AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU Review: Efficient And Affordable

AMD's Ryzen 5 2600 boasts six cores and the ability to execute two threads per core, just like the company's pricier Ryzen 5 2600X. But the 2600 operates at lower base and boost frequencies than the X-class model (after all, it's supposed to be $30 cheaper). Don't let the dialed-back performance bother you too much though; the 2600 does employ higher clock rates than AMD's previous-gen Ryzen 5 1600. Plus, it features a familiar unlocked ratio multiplier for overclocking. Rest assured that the 2600 is faster than anything AMD has ever sold for $200.

It's only a shame that, instead of the 95W cooler AMD bundled with Ryzen 5 1600, the 2600 comes with a 65W Wraith Stealth heat sink/fan combination. Although the attractive thermal solution is fine for stock frequencies, it definitely limits the new chip's overclocking potential. Value-seekers looking to match Ryzen 5 2600X through a bit of tweaking are bound to be disappointed.

To make matters worse for Ryzen 5 2600, the 2600X was selling at a discount when we wrote this, shrinking the gap between the two chips to $20. For that small premium, you get more stock performance from the 2600X and a beefier 95W cooler to match its TDP. If you aren't chasing low power, we think the Ryzen 5 2600X is a worthwhile step up.

Then again, Ryzen 5 2600 remains a compelling option for anyone building in a compact case where heat is a primary concern. It comes packed with all of architectural improvements inherent to AMD's Zen+ design, including higher mutli-core boost frequencies than the previous generation, lower memory latency, and GlobalFoundries' 12nm manufacturing process (read our Ryzen 7 2700X review for additional details).


AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
AMD Ryzen 7 2700
Ryzen 7 1700
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
AMD Ryzen 5 2600
Ryzen 5 1600
Intel Core i7-8700K
Intel Core i5-8600K
Intel Core i5-8400
MSRP
$329
$299
$299
$219
$229
$199
$189
$359
$257
$182
Cores/Threads
8/16
8/16
8/16
6/12
6/12
6/12
6/12
6/12
6/6
6/6
TDP
105W
65W
65W
95W
95W
65W
65W
95W
95W
65W
Base Freq. (GHz)
3.7
3.2
3.03.6
3.6
3.4
3.2
3.7
3.6
2.8
Precision Boost Freq. (GHz)
4.3
4.13.8
4.0
4.2
3.9
3.6
4.7
4.3
4.0
Cache (L3)
16MB
16MB
16MB
16MB
16MB
16MB
16MB
12MB
9MB
9MB
Unlocked Multiplier
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Cooler
105W Wraith Prism (LED)
95W Wraith Spire (LED)95W Wraith Spire
-
95W Wraith Spire
65W Wraith Stealth
95W Wraith Spire (No LED)
-
-
Intel

All 2000-series Ryzen CPUs are compatible with motherboards sporting new X470 or older 300-series chipsets. You can even overclock the new processors on value-oriented B-series platforms. While lower-cost 400-series chipsets aren't available yet, we're counting on them to offer a more affordable option for enthusiasts looking to tune 2000-series Ryzen CPUs.

Ryzen 5 2600 supports up to DDR4-2933 memory. Just be aware that you'll only get those data rates with single-rank modules installed in a maximum of two slots. Even then, it takes a motherboard with six PCB layers to operate at 2933 MT/s stably.

Like all 2000-series models, the Ryzen 5 2600 also comes with StorMI Technology, which is a software-based tiering solution that blends the low price and high capacity of hard drives with the speed of an SSD, 3D XPoint, or even up to 2GB of RAM.

Precision Boost 2 And XFR2

AMD's previous-gen Ryzen processors included Precision Boost functionality that set higher frequencies under lightly-threaded workloads. They also introduced an eXtended Frequency Range (XFR) feature, which allowed higher clock rates when it was determined that your cooling solution had thermal headroom to spare.

The new Precision Boost 2 (PB2) and XFR2 algorithms improve performance in threaded workloads by raising the frequency of any number of cores. AMD doesn't share a list of specific multi-core PB2 and XFR2 bins because the opportunistic algorithms accelerate to different clock rates based on temperature, current, and load. However, we collected our measurements on a motherboard with solid voltage regulation circuitry and a good cooler (two requirements for optimal frequencies).

The Ryzen 5 2600 offers a nice performance boost over AMD's previous-gen models. However, it cannot match Ryzen 5 2600X. Compared to that CPU, the 2600 loses 350 MHz with all of its cores utilized. The difference between both models narrows in tasks that use anywhere from one to four cores.

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