we returned to the test bench to answer it. For those who missed it, we have a 25-game benchmark at 1080p and 1440p using the Radeon RX 6950 XT and the more affordable Radeon RX 6600 XT with SAM enabled.
The testing motherboard is an old MSI B350 Tomahawk with the most recent BIOS revision based on the AGESA 126.96.36.199 microcode, which enables Resizable BAR support and support for Ryzen 5000 series processors. Then there’s 32GB of DDR4-3200 CL14 dual-rank dual-channel memory, which was used to test all Ryzen processors.
With that out of the way, let’s go over a dozen of the tested games before looking at the 25-game average.
Starting with Fortnite, we see that although the Ryzen 5 3600 is plenty fast, the 5600 is much faster, boosting performance with the 6950 XT at 1080p by a whopping 56% at 1080p.
Even with the 6600 XT, the R5 5600 was 47% faster than the 3600 at 1080p, though this difference shrank to 16% at 1440p. Still, it appears that Zen 2 is fast enough for Fortnite players, with average frame rates well over 250 fps and 1% lows of over 160 fps.
Next is Assetto Corsa Competizione, where the 3600 outperforms 1600 by up to 52% in terms of average frame rate performance. Furthermore, when paired with the 6950 XT at 1080p, it was only 15% slower than the 5600.
The Zen 2 outperformed the Zen 3 by up to 18%, which is still a significant performance advantage but may not justify the $175 investment in the 5600.
In Cyberpunk 2077, the Ryzen 3600 performed even better than the 5600, trailing only 7% on average. That means it was significantly faster than 1600 when the CPU was more constrained by the 6950 XT. Another impressive result that should not necessitate a 5600 upgrade for 3600 owners. Read Also; Nvidia RTX 4090 – Release Date, Price, Specs
As previously discovered, Dying Light 2 isn’t a heavy CPU user, so even the Ryzen 5 1600 performs admirably. However, when paired with high-end GPUs, the 3600 could match the 5600 at both 1440p and 1080p using the 6950 XT.
Moving on, F1 2021 is a game that, despite running at much lower frame rates with the Ryzen 5 1600, was very playable at all times, with well over 100 fps. That being the case, 3600 owners who predominantly play F1 2021 won’t feel the need to upgrade, given performance has been boosted by up to 37% over 1600. Given that we’re talking about average frame rates more than 200 fps, the fact that it’s still 32% slower than the 5600 is irrelevant.
The Far Cry 6 results are intriguing because they quickly become GPU bound when using the high-quality preset, yet there is no performance difference between the 3600 and 5600, which is strange, but the performance of Far Cry games has always been a bit strange and doesn’t utilize CPUs very well. However, when compared to the 1600, the Ryzen 3600 is up to 57% faster, a significant improvement. Read Also; AMD Ryzen 7000: Everything We Know About Zen 4 CPUs
Forza Horizon 5 outcomes are more typical. Using the 6950 XT at 1080p, the 3600 outperformed 1600 by 46% and the 5600 by 16%. At 1440p, that margin is reduced to just 11%, and while the 5600 is still slightly faster, the 3600 is still averaging over 200 fps, which is plenty fast.
The Ryzen 3600 and 5600 are then evenly matched with the 6600 XT due to the GPU limitation, though at 1080p, the 3600 was 26% faster than 1600. In Forza, the 3600 is more than capable of exceeding 144 frames per second.
Moving on to Hitman 3, the Ryzen 3600 matches the 5600 for the most part, except 1080p data with the 6950 XT, which was 13% faster. The performance difference between the 3600 and 5600 will be minimal for most Hitman 3 players, but the upgrade from 1600 to the 3600 is significant, netting up to 53% more performance.
The Riftbreaker was a game that really taxed the Ryzen 5 1600, resulting in stuttery and unenjoyable gameplay. The Ryzen 5 3600 is a significant step up with far fewer frame pacing issues, but the 5600’s up to 36% better and 1% low performance was noticeable. The Zen 3 part performed flawlessly, demonstrating why upgrading from the 3600 to the 5600 would be worthwhile.
Next up is Rainbow Six Extraction, and the Ryzen 5 1600 had no trouble providing smooth playable performance, averaging at least 170 fps when paired with a high-end GPU. Needless to say, the 3600 performed admirably, closely matching the 5600 with the largest margin seen at 1080p with the 6950 XT, where the Zen 2 part was 8% slower.
Watch Dogs Legion is the final game for which we’ll look at individual results. This is a CPU-intensive game that frequently overtaxed the Ryzen 5 1600. The Ryzen 3600, on the other hand, kept frame rates above 60 fps when performance was limited by the CPU and was never more than 12% slower than the 5600.
25 Game Average
Using a high-end GPU like the Radeon 6950 XT at a low 1080p resolution, the Ryzen 5 3600 was 43% faster than the first-generation 1600, which is a massive performance boost.
The 5600 was only 19% faster than the 3600. While that is a significant improvement, we often found little to no difference between the two in gaming tasks, as some titles were GPU limited using dialed-down quality settings even in this scenario.
We’re sure many of you could easily justify a CPU upgrade for a 19% increase in average performance, given that multiple new CPU generations have only resulted in a 5% performance increase for years.
Now, for those using a slower GPU, such as the mid-range Radeon 6600 XT, the Ryzen 3600 was 23% faster than 1600 at 1080p, while the 5600 was 14% faster than the 3600. We’re looking at single-digit margins at 1440p because the performance was generally heavily GPU-limited.
Here are the 1% low margins are seen when comparing the 5600 to the 3600 with the 6950 XT at 1080p across all 25 games. The Ryzen 5600 was only 17% faster on average, but we did find 7 instances where the margin exceeded 20%, with gains as high as 59% in Fortnite.
The upgrade from the 3600 to the 5600 will most likely be worthwhile for those who play competitive multiplayer games. However, if you’re playing single-player games like Far Cry 6 and Dying Light 2, to name a few, it’s best to stick with the 3600.
Using the 6600 XT at 1080p, we find that the margins for the 1% lows are further reduced, and the 5600 is now only 12% faster on average. Games with competitive quality settings, such as Fortnite, will still benefit greatly from the faster CPU, but roughly half of the games tested saw little to no performance improvement.
Ryzen 5 3600 vs 5600x: Should You Upgrade?
Anyone running a Zen or Zen+ processor on an old 300 series motherboard should consider upgrading to a new affordable Ryzen 5 5600 or Ryzen 7 5700X processor. Based on the previous testing, there were no real surprises here, but it was still interesting to compare the new Ryzen 5 5600 on an old B350 motherboard with the R5 1600 and 3600.
It’s less clear what Zen 2 owners running something like the Ryzen 5 3600 should do, and in many cases, the upgrade to the 5600 isn’t worth it. However, that will depend on the games you’re playing, and how you play them, so you’ll have to figure that out.
If your games are frequently CPU limited, upgrading to the 5600 will deliver significant performance gains, and if you’re looking to boost performance outside of gaming, the Ryzen 7 5700X for just $300 is a great way to do so.
Otherwise, for truly massive gaming performance gains, you’d be looking at the 5800X3D, which is currently available for $450 MSRP when making this video, but that’s a significant investment, especially for those using older motherboards. Granted, it works well, as we’ve already demonstrated and tested, but for larger investments, we believe it may be worth waiting for AM5 to arrive and evaluate your options.
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