AMD Ryzen 5 2600X review

The best mid-range CPU for power users

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Our Verdict

The Ryzen 5 2600X embarrasses its Intel rivals with dramatically higher multi-core performance, better single-core power and gaming performance, but sacrifices some of its original affordability in the process.

For

  • Faster single-core performance
  • Improved gaming frame rates
  • X470 chipset features

Against

  • Runs hot
  • Significant power consumption
  • A little too expensive for budget builds

The AMD Ryzen 5 1600X was one of the best value processors you could buy last year, and now the Ryzen 5 2600X aims to continue that streak. With the new 12nm Zen+ architecture and a higher boost clock under its belt, this mid-range chip delivers greatly improved multi-core performance and gaming frame rates on par with Intel’s competing silicon.

Ryzen 2nd Generation’s answer for a mid-range CPU offers a startling amount of processing power, but it’s not necessarily the solution for everyone. The Ryzen 5 2600X ‘s price is a little high for budget builds, and the high-power draw and temperatures also add to the long-term costs of running this particular chip.

Strict gamers looking for an inexpensive processor will be better served with the Intel Core i5-8400, which performs just as well in games, even if it doesn’t offer the same amount of power.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X review

Spec sheet

Cores: 6
Threads: 12
Base clock: 3.6GHz
Boost clock: 4.2GHz
L3 cache: 16MB
TDP: 95W

Pricing and availability

As with other Ryzen 2nd Generation chips, the 2600X is priced at a slightly higher $229 (£209, AU$319) premium compared to the AMD Ryzen 5 1600X that originally retailed for $219 (£249, AU$289). But, as with all of AMD’s latest chips, this CPU comes bundled with a new premium RGB Wraith Prism cooler that adds to the package’s value.

At this price point, the Ryzen 5 2600X manages to be just a little bit more affordable than the $259 (£219, AU$359) Intel Core i5-8600K, which doesn’t come with any cooler included. However, users looking to save a bit of money may be enticed by the $179 (£159, AU$254) Intel Core i5-8400, as it comes with the same six-core, six-thread arrangement as its bigger brother, and practically the same level of performance.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X review

Features and chipset

The AMD Ryzen 7 2600X shares many of the same specifications as it predecessors, including the same core and thread count, base clock speed and L3 cache. Really, the only major improvement here is the 0.2Ghz higher boost clock speed – but that’s really all it needs to reach a significantly higher level of performance.

This is largely thanks to improvements made to Precision Boost that ensures that all threads are pushing the highest frequencies they can at all times. Then there’s also Extended Frequency Range 2 (XFR2) that’s now works across all cores.

Furthermore, the Ryzen 2nd Generation introduces a 12nm Zen+ architecture that’s smaller than both the 14nm Zen architecture Ryzen utilizes and Intel Coffee Lake’s own 14nm process. Meanwhile, the new X470 chipset also provides improved power delivery and efficiency.

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Test system specs

GPU: Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti (11GB GDDR5X VRAM)
RAM: 16GB G.Skill Sniper X DDR4 (3,400MHz)
Motherboard: Aorus X470 Gaming 7 Wi-Fi
Power Supply: Cooler Master V750
Storage: 512GB Intel 760p M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4)
Cooling: Corsair H110i
Case: Fractal Design Meshify-C
Operating system: Windows 10

Performance

We suspected that Ryzen 2nd Generation’s higher clock speeds would bring about an end to Intel’s frequency advantage and that’s appears to have been proved by the Ryzen 5 2600X’s performance numbers. 

AMD’s new mid-range CPU achieves the same, if not better, single-core test numbers as the Intel Core i5-8600K and i5-8400. In terms of multi-core performance, the Ryzen 5 2600X holds a 7% advantage in GeekBench and 48% higher scores in CineBench.

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The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X’s gaming performance isn’t nearly as impressive, so if you’re looking for a CPU to just game with, rather than encode video and stream, the Intel Core i5-8400 is a sure bet and the most affordable option here.

As with other Ryzen processors before it, the 2600X is unfortunately both power hungry and the hottest running chip out of the bunch.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X review

Final verdict

The Ryzen 5 2600X isn’t quite the all-out victory that the Ryzen 7 2700X is, but the improvements made over its predecessor are significant and worthy of notice. AMD’s new mid-range processor also has significantly better multi-core performance over its Intel rivals while also handling games nearly as well.

This CPU is great value if you’re looking for a chip to do heavy multi-tasking and intense tasks like video editing and the like. However, if you’re just looking for a mid-range gaming processor the Intel Core i5-8400 is more than sufficient and a much more affordable part.