We reached a reasonable 4.2GHz with our Ryzen 5 2600X sample and 4.25GHz with the Ryzen 7 2700X, both using our maximum usual vcore of 1.425V. The Ryzen 5 2600 could only stretch to 4.15GHz with the same vcore, but a 50MHz deficit compared to the X-edition CPU isn't bad considering the price and TDP difference. Interestingly, this was the same difference between the Ryzen 5 1600 and Ryzen 5 1600X as well.
Perhaps even more important is the fact that 4.15GHz is noticeably higher than the maximum boost frequency of 3.9GHz too, so unlike the Ryzen 7 2700X which in some lightly threaded workloads can be faster at stock speed compared to overclocked (since we couldn't overclock all cores as far as its maximum boost speed), overclocking is definitely worth it with the Ryzen 5 2600, and probably any Ryzen CPU with a maximum boost frequency below 4.1GHz.
It's just as well the Ryzen 5 1600X has had price cuts recently, because the slower-clocked Ryzen 5 2600 performed the same or was faster in every single test than the old X-edition CPU. The two CPUs were matched in HandBrake and Cinebench, where they both bettered the Core i5-8600K too, but the lightly-threaded tests saw the new CPU edge out some sizeable leads thanks to the new boosting algorithms. In PCMark 10 photo editing, the new CPU had a 301-point advantage over the 3,607 score by the Ryzen 5 1600X, and it was quicker than the Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8600K here too. The slightly higher clock speed of the Ryzen 5 2600 compared to the Ryzen 7 2700 saw the former outperform the latter in a couple of tests too, such as file compression and the single-threaded Cinebench test, which showed noticeable increases in single-threaded performance against all three first-generation Ryzen CPUs too.Some tests simply reflected the fact that the Ryzen 5 2600 was one of the slowest and cheapest CPUs on test, with Ashes of the Singularity seeing it sit at the bottom of the graph at stock speed, although it's important to mention a couple of things here. Firstly, it wasn't more than 10 percent behind the Ryzen 7 2700 and Ryzen 7 1800X, and the impact of using faster memory than our 3,000MHz kit made a massive difference to the Ryzen 7 2700X, which saw its minimum frame rate rise from 35fps with 2,666MHz memory to 43fps with 3,400MHz memory, so we'd expect similar gains with the Ryzen 5 2600.
It's a similar story in Deus Ex, where there was just 2fps between it and the Ryzen 5 2600X, and the two CPUs were equal once overclocked. Again, though, faster memory saw the Rysen 7 2700X come to within just 4fps of the Core i7-8700K, so the graphs don't show the whole story when considering the impact of faster RAM that will see the Ryzen 5 2600's performance here increase by similar amounts given that core counts don't seem to have much of an impact in this game.
If you're looking for a power-frugal CPU then the Ryzen 5 2600 drew the least power of any hexa-core CPU on test under load at just 124W, and even Intel's Core i5-8600K didn't come close, although the two CPUs drew roughly the same when overclocked.
Even without using fast memory, the Ryzen 5 2600 is quicker than the Ryzen 5 1600X in many tests and matches or betters the Core i5-8600K in multi-threaded tests too. The fact that it also beat the latter in the photo editing test and wasn't far behind in games (with that gap closing further if you use 3,400MHz or faster memory) also paints a worrying picture for Intel's Core i5-8400, which is obviously slower than the K-series Intel CPU, but costs barely £10 less than the AMD hexa-core. Overclocking also yields some sizeable increases in performance in single, lightly-threaded and multi-threaded workloads, and you'll definitely want to consider tweaking those frequencies to get the most out of this CPU. Overall, then, the Ryzen 5 2600 is a stunning success thanks to a ridiculously low price, great multi-threaded performance and lightly-threaded performance that's both better than its predecessors and also aided further by using fast memory. For purely game-focussed systems, Intel still has a lead, but for value and all-round performance, the Ryzen 5 2600 is hard to beat, and once overclocked is better value than the Ryzen 5 2600X too.
March 25 2020 | 14:00