From Ryzen 5 3600 to 5800X3D: The Big Upgrade

 We've already looked at the Ryzen 7 5800X3D in detail, from our day-one review to numerous comparisons with other high-end AMD and Intel processors, but still missing from all of that has been older Ryzen 5 parts, parts that many of you are still using.

Going from user feedback, it sounds like many are planning a final AM4 upgrade and the gaming crowd may be most interested in going all out on the 5800X3D, which can currently be had for $428 or slightly below the MSRP, and we already know it's a cracking good gaming CPU.

Today we'll be comparing it against the Ryzen 5 3600 and for good measure we'll also throw in the Ryzen 5 5600 data we had already collected as well.

For testing we'll be covering 23 games runnings at 1080p and 1440p resolutions using both a Radeon RX 6950 XT and Radeon 6600 XT with SAM enabled.

The motherboard used for testing is the old MSI B350 Tomahawk using the latest BIOS revision based on the AGESA microcode, which enables Resizable BAR along with support for Ryzen 5000 series processors. Then we have 32GB of DDR4-3200 CL14 dual-rank dual-channel memory, and this same configuration was used for testing all Ryzen processors.

With those details out of the way, let's go over about a dozen of the games tested and then we'll take a look at the 23 game average. Let's get into it…


Starting with CS:GO, we find that the 1% lows of the 5800X3D are improved by 81% from the 3600, while the average frame rate was boosted by 55% from 245 fps up to 380 fps. We've heard that more serious Counter-Strike players like to target over 300 fps, so if that happens to be you, then the 5800X3D will be a worthwhile upgrade.

What We Learned

Assuming you have a capable GPU, and if you are targeting very high FPS gaming at lower quality settings, perhaps for competitive shooters, then Ryzen 5 3600 owners stand to gain a lot of extra performance by upgrading to the 5800X3D. But that's like the perfect scenario for that upgrade.

We were a bit puzzled when many R5 3600 owners requested this comparison. After all, we're talking about a 3-year-old Ryzen 5 processor that started life at $200 and was often sold for much less. So why would these buyers be interested in a CPU upgrade that costs twice as much?

But having thought about it, here's some reasoning behind it. First, had you invested in an Intel platform with the aim of upgrading every 3-5 years when it makes sense, you'd be faced with having to buy a new motherboard anyway. Add at least $100 there or $150 if you want a decent board. Add to that the cost of a $200 - $250 CPU, and you're almost there at the asking price of the 5800X3D.

Then there's the upgrade itself. We know most of you will want to upgrade your graphics card when you can get a 40 - 50% uplift at a similar price, but achieving that kind of improvement for gaming from a CPU is almost unheard of.

AM4 is also at the end of the line, so you can either upgrade now and still enjoy big performance gains, or wait around until Zen 4 makes sense and then dump your platform for a full upgrade, and it's not even clear if the first wave of Zen 4 CPUs will be faster than the 5800X3D for gaming. And of course, you'll need DDR5 memory, making that upgrade more expensive.

So if you've got 2-3 years out of the Ryzen 5 3600 and are now able and willing to go all out on the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, how much of an upgrade is the fastest AM4 CPU for gaming? It turns out, a lot faster, as we just saw and for those running into CPU bound situations, the 5800X3D will solve that while seeing you out for at least the next 2-3 years.

Normally we'd recommend the Ryzen 5 5600 as a smart Zen 3 upgrade, but as we've found for 3600 owners, it's not a huge step forward and in many instances the performance uplift is going to be fairly negligible. After all, it was only 17% faster on average at 1080p using a Radeon RX 6950 XT whereas the 5800X3D was 46% faster.

If you already have a Zen 2-based Ryzen 5, 7 or 9 processor and you're primarily gaming, you will want at least a Ryzen 7 5700X that's currently selling for $250, but as we found recently that's only about 5% faster than the 5600, so at that point you might as well go the full hog, get the 5800X3D and be done with it. And we think that's where many gamers are at right now.

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