AMD Ryzen 5 3600X vs AMD Ryzen 5 3600: Which CPU should you buy?

AMD Ryzen 5 2600
AMD Ryzen 5 2600

The Ryzen 3600X is ideal for those who don't mind paying a little bit extra for higher factory-set clock speeds and a better stock cooler. If you plan on using an aftermarket cooler (or custom water loop) and will overclock the CPU, the Ryzen 3600 becomes more enticing to save a little and still have a sound processor. Both processors come rocking AMD's latest Ryzen 3000 enhancements.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X vs AMD Ryzen 5 3600 specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Ryzen 5 3600XRyzen 5 3600
Cores66
Threads1212
Clock speed3.8 GHz3.6 GHz
Boost speed4.4 GHz4.2 GHz
CacheL2: 3 MB
L3: 32 MB
L2: 3 MB
L3 32 MB
RAM3200 MHz3200 MHz
TDP95 W65 W
Price$249 (opens in new tab)$199 (opens in new tab)

On paper, both the Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 5 3600X from AMD are fantastic mid-range processors with six cores and 12 threads. They're very similar in terms of specifications with the only major differences being clock speeds and TDP. The Ryzen 5 3600X comes out of the factory with a higher base and boost clock speeds of 3.8 GHz and 4.4 GHz, respectively. The 3600 isn't too far behind mind you, coming in at 3.6 GHz and 4.2 GHz. The rated thermal design power (TDP) — how much heat the CPU will generate — shouldn't be a deciding factor since both stock coolers are capable of keeping the two processors within safe operating temperature limits.

The sweet spot in terms of RAM for both processors is around 3,200 MHz. You will be able to run both of them with slower memory, but Ryzen craves for modules at this set speed. Once installed, these CPUs will be able to perform admirably in games and when processing intense loads from productivity suites. The 3600X will perform better overall, but that's only until you factor in overclocking, which allows the 3600 to catch up or surpass the 3600X depending on how both are configured.

Ryzen 5 3600X is the choice for those seeking the best

The Ryzen 5 3600X is ideal for anyone wanting to pick up a great mid-range CPU, which is clocked higher than the 3600 from the factory, and bag a decent stock cooler in the process. This package has everything you need to get started and even overclock a little.

Go with the Ryzen 5 3600 if you want to save money

There's not all that much that differentiates the Ryzen 5 3600X and 3600, so if you're more budget conscious, go with the Ryzen 5 3600 and save yourself some money. It's a great processor with room for overclocking if you have the additional budget.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.