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AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU Review: Efficient And Affordable

6 cores for a budget price

Our Verdict

AMD's Ryzen 5 2600 provides excellent performance in productivity applications and competitive frame rates in games. It's also an attractive choice for anyone building a PC in a compact case, given a 65W TDP. But if you're more interested in raw performance or overclocking, Ryzen 5 2600X is a better option for just $20 more.

For

  • Big step forward in performance compared to Ryzen 5 1600
  • Backward compatibility with previous-gen motherboards
  • Indium solder between die and heat spreader improves thermal transfer
  • Bundled cooler improves value proposition

Against

  • Performance deficit compared to stock Ryzen 7 2700
  • Requires a higher-end thermal solution for serious overclocking
  • Only $20 cheaper than 95W Ryzen 5 2600X

Six Cores and 65W for $200

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. One of the best cpus for desktop applications at press time, 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 2700XAMD Ryzen 7 2700Ryzen 7 1700AMD Ryzen 5 1600XAMD Ryzen 5 2600XAMD Ryzen 5 2600Ryzen 5 1600Intel Core i7-8700KIntel Core i5-8600KIntel Core i5-8400
MSRP$329$299$299$219$229$199$189$359$257$182
Cores/Threads8/168/168/166/126/126/126/126/126/66/6
TDP105W65W65W95W95W65W65W95W95W65W
Base Freq. (GHz)3.73.23.03.63.63.43.23.73.62.8
Precision Boost Freq. (GHz)4.34.13.84.04.23.93.64.74.34.0
Cache (L3)16MB16MB16MB16MB16MB16MB16MB12MB9MB9MB
Unlocked MultiplierYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
Cooler105W Wraith Prism (LED)95W Wraith Spire (LED)95W Wraith Spire-95W Wraith Spire65W Wraith Stealth95W 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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  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    Right now the price difference between the 2600x and 2600 is $229 vs $189 , so a $40 difference.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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

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

    Reply