Upgrading CPUs between architectures is always a question asked, does it really make a difference? Is it really worth it? That question is usually answered easily, it depends on your workload, and what you do with your computer. To figure out what those differences are, however, we need to benchmark the CPUs and find out how and where that performance differs between them.

It never hurts then, to re-evaluate or look at the performance of CPUs a year after they have been released. During that time there have been new BIOS updates, new AGESA updates, and new chipset driver updates. These things can improve the performance of CPUs over time. In that regard, that is exactly what we have done today. We have taken the Ryzen 5 3600X which was released two years ago, and the Ryzen 5 5600X which was released one year ago, and are evaluating performance on them in 2021. They have both matured over time, and so our performance results reflect matured performance.

In addition, the Ryzen 5 series of CPUs are mainstream CPUs, these are the CPUs that more people can get their hands on more due to the simple fact of their lower pricing and midrange level pricing segment. These are popular CPUs, these are more sought-out CPUs, and we have directly compared Ryzen 5 3600X Zen 2 versus Ryzen 5 5600X Zen 3 today in synthetic benchmarks and gaming at 1080p and 4K.


The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X started off in PCMark by providing an overall system performance improvement of 11% over the Ryzen 5 3600X. This encompasses content creation and desktop workloads. It is when we got to more specific application testing that the Ryzen 5 5600X showed a larger performance advantage. In the PCMark Applications test, which tests Microsoft Office performance, as well as Edge performance, the Ryzen 5 5600X was 14% faster.

We also saw a 19% performance advantage with the Ryzen 5 5600X versus Ryzen 5 3600X in PassMark PerforanceTEST, which also shows overall CPU performance. These tests indicate that just, generally speaking, you will see a nice uplift in performance, and office-type desktop applications will benefit from the newer Ryzen 5 5800X.

When we dove deeper into separating multi-core and single-core performance we found that Geekbench 5 revealed a smaller increase in multi-core, at 10% with the Ryzen 5 5600X. However, when it came to single-core/thread performance that jumped up to a very large 24% performance advantage with the Ryzen 5 5600X versus the Ryzen 5 3600X. We continued to see larger gains in single-core/thread performance in SiSoftware Sandra 2021 as well compared to multi-threading performance, though it too saw gains.

In SiSoftware Sandra 2021 we discovered a larger increase in floating-point performance versus integer performance, though certainly there were gains in integer as well with Ryzen 5 5600X. Multi-threading integer was up 6%, and Multi-threading floating point was up 15%. In single-thread integer was up 24% and floating-point was up 18%.

In AIDA64 we found memory bandwidth and performance to be the same, as we would expect. According to the CPU Queen integer test Ryzen 5 5600X was 8% faster than Ryzen 5 3600X. What really shined though was AES and SHA3 performance. AES performance increased by 90% with Ryzen 5 5600X versus Ryzen 5 3600X. SHA3 performance increased 33% with Ryzen 5 5600X versus Ryzen 5 3600X. We saw similar gains between Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 7 5800X. Zen 3 is a lot better in these areas.

When it came to rendering performance, it was a mixed bag depending on your type of workload. Cinebench R23 had an 11% performance advantage in multi-threading performance with Ryzen 5 5600X versus Ryzen 5 3600X. Both CPUs have the same core and thread count, so the difference is purely architecture and frequency. However, we saw a much larger difference with the single-core testing, with Ryzen 5 5600X being 18% faster than Ryzen 5 3600X. Blender was the mixed bag here, where we really didn’t see major performance differences. However, there were some, the largest difference was 7% between the CPUs.

Overall, the Ryzen 5 5600X will save you time, and that amount of time will increase with the length of the render you have to export, but it won’t be a ton. We saw a larger difference in V-Ray, where it was 13% faster with the Ryzen 5 5600X versus Ryzen 5 3600X. HandBrake was also decently faster at 10% with Ryzen 5 5600X versus Ryzen 5 3600X. If you are transcoding or encoding or exporting video, the Ryzen 5 5600X will be noticeably faster.

