What all the testing data and personal experiences come down to is whether or not I think it’s a good product and whether or not I’d recommend it. The bottom line is, in my experience, on a pure gaming perspective, the Core i5 9600K is definitely the faster CPU. Priced the same, I still wouldn’t buy the Core i5 9600K for a number of reasons.
As I said these results are somewhat academic as gaming at 1920×1080 and higher resolutions work fine when coupled with a fast graphics card using settings that leverage the graphics card more than the CPU. In other words, under normal gaming conditions where the GPU is being fully utilized, the differences between these CPU’s will be much smaller. While Intel will certainly be faster in specific cases, I don’t think its enough to offset the disadvantages of going with a CPU like the Core i5 9600K for several reasons.
Primarily, the application performance favors AMD in most cases. Given that the difference between the CPU’s in gaming is minimal in most cases and the application performance favors AMD heavily, AMD is easily the better buy. If that’s not enough to sway you, Intel’s Z390 platform is for the most part comparable, but the LGA1151 socket is at a dead end. AMD’s newer platform does offer PCI-Express Gen 4, but you don’t necessarily have to combine the 3600X with the X570 chipset. Given the price of many X570 options, I imagine many people will opt for X470, B450 and possibly upcoming B550 motherboards instead of the usually pricey X570 options. Of course, there are some cheaper X570 motherboards out there. I don’t necessarily recommend them, but that is another route you can go.
In short, the Ryzen 5 3600X has a newer, more advanced platform with an upgrade path ahead. Intel’s platform, while certainly more mature, is more expensive than many of AMD’s options and at the end of the line in terms of upgrades. Compared to the Core i5 9600K, the Ryzen 5 3600X is the better option in my mind in spite of its gaming weaknesses, which as I said aren’t huge in most scenarios.
The Best Buy?
So that means I’d recommend buying a Ryzen 5 3600X right? Not so fast. As I said, AMD’s bigger problem is itself. AMD’s Ryzen 5 3600 is $50 cheaper and offers similar performance. While I have not tested this CPU myself, indications are its almost as good for less money. This is another CPU we may very well evaluate in the future. That said, if you have a Microcenter nearby, you may be able to pick up the Ryzen 5 3600X for about the same price as the regular 3600 at $200. That price cannot be denied and makes the 3600X a great value.
At first glance, the pricing of the Ryzen 5 3600X at $249.99 makes sense. It slots in between the Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 7 3700X. The latter comes in at $329.99. The basic argument against the 3600X is that it’s not enough of an upgrade over the Ryzen 5 3600 to justify the price increase, yet, it’s within a stones throw of the Ryzen 7 3700X which is far more powerful and really is at the sweet spot for price and performance in my opinion. It’s comfortably in the mid-range where most enthusiasts seem to buy their hardware.
If you look at the Ryzen 5 3600X, $50 gets you 200MHz of clock speed over the regular 3600. Given the way boost clocks work on the AMD platform, the base frequency isn’t something you’ll really ever see and the top end of the boost clocks will rarely be seen. That alone suggests the 3600X isn’t worth it over the 3600. Meanwhile, $70 more than the 3600X gets you an additional two cores and four threads at the same clock speeds as the 3600X.
While excellent in its own right, I feel like the 3600X is a budget offering and it is. There is nothing wrong with that, but I suspect many, if not most enthusiasts buy in the middle of the product stack rather than at its edges. I’ve been told this by several hardware manufacturers and I tend to believe it. At least in enthusiast circles anyway.
Make no mistake, the 3600X is a good CPU. However, I think there are better values bracketing this particular CPU model. However, if you can score a Ryzen 5 3600X for under MSRP, like this pricing at Microcenter it’s a great option and a good buy. That price changes the game for the 3600X’s value. It’s all about the pricing you can get this CPU at.
Stay tuned we will be doing real-world platform and game testing on various GPUs at higher resolutions to see from a platform perspective, how gameplay at desirable resolutions plays. This should reveal an overall gaming perspective on the CPU performance.