Intel i5 9600K vs AMD Ryzen 5 3600 in 2021

i5 9600k vs ryzen 5 3600

When discussing good mid-range CPUs, you would be glad to know that both Intel and AMD have a lot of offerings that you can go for. However, the Ryzen 5 3600 is perhaps one of the most popular mid-range CPUs that are available in the market, and for all the right reasons. On the competing end, you have the Intel Core i5 9600K, and this creates a polarizing situation in the market as users run towards making a decision.

Both of the CPUs are great but, in the end, there can only be a single winner as you cannot just pick both. Over the past couple of years, AMD has upped their game as far as processors are concerned, but is the Ryzen 5 3600 is good enough to take on the Intel Core i5 9600K? That is what we are here to find out.

Features and Basic Specs

Before we take a deeper dive and see what these CPUs are all about, we have to start by looking at the basic specs and features that these CPUs bring to the table. That way, making a decision can become an easier task rather than a tedious one.

To make things easier for you, we have shared a table below that you can check and compare both CPUs.

 ComponentIntel Core i5 9600KAMD Ryzen 5 3600
ArchitectureCoffee LakeZen 2
SocketLGA 1151AM4
Cores/Threads6/66/12
Base Frequency3.73.6
Boost Frequency4.64.2
L3 Cache9MB32MB
Process14nm7nm
TDP95W65W
Memory SpeedDDR4-2666DDR4-3200
Memory ControllerDual-ChannelDual-Channel
Integrated GraphicsIntel UHD GraphicsN/A
MSRP$262$199

It s safe to say that the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 looks like a much better offering on paper because you are getting a lot more in terms of threads, albeit with a slightly slower base and boost clocks but more cache, modern manufacturing process, and a better memory speed, at the same time. It also costs less than the Intel Core i5 9600K.

Granted, it does not come with integrated graphics, but considering how most people are pairing this with a GPU, it makes no sense to have that, in the first place.

Winner: AMD Ryzen 5 3600: Not only it comes with a better set of features, but it is also available at a cheaper price, and not to mention, it has more threads which can be excellent in multi-threaded applications.

Motherboard Options

Another important thing that you must understand here is the motherboard options that are going to eventually make your overall experience. The great thing about the Ryzen 5 3600 is that it has excellent backwards compatibility with AM4 motherboards as long as the BIOS is adequately updated.

However, you will need to understand that finding an AMD 300 or 400 series motherboard is a great choice, but at the same time, if you are looking at PCI-Express 4.0 support, you are going to need to spend a bit more and get an X570 motherboard.

On the other hand, if you are looking to spend money on Intel Core i5 9600K, then you are only going to need the motherboard that is based on the Intel 300 series motherboard. You will need to invest in either Z370 or a Z390 motherboard, and that is about it.

Simply put, even when you are looking at just the availability or wider compatibility, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 makes more sense since it will allow you to get whatever motherboard you are supposed to choose. Not just that, you are getting PCI-E 4.0 support, which is excellent and fast.

Whereas the Intel Core i5 9600K is limited to Z370 or Z390 motherboards and there is very less future-proofing around, at the same time.

Winner: AMD Ryzen 5 3600: The reason why you the Ryzen 5 3600 is winning here is simple, you are getting great future-proofing and excellent backwards compatibility to a point that you have a lot to choose from. True, the motherboards are a bit expensive but at least there is a wider choice.
Related: Best Motherboards for i5 9600K
Related: Best Motherboards for Ryzen 5 3600

Overclocking Freedom

Both the Ryzen 5 3600 and Intel Core i5 9600K ship with an unlocked multiplier and both can be overclocked. However, it is important to understand that overclocking potential on both processors can be drastically different.

The Ryzen 5 3600 has a 4.2GHz boost clock on a single-core, and all the other cores run around 200 to 300MHz lower than the single-core value. Based on my experience with Ryzen CPUs in general, I would suggest that you let AMD’s Precision Boost Overdrive handle the overclocking features. Sure, you can go ahead and overclock all the cores to a single value and it will help with the multi-threaded performance, but you do end up losing single-core performance in that case.

On the other hand, the Intel Core i5 9600K comes with an advertised boost clock of 4.6GHz on a single-core, but at the same time, it can achieve a 4.3GHz boost clock on all six cores. The Core i5 9600K can easily hit up to 5GHz on all six cores provided you know how to overclock and have a proper cooler equipped onto the CPU.

Winner: Core i5 9600K: While AMD has come a long way as far as the performance is concerned, the older generation still cannot catch up to Intel in terms of how overclocking works.

Thermals

Both the Ryzen 5 3600 and Core i5 9600K are rated at 95W TDP. However, Intel’s measurement of TDP is based on the base clock, so the power draw can be a bit higher.

As long as finding the cooler is concerned, finding coolers for both processors is going to be an easy task since you are getting standard sockets on both of the CPUs. For moderate overclock or stock clocks, you are more than okay with any budget air cooler. In the case of AMD, you are getting access to the Wraith Spire cooler out of the box, which means that you will not have to spend money on an aftermarket cooler.

As for Intel, it does not ship with any cooler, so you are more than likely going to spend additional money.

Winner: AMD Ryzen 5 3600: Unlike the Core i5 9600K, the Ryzen 5 3600’s power draw does not end up reaching higher than it is advertised. Not only that, but it also ships with a great stock cooler that you can use right out of the box whereas you will need to spend extra money.

Gaming Performance

As far as the gaming performance is concerned, the battle is a lot tighter than you would generally think. Both the Ryzen 5 3600 and Core i5 9600K manage to trade blows with each other. The Ryzen 5 3600 managed to deliver more performance in gaming on average when compared to the Core i5 in this situation.

The bottleneck factor was removed and the resolution was kept at 1080p to be sure that no other issues are coming in the way and the performance is not being limited in any way. Still, the Ryzen 5 3600 managed to perform better in this case.

Winner: AMD Ryzen 5 3600: AMD has done a great job at making the CPU what it is today. The Ryzen 5 3600 is one of the best if not the best CPUs available for gaming at the time of writing, and considering how we have a newer generation of Ryzen processors, this is only going to get better in the future.

Productivity Performance

Productivity has always been a sweet spot for AMD CPUs thanks to their stellar multi-core performance and it is not something that is going to change here. The Ryzen 5 3600 has more threads, which gives it the benefit in applications that are focused more on the multi-threaded loads. However, when you are discussing lightly threaded applications, the Intel Core i5 9600K manages to take the win.

The battle is a lot closer than I had anticipated in the start but in the end, the Ryzen 5 3600 gives better performance on average, making it a clear winner.

Winner: AMD Ryzen 5 3600: This is something that should have been obvious right from the start. AMD Ryzen 5 3600 packs more power in almost every regard, and while the Intel Core i5 9600K does overclock better, you have to understand that single merit is simply not enough to give the victory to the blue team.

Final Word

The Intel Core i5 9600K is undoubtedly an impressive processor, to say the least. However, that might only be on paper because despite being more expensive than the Ryzen 5 3600, it does not manage to beat out the red team. Granted, it does manage to come close, but that it is all it does, come close to AMD and eventually lose.

Out of the six different determinants, the Intel Core i5 9600K managed to best the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 in only one of them. That explains a lot about how the clear winner is the Ryzen 5 3600, and an obvious choice for anyone who is building a new PC.

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