AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review: Entry-level performance has never been so good

AMD’s latest processors were announced two months ago and released last month. Though they’re still extremely hard to pick up right now, we were lucky enough to get the Ryzen 5 5600X on launch day courtesy of AMD for our review. I’ve been using it for the past month or so, and I have quite a few thoughts on AMD’s latest Zen 3 processor platform. Utilized for both gaming and transcoding in my workflow, I’ve been testing out the 6-core AMD Ryzen 5 5600X as an upgrade from my Ryzen 5 3600 PC that I built earlier this year, and let me say, it’s been a great processor so far. So, without further ado, here’s my review of the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X.

While not entirely new, AMD’s latest CPU changes the game still

I won’t spend a ton of time on the nitty-gritty technical jargon about the new Zen 3 processors, but there are a few notable mentions I’d like to take a look at. First, let’s talk about the new core design. To put it simply, the way that Zen and Zen 2 processors were built split the cores up into two segments. While the entire CPU had, let’s say, 16MB of L3 cache to share between all cores, if your process was running on cores 1-3, and nothing on 4-6, then the program would only have access to half the L3 cache, meaning 8MB. But, with this new design, all cores share the same L3 cache access, meaning single-core tasks can access more cache to perform better.

This is just another area that AMD continues to improve over Intel, further pushing the boundaries while team blue sits stagnant. AMD has had PCIe 4.0 for NVMe SSDs and GPUs since Zen 2, while Intel has yet to adopt the technology (though it’s coming in the next-generation Core processor lineup.) All of this to say, AMD is finally back and better than ever when it comes to innovation and pushing the envelope.

My testing setup

For my usage and testing of the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, I used the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard, 16GB of CORSAIR DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB 3600MHz RAM, the WD_BLACK SN850 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, NZXT X73 All-in-One cooler, and my trusty Gigabyte Vega 64 graphics card, all housed in the NZXT H710i case.

My choices here were all pretty direct toward getting the most performance possible out of the Ryzen 5 5600X processor. To start with, the Dark Hero motherboard provides the I/O I needed on the back, is based on the X570 chipset, and has fantastic power delivery, which is more than enough for the 5600X. When it comes to RAM, AMD has a bit of a “sweet spot” for memory that has a faster speed. CORSAIR’s DOMINATOR PLATINUM kit has a latency of C16 and a speed of 3600MHz, which is the perfect position between cost and performance for AMD’s latest processors. You can, of course, opt for something slower in either latency, speed, or both, but expect a drop in performance if you pick something up that doesn’t have the same spec as the CORSAIR RAM I used in this build. For storage, WD_BLACK’s latest SN850 packs PCIe 4.0 performance, and it’s around double the speed of previous-generation PCIe 3.0 drives, which is already a vast improvement over SATA. With cooling, the X73 is a 360mm all-in-one liquid cooler and keeps the processor nice and cool even under heavy workloads.

Entry-level no longer means low performance

Now to get to the real meat and potatoes of this review: real-world performance. For the longest time, recommending someone to get an i3 or i5 (or Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 5) processor was really only reserved for those who were completely focused on budget and nothing else. But, in the last few years, both AMD and Intel have started to change that. i5 processors were no longer horrible, and Ryzen 5 was actually starting to be a good contender. Well, with AMD’s latest entry-level processor (yeah, the Ryzen 5 5600X is entry-level now as Ryzen 3 is basically gone), I’m not even considering upgrading to a Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 9. The Ryzen 5 5600X comes in at $299 (MSRP, not scalper price) and handles nearly any task you throw at it.

My machine, for the past few months, has essentially been used for two things: gaming and media transcoding. I run my own Plex media server so I never have to put Blu-ray disks in at any TV in my house, as well as listening to old audiobooks I’ve ripped and other media-related tasks. The 5600X has handled everything I’ve thrown at it without breaking a sweat, including gaming and recording at the same time. That’s something that my 3600 just couldn’t easily handle, and I couldn’t be happier with the performance improvements here. I’m extremely happy with how the Ryzen 5 5600X performs at its price point and will be readily recommending it to just about everyone who’s building a PC unless they need extreme heavy lifting for things like high-end video workflows or compilation tasks.

Plus, AMD has made the Ryzen 5 5600X overclockable out of the box, as long as you have ample cooling. All of AMD’s Zen 3 processors are overclockable, meaning you won’t have to get a specific K SKU to try and squeeze more performance out of it. This means that, even though the 5600X has killer performance out of the box, you’re just a few (well-educated) clicks away from being able to accomplish tasks faster and better than many higher-end processors on the market. Many reviewers have put the Ryzen 5 5600X up against far more processors than we have access to here and have found that the entry-level option from AMD beats out Intel’s high-end i9 CPUs in certain gaming tasks thanks to the new chip design.

Wrapping up

If you’re looking for a killer, entry-level processor that won’t break the bank, hands-down, I recommend you consider the Ryzen 5 5600X. While it’s extremely hard to get right now, stock will come back at some point soon (hopefully), and it’ll be the perfect option for most people wanting general-purpose gaming and office work machine. Those after the best of the best will likely still want to opt for the Ryzen 7/9 CPU, but honestly, most will be just fine with the 5600X.

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