AMD Ryzen 5 3500X Review: Cheapest Zen 2 vs. R5 2600 vs. Core i5-9400F


If you haven’t heard about the Ryzen 5 3500X until now it’s likely because this CPU is mostly being sold and marketed to OEMs and system integrators, depending on where you’re located. Initially it was reported as an OEM-only part for the Chinese market, but then appeared in other regions such as India. Turns out you can pretty much buy the 3500X anywhere, though the conditions will vary from one region to another.

In China it appears to be selling as a regular retail product that comes in a box with cooler and all. In Australia, you can only purchase the 3500X in a pre-built PC. Which still begs the question, how well does it perfom and what’s changed from the R5 3600?

We’ve heard through channels that in order to acquire the 3500X from AMD to use as a system integrator, there are quite a few hoops to jump through. You have to let them know your plans, what kind of system you intend to build, and the volume you expect to move. We’ve also heard they’re only being sold in large volumes, so 1,000+ chips.

Anyway, the Ryzen 5 3500X has been available for purchase at AliExpress for over a month and the second they were listed we snapped one up for what amounted to $157 delivered. It’s been sitting on our desk for a few weeks now, so we thought we better test this thing out or it was just never going to happen.

Let’s quickly go over the specs of the 3500X…

Like the 3600, it packs half a dozen Zen 2 cores that come clocked at 3.6 GHz for the base. Depending on the workload they can clock as high as 4.1 GHz out of the box, just 100 MHz lower than that of the 3600. The key difference is the lack of SMT (simultaneous multithreading) support for the 3500X, where the R5 3600 packs 6-cores / 12-threads, the 3500X features just 6 threads, much like the Core i5-9400F.

Is dropping SMT support for a ~30% discount from the R5 3600 worth it? (in Australia, again, this will vary on your location). For US-based shoppers it’s just a 20% discount, so we doubt that will be worth the savings, in any case we will know shortly. For testing we have the usual battery of gaming and productivity benchmarks.

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