Examined at 1080p, 1440p and 4K

Recently we took a look at how well the Ryzen 5 3600 works in games with the GeForce RTX 3080, at the request of readers and viewers. That was a very popular test, and since the Radeon RX 6800 series was released, we've seen as many requests to repeat it, but this time with the Radeon GPU.

There have been new relevant game versions since our first test, and we suspect that once you can actually buy the RX 6800, it will be a popular choice for graphics cards. With so many of you using the still amazing Ryzen 5 3600, it makes sense to see how it works with the new RDNA2 GPU – although we currently think the Intel Core i5-10400F is a cheaper buy so maybe a comparison with this part in the coming weeks might be a good idea.

This article examines performance in 21 games at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K with the R5 3600 in a standard configuration with 32GB of DDR4-3200 CL14 memory. We didn't bother to overclock the Ryzen processor this time, but instead added more games.

Please also note that the Ryzen 9 3950X and Core i9-10900K are only included as reference points and have not been overclocked either. This isn't CPU-versus-CPU content, it's just how close the Ryzen 5 3600 can get to delivering over $ 500 in CPU performance in games.

Also, we didn't include a Zen 3 processor, which we deemed unnecessary as the 10900K serves the purpose of portraying the performance of the high-end flagship tier. So let's jump into the benchmark charts …


Starting with Godfall, at 1080p we notice a significant performance difference between the Ryzen 5 3600 and the Core i9-10900K in conjunction with the RX 6800. Here the Intel flagship processor was almost 20% faster.

The margin drops to 13% at 1440p, and while you give up around 10 fps, performance with the Ryzen 5 is still acceptable, and it stays above 60 fps at all times. Once we move up to 4K, we are now completely limited to the GPU and the CPU selection makes little difference.

Watch Dogs: Legion isn't a particularly CPU-intensive game, so the R5 3600 isn't much slower than the 3950X and 10900K at 1080p – we're talking about an 8% delta.

At 1440p, the resolution you'd be more likely to play with an RX 6800, the Ryzen 5 processor can make the most of the new Radeon GPU, and that goes for 4K too, of course.

Another game that doesn't put a load on the Ryzen 5 processor is Dirt 5, here the 3600 was 6% slower than the 10900K at 1080p while it was consistent at 1440p and 4K. So in this title we're getting the most out of the RX 6800.

The R5 3600 also did well in Assassin's Creed Valhalla and matched the 3950X in all three tested resolutions, while it lagged the 10900K by only 6% at 1080p.

We don't use the built-in benchmark to test Shadow of the Tomb Raider as the actual gameplay is more demanding for the CPU, especially when we test it. The R5 3600 was 11% slower than the 10900K at 1080p, although we're completely limited to the GPU at 1440p and then of course 4K.

Using the latest version of Cyberpunk 2077 (1.06 as of this review), we find that performance is excellent with the Ryzen 5 3600 and is in line with the 3950X at all three resolutions tested. In fact, the 3600 with the RX 6800 was only 6% slower than the 10900K at 1080p, which is a very impressive result in this new and very demanding title.

The Ryzen 5 processor was quick to bubble in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, allowing over 400 fps at 1080p, which meant it was only 7% slower than the 10900K. However, at 1440p, it was the same as the Core i9 processor. Hence, we also see identical performance at 4K.

Wolfenstein: Like most games, Youngblood isn't CPU limited when using modern 6-core / 12-thread processors like the R5 3600. Hence, we see comparable performance between the 3600, 3950X, and 10900K.

We only see a very small drop in performance in the F1 2020 with the Ryzen 5, at 1080p it was 8% slower than the 10900K, 6% slower at 1440p with little to no difference at 4K. While it's slower at 1080p and 1440p, we're talking single digit percentage differences that you are very unlikely to notice.

When comparing the Ryzen 5 3600 with the 10900K, we also see an 8% drop in performance in Horizon Zero Dawn at 1080p and 1440p. Only when we reach 4K will the game be almost completely tied to the GPU.

As with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we're testing Red Dead Redemption 2 in-game instead of using the built-in benchmark. The R5 3600 was only 5% slower than the 10900K at 1080p, but was able to hit it at 1440p and 4K.

In World War II tests, the Ryzen 5 processor was 9% below the 3950X and 10900K at 1080p – we're talking close to 200 fps, but where the gap is less important. That's reduced to 4% at 1440p, and by the time we get to 4K, all three CPUs will deliver an identical experience.

The 3600 was 11% slower than the 10900K in Metro Exodus at 1080p and 1440p, although we're still talking about 200 fps average on the 1080p results with the Ryzen 5 processor.

Resident Evil 3 isn't CPU demanding at all and so we don't see any performance difference between the three CPUs tested when using the RX 6800, even at 1080p.

