A lot of tech chit-chat revolves around the best CPU of the next-generation from AMD and Intel. It is no secret Ryzen 7000 series and 13th Gen Core are around the corner, but there remains excellent value to be had right now. For those that can’t wait for shiny technology and don’t want to spend a packet on necessary upgrades, AMD offers Ryzen 5 5600 for a mere $199.
|Cores / Threads
|Ryzen 9 5950X
|16 / 32
|Ryzen 9 5900X
|12 / 24
|Ryzen 7 5800X3D
|8 / 16
|Ryzen 7 5800X
|8 / 16
|Ryzen 7 5700X
|8 / 16
|Ryzen 7 5700G
|8 / 16
|Ryzen 5 5600X
|6 / 12
|Ryzen 5 5600G
|6 / 12
|Ryzen 5 5600
|6 / 12
|Ryzen 5 5500
|6 / 12
|Ryzen 5 4600G
|6 / 12
|Ryzen 5 4500
|6 / 12
|Ryzen 3 4100
|4 / 8
Ryzen 5 5600 is based on the proven, battle-tested Zen 3 architecture common on all IGP-less 5000-series chips. Released in April this year, it is differentiated from November 2020’s Ryzen 5 5600X solely by changes to frequency. All other performance parameters remain the same, meaning it is produced from silicon that doesn’t reach ‘X’ levels without resorting to unacceptable voltages.
What we have is a six-core, 12-thread chip sipping on a 65W TDP and equipped with 32MB of performance-enhancing L3 cache. Base and boost speeds of 3.5GHz and 4.4GHz, respectively, are a little shy of the X part, but would you notice the missing couple of hundred megahertz in everyday tasks? We think not.
The real boon is price, of course. Ryzen 5 5600 is born from the existential threat posed by mid-range Intel 12th Gen Core chips. In particular, Core i5-12400 has caused AMD positioning problems by marrying potent performance with a sub-£200 price tag. Ryzen 5 5600 is employed to arrest that issue.
Though AMD makes the chip available at the $199 price point, it can be found cheaper right now. Being sold for £140 – including Wraith Stealth cooler in the box – value is a major play, undercutting the Intel 12400 rival by around a good amount.
Motherboard compatibility is excellent, too. Readers on older chipsets such as B350 and X370 can upgrade to Ryzen 5 5600 with a simple BIOS flash, and knowing the 65W TDP is accurate, the processor is equally at home in a standard ATX or mini-form-factor build.
Being an AMD CPU, there are no restrictions when it comes to overclocking, so without further ado, let’s roll the benchmark numbers and see if Ryzen 5 5600 or Intel Core i5-12400 is the better bet for a mainstream PC build this summer.
It is entirely reasonable to expect Ryzen 5 5600 to benchmark close to its pricier ‘X’ sibling. Our logs show 5600 does indeed boost to the prescribed 4.4GHz during light-load tests and maintains an all-core 4.05GHz for intensive applications.
The sum of this performance is single- and multi-threaded performance which is entirely acceptable given the sharp pricing. Yet being absolutely fair, Intel’s also-6C12T Core i5-12400 is ahead in the first two tests.
Further CPU tests highlight Ryzen 5 5600 as a competitive processor for everyday work. The great news is there is no bad chip in the £150-£200 range, as both Intel and AMD have potent architectures in play.
Architectures largely determine how the memory controller interacts with external memory. AMD’s Zen 3 suffers in write scenarios due to the decision to employ a half-width interface on chips with eight or fewer cores. Ryzen 5 5600 is another casualty in this respect.
Budget origins, mid-pack performance. Just the way we like it.
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We had originally thought lower light-load speeds would inhibit Ryzen 5 5600’s gaming performance at 1080p. That doesn’t seem to be the case, and it’s a chip we can recommend as a base for a mid-spec FPS build.
AMD tends to stick to prescribed TDPs better than Intel because there are no exaggerated power states to contend with. Running full chat and evaluated as a system, 122W is a great return. In other words, it is easily possible to build a small, quiet system around the cheapest full-fat Zen 3 chip to date.
This value rating is calculated by taking the all-core Cinebench R23 score and dividing by the UK price at Amazon. Decent performance and excellent pricing combine to propel Ryzen 5 5600 up the charts. No other AMD chip comes close to matching the value proposition.
Here we divide the same Cinebench R23 score by observed system-wide power consumption. Chips with higher core counts tend to do better here as density is key, but even at 6C12T, Ryzen 5 5600 is a consummate performer.
A word on overclocking. We increased our sample’s all-core frequency to 4.5GHz using 1.35V. Doing so pushed multithread scores, on average, 3.2 per cent higher than a stock Ryzen 5 5600X – the next chip up. We don’t believe overclocking is merited as the additional 37W power consumption is not worth the minor gain. This is a processor built to run coolly and quietly.
Taking a look at a CPU when the next generation looms large is always a precarious task. Yet the allure of new technology obfuscates an obvious truth that entry into next-generation Ryzen comes at a high cost of new chip, motherboard and memory.
Ryzen 5 5600 plays on this fact by reinforcing value and ease-of-upgrade arguments that exists for many. It is ideally positioned as a capable upgrade from older AMD systems that, by design, still support 5000-series processors. Six cores and 12 threads of Zen 3 muscle is more than adequate for productivity tasks and full-on gaming, and priced at just £140, the financial burden isn’t at all heavy.
Taken in the context of being a good-value upgrade processor full of Zen 3 smarts, Ryzen 5 5600 is recommended to all of you rocking entry-level AMD systems from up to five years ago. A processor with a purpose.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600
Verdict: A great-value processor perfect for a summer upgrade.
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