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AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review: The Mainstream Knockout

Kill the body and the head will die

Ryzen 5 5600X
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Here we'll take a closer look at the Ryzen 5 5600X's boost clock mechanisms. Our testing shows that the chips reach their advertised clock speeds within the power limits of the AM4 socket, but they generate quite a bit of heat in the process – especially if you use the bundled Wraith Stealth air cooler. The bundled air cooler doesn't impact performance in light tasks, but if you do a lot of intense threaded work, like rendering or game streaming, the bundled air cooler leads to slightly reduced performance.

As per our normal routine, we put AMD's boost clocks to the test in both single- and multi-threaded workloads (methodology here). The lightly-threaded test regimen is designed to extract the highest boost clock rates possible as we step through ten iterations of the LAME encoder, then single-threaded POV-Ray and Cinebench runs, PCMark 10, and GeekBench. To keep the charts 'clean,' we only plot the maximum and minimum frequency recorded on any one core during the test. 

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Ryzen 5 5600X Boost Testing

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Ryzen 5 5600X Boost Testing

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Ryzen 5 5600X Boost Testing

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Ryzen 5 5600X Boost Testing

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

In the first slide in the album above, we chart out this series of tests at stock settings with the Corsair H115i 280mm air cooler. The chip peaked at 4.65 GHz, which is slightly above the advertised 4.6 GHz threshold. Temps topped out at 70C, which isn't concerning.

Unlike with the Ryzen 3000 series processors, the unused cores (plotted in black) dropped as low as 2.2 GHz during the test (previous-gen chips tended to bottom out at 3.8 GHz). This is a big improvement over the previous-gen chips: AMD added the ability for individual idle cores to drop into sleep states quickly, which reduces overall chip power consumption and heat generation. By reducing this wasted layer of power consumption, the active cores can boost to higher frequencies and they can boost more frequently and for longer durations. 

The second slide shows the same series of tests, but with the bundled Wraith Stealth air cooler. The air cooler still allows the processor to boost freely in these lightly-threaded workloads and we reach the same peaks of 4.65 GHz, but we see a marked increase in peak chip temperature to 81C during the tests, which is surprising given the relatively light nature of the tests. However, that increased heat output doesn't appear to adversely impact boost frequencies or duration, but that changes when we stress the cores more fully in the tests below. 

Ryzen 5 5600X Stress Test Frequency, Power, Thermals 

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Ryzen 5 5600X Stress Test

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Ryzen 5 5600X Stress Test

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Ryzen 5 5600X Stress Test

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Ryzen 5 5600X Stress Test

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The second series of tests plots our custom multi-threaded stress test that consists of multiple iterations of HandBrake, POV-Ray, Cinebench, v-ray, y-cruncher, and Blender renders. This is basically throwing the heaviest real-world workloads we have in our arsenal at the chip to see if we can push any active cores below the 5600X's 3.7 GHz base clock. It's important to note that all-core workloads that fully stress all the cores are represented in the areas where the red (maximum) and black (minimum) frequencies converge.

With the H115i AIO, the lowest all-core clock frequency we measured on fully active cores was 4.45 GHz, which is great considering the official 3.7 GHz base clock. Overall, all-core frequencies ranged from 4.65 GHz to 4.45 GHz. Temperatures were fine with the Corsair H115i cooler, peaking at 72C for short durations, albeit with the fans cranking away at high speed. AMD specs a maximum power draw (PPT - Package Power Tracking) of 88W for its 65W TDP processors. The 5600X peaked at 76W, meaning it has room to spare. 

Temperatures were much higher with the Wraith Stealth air cooler, though: We measured sustained periods of 92C, and a peak of 95C, during the most intense portions of the test (Blender, POV-Ray, y-cruncher). This matches AMD's 95C limit for 65W processors (105W processors have a 90C limit), but it does impact performance. 

We can see that topping the 5600X with the Wraith Stealth cooler results in all-core frequencies that drop as low as 4.15 GHz, which is 300 MHz slower than the results with the H115i liquid cooler (but still well over the official 3.7 GHz base clock). 

Naturally, that reduced frequency impacts performance. You'll notice that our test run required an additional 60 seconds with the air cooler - a ~3% reduction in performance. However, this reduction varies, especially if the task consists of a fixed amount of work over an extended period of time, like a rendering workload. 

Overall, the bundled Wraith Spire is more than sufficient for matching AMD's spec'd clock rates in both single- and multi-threaded tasks, but the adaptive nature of Ryzen 5000's Precision Boost algorithms will reward you with higher performance if you invest in a better cooler, particularly in heavily-threaded workloads.

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AMD Ryzen 5000 Temperature and Voltage Guidelines

(Image credit: AMD)
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AMD Ryzen 5000 Temperature and Voltage Guidelines

(Image credit: AMD)

We recorded higher temperatures during our tests than we've seen with previous-gen Ryzen chips, but, long story short, don't get too excited about the higher stock temperatures. This is by design. AMD has tuned its boost algorithms to fully leverage every last bit of the thermal headroom available, resulting in higher chip temperatures – even during comparatively lighter workloads. This doesn't pose any danger to chip longevity and ultimately results in better performance.  

To help align expectations, AMD issued the above guidelines for expected temperatures for various kinds of coolers and the expected voltage ranges for various workloads. Naturally, lesser coolers at more mundane settings will peak at higher temperatures. 

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Paul Alcorn

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

  • Erik3135
    Why is not having integrated graphics listed as a con?

