CPUsGaming

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X vs Ryzen 9 5900X: Are 6 Cores Enough for Gaming in 2021?

Towards the end of last year, AMD launched its Ryzen 5000 CPUs, snatching the gaming crown from Intel after three (2 and a half) generations of Zen. Featuring an IPC boost of 19%, higher boost clocks, and wider core complexes, we’re looking at generational gains ranging from 20-35%, especially in gaming workloads. You can read our architectural deep-dive of the Ryzen 5000 CPUs and the Zen 3 core here. We compared the inter-core and cache latency/bandwidth of Matisse and Vermeer and got some very interesting results.

In this post, we will be comparing the $299 Ryzen 5 5600X against the $549 Ryzen 9 5900X which packs twice as many cores, and decide whether the latter is worth the extra $250 for predominantly gaming workloads.

Test Bench

  • Motherboard: ASRock X570 Taichi
  • Memory: Trident Royal Z 8GB x2 @ 3733MT/s (CL16)
  • Cooler: NZXT Kraken X73: 360mm (Special thanks to NZXT India for providing the AIO cooler)
  • GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti
  • PSU: Corsair HX1000i

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X vs Ryzen 9 5900X: Specifications

SpecsRyzen 5 5600XRyzen 5 3600XRyzen 7 3700XRyzen 9 5900X
Cores/Threads6/126/128/1612/24
Base Clock3.7GHz3.8GHz3.6GHz3.7GHz
Boost Clock4.6GHz4.4GHz4.4GHz4.8GHz
L3 Cache32MB32MB36MB64MB
TDP65W95W65W105W
Price$299$199$304$549

Out of the four processors that we’ll be testing, the Ryzen 9 5900X is the only one with a TDP of 105W. Despite using a high-end 360mm AIO cooler, the 5900X approached the 80-degree mark under heavy load. Technically, you can emulate the Ryzen 5 5600X by disabling one of the two CCXs on the 5900X but we decided to use the actual processors for the tests.

Ryzen 5 5600X vs Ryzen 7 5900X: Gaming Benchmarks

Ashes Escalation

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We tested all the games at 1080p ultra and then 720p medium to avoid any GPU bottlenecks that may otherwise affect the results. In Ashes of the Singularity at 1080, both the CPUs produced nearly identical averages and mildly different lows. This is despite the fact that this is easily one of the most CPU-intensive games on the market.

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Strangely, the Ryzen 5 5600X outperformed the 5900X in terms of the averages at 720p. Although the lows were still slightly higher on the latter, the deltas were minimal. Upon further checking, it turns out that the total CPU utilization for the 5600X at 720p was 88% while the 5900X averaged just around 65%.

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5600X

As you can see, the Ryzen 5 5600X reaches an average CPU load of 88% and a peak of 100%. The average thread utilization is also pretty high at 97%, with a minimum of 75%. The Ryzen 9 5900X averaged just 65% and 90% for the overall and per-thread load, respectively. Since both the CPUs were paired with the same GPU, this indicates a lack of utilization in the case of the 5900X.

5900X

Assassins’ Creed Origins

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Assassins’ Creed Origins produces very predictable results. Going from the hex-core 3600X to the octa-core 3700X yields less than a handful of frames. In a similar fashion, going from the 5600X to the 5900X pushes you up by just over 5 FPS at 720p. For reference, the overall CPU utilization for the Ryzen 5 5600X averaged close to 70% while the 5900X averaged just over 30%.

Assassins’ Creed Valhalla

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At 1080p, Assassins’ Creed Valhalla runs into a GPU bottleneck with both the Ryzen 5 5600X and the 5900X posting similar figures when paired with the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

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At 720p, although the GPU bottlenecks are removed and the 5900X rushes past the 5600X to an impressive 124 FPS (average) and 62 FPS (0.1 percentile FPS), the overall CPU usage remains rather poor, with the latter averaging just around 25% and the former staying just under 60%.

The Division 2

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In The Division 2, the Ryzen 9 5900X barely outpaces the 5600X at 1080p but falls behind at 720p when it comes to the averages. The lows, however, are still much better on the 5900X.

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Considering that the 5900X has two six-core CCXs, this can be explained on the account of the higher inter-CCX latency and the higher all-core boost on the 5600X.

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5900X

Far Cry 5

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In Far Cry 5, the inter-generation (Zen 2 to Zen 3) jump is infinitely higher than the performance gain upon doubling the core count. Once again, both the averages and lows are nearly the same on the two processors. The CPU utilization is similar to what we saw with Valhalla and slightly worse than The Division 2.

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands

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Ghost Recon is an excellent example of a game that despite being able to utilize up to 8 CPU cores offers worse performance with the 5900X due to the inter-CCX latency penalty incurred upon using additional cores from the second CCX. Although the game is a fair bit faster on the 5900X than the 5600X, both the 5800X and 3700X perform slightly better due to all 8 cores being on the same CCX. The CPU utilization is the same as the previous 2-3 games on this list, with the 5600X averaging in the 50s and the 5900X showing an overall usage of just 25%.

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Like Far Cry 5, this game benefits massively from the inter-generational IPC increase and the higher core clocks.

Hitman 2

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Hitman 2 scales pretty well up to 8 cores, but beyond that, there’s little to no scaling even with respect to the lows.

The Ryzen 5 3600X chokes pretty badly in this game at both 1080p and 720p. In contrast, the 5600X performs admirably, beating both the Ryzen 7 3700X as well as the Ryzen 9 5900X. The 5600X is slightly faster on account of its higher boost clock and all the cores being on the same CCX. The overall CPU utilization was over 60% on the 5600X and nearly 40% on the 5900X.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider is another game that scales well with core counts. However, upon going from the 5600X to the 5900X, the performance gain is rather paltry, with both the averages and lows seeing a modest single-digit gain.

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This game performs well on all four CPUs, with the 3700X seeing a bit of stuttering in the first half of the benchmark. This game once again makes it hard to recommend a Ryzen 9 5900X over a 5600X for gaming workloads.

Conclusion

As you can probably guess, buying a Ryzen 9 5900X for solely gaming purposes seems to be a waste of money. Not like you can buy one at the moment, but either way, it’s not recommended. The Ryzen 7 5800X should be a tad bit faster than the 5900X in most cases on account of all its eight cores being on the same CCX, with the 5600X following (very) shortly after. Therefore, if you are building a PC solely for gaming, then the 5600X is the optimal choice. If you do a bit of content creation such as video editing, rendering, etc, then opting for a Ryzen 7 5800X is a good idea as it offers a good balance between threads and frequencies.

Areej

Computer Engineering dropout (3 years), writer, journalist, and amateur poet. I started Techquila while in college to address my hardware passion. Although largely successful, it suffered from many internal weaknesses. Left and now working on Hardware Times, a site purely dedicated to.Processor architectures and in-depth benchmarks. That's what we do here at Hardware Times!

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