Should I buy an AMD Ryzen 5 2600X processor?

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
(Image credit: AMD)

The AMD Ryzen 5 2600X is sure to find itself in a few bargain bins as we head towards the end of the year, but should you be planning a build around this chip? And if so, at what price should you snap one up?

Amazon Prime Day and the Black Friday weekend are waiting to pounce on your wallet, so steel yourself to make some brave decisions about the kind of system you actually want. If you're looking to build a system for a younger member of the family, or as a second rig, then this is exactly the sort of chip you should be looking at.

The imminent announcement of Zen 3 could mean that we'll see resellers trying to get rid of older stock, depending on what AMD actually announces, so we could see prices really driven down on chips like this. You'll need a compatible motherboard as well as a graphics card as there's no integrated graphics here, so bear that in mind when looking for a bargain.

What is the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X?

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X Specs

Release date - April 2018
Architecture - Zen+
Lithography - 12nm
Cores/Threads - 6/12
Base Clock - 3.6GHz
Boost Clock - 4.2GHz
L3 cache - 16MB
Socket - AM4
Memory support - DDR4-2933
TDP - 95W
Launch price - $230

The Ryzen 5 2600X is a mid-range processor that was originally released over two years ago now. It is built on AMD's Zen+ microarchitecture, which was a subtle, but important improvement over the original Zen architecture. It offers a more power-efficient design, which equates to faster performance, and the memory support is notably better compared to the first-gen chips. 

The retail version of the chip comes with the Wraith Spire cooler, which is more than capable of keeping this chip cool at stock settings. It is unlocked though if you want to try your hand at overclocking, although you're going to need to spend more on an aftermarket cooler if you really want to try for this. 

What are the alternatives to the Ryzen 5 2600X? 

The 2600X has been superseded by the 3600X, which draws on the excellent Zen 2 architecture. Even so, the 2600X is still a very capable chip in its own right. AMD has also released the Ryzen 3 3300X for $120, which may only be a 4-core, 8-thread chip, but it packs a serious punch for the cash. Your only issue is trying to find one to buy.

Alternatively the Intel Core i5 9400F can be picked up for the same sort of money and boasts the same core count, although lacks hyperthreading, so has half the amount of threads and struggles to keep up in multi-threaded applications.

Should I buy the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X and at what price?

There's no question that AMD's Zen 2 architecture is much more refined than Zen+, and it's more feature rich as well, offering support for PCIe 4.0 SSDs and graphics cards. So if you're looking for your main build we'd recommend picking up the newer CPU (or waiting to see what Zen 3 has to offer). 

The Ryzen 5 2600X has been available for a while now for around $160, which isn't a bad deal, if nothing special. In the deals last year though, it briefly dropped down to $120, and if that happens again it's worth snapping up, as that's a lot of cores for not much cash. And it'll power your games and more-serious work without issue.

Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.