Last August, I locked myself in benchmarking for a few days after a lot of demand … To be very clear, nobody asked me to be locked away, but that was exactly what was needed to do all 900 benchmark runs. With the release of 3rd generation Ryzen, many players wanted a detailed benchmark for GPU scaling. We wanted to test four GPUs with three different CPUs with two resolutions, three quality presets and four games.
The goal was to see how the cheapest new Ryzen (R5 3600) and then the most expensive 3rd generation processor (R9 3900X) compare to the Core i9-9900K, the world's best gaming CPU. In short, the Ryzen 5 3600 turned out to be the most affordable option for gamers and often matched the Ryzen 9 3900X. With an RTX 2080 Ti with medium quality settings at 1080p, the affordable Ryzen was only 14% slower on average than the 9900K.
However, with a more sensible GPU like the $ 350 Radeon RX 5700 with 1440p and extreme quality settings, the Ryzen 5 processor was only 4% slower than the 9900K and averaged over 120 fps.
Since then, we've seen a fair share of new CPUs and other hardware that need to be checked and tested, but we've sat on similar scaling results and data for weeks to compare the superb Ryzen 5 3600 to its predecessor, the Ryzen 5 2600, which is still an inexpensive CPU option to this day.
Players asking if they should spend ~ $ 70 more on the R5 3600 or just buy the 2600, this is the article for you. It was time to get these results out.
For testing, both AMD CPUs were coupled with the G.Skill DDR4-3200 CL14 memory and the Corsair H115i Pro cooler. Automatic overclocking functions like MCE or PBO were deactivated and the memory was not set, only XMP was loaded. In other words, we're seeing out-of-the-box performance with a high quality all-in-one cooler and low latency storage. Let's get to the results.
Starting with Assassins Creed Odyssey at 1080p at medium quality settings, we have the RTX 2080 Ti in the graphic above and here we see that the 3600 is up to 28% faster than the 2600.
This is a huge leap in performance, and those with monitors with high refresh rates will surely notice this improvement. However, if you're using a $ 500 graphics card with these $ 200 CPUs (or less), the edges are far less extreme. Here the 3600 was only 13% faster compared to the average frame rate, while the low power of 1% was almost identical.
With more mainstream GPUs like the $ 350 Radeon RX 5700, the 3600 is only 8% faster. For those using an RX 580 or a GPU with roughly equivalent performance, there is practically no difference between the 2600 and 3600 under these test conditions.
Of course, this also applies to everyone who uses a GPU that is slower than the RX 580.
Now if we change the quality preset from medium to ultra high, things change significantly, and this is a more suitable quality setting for users of an RTX 2080 Ti, especially at only 1080p. Here we see practically no performance difference between the 2600 and the 3600 with the 2080 Ti, in fact the 2600 was only a few frames slower than the 9900K in this test scenario.
The situation is similar with the RTX 2070 Super and the RX 5700. The Ryzen R5 2600 was at most 3 fps slower than the 3600 and delivered the same performance. Of course we will see the same result with the RX 580 and also with slower GPUs.
If you jump to 1440p with medium quality settings, the picture changes from what we saw at 1080p. The 3600 used to be up to 28% faster than the 2600, here it is only 7% faster with the 2080 Ti.
Similar margins can be seen when testing the RTX 2070 Super and the RX 5700, while we see practically no difference in performance in the RX 580.
The final ACO test takes place at 1440p with the ultra high quality preset. Just like with 1080p with this default setting, there is practically no performance difference between 2600 and 3600. Even with the 2080 Ti, we are strongly limited to the GPU under these test conditions.
Far Cry New Dawn
We deliberately included this title because it represents the kind of performance you are likely to see in older games. This is also a title that caused performance issues for Ryzen processors, at least performance limiting issues.
The overall performance was still quite good and certainly smooth and very playable, as we can see here with the Ryzen 5 2600.
When using the default with normal or medium quality, we see that the R5 3600 with the RTX 2080 Ti, 2070 Super and even the RX 5700 is 15% faster at 1080p.
