ProsThe Ryzen 5 3600 offers tremendous value; Zen 2 matches Intel's Skylake; RAM compatibility is much improved
ConsThe 3600X doesn't justify its higher price; X570 motherboards that support the 3000 series are too expensive
The Benchmark Utilities
On this page, we provide benchmark results from four well-known utilities, Geekbench 4 representing office PC usage, 3DMark Fire Strike Physics representing computational applications, and Cinebench and V-Ray representing content creation.
Right out of the gate, we see the Ryzen 5 3600 series prove that Intel has much to fear in Zen 2. These chips beat the Core i7-6700K both in single-core and multi-core metrics, despite a nearly identical clockspeed (about 4.2GHz on a single core and 4GHz with a multi-core load). Yes, the Core i9-9900K is still way ahead in terms of the single-core number, but that's because it boosts to 5GHz, a clock speed AMD still can't touch. But Intel doesn't offer that kind of boost speed plus its effective Hyperthreading technology in any 9000-series CPUs other than the $500 9900K, to our ongoing astonishment! Note how effective AMD's SMT technology is in the 3400G vs. 3200G comparison. Despite nearly identical single-core performance, the 3400G is 25% faster in the multi-core benchmark. Intel is handing AMD a victory over and over by pitting its HT-less Core CPUs against AMD's offerings at each respective pricepoint.
As an aside, Intel's Skylake architecture was certainly groundbreaking in 2016, but it's remained stuck in time since then. The 9900K's single-core performance is just 17% higher than the 6700K, and that comes down entirely to its 19% higher Turbo speed (5GHz vs. 4.2GHz). Rest assured that no matter how Intel markets its latest CPUs, they are based on very old tech.
3DMark Fire Strike Physics
Wow, take a look at how the 3600 series is able to go toe-to-toe with the 8-core Ryzen 7 2700X in this test. Impressive! The 3600 twins are also able to more than split the difference between the 6700K and 9900K, coming in at around 58% faster and 30% slower, respectively. That's just fine given their core count.
Cinebench is a well-known and heavily-utilized benchmarking utility that happens to be fairly AMD-friendly. It was one of the benchmarks first "leaked" by AMD when it launched the Ryzen line in 2017. Cinebench indeed made Ryzen processors, which were brimming with cores and threads, look very good versus the Intel competition. And with each iteration of Zen, AMD pulls further ahead. The Ryzen 5 3600 is 78% faster than the Core i7-6700K, despite a slightly-lower clock speed and just 50% more cores. Simply put, its architecture is better than Intel's. Note, however, that the Ryzen 5 3600X doesn't beat the 3600 here, a theme we will return to several times in this review.
The results here end up quite similar to Cinebench, not surprising given that they test similar capabilities, but it's important to note that they do so in different ways. V Ray demonstrates the maximum amount of work that a CPU can do in 1 minute, while Cinebench tests how long long it takes a CPU to perform a discrete task. The good news for AMD is that its 3600 CPUs are still more than 50% faster than the Core i7-6700K, proving again that Zen 2 delivers a massive uplift in performance. Note that the similarly-clocked quad-core Ryzen 5 3400G, which is based on the Zen+ architecture, falls far behind the quad-core 6700K. Zen+ simply didn't equal the Skylake architecture on a clock-for-clock basis.