Gaming Performance

Gaming is going to depend completely on the game and GPU you have. If you are not GPU bound and are in fact CPU limited, then the Ryzen 5 5600X can have a potentially big impact on performance. If you play at 1080p, this may be more the case for you. In such cases, we have seen the Ryzen 5 5600X providing 6% more performance in Cyberpunk 2077, 10% more performance in Far Cry 6, 18% more performance in Watch Dogs Legion, 26% more performance in Flight Simulator, and 28% more performance in Crysis Remastered. If you play at 1080p, and you have a fast video card, it might behoove you to upgrade your CPU for sure.

If you are gaming at 4K, you are going to mostly be GPU dependent, even with a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti. Anything less, you surely will be. The only game that was affected at 4K was Crysis Remastered, where it was 12% faster with the Ryzen 5 5600X, which does make a big difference when you are playing at 4K and you want all the frames you can get. This game is unique though, and won’t be the norm unless you play older games that is.

Therefore, at 4K, the CPU won’t be the largest factor here between them for gaming, it’ll be the GPU. However, it is interesting that even one game can have that much of a difference. As video cards get faster, it could become more of an issue. You also need to consider if you play at 1440p, which for sure will be affected as well sooner, and having the faster Ryzen 5 5600X will help with a fast video card like this. If you are on Ryzen 5 3600X now, upgrading if you play at 1080p or 1440p may help as long as you already also have a fast GPU.

Final Points

The Ryzen 5 5600X does run at a lower TDP than the Ryzen 5 3600X, it runs at 65W versus 95W. Therefore when you look at the performance data and realize the Ryzen 5 5600X is that much faster than the Ryzen 5 3600X, yet with a lower TDP, then you realize how impressive the Ryzen 5 5600X actually is. The price difference starts to make sense now, it’s faster, yet lower power. More efficient.

With an overall lower power state, the Ryzen 5 5600X beat the pants off the Ryzen 5 3600X in many areas. It’s stronger in single-core and single-thread performance, where the IPC improvement in the Zen 3 architecture greatly shines through. We also find improved floating-point performance with the newer architecture. Even if you are in heavily multi-threaded environments, you will see an uplift with the Ryzen 5 5600X. If your workload is more single-core or less multi-thread aware, the Ryzen 5 5600X will have an even larger impact for you.

This is where it shines in games, that IPC increase really has provided faster gameplay performance at 1080p with a fast video card. In games that are CPU-dependent, gains can be very large. As video cards get faster and faster, this will matter more at 1440p and 4K moving forward. So if you have a top-end GPU right now, it might not be a huge deal, but next generation? It might start to really matter at 1440p and 4K. If you are gaming at 1080p though, you could already be very bottlenecked by the CPU, and the Ryzen 5 5600X is going to provide an uplift compared to the Ryzen 5 3600X in such scenarios.

The Ryzen 5 series of CPUs are enticing, they are just the right mix of pricing and performance. A 6-core/12-thread CPU is fine for today’s gaming PC but stick with the newer Zen 3 architecture over Zen 2, as that IPC improvement has real improvements in applications and games. You’ll feel it in content creation, desktop applications, office use, and gaming.


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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer-oriented...

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  1. Nice article Brent!

    I assume my 2700x is same or worse than the 3600x, so a 5600x would be an upgrade… I just haven’t had the cpu power need lately (and I’m broke… home repairs)

  2. [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 43018, member: 297″]
    Nice article Brent!

    I assume my 2700x is same or worse than the 3600x, so a 5600x would be an upgrade… I just haven’t had the cpu power need lately (and I’m broke… home repairs)
    I would think you’d enjoy the IPC gains across the 2 generations. You’d lose 2 cores but gain all that IPC performance (and memory performance)..

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