Even with the RX 580, we see a certain performance improvement over the 2600.
Increasing the quality settings places an additional load on both the CPU and the GPU. As a result, the gap between 2600 and 3600 increases. Now the 3rd generation hexa-core processor with the 2080 Ti is up to 29% faster. and similar margins can also be seen on the 2070 Super and RX 5700.
Here, too, the margins are only neutralized when we fall on the RX 580.
The margins at 1440p with the medium preset are slightly raised. Here the 3600 with the RTX 2080 Ti was 18% faster than the 2600, before we saw a margin of 15%.
The results for the 2070 Super and RX 5700 are similar until we drop below $ 200 on the RX 580, where we're tied to the GPU and all CPUs are limited to the same level of performance.
Increasing the resolution widens the edges. At 1440p with activated pre-setting for ultra quality, the 3600 was up to 27% faster than the 2600. This can be seen in the 2080 Ti, 2070 Super and RX 5700.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
When testing Rainbow Six, it should be noted that the "medium" quality setting is somewhat closer to "high", since it is also "very high" and "ultra-high". With the high quality preset at 1080p and a manually adjusted render scale of 100%, the Ryzen 3600 with the RTX 2080 Ti was up to 26% faster than the 2600.
This margin is reduced to just 12% with the 2070 Super, although the 1% low for the 2600, 3600 and even the 3900X is almost identical.
Until we get to the RX 5700, the 3600 is only ~ 8% faster and even the 9900K delivers a similar level of performance.
Not surprisingly, all four CPUs on the RX 580 have the same performance.
When testing again at 1080p, but this time with the ultra quality settings, the R5 3600 in combination with the RTX 2080 Ti is still a good deal faster and delivers an average of 24% more frames.
However, as we saw with the medium quality preset, using the RTX 2070 S significantly reduces the scope to the point where they are almost the same. The scope of the RX 5700 is basically non-existent and is completely eliminated on the RX 580, which means that you reach almost 100 fps on average.
Previously, the 3600 at 1080p with the preset medium quality in combination with the RTX 2080 Ti was up to 26% faster than the 2600. This time we use the same quality preset, but at 1440p, and find that the 3600 is only 6 at average frame rates % is faster, while the low power of 1% is practically identical.
We see the same performance with the RTX 2070 Super, although interestingly the 2600 in combination with the RX 5700 slows down a bit.
The last Rainbow Six Siege test takes place at 1440p with the ultra quality settings, and here the Ryzen 5 2600 with the RTX 2080 Ti still allowed an average of over 160 fps. In short, the 3600 and 2600 models performed the same with all four graphics cards tested.
World War Z
When we move on to World War II, we first have the medium quality results at 1080p. With the RTX 2080 Ti, the 3600 was 24% faster than the 2600 when you compare 1% less power. That means that the part of the 2nd generation still pushed over 100 fps.
The drop to the RTX 2070 Super reduced the margin to 19%, but the 2600 still pushed well over 100 fps. Surprisingly, the R5 3600 with the installed RX 5700 was up to 22% faster, which means a decent increase in performance.
Even with the RX 580, we can see that the 3600 is up to 9% faster, which we haven't seen in the other games we tested, although none of the other games exceeded 150 fps.
Increasing the quality preset to Ultra reduced the 3600's lead over the 2600, with the RTX 2080 Ti dropping from 24% to 18%. This is not a massive change, but we're a little more limited to the GPU here. Similar margins were also seen when testing the RTX 2070 Super and the RX 5700.
The trend is clear, the margins only close when we fall on the budget RX 580, but even here the 2600 lags slightly behind the 3600.
Once again, we see that increasing the resolution actually increases CPU usage. As a result, the 3600 with the 2080 Ti at 1440p is up to 29% faster than the 2600. The margin is reduced to 19% for the RX 5700 and only 3% for the RX 580.
