AMD is on a role with their breakout revival of competitive CPUs. In a short time after covering the debut of Ryzen processors last year, they already had the second iterations on the horizon. They’re not wasting any more time.
Riding off the buzz of its immediate predecessor, the Ryzen 5 2600X continues to be geared towards mainstream desktops, or more accurately, a DIY gaming build that has a little more money thrown into it. If you have an above-average graphics card but still tied to a budget, getting more features and performance is exactly what this CPU delivers.
Better than Before, Everywhere
Truthfully, It’s more of the same built on the ‘Zen+’ architecture; largely identical to the prior generation but incorporates modest optimizations to improve clockspeeds. The new 12nm lithography (LP) process is smaller than before, but die size and transistor count are unchanged for convenience and practicality. Instead AMD improves the necessary thermals so everything works efficiently and runs cooler.
The architecture in general benefits from reduced cache and memory latency. AMD didn’t completely rework their chips but instead went for slight tweaks, similar to what you’d find in the recent Ryzen APUs and Threadripper HEDT CPUs. The L2 cache in particular makes remarkable gains from 16-17 cycles in the original Ryzen CPUs to 11 cycles — roughly a three percent improvement in instruction per clock (IPC). On AMD’s part, the 2600X is ten percent better on average over the 1600X but this is merely an update on existing architecture.Another improvement is the Precision Booth 2 freature with clockspeeds receiving a good bump at intermediate workloads. The 2600X having a base clock of 3.6GHz and maximum of 4.2GHz when firing on all cores, typically running between 3.95GHz to 4GHz under noticeable loads. This along with SenseMI technology to provides satisfactory numbers across the board compared to the Ryzen 5 1600X’s 3.7GHz/4GHz, we doubt most users will go wanting for more and processes won’t slow down to base speed.
No matter how you look at it, the Ryzen 5 2600X is amazing value for less than $240. On paper the six multi-threaded cores essentially trades blows with Intel and their Core i7-8700K, with the Coffee Lake edging behind in real-world computing performance. However, the 2600Xs real competitor is the i5-8400 for everything else related to gaming, just not by much in the majority of games we ran. It also gets the job done quicker than the prior 1600X, but it’s not exactly a wipeout and you shouldn’t lose sleep if you already own that one.
The third challenger would be the i5-8600K which can be overclocked like the 2600X, but you’d to invest in a liquid-cooled system, which for normal people is probably not worth putting stress on components just to squeeze out extra numbers.
We ran the 2600X using a Gigabyte B450 AORUS PRO WiFi Motherboard, EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti graphics card, EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 G+ PSU, and a Crucial MX500 1TB SSD. The results did show consistent improvement across the board and that is to expected, what surprised me is how close the figures were against the Intel CPU, and even the Ryzen 7 2700X.
Aside from that, the AM4 chipset socket continues to be utilized from last year. With newer X470 and B450 motherboards offering slightly better benchmark score — and more importantly — cross compatibility between existing X370/B350 models. As long as the BIOS from the manufacturer is recently updated your options to save even more dollars with the Ryzen 5 2600X is increased. If you do pick an older AM4 motherboard you should be fine for the long haul as AMD have committed themselves to support the platform officially until 2020, or possibly longer.
The original 1600X is a great CPU, and remains a unprecedented example of AMD coming back from the brink with multi-core threading performance. Thankfully, the Ryzen 5 2600X desktop processor is more of the same in a good way. Aside from being better than before in every way it shows a lot promise when the actual Zen 2 family eventually arrives.
Admittedly, it still trails behind a little in the gaming department but the flaws are negligible considering it has everything else going for it: aggressive pricing, workflow output, and the potential longevity of the architecture is absolutely solid for the 2600X. If you’re in the market to build a gaming rig and understandably waited to see how the first Ryzens panned out, this is the no-brainer upgrade right now.