Doom Eternal is another game that is more GPU tied, although the R5 3600 was 6% slower than the 10900K at 1080p, the performance is the same at 1440p and then we're looking at identical frames at 4K.

If we move on to Death Stranding, here we have a game that is CPU intensive and can and will use more than 6 cores in terms of Zen 2 architecture.

It's rare in today's games for the 3950X to deliver nearly 30% more performance, but that's exactly what we did at 1080p. The R5 3600 nevertheless offered a smooth gameplay with well over 100 fps.

Increasing the resolution to 1440p will reduce the CPU bottleneck on the R5 3600 as we are more tied to the GPU. As a result, the Ryzen 5 processor was about 10% slower than the flagship parts compared to 1% slow performance.

Hitman 2 is very similar to Death Stranding. We expect a 27% increase in performance from the R5 3600 to the 3950X at 1080p, while the 10900K is almost 40% faster. At 1440p, however, those margins are drastically reduced as the game requires more GPU power. Therefore, the 10900K is only 9% faster than the 3600 and at 4K we don't see any difference at all.

When testing with War Thunder, no performance differences were found between these three CPUs, so the Ryzen 5 3600 can get the best out of the Radeon RX 6800 even at 1080p.

The R5 3600 does quite well in The Witcher 3 and is only 8% behind the 10900K with 1080p and 1440p. At 1440p we always see more than 100 fps.

PUBG now plays a lot better on Zen 2 processors. Here we see that the R5 3600 is the same as the 10900K at all resolutions tested.

Finally, we have Gears 5 results where the 3600 dropped just a few frames at 1080p and was able to hit the flagship processors at 1440p and 4K. Overall, a great result for the bold little 6-core Zen 2 processor.

Performance summary

That's all 21 games, and we have to say, it looks like the Ryzen 5 3600 did really well, often not leaving much performance on the table at 1440p and nothing at 4K. The 1080p data is more science-based than practical, in our opinion, but obviously the R5 3600 isn't always ideal for those looking for maximum performance at 1080p.

Let's take a look at the average fps data in our 21 game example.

Taking averages, we see that the Ryzen 5 3600 is 8% slower than the Core i9-10900K at 1080p and only 6% slower than the Ryzen 9 3950X. So, with the Ryzen 5 processor, you can't always get the most out of the RX 6800, but for most of you it's so close that it doesn't require a CPU upgrade.

Then when you play at 1440p it's rare to find that the R5 3600 works slower than the 10900K, here it was only 4% slower on average. If you're playing at 4K or greater than 2560 x 1440 resolution, the CPU doesn't matter as long as it's the same as or faster than the 3600.

Out of interest, here's a look back at how the 3600, 3950X, and 10900K were compared to the GeForce RTX 3080 in a 15-game example. Here the R5 3600 was 15% slower than the 10900K at 1080p and 8% slower at 1440p. This is worse than the RX 6800's margins, although it could be due to a number of factors such as the games used and the overhead of the driver.

What we learned

For those of you who use a Ryzen 5 3600 and may have concerns about replacing your CPU when upgrading to a Radeon RX 6800, the answer is simple for most: stick with the Zen 2 processor for now. Upgrading to a 5800X or better, which should perform on par with the 10900K, isn't worth the investment for gaming.

For now, you can still get away with a 6-core / 12-thread Zen 2 processor unless you're doing something a little more demanding on the side, like streaming. Spending $ 450 on the 5800X is just not going to be worth it, and even if there was a Ryzen 5 5600 for $ 200, we're not sure if the upgrade is worth it.

That covers it for those of you who are already rocking a Ryzen 5 3600, but what about folks looking to upgrade from something much older, or maybe building a completely new PC? Which CPU should you be looking at right now?

Now is probably not a good time to upgrade or build a new PC. The Ryzen 5 3600 is back at around $ 200 at most retailers, although it sold closer to $ 160 last year. We see the same scenario with all Zen 2 processors. For example, the 3700X was listed for $ 260 back in July and is now $ 320.

As mentioned earlier, however, the Core i5-10400F is quite a bit at the moment. It costs around $ 166, which is almost 20% less than the R5 3600. In the meantime, you'll see ~ $ 300 for the 5600X, which is an ugly price tag for that part. Hell, you can buy a 10,600,000 for $ 270.

Honestly, if we were forced to buy an inexpensive gaming CPU now, we would be using Intel with the 10400F. While those of you who managed to buy a Ryzen 5 3600 when they were selling well below the MSRP, you did well, very well indeed.

Purchasing links:
  • AMD Radeon RX 6800 on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on Amazon
  • Intel Core i5-10400 at Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3600 on Amazon
  • Intel Core i5-10600K at Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 on Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 9 5900X on Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 5 5600X on Amazon

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