At 1440p / Ultra we finally see that the 3600 is up to 23% faster than the 2600 when using the RTX 2080 Ti. This margin is reduced to 17% for the 2070 Super and back to 20% for the RX 5700. With the RX 580, we consider GPU-limited frame rates and thus identical performance for all four CPUs tested.
As we mentioned in the previous feature, we find that four games are not a lot, but it took almost 300 benchmark runs to include the Ryzen 5 2600 in this comparison. The games used should also cover most performance scenarios. Then what is the average performance?
For games with 1080p and medium quality settings with an RTX 2080 Ti … you are crazy. Seriously though, in this worst case scenario for the Ryzen 5 2600, we see that the newer Ryzen 3600 was 21% faster on average.
You're still a little crazy for those using a $ 500 GPU under these conditions, but in any case, the 3600 with the 2070 Super was 16% faster on average.
We believe a more realistic pairing would be the Radeon RX 5700, and here the 3600 was only 12% faster on average or 15% when we look at the 1% lows. If you're using an RX 580 or slower, the 3600 is no faster than the 2600.
If we now increase the resolution to 1440p, which I think is a more realistic choice for medium quality settings, even for RX 580 owners, we can see that the 3600 with the powerful RTX 2080 Ti is only 13% faster on average, so not exactly a big win over the 2600.
Similar margins are achieved when testing with the 2070 Super and the RX 5700. So you see a performance improvement of less than 20% with the Ryzen 5 3600 compared to the 2600.
With ultra quality settings, the 3600 was 20% faster on average with the 2080 Ti. This margin is reduced to only 13% for the 2070 Super and to 16% for the RX 5700. For RX 580 owners, expect an average 7% increase for 1% low performance.
In a more demanding 1440p environment, the Ryzen 3600 was 14% faster on average with the RTX 2080 Ti, 12% faster with the 2070 Super, and 15% faster with the RX 5700. We see practically no difference in performance with the RX 580.
What we have learned
In our original Ryzen 5 3600 test, which included workstation and productivity tests, as well as a 9-game benchmark for the performance of 1080p and 1440p, when we looked at only the 1080p numbers, we found that the 3600 was 14% faster on average than the 2600. At the time when the 2600 was retailing for $ 150 and the R5 3600 debuted for $ 200, the older part of the 2nd generation was delivered with a 15% discount per frame.
Looking at the best average performance of the Ryzen 3600 in today's review, it was 21% faster at medium quality settings at 1080p. In the worst case, the 3600 was 14% faster at 1440p with ultra quality settings.
What may have changed more dramatically is pricing. Today, the Ryzen 5 2600 can be bought for just $ 120 while the 3600 costs $ 195, making the newer part 63% more expensive. This margin will vary in other regions, but in Australia, for example, pricing remains very similar.
If you're looking for the maximum value and best possible cost per frame, buy the Ryzen 5 2600 or maybe the new 12nm Ryzen 5 1600 that we want to test soon. If you're looking for a maximum of fps for $ 200 or less, you'll get the Ryzen 5 3600. There are cases where it's almost 30% faster.
Note that strict consideration of the cost per frame does not take into account the cost of a motherboard, memory, or the rest of the system. An additional $ 75 effort for the CPU means a massive 63% increase. However, if it's a $ 1,000 system, it's less than 10%.
Admittedly, if you applied the same mentality to all the components in your system, you would exceed the budget significantly … $ 70 more for the CPU, a little more for the graphics card, more memory, better motherboard, more memory, and before you know that a $ 1,000 build is closer to $ 1,500. In any case, this type of test is about determining the real differences in performance, so you're only spending on a more expensive component that gives you a noticeable increase in performance. Otherwise, save the $ 75 and use it for an upgrade in a few years. From this point on, you should be able to achieve a noticeable improvement in performance.
The bottom line is that the Ryzen 5 3600 is clearly the faster processor and we love it for the solid performance it offers for gaming and productivity tasks. However, if you are looking for the best for your money, the reduced 2nd generation parts are the way to go.