AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 Review: Firing Back at Alder Lake

Zen 3 gets cheap

AMD Ryzen 5 5600
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 Power Consumption and Efficiency

The Intel Alder Lake chips still suck more power than AMD's Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000 series chips, but pairing the Intel 7 process with the hybrid architecture brings big improvements, particularly in threaded work.

The Zen 3-equipped Ryzen 5 5600G has long been the most efficient chip we've tested, but the Ryzen 5 5500 gives it a run for the money in the HandBrake renders-per-day-per-watt measurements. That isn't entirely surprising, as the 5500 is merely a lower-clocked version of the 5600G, and efficiency tends to improve the further you move to the left on the voltage/frequency curve. 

The Ryzen 5 5600 is also plenty efficient, but the Core i5-12400 takes a slight lead in the efficiency metrics. As you'd expect, the Core i5-12400 and Core i3-12100 draw more power during the heavily-threaded AVX y-cruncher workload. 

Here we take a slightly different look at power consumption by calculating the cumulative energy required to perform Blender and x264 and x265 HandBrake workloads, respectively. We plot this 'task energy' value in Kilojoules on the left side of the chart. 

These workloads are comprised of a fixed amount of work, so we can plot the task energy against the time required to finish the job (bottom axis), thus generating a really useful power chart. 

Bear in mind that faster compute times, and lower task energy requirements, are ideal. That means processors that fall the closest to the bottom left corner of the chart are best. 

AMD Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 Test Setup

We tested with Windows 11 on an X570 motherboard to maintain a comparable test environment with the rest of the processors in the test pool. Of course, you wouldn't pair this chip with this class of motherboard, but even lower-end 300-series motherboards should provide enough juice for full operation. We also tested with secure boot, virtualization support, and fTPM/PTT active to reflect a properly configured Windows 11 install. We have a full breakdown of the test system configurations at the end of the article.

Our overclocks were rather straightforward — we enabled the auto-overclocking Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) feature with 'advanced motherboard' settings and adjusted the scalar setting to 10X. You can see details of how to do this in our How to Overclock a CPU feature. Additionally, as outlined in the table below, we made sure to match our memory overclocks with a 1:1 FCLK/memory clock ratio to keep latency low, which games love. For the Ryzen 5 5500, we had to increase the SoC voltage to 1.25V to solidify our DDR4-4000 memory overclock, but that wasn't required for the Ryzen 5 5600, largely because it tapped out at a lower DDR4-3800 in 1:1 mode. We tested the Ryzen 5 5600 and Ryzen 5 5500 in two different configurations each:

  • Ryzen 5 5600: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Disabled, DDR4-3200
  • Ryzen 5 5600 PBO: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Enabled, Scalar 10X, DDR4-3800, FCLK 1900 MHz (1:1 Ratio)
  • Ryzen 5 5500: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Disabled, DDR4-3200
  • Ryzen 5 5500 PBO: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Enabled, Scalar 10X, DDR4-4000, FCLK 2000 MHz (1:1 Ratio)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Test System Configurations
Intel Socket 1700 DDR4 (Z690)Core i3-12100, Core i5-12400
Row 1 - Cell 0 MSI Z690A WiFi DDR4
Row 2 - Cell 0 2x 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 - Stock: DDR4-3200 14-14-14-36 / OC: DDR4-3800
AMD Socket AM4 (X570)Ryzen 5 5600X, 5600G, 5600, 5500, 3600X, 3600
Row 4 - Cell 0 MSI MEG X570 Godlike
Row 5 - Cell 0 2x 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 - Stock: DDR4-3200 14-14-14-36 | OC/PBO: DDR4-3800 (5600X, 5600), DDR-4000 (5500), DDR4-4400 (5600G),Second-gen DDR4-3600
All SystemsGigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle - Gaming and ProViz applications
Row 7 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE - Application tests
Row 8 - Cell 0 2TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus
Row 9 - Cell 0 Silverstone ST1100-TI
Row 10 - Cell 0 Open Benchtable
Row 11 - Cell 0 Arctic MX-4 TIM
Row 12 - Cell 0 Windows 11 Pro
CoolingCorsair H115i, Custom loop
Overclocking noteAll configurations with overclocked memory also have tuned core frequencies and/or lifted power limits.
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.