Should you upgrade from an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 to a Ryzen 5 3600?
Can the Ryzen 5 2600 make it through a couple more years?
The short answer: Yes, the Ryzen 5 2600 can make it through a couple more years. It is still a very able six-core CPU that can handle a modest load. Whether you're looking for solid gaming, creativity, or productivity performance, it delivers. If you have one of these in your PC and you're happy with the performance, there's no reason to upgrade.
I've been using a Ryzen 5 2600 in my mid-range gaming PC for the last year, and it's still holding up well when coupled with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU and 16GB of RAM. With most games, I'm averaging around 100 frames-per-second (FPS) on a 1440p monitor. That's a suitable number that gets even better when I drop down to 1080p.
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare||1440p||High||102.3 FPS|
|Metro Exodus||1440p||Medium||85.3 FPS|
|Battlefield V||1440p||Medium||104 FPS|
|Tom Clancy's The Division 2||1440p||High||96.9 FPS|
|Apex Legends||1440p||High||123.4 FPS|
A better GPU would no doubt boost those FPS numbers for the 2600, but high-end cards like NVIDIA's RTX 2070 Super or better are likely going to cause a bottleneck. An upgrade to a Ryzen 5 3600 without touching the GPU would make a difference in its own right. On average, as long as the 3600 isn't being bottlenecked elsewhere, you can expect an improvement of around 10 to 20 FPS for most games if you upgrade from a 2600.
In terms of raw performance, the 3600 beats out the 2600, as you can see in the synthetic benchmark results below. The 3600 has the same six cores and 65W TDP, but it has a slightly higher base and boost clock speeds (3.6GHz and 4.2GHz compared to 3.4GHz and 3.9GHz. The Ryzen 5 3600 also has support for PCIe 4.0, whereas the 2600 tops out at PCIe 3.0.
Geekbench 5 (Higher is better)
|AMD Ryzen 5 2600||990||5,383|
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600||1,186||6,182|
Cinebench R20 (Higher is better)
|AMD Ryzen 5 2600||2,778|
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600||3,463|
It's worth noting that there's also an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X that costs more than the 3600. It brings higher clock speeds, but it also has a higher TDP. If you know you're going to upgrade and can't decide between the 3600 and 3600X, we've also put together an in-depth comparison to help you decide which is best.
A case for upgrading
Just because the Ryzen 5 2600 can still put up an intense fight doesn't mean there aren't certainly scenarios where an upgrade to a Ryzen 5 3600 makes sense. For example, if you've recently upgraded your GPU and don't feel like it's reaching its true potential, there's likely a bottleneck in your system. This is especially true if you've gone for something like an NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super or better.
If you don't want to wait for fourth-gen desktop Ryzen chips — we've seen Ryzen Mobile 4000, but so far nothing but rumor for the desktop versions — a jump up to a Ryzen 5 3600 or 3600X is no doubt quite appealing.
And if you're a hobbyist who just has some extra money to burn on a new CPU, stop reading this and go ahead and pick up a Ryzen 5 3600 or 3600X and have some fun. You can always use the old Ryzen 5 2600 to kickstart a budget build.
If you decide to upgrade from a Ryzen 5 2600 to a 3600, be sure to check your motherboard compatibility. These third-gen CPUs also use the AM4 chipset, but that doesn't mean all AM4 motherboards will work. If you're unsure where to begin, check out our roundup of the best motherboards for the Ryzen 5 3600.
Still going strong
This second-gen Ryzen CPU is outperformed by the Ryzen 5 3600, but not by a considerable margin. Unless you're seeing a bottleneck or have money to burn, it shouldn't need an upgrade. At least until fourth-gen desktop Ryzen is released.
The best until fourth-gen Ryzen
The third-gen AMD Ryzen 5 3600 outperforms the Ryzen 5 2600, and it will pair up better with powerful GPUs. However, for most people who already have a 2600, it's probably not worth the upgrade.
Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.