    If you're buying basically the top gaming processor why in the world would you ever consider using integrated graphics.

    If anything, it's a pro that it doesn't have integrated graphics as this way you're not paying for something you'd never use.
    Reply
  • glitch00
    Erik3135 said:
    Why is not having integrated graphics listed as a con?

    If you're buying basically the top gaming processor why in the world would you ever consider using integrated graphics.

    If anything, it's a pro that it doesn't have integrated graphics as this way you're not paying for something you'd never use.
    Because not everyone will be buying it for gaming. Tom's Hardware does application benchmarks after all.

    Lack of integrated graphics is a dealbreaker for me. I need something that can run multiple VMs for my ITX system and I care a lot about idle power consumption so having integrated graphics is super beneficial. I suppose AMD isn't as focused on the HTPC community since their latest APUs are OEM only. So for now, have no choice but to wait for Rocket Lake / Alder Lake / Cezanne .
    Reply
  • deesider
    Erik3135 said:
    Why is not having integrated graphics listed as a con?

    If you're buying basically the top gaming processor why in the world would you ever consider using integrated graphics.

    If anything, it's a pro that it doesn't have integrated graphics as this way you're not paying for something you'd never use.
    I used to think Intel iGPUs were a con, but when they left them out the price didn't really change
    Reply
  • Droidfreak
    Much of Ryzen’s early success stemmed from industry-leading core counts and plenty of freebies for enthusiasts, like bundled coolers and unrestricted overclockability paired with broad compatibility.
    "Bundled cooler" and "enthusiasts" used in one sentence? I guess we need to rethink the definition of "enthusiasts" 😁
    Reply
  • dennphill
    From an old man that probably nobody listens to...I think AMD is laughing all the way to the bank on this price increase for the 5600X and its shortage. (I suspect they will intentionally keep stocks down to milk this shortage for all they can get!) For one, though I really liked and have always been a supporter of AMD, in this case there is no way - less a price drop to around $250 or so in the next few months - I would ever buy one of these. In protest, I woun't even consider a 3600X or a 3700X no mattert how they lower the price. I will just protest by going back to Intel when i decide I need to upgrade. AMD be cursed to the lowest level of Dante's Inferno for this trickery. That's my take on this "Knockout."
    Reply
  • ozzuneoj
    So now we're calling a $299 CPU mainstream?

    When the 3600 was by far the best CPU purchase 4-5 months ago and was down to $165, what was it? Entry level??

    The 5600X offers amazing performance at what used to be i7 prices... But I wouldn't call it mainstream.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    anyone else notice the typo on page 2 3rd paragraph?
    "Corsair H115i 280mm air cooler "

    was unaware they had an air cooler sharing same name as their aio :sneaky:

    ozzuneoj said:
    When the 3600 was by far the best CPU purchase 4-5 months ago and was down to $165, what was it? Entry level??
    yes.
    it was the best overall cpu and everyone recommended it for balance of work and gaming.


    compare its price to the price intel was use to charging for its chips.



    angiven time the 5600x WILL drop to prolly around $200 which is crazy good.
    Reply
  • Mandark
    dennphill said:
    From an old man that probably nobody listens to...I think AMD is laughing all the way to the bank on this price increase for the 5600X and its shortage. (I suspect they will intentionally keep stocks down to milk this shortage for all they can get!) For one, though I really liked and have always been a supporter of AMD, in this case there is no way - less a price drop to around $250 or so in the next few months - I would ever buy one of these. In protest, I woun't even consider a 3600X or a 3700X no mattert how they lower the price. I will just protest by going back to Intel when i decide I need to upgrade. AMD be cursed to the lowest level of Dante's Inferno for this trickery. That's my take on this "Knockout."

    You are free to do whatever silly thing you want to do. The competition has been raping the public for years and you’re going to go back to them? Have fun Wasting your time and your money and getting far less performance
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    dennphill said:
    From an old man that probably nobody listens to...I think AMD is laughing all the way to the bank on this price increase for the 5600X and its shortage. (I suspect they will intentionally keep stocks down to milk this shortage for all they can get!) For one, though I really liked and have always been a supporter of AMD, in this case there is no way - less a price drop to around $250 or so in the next few months - I would ever buy one of these. In protest, I woun't even consider a 3600X or a 3700X no mattert how they lower the price. I will just protest by going back to Intel when i decide I need to upgrade. AMD be cursed to the lowest level of Dante's Inferno for this trickery. That's my take on this "Knockout."
    first bit:
    you realize AMD gets the base cost paid and not the scalped prices right?

    they LOSE $ by purposeful keeping stock low.
    It has no benefit for them.

    it's a bad time for tech (covid making worse than normal) and they have their cpu, gpu, and 2 consoles using their stuff.

    fabs only have limited amount per customer.



    second bit:

    claism to be supporter of amd yet disses em for wanting to raise rpice a tiny bit when their cpu are THE best ones out?

    and then saying you are goign back intel in future? THE intel who price gouged EVERYONE for a decade? they had price increase EVERY generation. on top of new MB required AND small increases in performance. (whereas ryzen 5000 is a HUGE increase for 1 generation)


    forget supported your talking liek an intel fanboy.

    "I dont like price increase for great performance so ill go to the company who nickle and dimes everyone every new cpu worse than amd ever has"
    Reply
  • sidesw1pe
    glitch00 said:
    Because not everyone will be buying it for gaming.
    Right, so some will buy it for gaming, some will not buy it for gaming, yet it is a "con".
    Reply