The Ryzen 5 3600X is a little more down to Earth than the Ryzen 3 900X and is vastly more affordable, making it quite the processor for most gaming rigs and workstations. When you don't need a mass of cores and threads, this CPU will be more than happy to play your favorite games and render all your media.
- Less expensive
- 6 cores / 12 threads
- Stock cooler
- Less performance
The Ryzen 9 3900X is really designed for those who need a CPU with 12 cores and 24 threads. It won't really make your games run that much faster than the Ryzen 5 3600X, especially if it'll be held back by the GPU, and does cost considerably more, but it offers an immense amount of multi-core performance.
- More powerful
- 12 cores and 24 threads
- Stock cooler
- Better for productivity
- More expensive
It's not often you'll be considering between a Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 9 processor — especially since Ryzen 7 would be a better solution as an intermediate — but if you are deciding between the two, you'll want to go with the more affordable Ryzen 5 3600X unless you truly need all the cores that come with the Ryzen 9 3900X.
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X or Ryzen 5 3600X specs
Specifications are always going to favor the Ryzen 9 3900X since it's a more expensive high-end SKU. Still, it's good to compare the specifications to see just how powerful the Ryzen 5 3600X is on its own. Both processors offer amazing levels of performance.
Both processors work well with RAM that's clocked at 3200MHz, support AM4 chipsets, are built on the 7nm Zen 2 architecture, and even work with PCIe 4.0 hardware. At just 95W and 105W for the two Ryzen CPUs, you'll also be able to enjoy a slightly cooler and more efficient running PC.
Amazing Ryzen performance across the board
The Ryzen 5 3900X may win outright on the specs sheet with faster clock speeds and double the amount of cache, but both processors are able to take full advantage of what Zen 2 brings to the table, though you will have to make sure you have a compatible motherboard if you plan on upgrading to a Ryzen 3000 CPU.
With the Ryzen 9 3900X installed, it's possible to decimate CPU-focused benchmarks and even take the fight to Intel's own counterpart CPUs. Games are an interesting story, especially if you fire up a title that doesn't quite take advantage of 12 cores. The Ryzen 5 3600X may make a bit more sense with that regard.
While it does have half the cores and threads of the Ryzen 9 3900X, it's still capable of handling even the more demanding games of today (though both CPUs do lag behind the competition in some tests), and you'll be more than satisfied with productivity results. It's all down to the price and whether you can afford the $500 tag for the Rzyen 9 3900X.
The good news is the more expensive and powerful CPU also supports AM4, making it an upgrade option further down the road.
Save some money by installing the Ryzen 5 3600X
The Ryzen 5 3600X isn't slow by any standards. In fact, it's actually a very good processor for gaming and intense workloads, but compared to the sheer brute force of the Ryzen 9 3900X it's in a whole league of its own. What makes the Ryzen 5 3600X worth considering is the value on offer for the price.
AMD's Ryzen 5 3600X builds on the already excellent Ryzen 5 2600X, unlocking even more performance at the same reasonable price. Installing this six-core monster into your desktop will allow for some serious levels of productivity.
Go with the Ryzen 9 3900X for maximum performance
AMD did something crazy with the Ryzen 9 3900X. The company brought Threadripper performance to the AM4 socket, allowing mainstream gamers and PC owners the chance to splash out and boast to all their friends about what their machine could do. This thing has 12 cores and enough threads to weave a Windows Central hoodie.
But ask yourself this: Do you really need the Ryzen 9 3900X?
When only the best will do
It's not quite Threadripper levels of amazing, though it does match the older entry-level Threadripper processor, but the Ryzen 9 3900X is a special case. It houses 12 cores and 24 threads inside a package that can be installed on an AM4 motherboard. Wait ... what?
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a 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 on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.