Ryzen 5 3600 vs 3600x: What are the differences between AMD’s two mainstream CPUs?

The first AMD Ryzen processors were introduced in early 2017, and ever since, the brand has garnered a strong reputation as a fan-favorite, especially in gaming.

Both the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600x were some of the best-selling CPUs on Amazon last year, and for a good reason. They offer a great mix of quality and value, along with impressive numbers all around. The differences between the two are slim, but the 3600x is ultimately the more powerful option – the only question is whether it’s worth the price increase.

Read our Ryzen 5 3600 vs 3600x comparison to find out which CPU you should be buying.

Ryzen 5 3600 vs 3600x: the basics

Ryzen 5 3600 is a hexa-core, 3rd-generation Ryzen processor that offers a solid clock speed, lots of cache memory, and excellent multi-core performance. It’s a significant improvement over the 2600 in almost every category while staying relatively cost-effective.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor
AMD Ryzen 3600

Pros:

  • Allows for a lot of RAM
  • Solid single-core and multi-core performance
  • The high number of cores and threads means solid multitasking performance
  • More cost-effective than its counterpart

Cons:

  • Lower clock speed (both base and boost) than its counterpart
  • Lower TDP

Ryzen 5 3600x is also a hexa-core CPU from the same generation – it was even released on the exact same day as the 3600, July 19, 2019. However, the 3600x offers slightly better specs across the board to go along with its heftier price tag.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
AMD Ryzen 5 3600x

Pros:

  • High base and boost clock speeds
  • Higher TDP means it can handle more demanding programs
  • More transistors which translates to more computational power
  • Better single-core and multi-core performance

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • The same number of cores and threads as its more affordable counterpart
Ryzen 5 3600xRyzen 5 3600
Launch dateJuly 7, 2019July 7, 2019
Series (CPU architecture)Zen 2Zen 2
Number of cores66
Number of threads1212
Base clock3.8 GHz3.6 GHz
Max boost clock4.4 GHz4.2 GHz
Semiconductor size7nm7nm
Max temperature95oC95oC
RAM speed3200 MHz3200 MHz
L1 cache384KB384KB
L2 cache3MB3MB
L3 cache32MB32MB
TDP95W65W

Key specifications

Let’s get into the central part of our Ryzen 3600 vs 3600x comparison: their key specs.

The number of cores and threads

When comparing two CPUs, the first thing most people will look at is their number of cores and threads. You can tell a lot about a processor just from its core and thread count without even looking at other specifications.

AMD Ryzen 3600 on motherboard
Ryzen 3600 in action

The difference between cores and threads can sometimes be a source of confusion, but the general rule is the more, the better. Cores are hardware components that your CPU uses to divide computing tasks into sub-parts and execute them simultaneously. Threads are virtual components that do pretty much the same thing – enable your CPU to execute multiple tasks at the same time without experiencing issues.

Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600x are tied in this regard: both feature 6 cores and 12 threads. Both processors are solid choices for multitasking programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.

Single-core and multi-core performance

Another important thing to look at when choosing a CPU is its single and multi-core performance. The number of cores doesn’t mean all that much if a processor can’t extract the processing power it needs from every core.

CPU performance is usually measured with benchmark tests that use a set of standards to compare various processors using the same methods.

Being the more expensive, performance-oriented CPU, Ryzen 3600x outperforms the 3600 in both single-core and multi-core performance.

However, the difference might not be as significant as one might think, especially when it comes to single-core performance. According to Geekbench, the 3600x has a 1247 single-core score while the 3600 scored 1207. When we get to multi-core performance, the difference becomes more evident.

In theory, this would make Ryzen 3600x much better for multimedia programs but only marginally better for gaming since games rely more on single-core performance.

Base clock speed: gamer’s delight

While we’re on the subject of gaming, let’s get to clock speeds – something that most gamers consider one of the most critical CPU specs.

Clock speed refers to the number of cycles your processor can execute in a single second. It’s measured in gigahertz (GHz), so a processor with a clock speed of 3.6 GHz is capable of executing 3.6 billion cycles per second.

Ryzen 5 3600x is at an advantage here, with a base clock speed of 3.8 GHz compared to the 3600’s 3.6 GHz. It’s not a huge advantage, but it tells us that the 3600x is a more powerful CPU that can handle more demanding tasks. 

Like all Ryzen processors, both the 3600x and the 3600 can be overclocked for a significant performance boost. You’ll be doing this at your own risk since the manufacturer can’t guarantee stability past a certain point.

