AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU Review: Efficient And Affordable

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So far, all of the Ryzen 2000-series CPUs we've tested offer similar overclocking capabilities, albeit with slightly different voltage requirements. We pushed AMD's Ryzen 5 2600 to 4.2 GHz using 1.4V Vcore, 1.2V SoC, and automatic Loadline Calibration (LLC) settings. The bundled heat sink and fan are capable enough if you're only gunning for a moderate overclock. However, it struggled to maintain 4 GHz at 95°C. If you want to match our best effort, top the 2600 with a capable closed-loop liquid cooler.

Like the other Ryzen 2000-series CPUs we've reviewed, we overclocked this platform's memory (DDR4-3466 at 14-14-14-34 timings) with minimal effort.

Precision Boost Overdrive

AMD isn't giving us much detail about its Precision Boost Overdrive feature, though we know it increases maximum boost voltage and boost duration. Nevertheless, we know that Precision Boost Overdrive is an AMD-sanctioned feature. Because this is a standard capability for Ryzen 2000-series processors, we leave it enabled. Conversely, we disable the Multi-Core Enhancement BIOS option found in many Intel-based motherboards because it overclocks beyond the company's specifications.

MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC

Our MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC has a PCI Express 3.0 slot with a x16 link, a slot with a x8 connection, and another PCI Express 2.0 slot with a four-lane link for graphics cards. Its four RAM slots support DDR4-2933 and scale quite a bit higher through overclocking.

The motherboard also provides two M.2 slots with PCIe connectivity. The I/O panel has a USB 3.1 Type C connector. The USB 3.1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports support fast charging for smartphones and tablets. If RGB is your thing, MSI has you covered. The integrated RGB Mystic lighting allows customizable effects with several software-controlled zones.

Comparison Products

Test Systems

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Test System & Configuration
HardwareAMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)AMD Ryzen 7 2700, Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600X, Ryzen 5 2600 MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933, DDR4-3466Intel LGA 1151 (Z370):Intel Core i7-8700K, i5-8600K, Core i5-8400MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2400, DDR4-2667, DDR4-3466AMD Socket AM4 (300-Series)Ryzen 5 1600X, Ryzen 7 1600 MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667, DDR4-3200All EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE 1TB Samsung PM863 SilverStone ST1500-TI, 1500W Windows 10 Creators Update Version 1703 - All Spectre and Meltdown mitigations
CoolingCorsair H115i


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Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.

  • joeblowsmynose
    Really grasping at straws to come up with some cons, eh? "needs better than stock cooler for serious overclocking", "slower than a faster, more expensive CPU", lol. Those cons apply to ever CPU ever made.
  • Gillerer
    Now I know you want to use 1080p in order to get differences between CPUs and not be GPU limited. The problem is, those differences are therefore artificially inflated compared to some enthusiast gamers' hardware.

    It'd be nice to have one middle-of-the-road (in terms of GPU/CPU-boundness) game benchmarked in 1440p and 4k, too, as a sort of sanity check. If the differences diminish to rounding error territory, people looking to game in those resolutions with good settings might be better off getting a "good enough" CPU and putting all extra money towards the GPU.

    Not only that, if there actually *was* a distinct advangage to getting the best IPC Intel mainstream processor for high-res, high-settings gaming, finding that out would be interesting.
  • Blytz
    I chucked a basic corsair liquid cooler on my 1600X and it runs all cores @ 4.0 I hope the clock for clock is worth the upgrade for those making that step
  • 1_rick
    I did the same thing (except I used an NZXT AIO) with the same results. It seems like a 4.2 OC means the 2600 isn't a worthwhile upgrade from the 1600X, but that's what I expected.
  • Giroro
    Right now the price difference between the 2600x and 2600 is $229 vs $189 , so a $40 difference.
  • theyeti87
    I would love to know whether or not the Indium (I) Iodide 99.999% anhydrous beads that I package for Global Foundries at work is used for the solder in these chips.
  • Dugimodo
    I'm not sure if it does but I think the 8400 needs to include a basic cooler in the cost analysis after seeing several reviews that show it thermal throttles on stock cooling and loses up to 20% performance depending on load and case cooling etc. These charts make it look better than the 2600 when in reality the difference may be almost nothing. Not that I'm buying either :) too much of a performance junkie for that.
  • derekullo
    21009625 said:
    Really grasping at straws to come up with some cons, eh? "needs better than stock cooler for serious overclocking", "slower than a faster, more expensive CPU", lol. Those cons apply to ever CPU ever made.

    On the flipside the last con "Only $20 cheaper than 95W Ryzen 5 2600X" does make a lot of sense.

    For only $20 you get noticeably better performance with "you may even say because" a much better cooler.

    Even if I was building a computer for my grandmother who only wanted to use it to do Facebook and free casino games, I'd still go with the 2600x

  • Dugimodo
    I think for Granny I'd go the 2400G and save on a graphics card myself.
  • derekullo
    21011262 said:
    I think for Granny I'd go the 2400G and save on a graphics card myself.

    True, but between the 2600s I'd choose the X.