AMD's flagship Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X utterly devastate Intel's mainstream chips, but Intel doesn't really have comparable chips that compete on mainstream platforms.
However, Intel does have competing models for the Ryzen 5 5600X. Our results show that AMD's Zen 3 microarchitecture simply outclasses Intel's Comet Lake chips at every price point they compete in, sealing AMD's dominance in desktop PCs.
As we can see in our charts above, AMD's advantage of a denser 7nm process node and more refined architecture pays big dividends. The Ryzen 5 5600X is faster than Intel's less-expensive Core i5-10600K across the board, setting a new bar for single-threaded and multi-threaded performance in the mid-range.
Looking across the full spate of Intel chips, the Ryzen 5 5600X beats all of the Intel processors in single-threaded performance - but that's with the 5600X at stock settings. Meanwhile, even overclocking Intel's priciest mainstream silicon, the Core i9-10900K, doesn't help against the Ryzen 5 5600X at stock settings. Overclocking AMD's chip only increases its lead.
Given its price point, the Ryzen 5 5600X also delivers outstanding performance in threaded workloads, like content creation and productivity applications. You could step up $75 to the Core i7-10700K, which has two additional cores, for more performance in those types of workloads. But at that point, you'd be better off looking to AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X.
Zen 3’s gaming performance is nothing short of spectacular. The Ryzen 5 5600X is simply the mainstream chip for gaming - even Intel's mighty Core i9-10900K can't match its performance at 1080p – its only win comes after overclocking at the 1440p resolution. Naturally, the Core i5-10600K and Core i7-10700K can't compete with the Ryzen 5 5600X.
That said, as we've noted with previous AMD CPU reviews, many of those gains won’t be noticeable to users with lesser graphics cards. The tables have turned, and now Intel CPUs are the ones that are "basically just as fast as AMD" with anything short of the RTX 3080. But if you're looking for longevity, the Ryzen 5 5600X has plenty of horsepower to push future generations of graphics cards.
The Ryzen 5 5600X does land at higher pricing than we're accustomed to - the $300 price tag is now the entry point for Zen 3 chips. That will change as AMD introduces its Ryzen 3 and APU models, but it is disappointing for value seekers. Unfortunately, AMD's recommended retail pricing rarely has any relation to reality at the checkout lane, so it’s hard to project where pricing will land in a few months when availability improves. For now, crushing shortages make it difficult to score a Ryzen 5 5600X, even at recommended pricing.
At least AMD includes a bundled cooler with the Ryzen 5 5600X, an advantage not given to any of its other Zen 3 processors. The Wraith Stealth cooler is adequate and provides the same performance as an AIO in single-threaded workloads and gaming, but you'll get a boost in heavy multi-threaded work if you step up to a better cooler. You'll definitely need a better cooler if overclocking is in your plans - the Wraith Spire doesn't have any additional thermal headroom.
We can expect Intel to respond with lower pricing as Zen 3 availability improves, particularly over the holiday season. Until then, if you're looking for a lower-priced alternative to the Ryzen 5 5600X, we stick with our previous recommendation of the Ryzen 5 3600 (and even the 3600X if you catch it at a good price). We simply can't recommend any competing Comet Lake processor at current pricing.
Zen 3 has completely disrupted Intel's desktop PC chips at every price point it competes in, and we're excited to see what the future Ryzen 3 and APUs have in store. Not to mention next-gen Threadripper. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 5 5600X takes the throne as the no-compromise gaming chip for the mid-range.
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