With the release of Ryzen’s new Zen 2 / 3000 line of processors, competition is the highest it’s ever been between AMD and Intel. PC builders are spoilt for choice with what CPUs to build with, and manufacturers trying to undercut each other with driving pricing down, and offering better value to the PC builders. The new Ryzen processors have been shown on paper and early benchmarks to have better performance than its Intel counterparts, and for better value too.
The new Ryzen 5 3600X, AMD’s mid-level CPU offering aimed at budget builds, is priced at $249 that happens to match the retail price of Intel’s Core i5 9600K. Many budget-to-mid-level PC builders will be asking the same question: shall I build with the Core i5-9600K or Ryzen 5 3600X?
In this guide we are going to compare these two fantastic processors against each other, splitting into sections such as value, performance, specifications – and work out which CPU is best – the i5-9600K or 3600X.
1. Specification comparison
On paper, the mid-range Ryzen 5 3600X has a 6 core, 12 thread 7nm processor, which features the same core count as the i5-9600K, whereas the i5-9600K only has 6 threads and built on a 14nm++ Coffee Lake architecture, released last year.
The Ryzen 5 3600X features a slightly higher base and boost clock, at 3.8 GHz and 4.4 GHz, compared to the Core i5-9600K’s clock speeds of 3.7GHz and 4.3GHz respectively. Its important to note this comparison of clock speeds doesn’t mean that much when comparing between two different CPU architectures, such as Zen 2 and Coffee Lake.
L3 cache is up to 32MB on the new Ryzen Zen 2 processors, including the Ryzen 5 3600, and utilises the latest PCIe 4.0 standard – whereas the Core i5-9600K is run on the previous generation PCIe 3.0. This would only be a deciding factor if you plan on running the new PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs on your new PC build – which currently only Ryzen 3000 processors and X570 chipset supports.
Both processors have a rated TDP of 95W, and are both priced at retail at $249 – making them priced strategically at mid-level builds.
One feature the i5-9600K benefits greatly over that the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X doesn’t have is hyperthreading, which is an intel-only technology and thus not found on Ryzen processors (although Ryzen has a similar technology called SMT).
2. Performance & Benchmarks
In our opinion, the best way to compare the performance of the Ryzen 5 3600X and the Core i5-9600K, and any component in general, is to look at benchmarks – with Cinebench R20 being a fantastic benchmark reference of performance. In the Cinebench R20 benchmark the stock Ryzen 5 3600 was slightly better performing than the i5-9600K, scoring 481 compared to 479. The 3600X is higher performance than the 3600 so we expect this number to be an even greater difference between the two benchmark scores.
If you’re looking to game at 1440p with these two processors, the performance will be very similar and hard to distinguish in FPS and settings. In fact, at 1440p the i5-9600K may perform a little bit better. However, for the same performance, the Ryzen 5 3600X is far more power efficient than the i5-9600K and has a far better performance in multicore tasks and applications – which makes the Ryzen 5 3600X far more versatile in performance than the i5-9600K. Thus this makes the Ryzen 5 3600X not only great for gaming but also streaming, video editing and any workforce applications.
With that said, if you have the i5-9600K with a decent air cooler, such as the Noctua NH-D15, and in a system where you can overclock this CPU past 5GHz, the i5-9600K in this instance will perform better than the Ryzen 5 3600X for gaming.
In any other instance, the Ryzen 5 3600X reigns supreme over the Intel Core i5-9600K.
i5-9600K vs 3600X: Which CPU to go for?
If we were building in 2020, right now given the outstanding performance of the Ryzen 5 3600X for the price, it is a no brainer to go for AMD this time since the 3600X on paper and in benchmarks outperforms the i5-9600K in practically every test we have seen so far. It really is looking like the Ryzen 5 3600X is a great value, performing CPU at mid-range budgets.
Related: Best RAM for Ryzen 3000 Processors