Various levels of cache memory

Cache memory is hardly a crucial spec when comparing CPUs, but it impacts the processor’s overall speed and performance.

More specifically, cache memory makes it easier for your CPU to execute repetitive tasks. It’s used to store frequently accessed data and facilitate data retrieval, which results in overall quicker performance.

Cache memory is split into three levels: L1, L2, and L3. The first level is usually the smallest and the quickest – it’s the first place your processor will check for data. L2 and L3 are larger and slower, so they have less impact on overall CPU performance. 

In terms of cache memory, Ryzen 3600x and 3600 are tied on all three levels. They have 384KB on L1, 3MB on L2, and 32MB on L3.

The number of transistors

Not a lot of people are familiar with transistors and how they impact CPU speed and processing power.

The transistor is, however, a building block of a processor – in many ways, it’s the most important component in modern computing. A transistor is a semiconductor device that regulates the operation of most devices we use today: PCs, smartphones, modern-day TVs, etc.

A close view of CPU transistors
A close view of CPU transistors

A CPU will host billions of transistors and more transistors usually translate to more computational power.

The Ryzen 3600x is at an advantage here with 4,800 million transistors compared to the 3600 that has 3,800. Now, the transistor count shouldn’t be the single most important thing to look at when considering two different CPUs, but it shows that the 3600x is the stronger chip.

RAM limitations

The amount of RAM you can upgrade your PC with directly depends on your CPU’s limitations. In other words, you should check the max RAM your processor allows so you know how much you can upgrade your PC.

More than 16 GB of RAM will rarely make a big difference when it comes to gaming performance. RAM really comes into play when running demanding multimedia programs that deal with tasks like video rendering and photo manipulation.

Both Ryzen 3600x and 3600 allow for a maximum of 128 GB RAM, which is more than enough for even the most demanding multimedia programs.

Max temperature

Your CPU’s max temperature tells you what temperatures it can handle before experiencing problems.

High temperatures are normal in a CPU – computational tasks require electricity that runs through your processor and converts into heat. The more demanding the process, the more electricity it will require and the more heat it will generate. When the CPU temperature gets too high to handle (which can happen when you’re running multiple demanding programs), you’ll start experiencing problems like sudden shutdowns and freezes.

Both the 3600 and the 3600x have the same maximum temperature: 95oC. You’ll find that this is a pretty standard max temperature in the industry, allowing you to handle most processes with ease.

Standout features

Since our Ryzen 3600 vs 3600x comparison has been pretty close so far, let’s get into the areas where the differences between the two really become apparent.

The 3600x is designed for higher temperatures

Although the 3600 and 3600x feature the same max temperature, their TDP is different.

TDP stands for Thermal Design Power. While the maximum temperature tells you the critical temperature point your CPU can handle when handling the most demanding programs, TDP refers to the amount of heat the processor was designed for. This number actually represents the amount of power your CPU can withstand and dissipate with its cooling system.

Since we already established that heat = power when it comes to CPUs, a processor with a higher TDP is simply designed to handle more demanding programs.

At 95W Ryzen, 3600x has a higher TDP compared to the 3600 that has a TDP of 65W. This would make the 3600x less power-efficient but also capable of running more demanding programs with relative ease.

The 3600x has a higher boost clock speed

Another thing that gamers will find particularly appealing is the boost of clock speed.

Unlike the base clock speed, which can be interpreted as “stock” or “default” clock speed when running simple programs, boost clock speed refers to a single-core boost your CPU can generate when running more demanding programs.

Boost clock speed can be essential in gaming, where single-core performance makes a big difference.

Ryzen 3600x has an advantage here, offering 4.4 GHz compared to the 4.2 GHz boost clock you’ll find in Ryzen 3600. This might not sound like a lot, but if you’re a gamer looking for a CPU that can deliver, any increase in clock speed will matter.

Ryzen 5 3600 vs 3600x: the final verdict

Our AMD Ryzen 5 3600 vs 3600x perfectly illustrates a common dilemma when choosing the best CPU: is a slight upgrade worth the extra money?

Both of these processors are pretty popular and effective in their own right – you can’t go wrong with either one.

If you’re all about multi-core performance and deal with many multimedia programs, Ryzen 3600x is the better choice. It performs better and, although it’s a little more power-hungry, it will be more reliable when multitasking design or video programs.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a good gaming CPU at a reasonable price, Ryzen 3600 is one of the best options on the market. Its single-core performance is quite close to the 3600x and will likely be more than enough to handle even the latest games.

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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